Sunday, May 31, 2015

i know this is my second post today, but i just had a late dinner with my family and i forgot to tell you about them and talk about a few other things. i feel so bad for not doing it sooner. first, my host family is amazing. they are, honestly, already part of my family. from the first day, they welcomed me into their home and treated me like one of their own. they even call me "hijito" (little son) rather than robin while they call the other students by their names (probably because i am the smallest and also the newest). they let me have one of the nicest rooms in their house, which is extremely nice. and they let me have access to basically everything, including the kitchen and all in it. my mom said if there was anything i wanted to let her know and she would do everything she could to buy it or get it for me, no matter what it was.
my dad is great, he is like my dad at home. he watches the same (with respect to country differences) tv shows, walks around in his underwear half the time, talks fast and mumbles, and gives bear hugs that make you feel like there is no bad in the world. my mom, from the beginning, has been one of the most caring individuals i have ever came in contact with. she treats me like a prince, and it means the world to me. when i was lost, she was the one that was looking for me on her bike, while everyone else was waiting to hear where i was. that really makes me feel like part of the family. my brothers are great too, they treat me like part of the family and do everything in their power to make me feel as comfortable as possible, and even speak english to us if we need help.
we just ate a late dinner of pizza, at about 11.45 pm (peruvian pizza is strange. the meat lovers had bologna, hot dogs, ham and salami, strange) and talked quite a bit. we talked about things from psychology (why someone drinks and does drugs. my dad was strong willed about it, and said he does not like them at all, and that makes me feel better because i do not like drugs either), to cultural differences from the united states, like kids, tvs in the bedrooms, how kids are raised, family sizes (my dad has 17 siblings and his dad has 18; holy fuck, no thank you!). it was great to talk about it. my parents talked about how they love to learn about other cultures, and i love to learn about other cultures too, so i am eager to talk more about the peruvian culture!
after the (extremely late [11:50]) dinner, i talked with my mom while she washed the dishes. she said she hasn't seen machu picchu, nor ica, and many other hotspots across the country because she would rather let her kids have the opportunities. that sounds exactly like my mom. i love my mom more than i love myself, so when there are parallels to her, it really speaks to me on a whole new level. my dad then came in and said he was going to bed and gave me the best hug i have ever gotten. i hope that isn't weird, but you know what i mean.
the moral of the story is, i love my host family so much, and i cannot wait to see what these eight weeks have in store for me.
second, it really sunk in how fortunate i and so many others are compared to other people around the world. this morning, i read andrea's blog and it said "that's when it hit me. in two hours, no matter how much or how little progress we made, i could walk away from that ditch. id soon be eating lunch, and then returning to my host family's very nice first floor apartment. just seven weeks after than id be back in the united states; drinking water from the faucet (what a luxury), being able to drive myself around instead of taking crowded, noisy public transportation, and using an air conditioner again. but those, kids [from mundo libre, the rehabilitation clinic, and many others like them], thats their life. they don't get to wash their hands of all that work and hardship (at least not until they leave_. if we didn't get that canal cleaned, so what, wed be leaving either way. for them, though, that wasn't the case. they didn't have a choice; if they want better living conditions they'd have to continue. thats how they'd have to continue to do things every day. yet, the children seemed so happy and positive." i know that was long, but it was amazingly worded and really sunk in. how fortunate am i to be able to do the things i am able to do; travel the world, attend an amazing university, live in a free and amazing nation, have a family that cares for me with no limits, have friends that would take a bullet for me, and even things like drink from the tap and walk down the street without the fear of being mugged or raped or even murdered. we are so caught up in our own lives that we forget what the rest of the world is like. living in a city like this, it really shows me how good i, and so many others, have it. we do not realize how much different things could be. we do not realize how bad things could be; and we do not realize how good things can be either. we take things like: a breakup, a broken phone, a flat tire, a failed exam as the worst things in the world. they are not even close; we could live in places, like parts of lima, that people do fear walking down the street, who do not have anyone who cares for them or people who even sell their own family members into prostitution or cartels or to anyone who wants to buy them, just to make a profit, those who do not have clean drinking water, those who do not have food, those who live on the streets or under a bridge, or those who even die because of different voids in their life. everyone should take a step back, breathe, and think about how fortunate you are to have the luxuries that we, every day, take for granted. and also to think about how much different things could be, and how bad or unfortunate things could be.
today was the tour of historic lima. we didn't have to get up as early today, we were leaving the office at 9, so i got to sleep in a little. i got up and my dad drove me to the office. once everyone was there, we left for the bus system. we had to take two different bus systems to get to historic downtown.
we got on one of the mini busses which was extremely packed. you can tell by brendan's (not whitney) that is was packed. i mean like 15 people on a bus the size of a mini-van. packed to the brim, with people standing in the tiny isle. after we got off the mini-bus, we walked to "la metropolitiano" or the central bus system which is the newest in lima, and was very nice. we rode that and got off. (i will apologize right now because we went to so many places i do not remember them all and do not remember why they are important) we walked around and around, went to theaters, government buildings and parks. all amazingly beautiful.
 this was a hill side that i admired the whole day. there are shanty towns upon the hillside that are amazing, i want to see them up close, but they are not safe to go through so we would have to get as close as we can. maybe someday.

we walked through catholic churches that were from the 1500's, think about that. that is before america was even founded, and far before america was even a popular destination. it really puts things into perspective. we are just a tiny piece of sand in the beach of life. we walked through amazing avenues, with amazing architecture, beautiful streets, just everything was beautiful. 

 well, i do remember this, it was the door for a royal family and the door had to be gigantic in order to let the carriages in because the women in those days were not allowed to be seen outside of their houses, so they did whatever they had to in order to not be seen. of course, i had to take a picture with it because it was gigantic. 

we went to a very old church, where we took a tour. it was awesome, but we weren't supposed to take pictures, but i couldn't resist. . . oops. the church was amazing; amazing architecture, painting, just everything. there was this dome made of wood and it was awe inspiring! i was mad i didn't get a picture of it. after touring the church, we went into the catacombs. this was awesome! there are roughly 73000 bodies down there, and there are many many chambers that hold the bodies. there have been excavations so the bones have been separated, and some areas renovated. the picture above was a 10 meter pit that was filled about 2/3 of the way with bodies. so cool, but also extremely creepy at the same time. 
 these two (left and below) are pictures of the buildings and the center where lima was originally founded in 1535. these buildings weren't here, but this is the place where it was founded and it was beautiful. awesome fountain, awesome buildings, lots of people. just cool. this city and country is just becoming more and more amazing.
this was a great day, lots of information, touring, and great sights that were awesome to see! this (below) is one of my favorite pictures from today, it was a ceiling of a theatre and it was huge, about 30 feet across, and all different colors. today was awesome! i know it will just keep getting better from here, and i cannot wait to see what is in store for me. one week down, eight to go. it is going by too fast! instagram - robin_stark1114

Saturday, May 30, 2015

today was great. we got up really early and had to be at the isa office at 8, so we got there, but no one was there so we went to get a drink then walked back and got on the bus and left. it was supposed to be a long drive there, and it was, probable an hour or an hour and a half. the drive, however, was beautiful, through different districts, green areas, and also into the desert. we drove past the ruins, which i want to go back to and actually go into them, and into the "mountains" and to "mundo lire" rehabilitation clinic. it is a rehablitation clinic for about 4 to 18 year olds, who have been either picked up off the streets or taken there by authorities, parents, or anyone else. they have five stages to go through before they can get out, and this usually lasts about two years. most, however, do not make it that long, and escape or are taken out by parents or a guardian. we started by getting introduced by a girl from germany, who talked in english (soo that is three languages, damn girl, i can barely do two. kudos to her) and split up into groups to go with the girls or the boys. the boys and girls have to be kept separate because many times they are in prostitution or the like, so having them together is not a good idea. anyway, we got to work with our volunteer and cleaned an area for planting, which was through rock hard dust, and a lot of rocks.

we were having so much fun, lots of laughs. after we finished, we went to help the other group with the rest of the boys. we had to clean out a drain because it was overgrown with weeds and mud. now that was tough work, my hands still hurt from pulling the sheets of mud and weeds out of the gutter. after, we went inside and had some time before lunch, so we talked with the kids.

at lunch we all sat by some of the kids and talked. they were all so interested in our lives, where have i been, what do i like to do, movies i have seen, and music i like, food from the states that i like, food from peru that i like. it was awesome. we then broke up into teams for the main event, futbol or soccer for those of you who don't speak any spanish. we broke up into four teams and then went to the girls housing while the boys got ready. it was interesting to see the housing. simple, like a hostle, with a living room type and outside common areas. we looked there then went to play! we played and played, it was great to play.
i even scored a goal, surprising, huh. i can actually do sports, spite all you haters. ha. we played for a while then took a group picture (which i cannot post because it can cause legal problems, we cannot post their faces. so sorry, no group picture.) then got on the bus and left. it was such a fun day, and was very rewarding to see how happy the kids were to see us. it was truly an amazing experience!

the mountains around the clinic, were also amazing, even though they are just dirt, and no trees or grass; just. . . dirt. like everywhere else here. they were still awesome! our drive home was good, more sight seeing. i sat next to andrea and had a good conversation. she is cool too, i like her. one cool picture i snapped has a paining on a wall that says "vamos peru" or "lets go peru." that is cool how proud they are of their country, really gives them a lot of honor in my mind.
today was a great day. one of my favorites so far, if not my favorite. i was in dire need of a shower right when i got home, so dirty and smelly. great day, cannot wait to see what the future holds for me!

Friday, May 29, 2015

this city keeps amazing me. today was school and out with friends. i had both my classes today, and they are so long it nearly kills me. we went to bimbos (funny huh, bimbo). for lunch and i had just some fries because i wasn't hungry. we went to a bank to get some money and it charged me 13.5 soles or about ($4.5) to get money out, man that nearly killed me. after my second class, we went to miraflores. we went lacromar, which is the beautiful mall on the bluff overlooking the pacific, and actually looked around. we ate first at a place called tantos or something like that. i tried the famous pisco sour for the first time.
it was interesting, to say the least. there is the national liquor, pisco, a sweet and sour mix and an egg and some other ingredients. it took a bit to get through the frothy toping, but once you did it was a very strong liquor mixed drink that was similar to tequila. i didn't drink all of mine because i wasn't a huge fan and it was extremely strong. ill try it again and give it another try later. i had aji de gallena, which is a kind of chicken and potato with an amazing sause casserole type of dinner. after dinner, we walked around lacromar, which is an amazing mall. it has amazing views to either side, and an amazing view of the ocean. there were stores like "banana republic," "nike," "the north face," and many others. more than we could ever hope to have in iowa. there was an awesome alpaca store that i will have to go back to and buy things, it was beautiful and authentic. there were even weavers weaving something right in the store and were speaking quechua. after the mall, we walked to our bus stop and after a while of waiting, we realized we missed the last bus we should take, so we got on one that got us close to where were going. we got off and walked home. not too exciting, but it was a nice day. tomorrow we have our community service day, and it is going to be a long day, and i am going to be tired. instagram - robin_stark1114

Thursday, May 28, 2015

nothing crazy happened today, like getting lost in a gigantic city, or watching an accident (whom after, they just drove away without even wincing) or anything of the such. so, i will take some time to talk about peru o la republican de perĂº. it is a country of about 31.2 million people and about 84.1% of the population speaks spanish as their first language, followed by quechua, and aymara; all official languages of peru. lima, where i am living, is the biggest city and also its capital with an approximate population of about 9 million inhabitants. lima, is in the middle of the desert. it is, however, mild because of its close vicinity to the pacific ocean. the andes separate the costal region from the highlands and the rainforest zones. the andes have a huge impact on the climates of peru. i do not know much about peru, but there is a lot still to learn; i will update you all later when i am more informed.

a little about the customs, now. peru, is how do i say. . . different. they are a culture of old fashioned persons. one of the most different is they do not have a personal bubble. in the united states, most people like their personal space and do not like it to be popped; no such thing here. the closer the better. people will hug or just stand close to you, even if they have never met you. another difference is, you do not smile or say hi to people on the street. that is not normal. natives will give you the scariest looks and they will immediately know you are a gringo or foreign. another obvious is the greetings. no matter how many people there are in the room, when you enter, you give all the women a air kiss on the cheek and the men a hug or strong hand shake, even if you do not even know their name. and you do the same if you leave. if you and all your friends go to someones house, you do it all again, for everyone. the driving, is, as i have previous mentioned, chaotic. like schools of fish or flocks of birds; always moving wherever they want but (almost) never running into each other. another funny (more scary than funny) thing, the stoplights are more of a suggestion than a law or ordinance or norm. that is just a little about peru as a whole, i will write more when i know more, and also the norms and habits of the natives will change when i go to places like ica or cuzco or iquitos.

now about my day. i woke up, ate, and my mom drove me to class (i don't think she will ever let me go anywhere alone because of my. . . mishap of getting lost yesterday. oops). class was extremely long, but i could understand well. after class, i came home, ate and took a nap. these siestas are going to get to me, or not. i love naps too much. miguel, my isa brother, wanted to see a movie. so, dan, cesar, miguel and i went to "la plazareal"to see "mad max" but we missed it so we walked around the mall, which by the way is extremely fancy and new. so, we walked back, ate dinner, and now its time for homework.

thank you for reading, i hope i keep you interested. if you want more of my photography and adventures, follow me on instagram @robin_stark1114 - thank you!

- robin

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

hi everyone, i know this is the first picture i have put up of myself because i love being behind the lens and not the other way around. today was both good and bad. first, i woke up for class and went to class. "la literatura hispanoamerica" or hispanic-american literature. it was easier to understand the professor, i think he is a native english speaker. we talked about the course for a little, then watched 1492, which is extremely long and was in spanish so it was hard to catch everything. after, we had out isa meeting and talked about the upcoming weekend. after the meeting, a group decided to go to miraflores. so we quickly went home, ate a great meal, then got back to get on a bus for miraflores. we rode, then got off and walked down to the ocean. it is seriously amazing, in every way. i cannot express how much i love this country.  it is so beautiful. we spent some time on the beach, then decided to go to the inca market.

we walked up the walkway and went to wong, then split up with our group. my group went to find the inca market, but got distracted with a marked in a plaza. we looked, and everything is beautiful. we also went to "cacao museo" or cocoa museum. that was awesome, i am going to have to go back later. we tried the chocolates which were amazing, and some chocolate liquor. very strong, wow. we got on a bus, and i sat by jasmine. i like her, she is awesome, and i can tell we are going to be good friends. we got off on a bus stop that i did not know. bad. fucking. idea. i walked around lima, and its various districts; through sketchy avenues, strange shops, parks, city centers, everything for over 3 hours. i finally called the emergency isa number and the peruvian, bless her heart, was so worried but did not know where i was. and neither did i. i eventually put down the phone, and asked a man with his daughter who were close to me. the little girl grabbed onto my leg and the man kindly and very nervously told me where i was. he seemed legitimately concerned, and that made me feel great, that people are actually going to care about peoples whereabouts. he really helped, and stayed with me until my ride got me. we talked and he told me about his family and the little girl was really excited to learn about me and how i am from the united states but decided to come here, she was amazed that people did that. my brother eventually picked me up and i got home safe. my mom was worried sick. i was fine, just a little unnerved that i had no idea where the fuck i was and had no idea how to get home. i wasn't scared, just anxious and tired. well, there is the good and the bad of going to a city of over 9 million people. this does not deter me in the slightest, i am still falling in love with this city and its inhabitants. if you want to see more of my photography and random moments of mine, follow me on instagram @ robin_stark1114 - thank you so much for reading, i hope you keep up.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

afuera mi zona de seguridad. outside my comfort zone. this is correct, and incorrect. i am completely immersed in a extremely different culture and i am doing just fine. the language is a struggle at times, but i am managing and constantly surprising myself with how well i am doing for only being 19 years old, and only have about 5 years of spanish. today was the first day of classes, and it was a bit of. . . how do i say gently. . . a clusterfuck. the first class, socioeconomic and political realities of peru, o "la realidad socioeconomica y politica de peru," began at 8.30 and it was extremely difficult to understand "mi profe." we had a short break at 11.15, and then had the second half of the class from 11.30 until 2. the second half was easier, the professor was a lot easier to understand and explained things very well. i will never get used to these 3 or 5 hour classes, that is one good thing about the united states. my dad met me at my house, and we walked back so i know how to walk there in the future. i needed to exchange my american dollars to peruvian soles, so i walked to the close bank and exchanged them. one thing you will never get used to is the driving. simply put, it is well. . . nuts. the only way i can describe it is a school of fish. constantly moving wherever you want to go, but never running into each other. after the bank, mi mamita segundo, or second mom made dinner and i took a nap. after, we ate dinner and i spent some alone time in my room. mi mamita took me to the store, "wong" and i bought a couple notebooks and folders and some candies. i really want to buy alcohol, but i don't know yet if my parents approve or not and do not want to impose. i know that was long, but i just want to be able to remember everything that happens, and for whomever cares to know what i am doing throughout the day. i am lacking pictures today, and i apologize so in the future i will work better to get more pictures, but this is all i have. i hope you continue to keep up with my blog. and if you want to follow me on instagram for more of my photography and adventures (and selfies) my address is @robin_stark1114 - hasta la pronto.

Monday, May 25, 2015

can i quickly express how quickly i am falling in love with this country? lima, peru, you are quickly climbing the list. today was a whirlwind. i woke up late, had to quickly eat breakfast, fried eggs and extremely watered down oatmeal and was rushed out the door so fast i forgot to change my shoes; so i wore my underarmor slides all day. yay, lazy day. anyway, we got a tour of "la universidad del pacifico" which is extremely nice; one of the oldest and most respected universities in lima, then ate a great peruvian meal and toured the isa office.

after our orientation, we got a "bus tour" where we basically got on the most crowded bus possible and rode it for about forty minutes to the amazing district of miraflores (pictured at the top). we walked around the amazing bluffs, and then walked to the amazing mall on the edge of the cliff and to a park that was infested with cats (i mean an infestation, hundreds). then we got on a bus to take us back to the isa office and accidentally left someone in miraflores, oops; well she will soon become accustomed to lima. . . at home, i met the housekeeper and cook, she was extremely nice but talked a hundred miles an hour and i only caught a little bit of it. sitting at home is nice, my family is amazing, and my mom took me around downtown lince (my home district). i am excited to see what this city has to offer and to start classes tomorrow. thank you all again for following, i hope you keep visiting my blog.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

home. after being up for over twenty four hours, i am at my home for the next eight weeks. after being picked up from the airport, our company took us to our house and introduced us to our family. my host-dad, eduar and mom, elva were awake and quickly introduced me to the house, dog, kimba and my room which has a bathroom in it. there are two other students living in the house with me, as exchange students; so i am not alone. my two brothers, jose and cesar both speak english and are very helpful. the weimaraner dog, kimba, is great and just like my dog romeo. he is currently laying between my legs and i feel like i am at home. we are in a nice district, quite (minus the constant barking dogs, and yelling neighbors) and close to my university. i am very far from my internship, but what are you going to do? i plan on making the most of my time here. i hope you all continue to follow my adventures, it means so much to me!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

hi, everyone. i am currently sitting in dallas/fort worth international airport. my flight for lima, peru leaves in about three hours, and i am starting to freak out. these next eight weeks will be a whirlwind of emotions, but i know i will have the time of my life and will become all the more cultured. i hope you follow along with me in these weeks to come and your support helps so much. 

Friday, May 22, 2015

i recently read the memoir, "a work in progress" by connor fronta, and it has inspired me to follow my passion; photography. "the future is as bright as you let it shine. don't be tricked into seeing it dimly. don't be fooled into believing that this, where you are right now, is all you get. your potential is endless. just act. act now. right now. leap. live. love." and that is what i plan to do. tomorrow, i leave for peru for the summer, and will try to update my blog daily with my adventures and experiences, good and bad. i intend to let my future shine as bright as possible.