Universidad San Ignacio de Loyola Review (6)
The first week, when I think back on it, was a bit chaotic. When I think back to my first bus trips…. Old, rickety, crammed microbuses, no stops, screaming cobradores (cashiers)… If you want the bus to stop, you just have to put your hand out, no matter where you are. There I was sitting in the bus, squeezed in by Peruvians, it was dark outside and I had no idea where I was. The only thing I thought “Please, please let me get off at the right place!” Somehow it always worked…
In the first week, I went to university to do all the organizational things, such as the placement test for Spanish and enrolling in the various courses. Fortunately, I don’t have far to go. You could almost walk there, which would be a bit dangerous with the traffic. So I just accept a 10-minute, always exciting bus ride. Since the university has a very large exchange program, it wasn’t difficult to get to know new people. With around 80 freshly arrived students from all over the world, everyone is naturally looking for a quick connection. Inside the university it was almost a bit uncomfortable for the first two months, as the building is open on the sides and there was a constant draft. After all, it was winter when I got there. Whereby it is still around 15 ° C in winter.
A trip to the south of Peru
Since I had in mind in advance that I would mainly use my free time to explore the country, I realized that in the second week. The lectures only started in mid-August, so I quickly flew to southern Peru with my new friend Sharin for a week. Our first destination was Arequipa, also known as “Ciudad Blanca” – the white city. This is the right place to let your mind wander. To sit down for two hours in the Plaza de Armas and quietly watch the everyday life of the locals. We were also lucky enough to have a small move while we were there. Everything from the band, women and men in traditionally dressed costumes and marching children was there.
The great thing here in Peru is, as soon as a village festival, a holiday or other events take place, you can see the locals dancing happily and singing through the streets, with their wonderfully decorated clothes and sometimes somewhat inexplicable rituals.
The kids usually start school at the age of three. This is actually called Kindergarten – there is no Spanish word for it! From the age of 6 the children start school and are in the Escuela Primaria (elementary school) for six years. This is the same for everyone. This is followed by the five-year-old Escuela Secundaria or the Colegio. There is no division into elementary, secondary and secondary school here. The only differences in quality exist in a private or state school. With the completion of the Colegio, the young people are then entitled to begin studying.
On our trip we went to the Cañon del Colca. When we dragged ourselves out of bed at 5 a.m., covered with four blankets, we made our way to Cañon de Colca with three jackets, hat, scarf and gloves. It looks like we had the best weather, but in the morning it was very cold and at night it was even freezing. The journey took a few hours, but we didn’t get bored. For example, we passed the 5800 m high El Misti volcano. We had a stretch in front of us with an impressive landscape. Partly on streets that don’t even look like streets. It went through a tunnel that was neither lit nor did our minibus have any light!
- Learn more information about Peru and South America on thenailmythology.
We also met numerous alpacas, llamas and vicuñas (three camel shapes). The llama is mainly used as a pack animal, while the alpaca (photos) and vicuñas are bred for their wool. For the Incas, for example, an alpaca coat was a sign of prosperity, with the even finer wool coming from the vicuñas. Alpaca meat is also a very special and important dish in Peruvian cuisine. Even I have had the pleasure of trying it. Albeit unintentionally. I was convinced I was eating beef.
Two hours later I am informed that I was eating high quality alpaca meat. The eyes were big…
Finally we arrived at the Cañon del Colca. One of the deepest canyons in Peru. The gorge is about 1200 m deep, the Grand Canyon in the USA, however (only) about 1,800 m. This makes the Cañón del Colca the second deepest canyon in the world and, from a geological point of view, less than 100 million years old to be considered young. If you start as early in the morning as we do, you can watch the condors circling over the gorge. Little by little it gets warmer and warmer and suddenly you can only stand it in a T-shirt and half-length trousers. The onion system is always important in the mountains of Peru.
The next day we went to the Uros Islands on Lake Titicaca. The Uros Islands are floating islands made of totora (reeds). When you walk on the island you can actually feel the ground moving very slightly under you. You also had to be careful where you stepped, there were leaks from time to time.
We were very proud to be on the highest navigable lake in the world at an altitude of 3820m.
For the indigenous people, who do not speak Spanish there, but rather Quechua and Aymara, Lake Titicaca is considered to be very sacred. They believe that the founders of the Inca Empire rose from the lake.
The inhabitants of the Uros Islands taught us about life on Lake Titicaca. We were kindly allowed to take a look inside the little straw huts. One hut was the kitchen, the other to relax, the children’s bedroom, etc. In one hut even a cat slept – how did it get to the island…?
We were also allowed to taste the totora, which is not only used to build the islands, but also serves as food for stomach pains or fever. By the way, they also make supple lips.
The women of the island showed us their handmade blankets and costumes, sang us a typical song and showed us how to trade vegetables – that was maybe a screeching…
We would have loved to go to Bolivia, as 40% of the lake belongs to Bolivia. Unfortunately, there was no time for that.