So, after ten days in Lima and about three weeks in Cusco, the program came to an on Thursday, with most of my classmates flying home. Although it has only been just over a month, it has felt like much longer. Thinking back to that insane first week in Lima, it seems like a year ago. We finished the program with one last discussion and then one last meal as a group, and both were lots of fun and more than a little bittersweet. It was hard not to wish we had just a little bit more time.
I remember the culture shock of arriving in Lima and seeing the streets filled with tiny little taxis that rarely obeyed stop signs and didn’t seem to care much for the safety of pedestrians. I think I will be irritated when I return to the USA and find it nearly impossible to wave down a taxi (and even harder to pay one dollar for a ride across town). I remember the pleasant surprise of purchasing empanadas for two soles (sixty cents) a piece, and the unpleasant surprise of finding out what Peruvian food poisoning feels like. It will be nice to be able to fearlessly eat whatever I want again.
But these things – taxis, empanadas, and food poisoning – are material. This country has had a much deeper impact on me than that. I said at our last class meeting that when one speaks of “Peru” he or she is often speaking of not only a country, but of a people as well. When one speaks of the USA, he or she is speaking of, more often than not, a government or a land mass. It is this difference, this sense of community and solidarity, that I think will have the most lasting impact on me. Of course, it is impossible to know what will really have the largest impact on me until some time has passed, and I am able to look back on the experience from an outside perspective. For this reason, this post will not be my last (and thus the title becomes a little bit ironic). I will probably say a bit more some time in September.
I want to thank all my classmates, who have been rarely mentioned in this blog but who have been an important part of this program and this experience for me. It is with them that I enjoyed (or didn’t) each of the experiences I have described, and without them none of these stories would have been as whole. Likewise, their different perspectives on everything we have done have helped me sort through my own thoughts, and without their opinions I would not have been able to clearly form my own. I have made many great friends along the way and I look forward to seeing you all in Seattle.
Finally, I want to thank my professors, Jose Antonio Lucero and María Elena García. They put this whole program together, they pushed us to go out and really become more than just observers, and they introduced us all to this amazing country. They were and are irreplaceable, and without them this program never would have happened (and I would probably be sitting in Seattle playing Fifa right now). Besides all that, they are both amazing people and I highly recommend to any UW students that they take a class with one or the other (or both). Thanks again guys!
For me the next few days look like this: Tomorrow I return to Macchu Picchu with my mom, who (obviously) is visiting me here in Peru. Sunday is my last day in Cusco, and I will probably spend much of it at the market across the street from my hotel. Monday morning we fly to Lima and have the entire day there. And then Tuesday at 12:20 AM I fly back to Seattle, stopping briefly in Atlanta and L.A. As much as I love this country and have enjoyed my time here, I cannot wait for the moment the tires hit the runway at Sea-Tac. Home is always home, no matter what.