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Thursday, May 07, 2015 (read 1009 times)
My Experience Living in Peruby john
Peru - Probably One of the World’s Greatest Travel Destinations
- Peru has so much to offer whatever type of tourism you enjoy from exquisite beaches and beautiful scenery to exhilarating hikes and myriad historical and cultural monuments.
- After sampling Peru´s delicious gastronomy I was not surprised to find out that it had won the World´s Leading Culinary Destination Prize three years in a row ( in 2012,2013 and 2014) at the World Travel Awards.
In the summer of 2012, I was lucky enough to be able to pack my bags and embark on a month long trip to Peru. It was a country that I had long admired and heard so much about and I was very excited to teach English in the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Looking back after two years I can say that it was one of the best experiences of my life. In this article I want to give you a flavour of my time in this South American nation and I will explain why I think Peru is probably one of the world’s greatest travel destinations.
I want to start by giving my overall impressions of the country. In short, it is one of the most beautiful places I have ever had the privilege to visit. Driving through the Andes Mountains on my way to the Urubamba Valley the view out the window was breath-taking but also mystical. I would soon discover that Peru is a country full of hidden gems just waiting to be discovered. These wonders include numerous Inca ruins such as Saqsaywaman just outside Cusco and the Ollantaytambo archaeological site in the town of the same name which all have their own stories to tell taking you back to the Incan Empire and revealing what life was like many centuries ago.
As well as its fascinating heritage Peru also boasts a rich, gastronomic, musical and religious culture where tradition and modernity combine. To illustrate this fusion of the old and the new all you need to do is take a walk around Cusco. The many churches located on or near to the central Plazas de Armas including Cusco´s Cathedral and the Church of the Society of Jesus (la Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesus) are stunning architectural reminders of Peru´s past which are worth visiting to marvel at their intricate interiors and to see the “Cusco School” (a Roman Catholic style of artwork originating in Cusco in the Colonial Period) paintings. But what about contemporary symbols? We could talk about the numerous modern hotels located in Cusco but I think that there is a better example of innovation: the railway. The efficient service provided by PeruRail, which runs several different routes, is a great example of how Peru has kept up with the times and developed infrastructure to meet the demands of sectors such as the tourist industry. However, this state-of-the-art form of transport does not overshadow Peru´s historical sites but helps people visit them providing links to famous Incan ruins such as the citadel of Macchu Picchu.
We have looked at how Peru does not just have a rich history and traditional architecture but also 21st century systems and services. Now I want to talk about its people. During my time in this nation I met Peruvians from all walks of life and I can say with all honesty that they are some of the wisest, most generous people I have met. Furthermore they are always ready to offer you a welcoming smile and to tell you about their country. I was able to experience this hospitality first-hand living with a host family in the Sacred Valley of the Incas. As well as introducing me to gastronomic delights such as the colourful cervichemy host parents really helped me to integrate into the Peruvian way of life inviting me to accompany them to family gatherings and showing me around their city.
As well as working in a school and doing things with my host family I also had a lot of time to explore my surroundings with the other volunteers. If you are looking at going to Peru I highly recommend a visit to the Sacred Valley. It is a very tranquil area surrounded by awe-inspiring mountains but within easy reach of Cusco thanks to the numerous buses and cars which make the journey to the former capital of the Inca Empire every day. I got the opportunity to live in Calca which is a bustling city with houses built using traditional materials and a great hub for exploring the surrounding towns of Urubamba and Ollantaytambo and the village of Pisac. I was struck by how all of these place have such close-knit communities whose members join together to celebrate significant events and feast days while also proudly displaying their customs and local products to visitors. Naturally some of these celebrations are religious. For example, I witnessed processions to commemorate the feast of Corpus Cristi but I was also able to take part in a joyful parade through Calca's streets in honour of the opening of a new school building. An example of the locals showing off their traditions could be the Pisac markets which take place daily (the biggest one being on Sunday) where vendors sell handicrafts, ceramics and other typical souvenirs such as Alpaca jumpers.
Teaching English in Peru
I now want to move on and talk about my job while I was in Peru. I have always thought about the possibility of pursuing a career in teaching English and I was able to get experience in this field. I worked in an all-boys school leading classes with students of a variety of ages. In addition to enabling me to develop my pedagogical techniques and my repertoire of communicative and student-centred activities, this project also allowed me to enhance my transferable skills and to learn about Peruvian culture and education. During the lessons I had to clearly explain instructions, listen and respond appropriately to the students’ queries and discreetly but effectively supervise them during activities. I also worked with a local teacher and I was able to talk to him about the Peruvian lifestyle and the structure of the education system contrasting it with the English one.
Finally, I want to talk about two unforgettable experiences that I had. One of Peru´s most famous sites is the Inca citadel of Macchu Picchu. I found it an amazing and mystical place which I did not want to leave. I would recommend getting up early to trek to the ruins on foot (it takes about 1 to 2 hours) but you will be able to see the sunrise. Also the hike up Huayna Picchu, a mountain overlooking the city, is tough but worth the effort as you will be able to enjoy panoramic views right down to the Urubamba River. Just before leaving the country I was also able to witness the yearly religious ceremony Inti Raymi (the Festival of the Sun) which celebrates the Incan sun god Inti. This festival, which took place in Cusco, was a great opportunity to hear traditional music, watch spectacular dance routines and see authentic costumes.
In conclusion, if you get the chance I would really encourage you to visit Peru. There is something about the country which will make you want to return time and again. Furthermore, you could always go on a volunteer program helping contribute to the welfare and education of a nation where you will have so many life-changing moments. While volunteering, working or travelling in Peru you could also take a course to improve your language skills which I found facilitated my immersion in the country´s culture and way of life.
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