Tag Archives: Archaeology

Trujillo, Peru: The Temple of the Sun and the Moon

31 May

The Temple of the Sun and the Moon — more commonly referred to as Huaca de la Luna — is an archaeological site near the city of Trujillo in Peru that once belonged to the Moche civilization.

It is beautiful and intricate and unexpectedly well-preserved.

I loved it so much I went back a second time.

Maybe it’s just me, but I believe that Huaca de la Luna is a must-see in Peru, especially if you were planning on heading north to Mancora or the Amazon.

It’s difficult to put Huaca de la Luna into words, so I’ll let pictures do most of the talking.

Huaca de la Luna was magnified by the Cerro Blanco mountain in its background.

This particular face of Ayapec, a Moche deity, was very common throughout the murals in Huaca de la Luna. The representation of Ayapec and the preservation on this particular wall is absolutely fantastic as you can see above.

Huaca de la Luna also made for some interesting photo ops. This one in particular was in an area not open to the public. I was privileged to view this area thanks to Jorge and Carlos. Much appreciated.

The site involved artwork that appeared in layers as you can see above. Each layer repeated the same image in a horizontal fashion and each layer represented something about the Moche culture.

Jorge (pictured above) knew everything there is to know about Huaca de la Luna so he was our group’s personal guide. Here, in particular, was a restricted room that he showed us, as he is an archaeologist working on the site.

Another interesting thing about Huaca de la Luna, like any other modern building, was that it had graffiti. I couldn’t believe that the graffiti was still visible, some 1200 or so years later. Can you tell what kind of animal is graffitied in the picture above?

Adobe brick was used to build the structure of the temples. It was everywhere. It is made of clay making it is easy to carve things into… like happy faces. Can you find the happy face? Well, it kind of looks happy.

Currently, the archaeological complex is still being excavated on. Above, you can see Huaca del Sol in the background and the residential sectors in the foreground. The residential sectors are not open to the public (as they were to the group I was with) since that area is still being excavated, but you can get a good view of them from Huaca de la Luna.

Unfortunately, Huaca del Sol (pictured in the background above) isn’t nearly as big and as complete as it once was. Looters and erosion have destroyed approximately two-thirds (!) of Huaca del Sol, so, unlike Huaca de la Luna, it isn’t open to the public.

Go to Huaca de la Luna if you are ever in Trujillo or if you’re ever traveling through the north to Mancora or the Amazon. It’s amazing and, like any other archaeological site, it won’t be around forever.

Come on, who doesn’t want to learn about blood sacrifice and pre-Columbian badasses?

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Off The Beaten Path: Trujillo, Peru

18 May

Trujillo is a city in northern Peru. It is the third largest city in the country, but it isn’t really a host for many travellers.

Trujillo's Plaza de Armas

To be honest, the only reason I went to Trujillo was that it was the closest big city to me. As I was staying in a tiny little town in the middle of nowhere, I was dying to eat in a restaurant, to go grocery shopping, and to be able to sleep in a bed that didn’t feel like it was going to collapse any minute. I also went because there were some interesting archaeological sites nearby — Huaca de la Luna y del Sol, Chan Chan, and El Brujo.

I actually ended up liking Trujillo so much that I ended up going twice.

I probably spent about a week total in Trujillo, so I will do my best at giving you a brief overview of what to expect, what to see, etc.

I love street art!

To me, three things stood out in Trujillo: The variety of restaurants, the nightlife, and the sightseeing (the archaeological sites, in particular).

The only aspect of Trujillo that I found was lacking was accommodations. It was really hard for me to find a hostel. I got the name of a hostel from a friend, but there was no taxi driver who seemed to know where it was. Eventually someone found it and it turned out to be a nice hostel, but a little overpriced since there was no dorm option. The upside? Close to Trujillo’s centre and the staff was very friendly and helpful. It was called ‘San Pedro Residencial Hostal‘ or something similar to that. It was nice enough that I stayed there the second time I went as well. One man who worked there even walked some friends and I to a restaurant he thought was really good and wouldn’t accept any tips from us. Note: this is common in Peru and probably anywhere in South America. If someone if going out of there way to bring you somewhere, they will expect a tip. This happened to me on my very first day in Peru! Beware. You’ve been warned.

So other than that, Trujillo was perfect for me.

1) The Food

Every meal I had in Trujillo was great for two reasons: They were cheap and they were delicious. Two of my favourite words. You can look in a guidebook and I’m sure there are plenty of great options, but I just walked around and found great places.

I found that Trujillo had a lot of great breakfast spots. You may even be able to find coffee that isn’t instant for once!

If your in the mood for fast food, you’ll find it everywhere. I went to a mall one day because I needed to buy some warmer clothing and the food court was gigantic. So if you miss fast food go to a mall. I promised myself I wouldn’t have McDonald’s while in South America, but I ended up caving 3 times. In Trujillo, no one really spoke English so I had to order in Spanish. So, after I finally understood exactly how to order my meal: “Una hamburguesa con sólo la carne, pan, queso y salsa de tomate, por favor.” Yes, I was told to ask for everything I wanted, including the meat (carne) and the bread (pan). So, in short, I ordered a burger with only ketchup and cheese because I HATE mustard SO much. I opened up my burger and, to my dismay, there was mustard. Such disappointment. I had finally understood how to order, but I had no clue how to say that my order was made incorrectly. Anyway, Trujillo has some great malls and department stores that are full of resources, including fast food as well as…

This was taken in a mall in Trujillo. Turns out that Twilight really is extremely popular everywhere!

Now, back to food (blood counts though, right?)…

If you’re in the mood for Italian? Yep, you’ll find it. I went to this restaurant a few times called ‘Rustica.’ It had pasta, pizza, and other Italian favourites. It also had Peruvian cuisine like anticuchos de corazon (cow heart!), which I tried, and thoroughly enjoyed. Rustica wasn’t really budget friendly, as some dishes were expensive and some weren’t, but it was nice to have Italian for a change.

Another thing I noticed in Trujillo was that there were a lot of dessert places. So if you’re craving ‘Dulce de leche,’ which I craved pretty much every day, then you’ll be able to find it no problem.

Just walk around and find a restaurant that has a set menu (cheap!) and a huge crowd and you’re golden.

2) The Nightlife

When the night crept in, there were two different kinds of places that I went to.

One was a really fancy club/martini bar type of place. It was expensive and posh, so if that’s your style, then go for it. The other place I went to was more my style. It was called Ributo Bar and it was on one of the main streets off of the Plaza de Armas. Ributo Bar was pure awesomeness. It had cheap drinks (Although no Cusquena, which was odd). The best part though was the live music. Not only was the band amazing, but they even sang a few English songs like “With Or Without You” by U2. I also liked how my friends and I were the only ‘gringos’ in the bar. Unlike in Lima, we weren’t given any special attention. It was cool to just feel like a local.

My suggestion would be to go to Trujillo’s centre, Plaza de Armas, and just walk around the main streets. You’ll find tons of places.

Jenny, Hannelore, and me. I don't look drunk at all...

@ Ributo Bar in Trujillo

3) The sightseeing

I’m not going to go into detail on this because I’ll be dedicating an entire post to one of Trujillo’s main attractions, but I will briefly mention the places I think you should see in Trujillo.

There are two main sights to see in Trujillo that attracts tourists: Huaca de la Luna y del Sol (The Temple of the Sun and the Moon) and Chan Chan. Both are archaeological sites.

I saw the former twice. I loved it. The artwork was amazing and so well preserved. The structures were such a testament to the lifestyle of the Moche people. There is so much more to it, but I will leave that for another post. If you are keen on archaeology, Huaca de la Luna y del Sol will blow you away. Tip: Make sure you get a guide and make sure you get one that speaks English if you can’t speak Spanish. The first time I went, we had no guide, and although I still loved it, having a guide during my second visit exponentially improved my experience at the Temples. Come on, who doesn’t want to learn about blood sacrifice?

Standing in the Temple of the Moon. You can also see the Temple of the Sun in the background (the mound to the right of my head).

As for Chan Chan, I actually didn’t go see it. The reason is because I had limited time and I decided that I would rather revisit Huaca de la Luna since I loved it so much (and since I would be given a private tour through the restricted areas of the temples!). A few of my friends saw Chan Chan and they said it was really cool. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is the largest pre-Columbian city in South America and it is entirely constructed out of adobe bricks which is quite impressive. It is Chimu, rather than Moche, and the adobe city was eventually conquered by the Inca.

Honourable mention: El Brujo. Meaning “The witch doctor.” It is also an archaeological site. It’s an ancient monument of the Moche culture, but what’s really interesting about El Brujo is that Lady Cao was discovered there during excavation. What’s so interesting about Lady Cao? She is the first known governess in Peru! She also was covered in tattoos, which are still visible on her corpse! Amazing. Another interesting thing to experience at El Brujo is, well, probably illegal so I won’t mention it here. You’ll just have to go find out yourself!

One of the rooms inside the El Brujo. I don't think you're allowed to get this close to the walls, but oh well!

So, would you ever consider adding Trujillo to your itinerary?

A lot of people bus from Lima to Mancora, which I think is around 18 hours, so why not make a stop in Trujillo?

It’s off the beaten path, but nothing less than awesome!

A Day On An Archaeological Dig: Part II

8 May

If you’ve read Part I then you’ll have an idea of what you’re basic schedule would be like for a day of digging. Most of the time you should expect an early wakeup followed by a full day of working that will usually end before the sun sets. Digging in the dark is impossible.

I feel as if the media, and especially movies, like Indiana Jones, completely glamorizes and romanticizes archaeology. Archaeology is nothing like Indiana Jones. If that’s what you’re expecting or if that’s what you want, then don’t bother because you will be horribly disappointed.

Archaeology is tedious and time-consuming. It takes a lot of work and a lot of patience. You’re not going to be finding really awesome artifacts every few minutes. It’s more like every few days or not at all.

I’m not trying to make it sound less exciting than it is because, to me, it is very exciting, even when it’s not me who is actually finding highly significant artifacts, but rather someone else. But, when you do find something, especially your first artifact, it is SO exciting. When sand is blowing in your face on a windy day, then maybe not so much.

One of those windy, cold, crappy days

Five really important factors stood out to me during this volunteer experience that I think are important to be considered BEFORE committing.

So, before you buy your plane ticket, make sure you can handle the following:

1) Are you okay with being isolated?

Because you will likely be located in the middle of nowhere.

A lot of archaeological sites are located in a remote area because they are likely the sites that haven’t been terribly destroyed by weather or looters. Also, as times passes, the larger sites are already completely excavated and so all that is left are the more unknown, remote sites. Excavated areas in big cities and common areas will definitely already be excavated, so don’t expect to be doing digging around the Colisseum or the Temples of Angkor Wat. They have already been fully excavated and, if not, they are left to the professionals.

2) Do language barriers freak you out?

Because there may be a lot of workers who don’t speak English.

While my fellow volunteers did speak English, the workers who did all the “heavy-lifting” didn’t speak a word of English. It’s hard to find workers who speak English in such an isolated area. Consequently, all paper work, including forms that I had to fill out regarding the artifacts I found, were in Spanish and I had to complete them in Spanish. I got the hang of this quickly, but it was a little bit overwhelming at first as it was crucial that we didn’t screw up the forms. Organization is such a key aspect when handling artifacts and it was a huge issue if we didn’t fill out the forms properly. The upside? Learning a lot of uncommon terms in a different language, in my case, Spanish. I learned how to say shell, metal, wood, and many other terms and phrases in Spanish to the point that they became second nature to me. It was a cool way to learn a language.

3) Are you in good health?

Because this is definitely not an “easy” volunteering experience.

I put easy in quotations because I’m not referring to the actual technique of digging. That’s the easy part. The hard part is the strain on your body. For me, my knees and back were under so much strain to the point that I didn’t know if I could continue digging. On top of that, I was doing close to an hour of walking up and down hills each day and the majority of the time I was carrying heavy equipment. If you have back problems, joint problems, asthma (like me), or some other type of health condition, you may want to really think about whether or not you will be able to work under these strenuous conditions. If you do encounter problems like this, you can always ask if there’s any lab work to be done. I did lab work cleaning textiles for a week and I loved it!

4) Do you fare well with less-than-satisfactory climates?

Because the weather can be very unpredictable.

I’ll give you an example of the type of climate I encountered each day in Nepeña, Peru. I was there during Peru’s winter months (July and August). The weather was very unusual to me. The mornings were very cold in Nepena, followed by hot temperatures midday plus really intense heat from the sun, followed by VERY cold nights. It was frustrating because when I would leave in the morning for the dig site it would be so cold that I had to wear pants, a jacket and sometimes even a hat or gloves. THEN, once it hit midday, it would be so hot that I would be sweating buckets. Then there’s the wind factor. When you’re working in a place like I did, which was basically a mound of sand, wind will be your worst enemy. Sand blowing into your face while your digging or into your food while your eating. Sometimes I would spend the majority of my time cleaning out one area in a room I was working on and then the winds would start up and completely ruin what I had accomplished. If you can handle these weather nuisances, then you should volunteer on a dig!

and most importantly…

5) Are you a patient person?

Because digging is a slow-paced type of job.

Although it may take a long time to find something that makes you feel accomplished, I assure you that it will be a great feeling when you do. What’s better than finding a piece of history than can contribute to the understanding of humankind? Be prepared that sometimes you might go days without finding something that feels significant to you. I found things everyday, but a corn kernel or a piece of llama hair didn’t really give me a sense of accomplishment. Be patient because you will find something. And even if it’s a fellow volunteer who finds something, it is just as exciting because you are part of it. If you don’t think brushing a wall for hours on end is your cup of tea, then this is not for you. Don’t expect to be finding dinosaur bones everyday because I assure you that you will likely never find a dinosaur bone. Ever. That’s not what archaeology is all about.

Of course there are other factors that you should consider.

Can you deal with handling bones? Hair? Dried feces?

This needle that was found is made of bone!

Are you okay with getting down and dirty? You WILL get dirty.

Can you handle criticism well?

Do you hate following orders or a strict schedule?

These, along with the five factors I mentioned before, as well as many other factors, are things to consider because you will most likely have to face ALL of them.

Archaeology is fun! But like any field, there are things you might not like about it or things that you might not be able to handle. Think about it. If you have back problems, ask beforehand if you can do lab work half the time and dig half the time. If you hate sand, try volunteering in Poland. If you hate cold climates, try volunteering in Thailand. Archaeology is everywhere. Look around, do research, and make sure that this is an experience that you would enjoy. And if it is, then it will be totally worth it.

A Day On An Archaeological Dig: Part I

2 May

For anyone interested in archaeology or volunteering abroad, I’m going to give you an example of what to expect during a day as a volunteer archaeologist.

I’m studying anthropology and archaeology in university so naturally I knew that volunteering for something related, like an archaeological dig, would be a great opportunity for me.

I was nervous because I just assumed that everyone would already know what they were doing while I had ZERO experience with any hands-on work in archaeology.

However, to my surprise, while half of the people volunteering were involved in archaeology before, the other half had no previous experience.

I think it’s a great idea to volunteer on an archaeological dig. Not only do you get to meet a lot of people, but you also get to immerse yourself in a culture and find actual artifacts yourself! You get to learn different techniques, like how to use a trowel and how to clean artifacts properly. You get to learn so much about the past of the people who the artifacts once belonged to.

A friend and I posing with our archaeology tools

Something like this is also really great for your resume/CV. I recently got a job at a garden centre partly because  of this unique experience I had (and partly because of my irresistible charm).

AND you get to discover some very, very weird objects.

Like a fully preserved llama leg (with hair, nails and everything!)

…or a broken off piece of pottery of a PENIS! No joke.

Yes, it's small, but it is a penis

Well, maybe you won’t find the latter, but I guarantee there will be some artifacts found that will be bizarre. Side note: The Moche civilization (who the artifacts once belonged to) are known for having very erotic pottery, ceramics, etc. Hence, the tiny penis.

No doubt, volunteering on a dig will make for some interesting stories and great conversation with friends and people you meet, maybe even on a first date ;). No doubt that you’ll make memories to last a lifetime.

However, it is a good idea to look into what you should expect and I am here to help!

Here is the basic schedule that I was to follow daily:

6:00 a.m. – Wake up and get ready. I would usually have just enough time to change and pack a lunch.

6:30 a.m. – Breakfast with the group. We were to meet at the “restaurant” at 6:30 every morning if we wanted free breakfast. It consisted of scrambled eggs and crappy coffee that I learned to eventually love.

7:00 a.m. – Car ride to Pañamarca. Pañamarca was as close as we could get to the site. We had to walk the remaining twenty minutes or so. Also, the car could only fit a small group of people so the first group would leave at 7 and the second group would leave at around 7:30. Consequently, the first group would get to come home first at the end of the work day and the second group had to wait.

I would love to do a post on Pañamarca, which is the ruins of a huaca (a.k.a temple), but it’s very isolated so I’m sure no one would ever go here. Here’s a picture of a section of the huaca to give you an idea of what it looked like.

More pictures can be seen here on my Flickr account.

Anyway, assuming I went with the first group…

7:15 a.m. – Walk from Pañamarca to the dig site in Nepeña Valley. This took about 20 to 30 minutes depending on what we had to carry. We had to take turns carrying the wheelbarrows which may seem easy but they were filled with equipment and we had to push them on upward slants which was a killer workout (and a sure way to accumulate blisters all over our fingers)!

This was taken on the walk to the dig site

8:00 a.m. – This is usually around the time when we started digging. Our director would assign us to work in a specific area.

10:30 a.m. – We would dig straight until 10:30 and then we would have a half hour break, which I would usually use to take a nap with the sand as my bed and a rock as my pillow.

11:00 a.m. – We would start digging again. Sometimes we would be moved to a new section.

1:00 p.m. – Break #2. It was also a half hour. Most of us would usually eat lunch or nap. The sun was very hot at around this time which was pretty draining.

1:30 p.m. – The digging resumed.

2:30 p.m. – We would start labelling, categorizing, and bagging all our artifacts.

Bags of artifacts!

3:00 p.m. – Clean up, pack up, and start walking back to Pañamarca.

3:30 p.m. – First group would be taken back to our house and we would arrive close to 4 p.m.

And that’s it! It might totally suck getting up early at first, but once you’re used to it you’ll be happy that you’re done work earlier because that leaves you with a lot of free time.

You’ll also likely get the weekends off! Nepeña was about an hour drive to Chimbote and from there another 2 hours to Trujillo, a fairly big city, and I went there almost every weekend.

I should also mention that archaeological digs involve lab work, which you might have to do. This could include cleaning artifacts, labelling artifacts, etc, and it really isn’t as boring as it sounds. Sometimes it was actually a really nice break to work in the lab for the day. My personal favourite thing to do was working with the textiles, which involved carefully cleaning them, drawing them, and writing a description for them.

Cleaning textiles

Am I glad that I went? Absolutely. It was a great experience. I learned so much that will help with my studies. I learned so much about myself. I learned to adapt to a lifestyle that I wasn’t used to. I went out of my comfort zone. I found artifacts. I worked hard and it paid off.

But it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows so stay tuned for Part II which will include a list of what you should consider before committing to volunteer on an archaeological dig.

 

Finding My First Artifact

25 Apr

This post is more for the archaeologically savvy than anyone else. So if you don’t have a strong interest, this will probably be a boring post. Just warning you in advance. But I DO think you should read it regardless! Maybe you’ll realize that you dig archaeology (yes, pun definitely intended and yes, that is how you spell archaeology, in Canada, at least).

The whole reason why I went to Peru in the first place was because I was participating in an archaeological dig! I then decided I wanted to stay for longer and backpack around.

I love anthropology. Everything about it. I love learning about different cultures, which is pretty much what I get to learn about in my university classes. I get to learn about the significance behind Balinese cockfighting, the mystery of the Incas and Machu Picchu, gypsies and how they aren’t what people assume they are, and so much more. Since anthropology is the study of humanity (variations between cultures, social organizations within those cultures, how our evolutionary past influenced these variations, etc) then it makes sense that archaeology would be a branch of anthropology because archaeology is the study of the human past through material remains.

Over the years of learning about anthropology I gained such an interest and appreciation for archaeology. So, I decided that I would try a field school or volunteer work with archaeology to learn more.

After a little research, and a long lasting desire to see Machu Picchu, I decided that Peru was where I HAD to go.

I arrived in Nepeña Valley, Peru at the beginning of August 2010. I’m not going to lie, I had a rough first few days. I was in the middle of nowhere, with access to so little compared to Canada, and I truly didn’t think I would be able to stick it out for a full four weeks.

Until…

I found my first artifact!

Before I tell you about the artifact I found, I will give you a little background information about the project. Now, I’m no expert on the Moche (pronounced: Moe-chay) civilization in Peru, but I will do my best to briefly explain.

The Moche civilization occupied northern Peru from around 100 to 800 AD. The Cerro Castillo Archaeological Project (the project I was a part of) aimed to contribute to the interpretations on Moche craft production, looking at the shaping of identity, power relationships, specialized craft production, and funerary practices. So, during the four weeks I was there, I was digging in the domestic areas — the residential sectors — of the site, which would also look at the urban characteristics of Moche settlements beyond the capital. I know, sounded confusing to me at first too. Basically, we were trying to understand specialized craft production in a Moche area that was residential and the role of the craft specialists in social development.

The dig site!

One of the residential areas

Anyway, on to the good stuff…

I was digging on a very hot, sunny day (like most days) and (like most days) I wasn’t finding much of anything.

BUT THEN… dun dun dunnnnn…

I was brushing a wall in one of the sectors and I hit something metal.

So I continued digging around it.

Once I carefully removed it from the wall and briefly inspected it I realized that this metal artifact was a SEWING NEEDLE.

It looked so similar to a modern sewing needle except that it was much longer, maybe 3 inches, and it was thicker. I could tell it was a sewing needle because of the loophole at one of the ends.

I found an artifact that was approximately 2000 years old! I’m not trying to brag… who am I kidding? Yes, I am. Modesty has always been a virtue of mine.

The icing on top of the cake? Not only had no one found an artifact made of metal since I had been there, but it was museum-worthy! One weekend, our group went to visit Huaca de la Luna (a famous Moche temple) near Trujillo, Peru and the museum there was a needle that was exactly the same.

This might be a lot more thrilling for me than for you, but it was SO exciting.

This is what I came for. To work hard and long hours, finding next to nothing most days, to eventually be rewarded with the amazing feeling of finding something that contributes to archaeology and the knowledge of the past of our ancestors.

Hard work (and a little luck, of course) definitely pays off.

 

My First Taste of Culture Shock

24 Apr

 

I had never been outside of North America before I went to Peru.

I definitely didn’t get a taste of culture shock during my first week or so there since Lima seemed very metropolitan to me. Other than the language difference, it felt just like a regular, developed city to me (with cheaper prices). Now don’t get me wrong, I really liked Lima. I met some really great people, ate really great Peruvian food, and did some cool activities, like paragliding in Miraflores, checking out some artisan markets, and clubbing in Barranco. It was obviously a lot different than North American culture and lifestyle, but it was nothing compared to what I would come to experience during the four weeks I would be spending in the Nepeña Valley, Peru.

Welcome to Nepeña

Don’t worry if you’ve never heard of Nepeña. Most people haven’t. It’s a really small district on the northern coast of Peru, about an hour drive from Chimbote.

As I was being driven into Nepeña, I just continued to be more and more shocked. It was in the middle of nowhere. There wasn’t any sort of hospital, grocery store, gas station… It was NOTHING like I was expecting. It seemed like a completely different world compared to Lima.

How was I going to live in a place like this for a month?

…we arrived at the house we would be staying in. It was nice enough. Ten times nicer than 90% of the houses there, that’s for sure.

The bottom floor was our home for 4 weeks

There was a place to sleep. A place to eat. But compared to how I was living in Canada, it was such a change. It was SO different.

I felt as if I didn’t have access to much of anything except a bakery, some food stalls here and there, and really, really slow internet.

And then there was the 4:00 a.m. wake up call. Goddamn roosters.

I was in Nepeña for an archaeological dig. I definitely had this romanticized idea of what I thought it would be like. Waking up during the weekdays to dig. Finding artifacts. Going out for nice meals and socializing. Clubbing on weekends.

Other than the digging and discovering of artifacts, it was nothing like this idea I had dreamed about for months before the trip.

This was the “restaurant” where we would be eating, instead of what I had pictured…

This was our “grocery store”…

And then there was the backyard. Filled with roosters and guinea pigs (yes, big, fat guinea pigs which were being bred to eventually be EATEN … by people!). And it wasn’t just our backyard. There were roosters everywhere. And they were loud

But then I started getting used to the roosters. They didn’t wake me up anymore.

And then I started to get to know some people around the town.

I soon started to find a way to access things that I wanted. Whether it be the weekly Sunday market in the next town over to indulge my food cravings. Or finding the fastest internet in town. Or more importantly, learning to speak Spanish because English was not an option with the locals.

I began to appreciate the little things. Like when the bakery FINALLY got more cheese after 2 weeks without any. Or when the phones started working after being broken for a while.

Then I started realizing that I didn’t need to go on the computer all the time. And I didn’t need to have really fancy meals. Cold showers weren’t the end of the world. Ants in the kitchen didn’t freak me out.

The simple life wasn’t so bad after all.

Although it was nothing like I expected, I ended up loving my time in Nepeña.

I was incredibly privileged to know the wonderfully nice people there who welcomed us into their community with open arms.

Although the residents of Nepeña didn’t have access to a lot of things that I have in Canada, they were happy. And that’s really all that matters.

The first week living in Nepeña really freaked me out. I wanted to go back to Lima. I felt like I would never be happy there. It was too different. The culture was too different. After a while, I began to enjoy my time in such an “inaccessible” place and I saw Nepeña as a place of true beauty.

Sunsets really are beautiful anywhere.