I'm in Perú

Hello World! 

As some may know, I made it to Peru about three days ago safe and sound. It's pretty amazing here. The people. The food. The low cost of living. I definitely feel like I have been here longer than three days, and my Spanish rapidly coming back. 

I'm here working for an organization called MEDLIFE, a non-profit that aims to provide Medicine, Education and Development to low-income communities in Latin America. Today we visited a community that we work in Pamplona, a district right outside of Lima, and it's a completely different world than Surco, the district we live in. Thousands, if not millions, live in this vast amount of unplanned land that surrounds the city. It's really nothing like I've ever seen.

My experience here so far is rapidly changing my previous perceptions of the developing world. Though I've visited developing nations before, living here is just so different. I'm not sure if I can elaborate on these thoughts just yet, as I've only been here for three days. But I will elaborate on my thoughts as time goes on. 

 

 

 

blogphoto.jpg

40 days of photos

Today is Ash Wednesday, which also means it's the first day of Lent. For Lent I usually give up something, but this year I decided to take up something instead. Well, two things: exercise daily and take at least one photo a day. This will be good in helping me to shoot more. Since I can't find my USB cord, I probably won't be posting photos every day, but I will be taking them. To kick this off, I decided to take a photo of the USC Catholic Center in light of Ash Wednesday.

USC Catholic Center

USC Catholic Center

Photo of the day: Los Muertos

Last thursday I went to La Casita Mexicana with my friend for an assignment for our Spanish class. It was probably the best restaurant experience I've had in my life. Great food. Great people. And a great environment. This photo is from La Tiendita, a store full of lot of trinkets and other goodies run by the same owners that's located right next to the restaurant. Click here if you speak Spanish and want to read my blog entry about the restaurant. 

Los muertos en La Tiendita

Los muertos en La Tiendita

Reunited (photo of the day)

I'm starting a "photo of the day" series on my blog mostly as a motivation to practice my shooting at keep up this blog. I probably won't post a photo every single do, but hope to do so pretty often. This photo is a few days late, but it is still precious. :)

Photo of the Day August 17: reunited with my little cousin (for now) after months of being apart.

Photo of the Day August 17: reunited with my little cousin (for now) after months of being apart.

Barcelona on a bike

Barcelona. A city with "pizazz." A city full of rich and interesting history. A city of sun and fun. The city that I almost didn't go to. 

Fortunately, I went there last weekend. And it turns out that the city that I expected to like the least became one of my favorites. 

I made a video documenting some of my biking-adventures throughout the city. The video is a bit silly, but nonetheless it was fun to ride my back and film at the same time. 

 

First class bus

Sunday I took a day-trip to Santander, and I have to say, although the city itself was beautiful, one of the highlights of my day was the bus ride there. At first I was upset because our original bus was sold out so we had to take a "supra" bus (instead of the normal one) and let me just say...that extra six euros went a long way. Here are some of the perks:

  • Our very own "flight attendent"
  • Free candy
  • Free drinks
  • Free potatoe chips
  • Free headphones
  • A personal monitor with movies, TV shows, music, and games for us to enjoy
  • Very comfy seats
  • And a parting gift...a free lint roller!

What I am trying to say is, this bus experience was too good for me to not blog about it. A wise friend once told me, "Sometimes it's better to just pay a little more." In this case, they were right.

Agur. 

My life

Carnavales. Morocco. Riding camels. Sevilla. Segovia. Madrid. Midpoint of semester. Las Fallas en Valencia. 1 euro pintxos. Library card. Beaches. Good weather. Surfing. San Sebastian. 

This is what I have done here in Spain/Europe/Africa since I've last blogged. Yes I know I know, I still have many blog posts and photos to upload. I'll be catching up with that...eventually. But for now (come Friday), Italy and Greece await!

El Sur de Francia


This past weekend we daytripped to Bayonne, a quite little city in the south of France. It was nothing short of amazing. Bayonne is the first city in France to make chocolate, so of course I had a chocolate crepe. It's too hard to pass up having a chocolate crepe in the motherland of crepes and the French motherland of chocolate. 

My chocolate crepe in France

My chocolate crepe in France

Before this trip I never had any interest in going to France, but now I definitely want to go back. 

It was the first time I had ever visited a country where I didn't know the language, and I admit, it was difficult...and I was only there for a day! I can't imagine how difficult Italy and Greece will be.

A biker in Bayonne, Basque Country, France

A biker in Bayonne, Basque Country, France

Spain FAQs

Because I have noticed some patterns in the questions my friends ask me about Spain, I thought it would be a good opportunity to write a "Spain FAQ" post to act as a "central document" to everyone's questions. This blog post will hopefully expand as more questions arise. 

How's Spain?
Spain is wonderful. Bilbao is amazing. The people here are so nice.The more I get to talk to people here and know the area, the more I can see myself living here. 

Where do you stay?
I stay in a dorm right next to the university. I have my own room, own bathroom, and a meal plan (that meal plan saves my life). I live on a floor with all Spanish girls; it's awesome. 

How's the food there?
The food here is great. Pinxtos and tortillas de patatas are a staple of life. The dorm food could be better, but I still somehow look forward to it before every meal period. The one thing I do miss is hot sauce/spicy foods. Luckily I have found good Chinese, Indian, and Mexican places to get my spicy-food fix when I need it. 

Are people surprised when they hear you speak Spanish?
Not really because everyone here speaks Spanish. Haha. So they just assume I do. Also, most people here here usually initiate conversation with me in Spanish because they don't know English. I don't think it would be like that if I were in a more touristy area like Barcelona. Plus, my Spanish is not that great...  

Have you seen anywhere else?
Thus far I my adventures have been limited to the Basque Country. I have spent many days explore different areas in Biscay (the province that Bilbao is in), and as I mentioned in my previous blog post, I spent a day in the beautiful San Sebastian. I do have other trips planned in weeks to come. Future destinations: south of France, Madrid, Segovia, Italy, and Greece! Possible (hopefull) destinations: Barcelona, Morocco, Sevilla and other parts of southern Spain. Honestly, though, I love exploring Bilbao and other parts of País Vasco. It's amazing. 

Agur! 

La ciudad de San Sebastián

This post is a bit overdue. I've been sort of lazy about uploading my photos to the computer. But nevertheless, here it is!

Last week I ventured east to 2016's cultural capital of Europe - San Sebastian. We went there for the Tamborrada de San Sebastián. It's a 24 hour festival with street parties and parades touring the city.

Transient

The city is absolutely beautiful. I wish I had taken more photos. It's situated perfectly on the beach and has architecture similar to that of Casco Viejo in Bilbao (will post photos later). The population of the city is about 186,000 and in the summer it doubles. I can see why.

Transient


Not the best photo of the beach. It was raining and I was trying not to get my camera wet. I will definitely go back when it gets clearer and take another shot. I can only imagine how beautiful it must be when there is no fog. 

San Sebastián definitely lived up to it's 2016 title of European Cultural Capital, as I experienced a bit of a culture shock. The city is undoubetly Basque. Being based in Bilbao, I've been aware that I am in the Basque country, but didn't really feel it until I ventured off to San Sebastián. There were very few signs in Spanish (all signs were in Basque), Basque country posters everywhere, and I actually overheard people casually speaking Basque (a first!)! As I believe I mentioned in my last post, I love being exposed to the two cultures. 

Transient