Having her in Peru has been a learning experience for me as well as for her. She gets all the fun (and headaches) of dealing with a foreign culture, and I get to learn through the photos she sends and the little descriptive comments. We've talked a lot about food, because I know she was really looking forward to tasting Peruvian cuisine. She also hoped to be able to help with some of the food prep so that she might learn to make some of the dishes herself. It doesn't sound like she's had much chance to be hands-on with the food other than by eating it. But she does have a list of recipes she wants to bring home so she can at least attempt them here.
fresh vegetables galore
The pictures she sends me of the food make me wish that I could eat them! Lots of fresh vegetables, which is something that I am starving for this time of year in Michigan. Yes, 'fresh' veggies are available at the grocery store here, but they are not the same taste, texture, or quality as the same veggies picked ripe and in season from Michigan gardens and fields. For instance, I haven't eaten a 'real' (ie not bought at the store) tomato in about eight months. Just about every meal she has had in Peru, no matter what time of the day, has included fresh tomato! Many also feature peppers, most of which are varieties unavailable here (because they are native Peruvian kinds), all of which she says are 'tasty without being too hot'. Her favorites so far are aji amarillo and aji de gallina. We've discussed trying to get a hold of some seeds and seeing if they might grow here with help (season extenders such as row covers or cold frames). This had led to a little bit of research on what is and isn't allowed through customs as far as biological matter (such as plants and seeds) is concerned. Also some looking through the online catalog of Seed Savers Exchange to see if I might simply be able to order seeds for her choice varieties through them. Apparently there is a very refreshing drink made with purple (dried) corn that she wants me to grow the corn for.
In addition to tomatoes and peppers, she reports that potatoes are plentiful also. Which makes sense, being as potatoes as we Americans know them, originated in Peru in the Andes Mountains. They are one of the most important crops in Peru.
potatoes with pan fried (aji amarillo seasoned) chicken
While in Peru, she is taking two classes at the local college. Most of the other students in her program are taking three, but she had all ready completed the level of language course that they are studying, so she just has two classes. Both of which deal with history and culture and include a lot of excursions. So far she has been to a remote village in the Andes, an archaeological site also in the Andes, a school/center for young girls who are at risk of being drafted into the drug and prostitution industries, and to the desert.
in the Andes
a glacial lake
oasis in Huacachina
She says that the excursions have been interesting, but that daily life has been the most educational. Learning her way around a major city, in a foreign country, in a different culture, has been full of stumbling blocks, but has also given her a huge sense of self and empowerment. Traffic rules are different and looking both ways before crossing the street does not guarantee your safety. Now she is sure to look all four ways, several times, before stepping into the street!
DD2 said she also learned, one day while ordering lunch at a street food vendor where the orders are taken not by number but by your name, that apparently her first name is hard to pronounce for most Peruvians. She said it took about five minutes of hearing this progressively louder and more insistent voice calling out a strange word for her to realize that the word was, apparently, her name!
In just a few more weeks, she will be back home in Michigan. Time is going quickly, and in our most recent conversation, she said that she is not at all ready to leave Peru. Of course, the excursion to Machu Picchu is yet to come; next week, I think. Who would want to spend six weeks in Peru and come home without seeing that?