Foto Friday: Llama van

So this past Wednesday was a holiday here in Perú, and I decided to aprovechar and go into Huaráz for the day to talk to my U.S. family, hang out with my host-uncle, and get a cheap smartphone and data plan to better stay in touch with friends and other Volunteers.

Now, to get to Huaráz, I have to take a combi which is basically a large, white van in which they squeeze in anywhere from 5-20 people on tiny benches. In my site, Caraz, there is a station where these combis leave about everyone 5 minutes for Huaráz, so naturally this is where my story begins. Now, I hop on the combi in Caraz, and about 20 minutes later I have arrived at the neighboring city of Yungay, where my friend Diana works. At Yungay, there is a mandatory stop that all the combis must pull into, waiting their turn until they are allowed to continue the journey to Huaráz.

Usually waiting in the stop (paradero) is quite boring, but this time was filled with a little excitement. As I was sitting in my van, listening to music, I see a man walking around with a llama. Now, I assumed that this man had brought his llama out to provide a photo opp for the social media obsessed tourist or two that might be passing through Yungay. But, I was quite wrong. In fact, llama man was in search of a llama van, in other words, he wanted a ride for him and his llama, presumably to Huaráz, but I can’t be sure.

Prepping the combi for the giant llama

So, in a short span of time, the combi in front of me popped open its back door, and a man quickly compressed all of the seats to against the windows to make room for the llama. Now, this was a big llama, and despite moving about 2 rows of seats, the llama barely made it inside. The man needed to push the llama in a bit further to close the door, and knowledgeably asked the owner “La llama se patea?” (does the llama kick?), to which the owner said “No, no no. No se patea.” (no, no no, he doesn’t kick). Now let me tell you, that llama did kick, and it took a good 3 tries before they could successfully close the back door of the combi and send the llama van on its way.

They finally fit the llama inside the van.

One thing I’ve learned in Peace Corps is that you are surprised constantly. I can only hope that in the future I get to witness this spectacle once more.

Until next time,


The Journey Begins

Well, the day has (almost) finally arrived.  After submitting my Peace Corps application almost a year and a half ago, I am finally about to begin my journey as a Peace Corps Volunteer.  I am headed for Peru, the land of mountains, potatoes, llamas, and the Incas, as a Community-Based Environmental Education Volunteer.

This adventure has been a long time coming, after submitting my initial application nearly a year and a half ago, and spending the last 9 months living and working at home.  I am excited to be off (after a one night pit stop in DC), although admittedly the gravity of the situation still evades my grasp.  In the days and weeks leading up to my departure, I have tried to meditate on what I’m about to do, on how my life is going to change, yet each time I do so, I am met with an invisible wall, leaving comprehension just beyond my reach.  How can one possibly understand such a radical divergence from everyday life?

What I do know, however, is that this experience will be unlike anything I have faced before.  It will be full of challenges, tears, laughter, awkward cultural exchanges, scenic vistas, parasites, wonderful food, amazing people, and unimaginable opportunities.  I chose to apply to the Peace Corps because I wanted to be challenged, because I wanted to travel, because I wanted to use Spanish, and most importantly because I wanted to invest in, engage with and assist international communities in ways both small and large.  I will be gone for 27 months.  I will certainly miss my loving family, I will certainly miss my incredible friends, and I will certainly miss burritos (San Diego spoiled me, Brian), but I will certainly gain innumerable and invaluable experiences.

Here’s to new friends, grand adventures, meaningful work, and lots of fun!