Written By Gracie, Latitudes Year ’22 Peru
I started my semester on February 21 in Cusco Peru, at Pachananda retreat
center. I started my first few days acclimatizing to over 11,000 feet. I am from New York, so the first culture shock was most definitely the difficulties breathing. For my first week I drank chlorophyll in my water to help oxygenate myself and increase my red blood cell count. Such activities resulting from green water, green mustaches outlining my lips, and green poop, very new to me.
I came to Peru to reinvent myself in the last semester of my gap year program, not only did I find myself here in Cusco I also was able to take a yoga teacher training course to become a certified yoga teacher on the side. Successful semester if you ask me. The picturesque landscape, hikes, and ruins bathing the lands of Peru was reason enough to come here, explore, and make my home for 2 months.
I spent my days wandering the markets following the directions my nose brought me. Intoxicating smells erupted from the local markets, San Pedro Market being my favorite and biggest in Cusco. Heads, hearts, and hooves of animals lined some of the aisles, or ceviche counters in the middle accompanied by juice vendors, other aisles filled with fresh or dried fruits and nuts. The front of the market is full of knick-knacks and souvenirs to catch your eye and draw you in. I found myself going in almost daily to pick out my own mangoes and avocado, mangoes as a daily snack and avocado to make guacamole each night for my dinner. The flavor is absolutely unmatched, I have been too spoiled, and I don’t think I could ever return to mangoes or avocados back at home.
During my stay at Pachananda I took part in a yoga teacher training course, with this I am not only a certified yoga instructor but also learned about my inner self more than I have ever before. For me I learned that I am quite an emotional person where before I wasn’t and I care a lot for others and now know what I want to do, career wise, because of this gap year. The beautiful people I met all joined my journey of personal discovery, each person aiding in a new way, shining light on a new attributes of myself and the world. I am so fortunate for my time in Peru, the food, people, and sights. My dad was even able to visit me which was so spectacular, he stayed with me for a week in my bunk bed. We hiked each day and he even joined in on some of my morning or mid day yoga classes.
I was met with an incredible opportunity to visit Machu Picchu during my stay! Oh my god… Absolutely nothing like it, by far the most incredible place I have ever seen in my life. Such breathtaking scenery met each and every glance, I was almost overwhelmed that I live in a world that has such unmatched beauty just on the surface. Truly a trip of a lifetime, everyone needs to see Machu Picchu at least once in their life and try a guinea pig immediately!