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The Day We’ve All Been Dreading

Sadly, my time in Peru has come to an end and saying that I will miss this country is an understatement. Everything from my host family, to the incredible landscapes, speaking Spanish every day, the markets full of anything you could possibly need, weekly field trips to new ruins, and the friends that I have made, has made my experience unforgettable and I will be extremely sad to leave it all behind. I’m so thankful for this experience, and to have learned all that I did, and I hope one day I am able to return to Cusco as well as visit more of the places in Peru that I was not able to visit this time.


Mikayla Seabaugh is a sophomore at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Biology and Spanish. Mikayla is spending the semester abroad with the ISA Language, Literature, and Culture program in Cusco, Peru.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

Channeling my Inner Darwin

Before returning home, I decided to visit the Galapagos islands to see the incredible wildlife endemic to the to the archipelago. I have always wanted to go there after learning so much about it in all of my biology classes, but had always heard it was incredibly expensive. However, because I was flying there from Lima rather than the US, I got a good deal on a flight, and was able to book last minute day tours once I got to the islands, making the trip very reasonable in price. I am so glad I decided to go because it was phenomenal.

I did a few snorkeling tours where I was able to swim with more sea turtles than I could count, two types of sharks, sea lions that got a little too close for comfort, sting rays, sea horses, and tons of different types of fish. I also went on land based tours, where we saw the famous blue footed boobies, penguins, frigate birds, finches, flamingoes, terrestrial and marine iguanas, and the giant tortoises. In addition, the landscapes were breathtaking, with the bright blues of the water meeting the black volcanic rocks and bright green plants.   


Mikayla Seabaugh is a sophomore at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Biology and Spanish. Mikayla is spending the semester abroad with the ISA Language, Literature, and Culture program in Cusco, Peru.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

Visiting “La Fea”

La Costa Verde- Lima

My last stop before leaving Peru was Lima. I wasn’t really sure what to expect as everyone in Cusco called it “La Fea” (The Ugly) and talked about how much they did not like it. However, upon arriving in the capital city, I immediately disagreed. It is nothing like Cusco, or any other place in Peru that I visited, as it is very large and modern, which is where the nickname comes from. After spending so much time in a smaller city with more of the Inca architecture and traditional culture prevalent, Lima seemed as if it were a different country entirely. It was very different, yet it was just as incredible. The city sits on a brilliant green cliff which meets the ocean below, giving incredible views from both sides. While most buildings are more modern, the bright yellow color of the Spanish architecture makes the main plaza stand out.

The Sand Dunes in Huacachina

I also decided to go on one last excursion, which was to the Ballesta islands, Huacachina, and Nazca. The Ballesta islands were off the coast of Paracas and are famous for being a home to sea lions and penguins. Huacachina houses South America’s only natural oasis, and has miles upon miles of sand dunes, which we rode up in dune buggies and then sand boarded down. Lastly, I took a flight over the Nazca lines, which were incredible to see these intricate designs that have been preserved for so many years. Seeing these last few places was a great way to end my time in Peru.

 


Mikayla Seabaugh is a sophomore at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Biology and Spanish. Mikayla is spending the semester abroad with the ISA Language, Literature, and Culture program in Cusco, Peru.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

 

Caught in a Hailstorm

As I was walking through the plaza one day, I got caught in a storm. I decided to wait out the storm under an awning, as the downpours didn’t usually last that long. However, it then began to hail, and it did not stop hailing for about 30 minutes. Not only had I never seen it hail this long, but it also did not melt shortly after reaching the ground as it usually does back home. The ice began piling up, and there was so much that the plaza soon looked as if it had been covered in snow, and it ended up staying like that for about a day and a half. I was told that Cusco had not had snow, or hail piling up like this, for about 35 years, so the streets were soon full of snowmen and my Facebook feed was full of pictures of the rare weather. It was so cute to see how excited the kids got, as this was possibly their first time seeing snow.  And, of course, because soccer was on their mind due to Peru recently qualifying to go to the World Cup, the hail was seen as a way to prepare for going to Russia and as a sign of good luck for the team.

           


Mikayla Seabaugh is a sophomore at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Biology and Spanish. Mikayla is spending the semester abroad with the ISA Language, Literature, and Culture program in Cusco, Peru.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

¡Arriba Peru!

Some of my favorite days spent here in Peru have been days of the soccer games, and coming from someone who does not enjoy watching sports at home at all, this is significant. While we have events like the Superbowl and the World Series, nothing feels the same in the United States as these soccer games did here. The games, especially the last one, were all pretty significant, as they were qualifying matches to get into the World Cup in Russia. This meant everyone was very excited, yet extremely nervous. On the nights of games, the usually packed streets would be empty, as everyone was either in their house or in the main plaza watching the game on a giant screen that was set up. The plaza was filled with so many people, and when the national anthem came on it was incredible to listen to all of these people singing together, decked out in Peru jerseys and painted faces. The sound of the entire city after they won a game was incredible, with everyone cheering and honking their cars, and it did not stop throughout the night. My host dad told me that, whether out of celebration of a win or trying to forget a loss, people drink so much that most businesses are closed the next day. I thought this was a bit of an exaggeration, but it wasn’t; when Peru did qualify, even schools had the day off. It was amazing to be able to be there while this was happening, and despite my usual lack of interest in sports, I’m still excited to see how Peru does in the World Cup this summer.

The plaza filled with people on a game night

Mikayla Seabaugh is a sophomore at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Biology and Spanish. Mikayla is spending the semester abroad with the ISA Language, Literature, and Culture program in Cusco, Peru.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

 

A Weekend in the Amazon

The last excursion we did as a group was a tour through Tambopata and Lake Sandoval in Puerto Maldonado, which are areas within the Peruvian Amazon rainforest. We started the trip by going to Monkey Island, where we were able to feed Capuchin monkeys bananas. After returning from that outing, we were told to wait until it got dark before we would meet them for the next tour. When we arrived at the meeting spot, we were informed we would be going on a spider tour to look for tarantulas and other large insects that come out at night. For someone who hates spiders and most bugs, it was very nerve-wracking to walk into a pitch black jungle with only a few flashlights to go in search of both of those. We ended up seeing a few tarantulas, which the guide said were small, but I whole heartedly disagreed.

Luckily, the next day there were no more spider tours, so instead we took a boat to another part of the island to go on a nature walk through the jungle to see more animals. We were able to see red howler monkeys, green parrots, toucans, and then on a boat ride through Lake Sandoval we saw many different types of birds, caiman, and turtles. At night, we went on another boat tour that was in search of caiman, but we ended up seeing lots of capybara. We ended the weekend by doing a canopy walk and zip lining. I’m pretty sure I left the Amazon with more mosquito bites than I have ever had in all of my life combined, but it was such an amazing experience to be able to see all of these animals in their natural habitat, as well as all of the different plants that make up the rainforest.


Mikayla Seabaugh is a sophomore at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Biology and Spanish. Mikayla is spending the semester abroad with the ISA Language, Literature, and Culture program in Cusco, Peru.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

Eating Guinea Pigs

An interesting thing in the Andean culture is their use of guinea pigs. At first, I had only heard about their use as a food, starting with the Incas domesticating and eating them, leading to it now being a popular tourist food. However, I had to write a paper on guinea pigs for one of my classes, and I found that they actually have roles in healing rituals with shamans, as well as being used for medicinal reasons.

Starting with food, guinea pigs can be roasted, grilled, or fried, and are eaten primarily on special occasions by most people, such as on major holidays or a celebration like weddings. They have a high protein content, low fat, and lots of important vitamins and minerals, which is why they continue to be eaten. Personally, I did not like the flavor of it very much and will be sticking with chicken.

As for their use in healing rituals, shamans use them mainly for diagnostic purposes. The guinea pigs, usually solid black ones because they are thought to have stronger powers, are rubbed on the back of the person with the illness. The guinea pig is then cut open and its organs are examined. The idea is that the organ that is causing the problems in the person will show up as diseased in the guinea pig, thus giving the shaman the diagnosis of the patient. In addition, almost all of the parts of the guinea pig can be used as medicine, such as the blood, boiling the bones to make a broth, the meat, and the fat. Some of the uses have scientific reasoning behind them that could explain why they work, while others do not necessarily have scientific support. However, even those that have no scientific backing have stood the test of time since the Incas until modern day society.


Mikayla Seabaugh is a sophomore at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Biology and Spanish. Mikayla is spending the semester abroad with the ISA Language, Literature, and Culture program in Cusco, Peru.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

Machu Picchu

After almost two months of being in Peru, we were finally able to visit the site that led a lot of us to this country in the first place — Machu Picchu. We woke up at 3:30am, and two buses and a train ride later, we finally arrived. When you get up the mountain, you have to walk through a ticketing area and nothing can be seen except for the surrounding mountains. However, after turning the corner, it’s all right there, and it was stunning. Before our tour started, we had tickets to climb Huayna Picchu, which is the mountain

The view of Machu Picchu from the top of Huayna Picchu

that is in the background of most pictures of the site. The climb is about 1.2 miles, with some parts being almost straight up, but it was worth all of the effort it took to get to the peak. The view of Machu Picchu from up there was incredible.

After we descended, we had a tour around the ruins. The exact reason for building the site is still not known, but it is thought that it was used as a university for the Incas. It was very interesting to see different areas and what they were used for, such as a room with water mirrors for mapping the stars and another one with a sundial used as a calendar. With the site being up in the lush, green mountains which were usually covered with clouds, the impressive ruins against this scenery makes it feel almost unreal. Machu Picchu was incredible and lived up to every expectation.


Mikayla Seabaugh is a sophomore at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Biology and Spanish. Mikayla is spending the semester abroad with the ISA Language, Literature, and Culture program in Cusco, Peru.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

Lake Titicaca

One of the first excursions we went on was to Lake Titicaca and the Puno region. Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world, with an elevation of 12,510 feet. Because it is thought to be the birthplace of the Incas, it is considered sacred even today, and it was easy to see why with how vast it is and its deep blue color.  We spent the weekend boating from island to island where we hiked up mountains to watch the sunset over the lake, as well as visiting the famous floating Uros islands. These islands are made of reeds that grow in the lake which are weaved together until they are a couple feet thick, and more layers are added on top as the bottom disintegrates, causing the island to last for about 30 years. Around 3 families live on each island, and it was incredible to see how they live out in the middle of this lake. I was very surprised to see that they had electricity, which came from solar panels.  The people were so welcoming, taking us on a boat ride around their part of the lake and giving us food to eat while they demonstrated how to weave the reeds. This was one of the most interesting places I’ve ever been, as it was so unlike anything I had ever seen. Whoever finds themselves in Peru, this is one place that should not be skipped.

       


Mikayla Seabaugh is a sophomore at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Biology and Spanish. Mikayla is spending the semester abroad with the ISA Language, Literature, and Culture program in Cusco, Peru.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

Service Learning

Part of my program abroad is a service-learning project in which I volunteer in a health clinic, and this has been one of the most beneficial parts of my experience here. I go from one to three times a week, and I either shadow the doctors on the hospitalization floors, help interpret between Spanish and English, or help with smaller tasks like folding gauze for the emergency room. This has been such a great way to learn more about the community, as well as the health care system of Peru. I have been able to see so many procedures and learn about many different diseases, all while learning medical terminology in Spanish. I think that this is one of the reasons that my Spanish abilities have improved so much from when I first got here, as most of the people working in the clinic do not speak English, and because of my job in translating. I am also able to practice the little bit of Quechua that I have learned in class with some patients. I have gained so much from this experience and am very glad that I decided to add this aspect on to my semester.


Mikayla Seabaugh is a sophomore at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Biology and Spanish. Mikayla is spending the semester abroad with the ISA Language, Literature, and Culture program in Cusco, Peru.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.