A Gringo’s Tale (Fred’s Trip to Peru)

Word Count: 420 |  Time to Read: 3 minutes  |  Time to Complete: 21 minutes

I’m currently writing this at 3 o’clock in the morning from seat 20D on JetBlue flight 1824 from Lima to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I can’t sleep.

For the past three weeks, I traveled throughout the department of Ayacucho in central Peru, meeting with doctors and nurses and trying my best to get the ball rolling on a childhood nutrition project. Originally, I was slated to be in Peru for six weeks as part of an ambitious initiative by an American NGO to produce educational materials for the impoverished district of Santillana in northern Ayacucho. Unfortunately, nothing went as planned.

Despite a fair amount of planning while I was still in the U.S., it quickly became apparent that the materials the NGO intended to create were already in production, furnished as part of an earlier project by the Peruvian Ministry of Health. The only real tasks I’d be able to accomplish during my time would be to hire a nurse to survey the severity of malnutrition within a few communities in Santillana and pledge funding for the purchase of the materials in September or October.

Thus, what was to be a grand South American adventure for a novice traveler was relegated to three weeks of teleconferences, meetings, and a whole lot of walking. Not that I minded in the slightest. While I routinely preach the necessity of stepping out of one’s comfort zone, giving up my veganism and going to live in a small Andean village alone was a bit more than I could handle.

By the end of my first week in Peru, I was craving the assurances of American consumerism, with its guarantees of easy access to leafy green vegetables and vegan protein bars.

Nonetheless, my time in Peru was absolutely astounding. With the help of my handy GoPro, I was able to capture some of best parts of my trip and edit them into what I think is an entertaining, informative vlog of sorts.

Though in some ways my trip was a bust, I learned some valuable lessons. Among them, pack lightly, think twice about planning air travel three months in advance, and have adequate materials for release (books, movies, TV shows). With my trusty Kindle at my side, I got through ten books in the past 20 days. That’s a record for even me.

As I told my mom as soon as I returned to Michigan, I have a huge red mark on my back. The travel bug has bitten me.

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