How I Can Afford To Travel!

My most REVEALING post to date! If you've been wondering how the hell I've been able to last traveling this long, well here it is! All secrets are out in the open! This post tells you how I do it, and how YOU can do it too!

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On Being Featured In A Documentary

I somehow managed to get myself featured in an upcoming documentary about "Voluntourism". This may be the big break I've been waiting for! The trailer is out - and I'm in it! It looks so good, I'm so excited! See for yourself... watch it here!

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Scotland: My Favorite Country In The World

I've been to many places in several different continents, and have seen spectacular beauty... But every time I visit Scotland, every other country pales in comparison. Read this post to find out why at this point, Scotland was and still is, in my opinion, the most beautiful place on Earth...

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On Finding My Bliss In Italy

When you go on big trips like this, however cheesy it sounds, you always do end up 'finding yourself'. And there are moments... difinitive moments when you achieve clarity, contentment, and pure happiness. This all happened to me in Italy. Read my most soulful post to date, inspired by the full moon in Italia...

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The 2014 Rio Carnival!

I've seen, done, and experienced crazy things in my life... but nothing will EVER compare to the sheer MADNESS of the Carnival in Rio De Janeiro. It is a bloody miracle I came out of it alive! Everything you've ever heard about it - alcohol, drugs, sex, and SAMBA... they're all true! Read about how I managed to survive the most insane festival I've ever attended...

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An Epiphany At Cinque Terre

The Cinque Terre is one of my favorite places in Italy. We hiked 5 villages in one day, and it was breathtaking! But something completely unexpected happened on the hike... An encounter with a complete stranger made me realize possibly one of the most important things I need to do with my life...

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Out Of LLI And Onto Ayahuasca


I Hate Goodbye's...

On Tuesday, I wrapped up my month long stint at The Light and Leadership Initiative in Huaycan. I had a really busy last few days of working there because we had a Martial Arts and Ballet Workshop for the children on Saturday and Sunday, and I was asked to take the lead on the Martial Arts training by teaching the kids Boxing and Muay Thai.

It was such a huge success, the kids were *so* into it... It broke my heart when they asked if we could do it every weekend. I wanted to say *YES* and stay there forever... but I couldn't.

 :( It was a great feeling though, knowing they appreciated the workshop, and that they had fun.




On Monday and Tuesday, I taught my classes for the last time... Gave my little kids some galletas and gaseosas as a little farewell present, and they, in turn, gave me the biggest hugs and kisses! I toootally got the better end of the deal. :)




As I said goodbye to my friends when I left, I couldn't help but cry my ugly cry. Karen was a little surprised... she said I've had to say goodbye SO many times on this trip already, I should have been so used to it... And she was right. I SHOULD be used to it, and I SHOULD be a little numb to it by now... But I couldn't help it. Volunteering with The Light and Leadership was the best job I ever had this year... I got to be a teacher again! And I made a difference to kids who needed the gifts I could share! I felt like I rediscovered my old passion for teaching, and realized that it is always something I would and could do, with or without a classroom. And so I cried because I was grateful for everything I experienced... and because I was going to miss them. All of them. :)


On my last night, we had a little pizza party at the rooftop
under the full moon :)

The encounter with Sophie in Greece, the girl who recommended LLI to me wasn't chance or coincidence. I honestly and truthfully believe that it was meant to happen... that it was all part of a bigger plan for me. I don't believe in coincidences anymore... not when things like this keep happening. :)

Speaking of... 

AYAHUASCA

Another BIG thing I'm about to do because of repeated "chance encounters" is the Ayahuasca Retreat.

I mentioned this briefly on my other post about a month ago. Just to give a brief review, here's what I wrote about it:


It's basically a psychedelic brew of the Amazon region, known for its hallucinogenic properties. People go on Ayahuasca Retreats (Shamanism) to drink the brew in the hopes of curing their drug addiction, alcoholism or depression. People like me who do not fall under any of those categories, go for a more Spiritual purpose. It has been said that when you take the Ayahuasca brew, you undergo some sort of mind-altering/spiritual experience. Some call it "seeing God", some encounter the divinity within themselves, and some say they just see things clearly... like everything just makes sense.




Ever since I got to South America, I kept randomly meeting people who bring it up in conversation. By the third time that it happened, I got *really* curious and did more research about it. I was intrigued, but I honestly didn't even consider doing it. The more people I spoke to however, the more I got convinced that it may be worth a shot since I was going to be in Peru anyway! Ayahuasca is most popular in a place called Iquitos near the Jungle here in Peru. 

CHALLENGES


I had a few concerns about it though. First of all - it's very expensive. There are a LOT of retreat centers and private Shamans that could perform the ritual for you, but I was told to be *very* careful because there have been horror stories about "private" shamans molesting their female clients while they were in the hallucinogenic state. They said the shaman will make all the difference in your experience... Well, I suppose the shaman, AND your attitude will make all the difference. I decided that because of those warnings, I was going to have to choose the location based on safety... and it had to be highly recommended by someone I know. 

It was really all down to the cost. 7 day retreats in Iquitos cost about 1000 USD, and I was already going to spend so much money flying to Iquitos, PLUS flying to Cusco for Machu Picchu too! I honestly didn't know if I was going to be able to afford it.




And then.... ENTER Daniella. An Italian Angel of Ayahuasca. I randomly met this girl at the rooftop of the hostel we were staying at in Lima while Karen and I were celebrating our birthdays. We were just chatting and having a drink, and she mentioned that she had just done the Ayahuasca retreat IN CUSCO a few weeks prior. She said she had such a positive experience, she felt completely safe, everyone was so nice and friendly, and the shaman was amazing... She *highly* recommended it.

Oh. My. God.

I took it as a sign. A 3 day Ayahuasca retreat in CUSCO... which meant I could do both Ayahuasca and Machu Picchu while I was there! Done and Done. 

WHY?


Why am I doing this? I'm not sure. Maybe because I can? Maybe because I feel like I've been guided to do it? Because... why not?
I am at a really good place in my life right now, but nobody's perfect. I could do with a little clarity... a little more courage in certain aspects of my life. As I am ending this year of travel, maybe this will help me figure out my next move... Maybe provide some inspiration? Or a different perspective on things?

I don't really know what to expect from all this. The people I've spoken to, said that they felt pure love.. they felt connected to their god... some said they felt the energy and love of their departed loved ones, some "saw" things in their life that they needed to fix...

It all sounds like such a positive experience to me... and if I go into it with an open mind and an open heart, I'm sure I will have a similar experience too. (I hope) The way I see it, I have nothing to lose. I mean who wouldn't want to feel and experience "pure love"? To feel connected to the divine... to Mother Earth?
Worst case scenario, I come out of it exactly the same - and that ain't bad! 
To me, it seems like a perfect way to close out my year... to prepare me for the next adventure. 



So wish me luck, friends! The retreat is on Sunday for 3 days 2 nights at this place called ETNIKAS. I won't be bringing my laptop with me, so my next post - which will be all about the experience, will be on Sunday instead of the usual Thursdays. Send me a good thought when you get the chance, and I'll talk to you guys soon --- Hopefully with a new and improved zest and outlook on life!

Hasta luego!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Life As A Volunteer In Peru


I've been working as a teacher here in Huaycan, Peru, for the organization, Light and Leadership Initiative, for almost a month now. For those of you who are curious, this post will be a sneak peek into the life of a volunteer.

HOW IT WORKS

LLI is a non profit organization situated in Huaycan, Peru, that focuses on improving the availability and quality of education of the women and children in that area. They hire interns and volunteers all year round to help with their projects for the community -- mostly education related, and volunteers are usually hired as teachers for their English, Art, Chess and PE classes.



As volunteers, we were required to pay a very minimal amount to cover food and lodging. We all basically stay in one house, dormitory style, with a cook that prepares amazing Peruvian food for lunch and dinner. Currently, there are 11 of us who live together.

MY SCHEDULE


I teach English to kids who are anywhere from 6 to 13 years old, and adults who are in their 20's. We work from Friday to Tuesday, with Wednesdays and Thursdays off. Our classrooms are located in different "Zones" in the Ate-Vitarte District of Lima. For most of them, you have to take a 20 to 25 minute combi (what they call a very overcrowded van) ride to get to. These areas are quite undeveloped and poor that they remind me of the Favelas in Brazil, or the squatters areas in Manila.

Click the photo for a larger image. Those colorful houses in the mountains? That's where a few
of them live

On some days, I have English classes in an area called, Zone Z, a place about 25 minutes away by combi. I start my commute at around 2:20 to get there by 3, and I teach 3 back to back classes with another volunteer. Our day ends at 6pm.
On busier days, I start at 10 am for PE, then 11am for English, 2pm for Art, 3:30pm for Art, and 6pm for Adult English.
Some days, I have to hike up a mini-mountain and ascend stairs with about a million steps at 9:30 am to tutor a 10 year old boy. (He is my favorite student though, so the pain is worth it. )
Basically, everyday is different. I like the diversity. :)

The combi ride usually sucks the life out of you, so it's not my favorite part of heading up to Zone Z... but what makes it *so* worth it are the sunsets that greet me on my way back. Look at this... I literally see this every single time I go home from Zone Z. Not bad... not bad at all :)

The beautiful sunsets I see as I go home...

MY STUDENTS


... are the cutest. I am particularly fond of my youngest kids in Zone Z. These little chipmunks are in some of the poorest areas in Huaycan (and Huaycan is already pretty poor to begin with), and they come to my English class with so much enthusiasm twice a week after school. Yes, most of the time they are a pain in the butt because they are so naughty, they never sit still, they're always twittering up a storm in Spanish, and it's so difficult to get them all in order. But once I do get the ball rolling, they're so much fun to teach. They're so eager and so excited to learn... They LOVE singing along to my ukulele, and at the end of class, they give me a kiss before they leave. <3




I also really like teaching my adult class, because they *do* speak English. I feel like I can actually talk and get some sense into them... and that what I teach is being absorbed 100%. They mostly need help with grammar and vocabulary and they take everything in like a sponge. These guys go to class every week because they truly want to improve their English to go far in life. I'm more used to teaching adults because of my training background, so being in class with the 20 year old's feel more natural to me.

THE LANGUAGE BARRIER

... can be a little challenging, I have to be honest. They have an English Only Policy in class to get all the students used to hearing the language... but most of these kids don't even know basic English! Zero! So getting them to follow instructions could sometimes feel like pulling teeth... Especially with the younger ones.
My Spanish, however, has greatly improved since I got here. I *can* tell them to sit down, be quiet, listen, look at me, etc... And I can understand more than I can speak, so when they tell me something, I usually understand about 80% of what they say.
All in all though since what we teach is very basic, the classes go on pretty smoothly.


LIVING IN HUAYCAN

... can take a little getting used to. Huaycan is not the safest of all areas, especially for foreigners. It's a little easier for me to blend in because like I said before, I sort of look Peruvian. But for my fellow volunteers, well... that's another story all together. They stick out like a sore thumb! 3- 4 of the girls are around 6 feet tall, a couple are blonde, one's a red head, and quite a few of them have bright blue eyes... All of these traits aren't exactly what you can call "subtle" in Huaycan. They are pretty much like celebrities over here, so it's hard to go unnoticed when we go out as a pack. We avoid certain alleys after dark, and a few of us walk with pepper sprays.



After work, if we'd like to unwind, we either walk down Ave 15 de Mayo to grab a beer at the local "Juice Place", or take a 15 minute combi ride to a nearby town to eat at a proper restaurant, or hang at a karaoke joint. Life is really simple over here, that I wear flip flops wherever we go and people couldn't care less. (I love it!)


The locals (when you don't have to dodge them) are all really kind. The parents of the kids especially are really sweet... You can see that they really appreciate what the organization does for them and for their kids, and it feels good to know you're a part of a group that makes a difference in their lives.

Living at the volunteer house is great! Honestly, I have never encountered a group of people who are as fierce and as kind as the people in this house. These guys are so smart, so accomplished, and all super capable of ruling the world... and yet they are here, working their asses off for free, to help a small community in Peru live a better life. Everyday I am in awe of them... and everyday I am grateful to have met them. :)


LIGHT AND LEADERSHIP


I'm at the tail end of my trip, and I'm so happy I ended my first year of travel with a bang. A few months ago, while volunteering/working at a hostel in Greece, I met a guest, Sophie, who has traveled through South America, and volunteered with LLI. If I hadn't met her, I never would have found out about this place... Being here feels so right... like I was always meant to come here, meet these people, and help out... Almost like I was guided here by the Universe. I will forever be grateful for having experienced everything in this organization and the people involved in it. If you are ever on the look-out for a great and rewarding volunteer opportunity, do yourself a favor and fly your sweet butt to Peru. The Light and Leadership Initiative and the wonderful people of Huaycan will be waiting for you with open arms :)



** There are many ways to help the organization out! Please check out their website here to find out more, and you can take a look at their Amazon Wish List to see what you can purchase to make the kids happy! :)

Thursday, April 3, 2014

One Year After Eye Surgery




Today is the first year anniversary of me getting a new pair of eyes!!!

Well… Sort of!!!


A year ago, apart from quitting my job to travel, I made one of the best decisions of my life – getting my eyesight fixed via Laser Surgery at the AsianEye Institute!

 Read about my experience here.

RECAP


I wasn’t a candidate for a Lasik surgery because of a few preexisting conditions I had on my eyes… And so Dr. Ang, my Eye Doctor at Asian Eye recommended that I do the Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK) surgery instead. PRK just takes longer to heal, but will be better for me in the long run.

I did the surgery, I was in and out in under 7 minutes, and everything went off without a hitch. My recovery time was a little difficult… I was basically incapacitated for a week. I was in pain for the first 3 days or so, but nothing too intolerable.

I had several check-ups after the surgery… A day later, a week later, and a month later. Everything was just fine, and I was healing normally. I was a little concerned only because I had to leave for my round the world trip a day after my last appointment, and my vision wasn’t perfect yet. Technically, the full and complete recovery time for PRK patients is 6 months – meaning I won’t achieve my full and most optimal vision till then… But Dr. Ang assured me that I was going to be fine, so long as I followed instructions (i.e. No swimming or extreme sports before I am healed, and keep lubricating my eyes with the drops)

With Dr. Ang - Best Eye Doctor Ever!


6 MONTHS LATER

My eyes were healing so gradually throughout the 6 months that I hardly ever noticed that my eyes have gotten so clear! I remember I was in Wales, about 4 months after the surgery, and I was hanging out with my friends one night out in their back yard. It was a clear night and I looked up to admire the stars… There were so many stars out because there’s hardly any light pollution in the area I was in… And then suddenly it hit me… It was the first time I was seeing the stars clearly with my new eyes! I could see everything… EVERYTHING! I didn’t have any contacts on… And I wasn’t wearing my glasses!

I got VERY emotional all of a sudden… you would think I was seeing this...




Honestly… I saw things differently after that night – literally and figuratively. I started noticing how much brighter and beautiful everything is. It just got better and better after that, and even after the 6 month mark, I felt like my eyes were improving everyday.

A YEAR LATER

I think the best way to describe it is… that I feel like for the past 20 years or so, I’ve been living my life in Standard Definition… and after the surgery, my life is now in HD! And sometimes even 3D! It definitely came in handy when I came across beautiful sights like these on my travels...

Cinque Terre, Italy

Gisborne, New Zealand

Athens, Greece

Iguazu Falls, Argentina

If it weren't for my new eyes, I wouldn't have appreciated beauties like these the same...

One thing I have to say though is that my eyesight is not perfect. I don't think I have "perfect vision," but it's definitely the clearest I've ever had since before I started wearing glasses. My right eye is distinctly blunter than the left. It's considerably weaker... but the doctor said they purposely make one eye more dominant than the other... One of them is meant to be sharper, and in my case it's the left one. There are days though, especially when I’m tired when I’d find myself squinting because my eyes would get dry and blurry… and this usually happens at the end of the day, just before it gets dark. My right eye especially would feel really worn out. I don’t use my eye drops that often anymore, but I use them whenever they feel dry, and I usually feel better afterwards.

Having said that --- I still stand by what I said… that having the surgery was one of the best things I ever did for myself. You just don’t realize how much a hassle it is to wear glasses or contact lenses until you’re free of that burden. It has been a part of my daily routine for so many years, that it feels like a huge burden has been lifted when I didn’t have to carry my glasses, my contact lenses, spare lenses, and contact lens solution anywhere I went… Especially on a big trip like this!

My new eyes are a blessing… Everything is illuminated. Everything is beautiful! I still get a little teary-eyed every time I see a sky full of stars... I have Dr. Ang and Asian Eye Institute to thank for this. They made me feel so safe and comfortable. Their facilities are top notch, and they are all such professionals. I could not have asked for better people to take care of something so precious :)

If you or someone you know are struggling with poor eyesight, I wouldn’t wait to take care of it… because you really don’t know what you’re missing. Being able to see very clearly after more than a decade of being in the dark is almost miraculous to me… and if your eyes are as bad, or worse than mine, then do yourself a favor and give yourself the gift of sight. It will be the best investment you’ll ever make on yourself, I promise. :)





Thursday, March 27, 2014

A Peruvian Birthday!



Another year older, another year wiser!

I'm so happy to be celebrating my 32nd birthday here in Peru! Gosh, who would have thought?

Those of you who have been following my blog, and most of my friends know that every year on my birthday, I aim to do "something I've never done before". Last year, I got my "pourquoi pas" tattoo - which I still love, by the way... And this year, well, when I realized I was going to be in Peru, I initially planned on being in Macchu Pichu to celebrate... but then the organization that I'm volunteering in, The Light and Leadership Initiative, needed me to help out sooner than the 25th of March, so... I thought it might be nice and fresh to count "Volunteering to teach English in Peru" as my "never done before" birthday act! To be giving back for a change! And I gotta say, it has been so wonderful so far.

Light And Leadership




Last week, I talked a little bit about the organization... Well, now that I've had more than a week of working experience here, I can now proudly and honestly say that they are an AMAZING group of people working towards a great cause, and I am SO HAPPY and LUCKY to be here!



I teach English (and PE and Art) to both kids and adults, and I gotta say I enjoy them all. I don't have a favorite... At first I wasn't too confident about teaching the little ones because my experience in teaching was mostly for adults... but after my first class, I realized that age doesn't really matter when I teach... I've almost forgotten how much fun I have in the classroom, and how good I am in reaching out to people of all ages and races. I play the ukulele and teach them songs in my class too - which is great, because LLI is flexible enough to give me that freedom. I'm back in my element, and I am having the time of my life with all these people! 




Oh - and did I tell you my Spanish teacher name? It's Miss Tierra. Tierra, in Spanish, means "Earth". No one could ever pronounce my name properly here so to make things easier for everyone, I am called "Tierra" in Spanish and Latin American countries. :)

A student, Cristina, gifted/dedicated her artwork to me <3
Tierra - that's me!!!

The Volunteers


I've said it before and I'll say it again... The group of volunteers in this house are quite possibly the best, kindest, most amazing people to ever come together under the same roof. Every single one of these people could rule the world with their skills and vibrant personalities, and they are here making a difference in Huaycan, right in the middle of nowhere Peru! I am floored and in awe everyday, working with these people. It just makes the experience that much more meaningful and rewarding... because I've only been with them for a week, and already we have become such good friends. I'm so lucky to always be surrounded by bright lights... SO LUCKY.




Double Birthday




I also happen to share my birthday with one of the fierce ladies here in LLI, Karen (she turned 23, I turned 32... PERFECTION)! And so we thought of doing a double birthday bash which involved cake, food, karaoke and some dancing! On the 25th, our actual birth date, the crew got us a Tres Leches Cake (delicious!) for a little candle blowing... We went out to dinner together, and did a little Karaoke (upon my urging).




The next day, we ventured out into Lima for an overnight trip... Lima just has more options in terms of a night life, so we hung out at the rooftop of the hostel they booked, had a really chill out pre-party over there, then headed out to a club for some dancing action...



Nose Piercing


The day after, I went and got my nose pierced. :)

It's weird... I feel like I'm regressing, sort of like Benjamin Button. Lately I've been inclined to do these random things - like get a tattoo, highlight my hair bright red, and get my nose pierced... you know, stuff that people usually do when they're younger. Mind you - these are things that I've ALWAYS wanted to do, but felt I couldn't, because the corporate world wouldn't allow me to. I was always too afraid of the consequences of looking a little radical, because it might dim my chances of being taken seriously, or getting a job. In corporate, and I suppose in a lot of other situations, perception is everything... and I didn't want to be perceived as a pierced, tattooed, and bright colored hippie.

Little by little though, as I've gone through this trip, my world has changed. I think what's really happening is that I'm finally allowing my physical body to reflect what's really inside of me... My true inner self - which is unique, creative, and colorful! :)

I love my new look! You can't really see much of the piercing because the stud that was used had to be tiny first... I'm due to change the little stud for something brighter and bigger in a couple weeks when it's fully healed. Right now it just looks like a silver blackhead... Like a silverhead, basically. But it's heart shaped and cute!

See that TINY dot on my nose? That's not a speck of dirt on your monitor.
That's actually my stud. 

Post-Birthday Thoughts

I was thinking about how - my birthday last year and getting a tattoo was a pretty good marker of when my round the world trip adventure started, because I quit my job a few days after that. And looking back at what I've seen and what I've done and who I've met since then blows my mind. I think you guys are witness to the fact that my year has been pretty incredible.

I keep thinking... Is it really possible for someone to be THIS lucky?

Then I think maybe it's not all luck. I think your world really is just a reflection of how you feel, how you think, and what you give out. My world this year has been amazing and exciting, because EVERYDAY, I feel amazing and exciting! I've always looked forward to where I was going next, what I was going to do, and who I was going to meet. Because I'm traveling, and doing what I feel like I'm meant to do, my heart is constantly just full... and it makes me happy. Plainly happy!

Another thing I noticed about myself is that lately, being grateful has become more of a habit now than something I have to remind myself to do or be. Like - it's sort of automatic for me to whisper "thank you" for anything good that happens everyday... Anytime I arrive safely in one place... or anytime I witness a beautiful sunset... or meet a new person I really connect with... or when I eat a good breakfast... or even when I hear a good song on the radio... Automatically, my mind "smiles" and says "thank you".

Being grateful has given me a better sense of being. It gives me the feeling of congruence... Like I'm exactly where I'm meant to be at this point. In all the choices that I've made lately, from choosing next destinations to hostels I've booked, or even in choosing restaurants to eat in... I feel like I'm being guided. I've learned to trust my instincts more, and it hasn't led me astray.

So I dunno... maybe good luck is only what we call beautiful things falling into place when you decide to start living the life you were meant to live. Maybe we're all meant to be lucky in this world, if we were only brave enough to pursue our own happiness. :)

For my birthday, there is really nothing else I could wish for, because I HAVE everything I need... I am the youngest 32 year old in the world, and I have never been happier than I am this past year. I am content and complete <3

So instead, I am going to use my wish on you guys... My dear friends, on my birthday, I wish for you... The courage to pursue your right to happiness... May your thoughts be clear and hearts be full, and may you all be brave enough to live your true destinies... to "get lucky" in life, as I have been fortunate enough to be.

Cheers to another INCREDIBLE year! Salud! :)


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Greetings From Peru!

Photo by Robert Mooney
Hola a todos! Estoy en Peru!!!

Oh. My. God. After almost a year of traveling, I have arrived at the LAST country on my agenda. I almost can't believe it. I don't want to believe it. I don't want it to end :(

OK no. No drama. Not time for that yet.

PERU! 

Let's talk about Peru!

My main purpose for visiting this country was Machu Picchu. It's one of those things I felt like I HAD to visit. I mean, wouldn't you want to?
So... having both Machu Picchu and Carnival in mind as I was planning my South American leg, I tried to figure out what I could do and where I could stay in Peru, Brazil, and all the other countries in between.

With my godmother, Amy :)

It's lucky that my high school chemistry teacher (who also happens to be my godmother), lives in Lima. I contacted her, asked if I could crash with her while I was in Peru, and all was set!

May I just say that with what I've seen so far in the week I've been here --- I feel like I'm back in The Philippines. EVERYTHING here reminds me of my country. I even LOOK Peruvian. South America in general reminds me so much of home, but Peru out of all the countries I've visited is the most similar to The Philippines. It's great!!! I fit right in!

Oh... and one more thing.

The food is AMAAAAAZING!!! Totally underrated. Sooo good. SOOO good.

Dunno what this is called but it was SOOO good!

THE LIGHT AND LEADERSHIP INITIATIVE

While I was traveling through Greece, I had a chance encounter with this great girl, Sophie, who upon learning that I had a teaching background and that I volunteer a lot while I travel, suggested that I apply for this organization called The Light and Leadership Initiative (LLI) in Peru. She volunteered there herself, swears by it, and said I would have the best, most rewarding experience over there. I was intrigued, so I checked it out!


LLI is a non profit organization whose mission is to improve the quality of education in Huaycan, Peru, for the benefit of the women and children who reside there.

"Through workshops and classes, women are empowered to better care for themselves and their families by improving both their physical and emotional well being, as well as advancing their skills in the workforce. Children are offered similar opportunities and learn the value of education and respect for one's community."
The organization hires interns and accepts volunteers all year round, and the main task, really, is to teach the children English after school. They do tutoring as well, teach art, as well as physical education.


Teaching English to kids really appealed to me... I guess because I missed being in the classroom. I worked as a trainer for 10 years and I always enjoyed the classroom aspect of it. Plus I really believed in the organization's cause, and admired the founders for their passion for helping Huaycan. I applied for the volunteer position... and after a couple months of figuring out the schedule, it was decided that I was going to help teach English for a month, from March 17 to April 17. AND HERE I AM NOW!!!


(*Photos were taken from the LLI webpage)
I start leading a class tomorrow, so there's really not much to report about it yet... But after having been here for a few days, I can already tell I'm going to enjoy it! I am sharing a house with about 8 other volunteers and interns, and they are honestly the nicest and kindest do-gooders you'll ever meet in your life. I suppose this kind of work attracts a certain kind of people... and I'm grateful for them, because I'm staying here for a month... and it would be amazing to just be surrounded by positivity and good vibes the whole time :) I'll have more to report on this next week.

The LLI Crew :)

AYAHUASCA

One other thing that I plan to do here in Peru is the Ayahuasca Retreat.

Aya-whatta?

Ayahuasca.



It's basically a psychedelic brew of the Amazon region, known for its hallucinogenic properties. People go on Ayahuasca Retreats (Shamanism) to drink the brew in the hopes of curing their drug addiction, alcoholism or depression. People like me who do not fall under any of those categories, go for a more Spiritual purpose. It has been said that when you take the Ayahuasca brew, you undergo some sort of mind-altering/spiritual experience. Some call it "seeing God", some encounter the divinity within themselves, and some say they just see things clearly... like everything just makes sense.


I don't know exactly what I want to achieve from this... but I just feel like ever since I got to South America, I kept encountering people who bring it up in conversation... and I've NEVER heard of this before I got here. They say Peru is where it is mostly done --- and it just so happens that my last stop on this trip is Peru... So I feel like maybe the Universe is trying to give me signs. I don't believe in coincidences anymore... so this HAS to mean something, right?
I'm definitely intrigued, and I'm doing a ton of research on it. I am in the process of finding a Shaman who can perform this ritual for me --- and if you guys know anyone, please let me know! I will talk more about this in detail on a separate post. :)

Teaching English to Kids, Machu Picchu, Ayahuasca. This is definitely going to be an interesting month. ;)