Andahuaylas, Perú

Written on 5/12/15

Today was a much more independent day for me, and I was certainly out of my comfort zone, though in some ways it was more comfortable than yesterday. I think I have gotten so far out of my comfort zone that relative discomfort is negligible.

The flight to Andahuaylas was gorgeous! Wow! I was close to peeing my pants because I was so excited! The Andes were simply magnificent. They were so, so clear and empty also. Every once in a while I could see a community down in a valley and maybe a single road connecting it to the rest of the world. I can’t imagine living in such a remote place–and I thought Orange County, VA was rural! I also got to see the Pacific Ocean for the first time. I can’t wait to touch it at the end of my trip.

Once I arrived in Andahuaylas Sarah (my host mom/ a missionary from Madison, VA) picked me up. The airport was tiny and a bit dinky. I feel funny even calling it an airport. It was roughly four rooms and one runway on top of a mountain with a dirt road leading down to the city. Along the road home I saw a lot of people (women, mostly) wearing traditional clothing and herding animals alongside sod houses. The descent into the city was spectacular. Andahuaylas is about 110,000 people crammed into a valley. The population is pretty tiered with the elevation, and is most dense in the heart of the valley.

The first thing I got was a tour of the school, which was impressive for its little corner of the city. I went to class with Sarah until her kids showed up. Isaiah and Havalah then swept me away to show me the market and a little bit of the city. Which basically translated into lots of small vendors selling a variety of things, but generally speaking lots and lots of meat. It was usually raw and dead and staring at you. It was certainly a new experience, but that’s what this is all about, right?! I also noticed that littering is completely normal here. There’s trash everywhere, and people don’t even try to hide throwing it on the ground.

Later I went back to the school and then took a combi (bus) to my temporary home. The combi is essentially what Americans would call a minivan. The kind you fit 7 people in…. Except on this particular ride there were 27 people on it. 27. It was scary and they drove fast and I did not enjoy the various body parts that were thrust into my face when they came to a sudden stop.

Tuesday nights the Greenwoods have a lot of people over for a community night, so I met a ton of people right away. It was a little overwhelming, but I’m glad I jumped right in. I was able to speak a little bit of spanish and the rest the kids (there are five of them total) helped translate.

Long day. Good day. Tiring day.


My temporary home




  1. Hello Hannah. Your description of the Andes geography makes it sound like a truly breathtaking journey! I am amazed that within one day you were able to see and experience so much, from various cultural differences to the impacts of local economics. What was the school like? Did you notice the litter in other parts of Peru as well? Do they lack the infrastructure in Andahuaylas to deal with trash in other ways?

  2. anhenshaw says:

    Wow Hannah, this sounds really amazing!! I love when you said, “I think I have gotten so far out of my comfort zone that relative discomfort is negligible.” I want to make a poster of that and put it on my wall, because I feel like that describes living and traveling in another culture incredibly well. I also really enjoy reading your writing. I feel like you put your humor in voice into it very well! I really admire your guts to go on this trip and your willingness to try all these new things! I wished you described what the traditional clothing and the town looked like, because now I am very curious. I also think that it’s great that you don’t pass judgement on a culture that’s different than yours. I think many people would’ve written that the trash was disgusting, or would have complained about this. Instead, you simply remark upon it as a different way of living.