Why did I decide to quit my job, finish my masters degree online, and move abroad to participate in a Spanish Immersion program in Cusco, Peru nestled in the Andes Mountains? Because, to me, that’s living life in every way. I had completed eleven out of the thirteen required courses for my Master of Education, had saved up over fifteen thousand dollars by relentlessly working and covering shift after shift at my bar job for nearly a year, and had my savvy accountant mother put the entire sum I had received from my grandfather’s inheritance into a ROTH IRA account so that I would, financially, have peace of mind as well as embrace being financially responsible.
In addition, I always try to find reasons to do something as opposed to reasons not to do something. Some of those reasons being I had never ventured into South America despite their overall low prices to travel to and study abroad in. Spanish was also a language I had studied in high school and college during my undergrad, but had never embraced learning as at that time I was focused almost entirely on competing in professional mixed martial arts.
I also never technically quit my job despite having put in my notice six weeks in advance. In a huge act of respect, I was taken off of the schedule two weeks prior to my departure and finally paid the wages that I had been owed for three months. The ludicrous explanation being they couldn’t risk me giving the bar away, so it was better to screw me over instead.
I wasn’t necessarily angry or even surprised, more so just disappointed that ultimately all my hard work was taken for granted and I wasn’t valued or respected. There’s very few things more personal than messing with someone’s money and livelihood and I can’t think of a better way to bring on bad karma, but, for me, it was just more fuel to succeed and keep pursuing happiness.
Regardless, I flew into Lima, the capital of Peru, en route to participate in my 8-week Spanish Immersion program in Cusco in order to save myself a cool few hundred dollars by not flying direct as well as to get to experience one more piece of Peruvian culture. I didn’t have any high expectations as big cities tend to be a place where there is not much to do besides eat and party.
For me, I didn’t want to really drink except for trying new, local beverages like pisco sour, I had only drank one time since leaving my bar job two week prior and ultimately only drank once during my last night in Lima as a sort of goodbye party and because I wanted to dry the vast selection of local beers on tap.
People tend to more so live and work in big cities and capitals or only visit en route to smaller, more popular destinations as I was doing. Upon arriving, I learned a lot of businesses were already beginning to shut down due to the corona virus. Museums, art galleries – pretty much the places where tourists visit. I knew I’d be flying back to Lima at the end of my Spanish Immersion program in Cusco so it didn’t bother me too much. Complaining seldom results in anything positive and, for me, having a positive attitude in negative situations makes a world of difference.
My hostel, Lima House, was also having a huge problem because their WiFi had been down three days prior to my arrival, according to my roommate, and they were never able to get it repaired during my entire stay unfortunately. But, luckily, SIM cards and data is super cheap in Peru and I purchased a Peruvian SIM card at a nearby mall and 6GB of data for the equivalent of $20USD.
My first breakfast there I made a friend who was a solo female traveler from Hong Kong but living in France. Imagine meeting someone who looks Chinese but has a French accent and speaks Cantonese, English, Spanish and French. She invited me on a group tour she was joining and I befriended our tour guide and everyone in our group of five. From then on our adventures started!