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Life at a Different Pace in Peru

Roberta Fregolent

Adjusting to a slower rhythm of living.

Being Italian, I thought that my way of living would be the slowest you could ever encounter. In the past years I studied and worked in countries where I got used to people having a quick lunch in front of their laptop, or ordering take-away coffee and drinking it on the street.

However, thanks to this volunteer experience in Peru, I reminded myself what it means to enjoy and appreciate the little pleasures of life.

During my first days here in Arequipa I immediately noticed how people walk on the street without looking like they have somewhere to be. People take the time to say hello to their friend who owns a restaurant when they pass by. The security man at the gate always greets me with a big wave and asks me how my weekend was, or if my cold is getting better. In the office, we take an extra 10 minutes on the rooftop to digest lunch with a funny joke.

Once, I went to top-up my phone and the shop assistant waited until she finished her phone conversation with her sister before helping me. I know she had a really nice dinner with her boyfriend the previous night. I felt frustrated for a moment, but then I realized that the world was not going to end if I lost a few more minutes in the shop.

Here I am, rediscovering the delight of savouring my coffee in the garden instead of downing it in a rush while going to work.

Here I am, rediscovering the delight of savouring my coffee in the garden instead of downing it in a rush while going to work. While I'm walking, I have time to appreciate the warmth of the sun hugging me and the smell of a fresh Peruvian empanada when I enter a nice café. The smile of the woman that provides me with tasty bread in the local bodega reminds me how better the day is when I smile back. A nice sunset when I leave the HOOP school where I am volunteering is worth being contemplated even if it means missing the first bus going home. Finding out from the taxi driver that the old bridge in Arequipa was made by Gustavo Eiffel is so much more fascinating than what I could learn by burying my head in my phone.

Last week, I went on a trip to the Amazon in the jungle and I could see how children are so happy to play barefoot with a ball and their little monkey. People do not wear watches and they wake up when it is time to go fishing.

Being immersed in a culture where time is not money makes me appreciate the simple things that I could not see while running to catch the subway. I've promised myself that even when I go back to Europe, I will have to spare more time in the morning to enjoy a freshly brewed coffee and to notice how beautiful my surroundings can be when I leave work.

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Published in Volunteer Abroad Blogs
Roberta Fregolent

Roberta Fregolent is volunteering with the NGO Helping Overcome Obstacles in Peru, in the city of Arequipa. As a Programme Assistant she helps develop their Educational, Health and Social Development projects for disadvantaged children and women.

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