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V.19 No.25 | 6/24/2010
Villa el Salvador, Lima’s largest shantytown, was built on a giant sand dune.
Ilene Style

Feature

Diary of Villa el Salvador

An Alibi staffer’s journey through impoverished Peru

What follows are excerpts from a complete travel journal originally posted at alibi.com. Click here to read extra and extended posts.

My first reaction at seeing Villa el Salvador during my volunteer orientation was the same as everyone else's in my program. As we entered the neighborhood for the first time, we all fell silent, our eyes scanning the streets for something, anything, that would make us think, This isn't so bad after all.

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V.19 No.20 | 5/20/2010

Travel

Adios Peru

Alibi’s Ilene Style reports from her volunteer mission in Peru

I somehow managed to become deathly ill on my very last night in Peru. It was the dreaded "stomach thing" again. Everyone traveling here gets it at one point or another. I've had it twice in six weeks, as have all my voluntario housemates and people I've traveled with. Milt, who flew here to visit Machu Picchu with me, and to make sure I actually came home from Peru, got it a few days after he arrived, despite brushing his teeth with bottled water and following all the suggested food precautions. Generally this is nothing that a little imodium won't cure. But what hit me on this last night was the "stomach thing" with a vengeance. It came on swiftly, relentlessly and violently, con mucha fuerza. I spent my last night in Peru camped out on the bathroom floor in a hotel room in Cusco, memorizing every floor tile. By the next morning, I was so sick I could not stand up. The problem was, I had not one, but two flights to take that day, one from Cusco (the airport closest to Machu Picchu) to Lima, then later from Lima to the United States.

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Travel

A Word About Cocaine in Peru

Alibi’s Ilene Style reports from her volunteer mission in Peru

I received an amusingly large number of responses from many of you after I mentioned in one of my first emails that Peru is the world's second largest producer of cocaine. Here are more facts on that subject.

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V.19 No.18 | 5/6/2010
Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu

Travel

More Fun Facts About Peru

Alibi’s Ilene Style reports from her volunteer mission in South America

Peru has the highest navigable lake in the world, Lake Titicaca in Puno. It sits 12,500 ft. above sea level.

Peru has the two deepest canyons in the world, Colca Canyon and Cotahuasi Canyon. They dip down 10,600 ft. and 11,000 ft. respectively.

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Travel

Amor en Peru

Alibi’s Ilene Style reports from her volunteer mission in South America

In Villa el Salvador, a shantytown which is one of the poorest neighborhoods in Lima, there are hostels, or hostals as they are called, everywhere. Naturally, there are hostels all over Peru for travelers and tourists, but it struck me odd that there were so many in Villa el Salvador. I mean, how many touristas would want to stay in one of the worst parts of a city, where it is dangerous to go out after dark? When I inquired about this, I was told that the ubiquitous hostals in Villa el Salvador are not actually hotels as we know them, but places where men and women go “to have a private moment." Ah ... comprendo. All of these hostals have signs in their windows advertising their prices, which I now understand are hourly, not nightly, rates.

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V.19 No.19 | 5/13/2010

Travel

Help Los Martincitos in Villa el Salvador

Alibi’s Ilene Style reports from her volunteer mission in Peru

The question I received most frequently from all of you in response to my e-mails about the Los Martincitos program in Villa el Salvador was "How can I help?" I truly feel blessed to have friends who are so eager to help those who are not as fortunate as we are, even if they live 5,000 miles away.

I had mentioned previously that it is not recommended to send supplies or donations directly to Los Martincitos, because of the unreliable postal service in Peru. I have since learned that there is a website, which was started by Sister Jacci's niece Marianne Boyle, whose purpose is to raise money for Los Martincitos program. In Ms. Boyle's own words:

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