Alibi V.19 No.25 • June 24-30, 2010 
Villa el Salvador, Lima’s largest shantytown, was built on a giant sand dune.

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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Feature

Fun and Not-So-Fun Facts About Peru

Fun Facts

Peru is the third-largest country in South America. Lima is the capital and largest city.

There are almost 4,000 native varieties of Peruvian potatoes. (Guess what the staple of my diet is here?) Potatoes have been cultivated in the Andes for at least 7,000 years. How about THAT, Ireland?

The Andes, the world's second-largest mountain chain, rises rapidly from the coast to spectacular heights of more than 20,000 feet.

The median age in Peru is 25. The average life expectancy is at an all-time high of 70 years, a vast improvement from 1960, when it was 48 years. In the Andes, the life expectancy is 55.

The national culinary dish is cuy, or roasted guinea pig. It is served whole, with the head and feet intact.

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