Articles, Environment, Goals, Home Life, Lifestyle, Thinking Positive, Travel

Peru: an album

A week and a half ago, I had the great opportunity to visit my country of origin, Peru. 

A visit 10 years in the making. 

Though I am glad to be back in the comfort of my own bed and room, I have never been more grateful or in love with an experience. Spending 5 days in a small village of the Andes Mountains, and 4 days in the bustling capital of Lima, I was blessed enough to see plenty. To learn plenty. 

Here are some snapshots of this trip of a lifetime. 

Memories in Peru

As special as the first two weeks of October may be in the United States, our trip was not prompted by the start of the autumn equinox or Hispanic Heritage month. My grandparents had made the generous decision to fly us out to my grandfather’s place of birth for the celebration of the Santa Rosa of Lima.

This saint, a figure respected not only in Peru but throughout Latin America, is one venerated by the Catholic Church due to her service, sacrifice and dedication to spreading the word of God. Festivals round the streets of my country’s capital in the US’ fall season but extend beyond the historical Spanish plazas and the notorious traffic.



About a 12 hour bus ride north of Lima lies a plaza built not in the 17th century but just in the recent years. This plaza, surrounded by vibrant concrete houses, blue tarps atop intricate markets and dusk colored mountains, has come a long way since my grandfather’s boyhood.

His home of adobe clay stands strong against the chilly sighs of the Andes Mountains, and a teal colored church still celebrates the gracious work of Santa Rosa. The 5 day festival that consumed this small town captivated me in every way possible, opening my eyes to beautiful traditions that surpass any other one I have known.

We made food with each other, danced with each other, listened to the word of God with each other. All of us paraded across the dirt roads and grassy paths with street dogs, jammed to cumbia by a live band, played soccer, laughed, watched my 40 year old uncle get baptized. Through all the fun and work, I learned that life is good and anything can be done, through God and alongside my family. 


A few months ago, I wrote an article on my favorite food of all time, Ceviche. Food, as anyone knows it, is a magical thing. It brings us together, makes us feel happy and healthy. Above all, however, food can bring a taste years in the past and thousands of miles away to a plate unbeknownst to the culture that developed the meal on top of it. If food is a magical thing, then my mom is a wizard.

Her ability to emulate what she considers home on her tongue is one that echoes the efforts of countless other immigrants in the United States. The effort to preserve their culture in the face of a new one. As delicious as the authentic Limean Ceviche was, it wasn’t very different from what I have had before. Thanks to my mom’s wizardry, most of the dishes I had in Peru were ones I had the pleasure of already knowing, just now with the added contentment of my family surrounding me.


I have to admit, I did miss Birmingham and missed hanging with my friends. Mostly a reliably hot shower and the calmness I had. I could call it homesickness but I don’t believe Birmingham is home… yet neither is Peru. Missing some aspects of my life in Alabama made me who I am (maybe not the hot shower), but I realized that even greater than what I missed was what I had missed out on.

I had an entire family, a group of people that loved me for who I am, in Peru. Meeting uncles, aunts, cousins who shared a love for my culture and related to the experience of being a Polo (mom’s maiden name) was unreal. More than that, connecting to them, getting to know them as a teenager and not as a baby, felt as if they were family by choice and not by force. I truly enjoyed their presence and I take a piece of their personalities with me everywhere now. Home is where my people are, so I guess my home is everywhere. 

Final Thoughts

Having spent a few days with the places and people that make up me, I am already looking forward to coming back. There are more stories to hear, more foods to try, and more sights to see. As lucky as I am to have come to part of my home, I urge you to seek your home too. Take a few minutes to ask but most importantly, to listen to the people and the culture that make up you. Everyone has a story.

Alejandra Briceno

Hey! I’m Alejandra, a sophomore at Homewood High School. I'm a huge fan of Harry Styles, but I enjoy listening to all genres - my favorites ranging from salsa to modern folk. I also enjoy watching New Girl, reading, and working out!

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