I’m really happy you came with me to the Student Union’s Inti Raymi Festival. Experiences like this were some of my favorite parts about spending last semester in Peru and it’s so cool that they’re finally celebrating some cultural diversity on campus. This should be a real treat for you. Would you believe that our other roommates were too close-minded to come with us? Their loss!

Look, they have yucca fries! When I was living in Miraflores, that’s a super trendy neighborhood in Lima, restaurants would use yucca for everything instead of potatoes. This one time I was at a café watching the sun set over the Pacific Ocean, just taking it all in, and I had the best yucca fries ever. Most of the other Americans avoided them since the grainy texture was a bit more challenging to the palate than the French-style fries they were used to. Not me though, I couldn’t get enough.

Mmm que rico! Sorry, I meant to say they’re delicious but I guess I defaulted to the Spanish phrase. Shame though, yucca fries are supposed to be served with a mint verde sauce… looks like all they have here is ketchup. That’s disappointing. I suppose it was inevitable that the cafeteria would wind up regurgitating some overly homogenized version of world foods, but you get the idea at least.

No way, they have chicha morada. That’s a drink made from purple corn. I’ll order us some—dos chelas de chicha, por favor. I said chelas to the vendor because that’s Spanish slang for glasses in Lima. He didn’t seem to know it, so I’m guessing he’s from northern Peru. Or maybe he’s just a shift worker that’s putting in overtime hours for the festival. It makes me really sad that the school couldn’t even hire authentic Peruanos for this event.

At first chicha might taste weird, but if you drink it all the time for like six straight weeks you’ll never want anything else. It’s semisweet, definitely a touch bitterer than your conventional sodas. I loved it so much I don’t think I got a single Coca-Cola when I was down there. Salud! Sorry, Spanish phrase again! I meant cheers!

Crap, it tastes like maybe they made it from a powder or concentrate or something. That’s really annoying. I got used to having it made fresh every day.

I bet you’ve never been to a festival celebrating the Incan culture before! Inti Raymi is like their independence day. When I was in Peru I trekked to Cusco, the ancient Incan capital, and they had all these unique parades. The trek part was a bit touristy, that’s all anyone thinks to do in Cusco, but I made it a priority to stick around for the cultural celebration too. Oh and after the parades I went to an ’80s music dance party at a bar on the main square and made out with an Australian chick in the stairwell. She was there on gap year.

You can probably find some useful info on this flyer—yeah, says right here, it’s a festival about the Incan gods and creation and stuff. That’s what I meant, not independence. Independence must’ve been some other festival I went to. I made it a point to go to as many parades and celebrations as I could when I was living in Peru. It’s amazing how much you integrate into another culture when you spend time at their festivals.

I mean, I was only physically there for like three months, but spiritually it felt like so much longer. I don’t know how I can explain it to you since it was such an intense and personal connection with the country. Like I can really say I know Peru now. I just feel so bad for everyone else here because their image of Peruano culture will be based entirely on such a limited experience.