I arrived back in the U.S. on Saturday and can’t believe how quickly six weeks flew by! I spent my final week in Lima working in the TechnoServe office, but also made sure to take advantage of my last opportunity to eat as much delicious Peruvian food as possible.

On Wednesday afternoon, Patricia from the Lima office took Alain and me to Mistura, Lima’s annual food festival. The variety of food was amazing, and I was able to try a number of dishes including “lamb ceviche” and a new take on a traditional Peruvian dish called Tacu Tacu. The location added to the experience, as the festival was situated between the bluffs and the ocean with giant tents effectively organizing the different food vendors by category. That evening Alain and I were able to get a reservation at Astrid & Gaston, which was rated the second best restaurant in Latin America (and #14 in the world) in 2014, and it definitely did not disappoint. Thursday we went to lunch with Andrei in the Miraflores district. He took us to his favorite seafood restaurant, El Mercado, and everything we tried was very fresh and absolutely delicious. This lunch was also a great opportunity to update Andrei on the project and our time in Tarapoto, as well as prepare for our meeting with USAID that had been scheduled for the following day.

USAID has historically been a significant donor to TechnoServe because TechnoServe supports farmers cultivating coffee and cocoa as an alternative to coca, the source of cocaine. TechnoServe is just wrapping up a large and successful program called “TAPS,” through which they taught cocoa farmers in the San Martín region a straightforward and impactful fertilization and pruning regimen. Alain and I were able to see some of the results of TAPS while interviewing farmers during our four weeks in Tarapoto, and the difference between the farmers who utilized TAPS and those who did not was like night and day in terms of plant health and productivity. USAID had heard about our project in the San Martín region and expressed interest in learning more, and Victor was able to find time during our last day in Lima for Alain and me to go to the U.S. Embassy to share about the project and our findings. The USAID representatives were very welcoming and seemed interested in the project, and we were able to lay a good foundation for Drew and Gustavo’s final presentation to them in the coming weeks.


I flew out of Lima late Friday night, and I am so grateful I took the time to get Global Entry because I would not have made my connection in Houston without it! I arrived in California just in time for lunch, which was a golden opportunity for me to go to one of my favorite places for my first meal back home: Sessions (aka the best sandwich place ever). Can’t go wrong with the Summer Zephyr with turkey!

As a final note for my last blog post, I just want to thank TechnoServe and PIMCO for making this all possible. EEP was such a wonderful experience and gave me the opportunity to really test and push myself both on a personal and professional level. These six weeks were truly transformative and I will take that with me for the rest of my life.

The Volunteer

Nicole Holsted

Associate, Client Management

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