There’s something extremely unique in the eyes of the people here, at least in the village I stayed in. There’s a sparkle when they smile I’ve never seen before. If I had to guess it would be the simplicity of life they live that allows for the beauty of “the present” itself to be truly appreciated. A lot of us say “no worries” or “no stress, it’s all good”… But I feel they just live it, no need to say it.
I truly hope you get even a glimpse of the same joy I did during this chapter. All with love…
Day one: I arrive to the house after what was one of my most challenging trips from the airport. Details aren’t necessary, however the bright side was a young girl with an angelic demeanor that placed herself right in my path with intensions on helping. I didn’t ask, she probably just read through the “I have no idea… but I’ll pretend” look on my face. She knew as much English as I knew Spanish so most of our communication was pointing, acting, and guessing…. But it worked. I will not forget her smile.
Upon arrival to the house I was quickly shown to my room and got started with the kids. Today we created homemade toothpaste with all natural ingredients and taught the kids how important dental hygiene is.
Following that I was asked to create a physical activity for the kids to dope, so outside we went. Gymnastics in the yard followed by some wrestling and futbol. By the end of the activities we had some pretty impressive handstands and a lot of really excited kids! Makes me smile.
Everybody needs a little help sometimes!
A quick story on the animals of the house. They have rabbits, chickens, a dog and two cats who think they’re a part of your lap if you’re anywhere near a sitting position. So I’m on my way to my room and out of the corner of my eye I see a small animal and automatically I assume it’s one of the smoosh bug cats looking for a lap. I say “not now kitty, maybe later”… And as I open my door I see it smile and respond with a really odd sound. I turn to actually look at what I saw and it was a monkey!! Marty ended up in my lap attempting to eat a hole through my jacket to get to my sack of homemade toothpaste. He was successful.
After play with the kids, I got to meet the other volunteers who will be living here as well. An adorable couple from England who brought a cheerful greeting that I was immidiently comfortable with. We all join for dinner and had an early nights rest for the trek in the morning.
Day 2: We all meet at the breakfast table and start with a conversation about nutrition. With all of my volunteering programs, I adapt to the best of my ability to there regiment and see how it goes. I actually enjoy the experimental diet that each family in each country presents to me. My body doesn’t always love it, but I feel change is such a great way to fine tune what works best for you.
This is a vegetarian home with unique ideas. Nothing but fruit till noon(ish), a small snack before a big lunch and a large dinner around 8:30. There is no flavored or carbonated drinks, coffee, dairy, meat, fish or processed items. The sweetener we’ll be using comes straight from the cane that we literally chop off the block and melt here at the house. “Chinkaka” (is fun to say) and has a combined flavor of maple syrup and molasses with a touch of honey… Makes white sugar seem so pointless.
The trek is 3 hours with all 5 of us: Enrique and his companion Ivy, the English couple Ozy and Alex and me!
After the hike I decided to make my way to the next town over. I don’t know what I loved more about this bus ride, the elderly woman that gently gripped my arm to stabilize herself for the bumpy journey, the two women in front of me with babies tied to them with blankets or the little girl in a side pony that stared at me for the entire trip. Now on the way home (kind of an important part), I was told there were a few different buses I could hop on that would go near the house. In my best Spanish I asked a local which bus and with that Peruvian smile he pointed where I was standing and said “aquí”. I hopped on the next bus, which was a giant mini van with seats and standing room for 12… there were 42 of us. Fingers crossed this is the right one, I look up and there was Thais, my little angel! The sweet girl that had guilded me on the first bus was on this one! I don’t think I can thoroughly explain the relief I felt to see her shy smile again.
Tonight’s dinner started like this:
And ended like this! A pie made of cornbread (that we actually made from real corn) with sautéed eggplant, onion, red pepper and purple olives in the middle as a filling with a gorgeous salad and steamed broccoli.
Travels with Erika! I really look forward to each post, your adventures, and your happy acceptance of whatever you discover, be it your environment, the people, or the food. 🙂
Dear Miss Erika, Jourdan wishes to tell you something. He said he is glad the monkey did not poop on your lap and that he likes you very much.
As for me, I am noticing a transformation in you as you share yourself with the world and allow them to enjoy your sweet smile and demenor. Your heart has embraced a calm sense of self and you appreciate this in others around you. You find the good in everything possible and you clearly are more grateful each day with the excitement of a new experience ahead. Sending our love and friendship to you always. You are never alone.
K N J