Right now, I am living with a large host family and three other volunteers in the Mantaro Valley. The tall Andes mountains visible in every direction render the rural part of Huancayo visually stunning. Last night, the daughter took us, bundled in wool hats, scarves, and layered jackets, for a moonlit stroll up the mountainside. As to be expected, the house has no Internet access (although there is an Internet café within walking distance). At first, I wondered how I would survive so disconnected to social media and the “modern” world, but I am beginning to adapt to the slower paced lifestyle.
My host family is so sweet. Solo volunteering can be lonely, so it is nice to spend meal times with others and feel integrated into a community.
Today, we attended a church service at a nearby Catholic church. I did not understand most of the words, but I enjoyed the ambience. With daily practice in Spanish, I hope to become nearly fluent by the end of the summer.
The Peruvian food is absolutely delicious, even though I have no idea what I’m eating half the time. Last night, my host family served arroz con leche, a sweet soup of milk and rice. I have heard that guinea pig is a Peruvian specialty, but I’m not sure I’m daring enough to try that yet.
After lunch, I will try to navigate the confusing public transportation system to return to the volunteer house for a few hours. I am excited to start work tomorrow, distribute the gifts I brought for the children, and further immerse myself in the culture. Peru is a beautiful country and I feel so privileged to experience it at such a young age.
Here are a few pictures of the city of Huancayo: