1,000 days later she understands that the greatest gift of all was not the chance to travel, but the chance to find life in a small town in the Northern Andes of Peru. The donkey races and pick-up soccer games. The lunch invitations that turned into hour hikes into the campo and all night parties. The process of culture shock and learning the art of enjoying alone time. The delicious new flavors and the custom of offering a meal to every visitor, even when you have no food to offer. Finding the human connection and the art of understanding foreign customs. Showering them with kindness and using love as a universal language. Turning the “fish bowl” into an opportunity to be an example, with the hopes of making a small change in life of someone somewhere, and at the same time knowing that she could not help everyone everywhere.
After two and a half years of loving and serving the people of this beautiful country, I am learning to let them love me back. Learning to accept that I am down right now and appreciating the unconditional love that the people around me are providing through acts of service and emotional support. Once again I am reminded why I love Peru.
The connection I have formed with Peruvians in my community is the greatest gift I will take away from this entire experience. My co-workers at the municipality who made me eat papa rellena and dance with them for a month before they trusted me to participate in projects, the 24 year old girl who is my “chat about boys and life” best friend, and the countless women who make sure I am fed, have a seat at the town donkey races and who treat me as their own daughter… those are the connections that I cannot quantify on any report.