As many of you know, my Mom is here in Peru. I've been counting down to this trip for months and I knew that it would be awesome to show her around this wonderful place that I call home. And, of course, it has been amazing having her here. It's always neat to see Peru through new eyes and it's shown me just how "acostumbrar-ed" (accustomed) I've become. Mom asks the questions that I used to ask, she's surprised by things that used to surprise me, she points out things that I've stopped noticing...
After 15 months of requesting people to guest write for this blog, Mom agreed to share her fresh perspective on Peru. So, without further adieu, I present Carol Mentink...
I've been asked by a number of people while I've been here what I think of Peru - amazing, friendly, sad, chaotic, content, contradictory, beautiful, and extreme are words I would use to describe Peru. I have seen people nicely dressed standing outside of homes that you can't imagine anyone could live in and passed by hundreds of homes that were started but never finished. We have walked on streets filled with crazy drivers and litter (that would be every street!), walked through markets selling everything you can imagine. We have eaten in wonderful restaurants, cozy cafes, and in the home of Beth's site family on stools in a small "kitchen" with a dirt floor, a corner fire and a single light bulb. I have seen families with so little and yet content with what they have.
I have enjoyed meeting Beth's friends - both in the Peace Corps and those she has met along the way. What an adventuresome group of people, all willing to stretch and push themselves beyond their own personal limit for a greater good. They have a different perspective on life with a picture that is perhaps more worldly than most - I have a sense that Beth is not done traveling and I wonder where her adventures may take us in the future.
I had the opportunity to watch Beth and John William, another PCV, lead a youth group meeting at Beth's site. Kids of all ages attend with the group being anywhere from 10-30. Yesterday they made paper airplanes and then had contests to see how far each could fly their plane. The winner chose a book to read. Clifford, the Big Red Dog, is their favorite and John William read it to them, interjecting humorous comments in English for Beth and my benefit. They loved my camera and took lots of pictures of each other. Prior to youth group, Beth and I cleaned her room which as many of you know has recently been visited by Charlie that I believe to be a mouse and not a larger rodent. I decided it needed a Mom's touch and so I swept and sorted while Beth put all of her food in a plastic container. Following a dinner of trout, potatoes and noodle soup with egg (we thought we were going to have takush - rotten potato soup - so you can imagine my excitement to learn we were having fish!), we returned to our room to settle down for the evening. I was glad I chose to sleep with flashlight in hand as Charlie visited at 2 a.m. Beth and I listened carefully to determine Charlie's location and then after we did not hear him for several minutes, Beth held the flashlight while I held the broom and moved things around to see if he was still present. We determined he was not, went to bed and did not hear from him again. Hopefully, moving the food and some other things will prove effective in Charlie finding another place to visit.
Tonight we are at Lazy Dog Inn, a beautiful inn in the mountains with views that can best be described as breathtaking. We are sitting by a roaring fire while waiting for a dinner that smells delicious. Tomorrow when we return to Huaraz we are planning to shop for souvenirs, buy a dresser for Beth's room (she currently stacks her clothes on a piece of tarp on the floor), and have dinner with a group of Beth's friends and some of their family also visiting. We will then be returning to Lima on the overnight bus in preparation for my return home on Thursday.
Time has passed by too quickly these past few days. It has been nice to put faces with names, see beyond the pictures that Beth has shared and spend time with Beth. It will be sad to leave but nice to go home knowing that Beth will be returning to us in December.
As Beth has often said, if you can, please visit her. She would love your company and to show you her world. It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity - take it and have a great time!