Monday, January 25, 2016

.: Day 10 :. Un-Volunteer-y goodbyes

"We started with a simple hello, but ended with a complicated goodbye"

Even though I woke up this morning knowing it was my last day to volunteer, I can't say that I was upset or even feeling overly emotional. I was excited again to see the kids. Excited that we would also be getting the chance to visit another site today and meet some of <lets just say> Peru's more experienced citizens. I hate leaving places and people, but I'm somewhat of a professional at holding in emotions, and I guess ignoring the reality of a situation. This was probably the one time in the trip the language barrier worked to my advantage (minus all those times people try to sell me things and just act confused and keep walking and flaunting my foreignness) because leaving everyone with the confusion of when/if I'm coming back seems a lot easier than a definite goodbye. (There's got to be a correlation in here somewhere with my indecisiveness too, no?)

Anyways, it was a volunteer day very much like our previous ones with a slight undertone of anxiousness about the "final goodbye". We got to the school around 8:30 and hung around until the doors to the classrooms were unlocked. We were sitting on the tiny little chairs at the tiny little tables when the  kids started showing up. I was getting a little nervous when Jesus still hadn't walked through the door after the first 10 or so kids had arrived because he's normally one of the first ones. Everyone lies when they say they don't have favorites. His not being there made me more aware that we really had to say goodbye and possibly never see these little ones again. ughhh. When he finally arrived, I relaxed a bit. He came right over and dragged me to the rack holding all the classrooms activities and materials and pointed to the soccer ball on the top shelf (we've kind of mastered the miming between us two). We went out into the courtyard area and kicked around the ball until the teacher made us all go into the classroom. ( I still can't tell if she's really a fan of us volunteers, we are a 100% distraction at all times, and even though I'd like to think we're also 100% a help, we're just not.)

We only had an hour at the school because we had to be at our next site by 10:30. Time flew by so fast. We were in the middle of working on learning english color names by ripping and gluing different colored papers to a flower drawing when Annette's mom thought she'd be able to sneak away. Annette is on of the little kids who always has her mom or brother or sister with her. Today she had her sister and her mom and was doing alright until her mom left. She was on the floor and wailing and definitely making all the other kids a little anxious. Her sister (maybe 9 years old herself) was trying to calm her down but it was useless.There were two other moms still in the room with their kids and I was expecting them to come over and start dealing with Annette, but it's not how it seems to be in Peru. As helpful and patient and loving as everyone is, coddling someone else's child is apparently crossing the line. I was sitting at the table with Annette, her sister, Jesus, one of the other moms and her daughter. When it started to look like all the kids at the table were about to cry on behalf of Annette, I decided my language barrier and American-ness would save me from falling under any social codes I was about to break. I pulled Annette off the floor and put her on my lap and probably scared (or maybe just confused and comforted?) her into silence. She calmed down enough to let the rest of the kids get back to work and even let me puppet her (as in put the glue on her finger, draw her gluey finger on the paper and stick the ripped paper onto it). She got the hang of it though and started to do it herself. Jesus was unimpressed by the whole ordeal and so for the last 15 minutes of the class I had a little one on both my knees (loved it).

Didn't love that it was already time to leave. Everyone came back into the little ones room (they had all gone next door to the English class with Nelson). We had a brief comic/super staged presentation of gifts in an attempt to snag a photo (fail). And then it was a blur of goodbyes and hugs and confusion. Jay made an announcement to the kids in Spanish so they got that this was our real last day, and some more hugs happened. We were out in the courtyard again looking in at our kids through the barred open windows. Of all days for our drivers to be late. We lingered and I continued to be a distraction but was loving Jesus' runs back and forth from his desk to the window to grab my hand. little ladies man. Right before we had to go I yelled to him to smile from his chair and left with the greatest picture of all time. I definitely don't do favorites.

Our drive to our next site was quick since it was only a couple of blocks away from our school. I was a little hesitant to be at a new site, especially after feeling so emotional from having to leave our last one, but Jay was really excited about this place. In a way, you could say this place we were at now, and the director of this place (Tony) were the reasons for this trip. When Jay was in Peru for the first time to do volunteer work, this was his spot and Tony was his guy. This started his passion and ultimately encouraged him to move to Peru, which led him to Lisseth, and united them in their mission to bring help and visitors to the beautiful Peru. So here we were with some of Peru's finest.

We walked into the main room and got introduced by Tony to this room of at least 100 senior
citizens. they were sitting in groups of about 10 or so at long tables. There were center pieces on each table with a group photo of the people at the table ( they apparently have assigned seats) and everyone had a name tag on that gets tucked away into an envelope and  kept at the table when they leave. My kind of orderly. We had been told about a game called Sapo where you try to throw heavy metal coins (anyone remember the slammers from pogs?) into a metal frogs mouth. You stand about 10 get from the table that holds the frog and has slots all along the top for the coins to fall down into like Plinko  (the Price is right definitely got Plinko from Peru). Each slot is worth different points and getting the coin in the frogs mouth is like the jackpot. its a HOOT. There was quite the fan section and some heckling and some pretty terrible and some pretty amazing. Don't underestimate the arm muscles of anyone ever when it comes to Sapo.
We all took turns roaming between Sapo, the main room where puzzles seemed to be the big attraction, and a smaller craft room where some of the ladies were braiding beaded bracelets which they sell to make money for the facility. They were beautiful and I could sit there all day crafting with them. There's never enough time! Our drivers (who had stayed to play) were ready to cart us off again. Before we left, the director brought us all back together in the big room and we sang a couple songs. it was beautiful and we had little song books so we even got to sing along (spanish songs) This sounds almost wrong to say, but the best part of the visit was leaving. These people are just SO loving and EVERYONE wanted a cheek kiss & a hug. I wasn't lying about the 100 people, so that means nearly 100 hugs. I hadn't even had a chance to say hello to most of the people I ended up hugging. It was bizarre but so sweet and satisfying and endearing and grand and wonderful and unique and ....give out hugs, they mean a lot!
You can't even be sad when you have  a goodbye like that, and we got into our cars with smiles and good moods. And very hungry stomachs. But don't worry, we had lunch plans. Luigi, one of the great people that run Kaclla hostel, had become our friend over the last 10 days and seen us eating LMHC meals each day. He's from the Amazon, a true jungle man, and told us he makes a mean lomo saltado. Originally, he proposed a cooking lesson so that we could leave Peru with the ability to make at least on Peruvian dish for ourselves. But what actually happened is that Luigi turned into a wizard in the Kitchen and needed zero apprentices. We just watched from the door and waited for our food. We were all so wiped and hungry, I don't think anyone was too phased to be cooked for and served. Luigi is a Lomo saltado artiste. His plate came out replete with french fry tower and molded rice mountain. The main part of the dish--steak, onions, spicy peruvian yellow pepper, and secret Peruvian sauce--was also top notch and we ate every last bit.  (don't worry, Zach got a picture so Luigi's art is forever saved.
Time for naps.
Oh wait, theres no time.
Andres showed up to join us for our evening activity---a visit to the neighboring town, Barrenco. Lisseth's brief history of Barrenco had me excited to visit. The town was the place for artists and poets and musicians back in the day (and still today too) for it's location along the cliffs being so majestic and inspiring. We walked the hour or so long coastal route to take in the views, and eventually found ourselves in the towns center. Are we still in Peru? There was graffiti (which was more like beautiful murals) and street performers and coffee shops and super friendly, smiling, artisity looking people everywhere (yes I'm sterotyping, and yeah...I'm probably trying to say we found a hipster haven...but minus any of the grunge). We wandered around a while until we decided it had bee long enough since lunch to have dinner.  Normally we aim for true Peruvian experiences, but when you walk by a brewery and you're in a hipster town, it just seems like the right thing to do. Don't worry, we got flights of Peruivian beers (ya know, american IPA and Oktoberfest and Heffenweizen) and had truly Peruvian brick oven pizzas...
But really, Barrenco Beer Company is one of few (if not the only) brewery in Peru and did serve us some true Peruvian beers too. We left content and maybe a little buzzed and decided walking back would be more fun then cabbing. We strolled past some folks propositioning us for some weed, many parks with benches covered in PDA (thats public displays of affection) and found ourselves on a cliff ledge taking in the waves and the cloudy sky and just having a moment. together. because we kind of like eachcother. 

Another successful day in Peru. See you tomorrow Thursday.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

.: Day 9 :. Tuesday

Who knew waking up at 6:38 would become something to look forward too?! 6:38 am mornings mean school volunteer days, which means visiting with our cute little nuggets, which means everyone is happy! After having the weekend off, and then our surprise Monday, it was a welcomed slide back into our volunteer routine. With the way hostel life works, people come and go, usually after no more than a couple days. Some days, we see so much traffic it's a wonder where they fit everyone. Other days, like today, the hostel is a ghost town. It's a bit weird to go from living with so many to seeing so few, but it was kind of nice to have a morning of just 'us' as we toasted our bread and made our coffees and moseyed back and forth from our rooms to the kitchen to the showers and the bathrooms. Juan and Hugo were their promptly selves, showing up at 7:30 to collect our eager group and hit the road. Since it was a Tuesday, it meant another spa day of some sort from our girls in the home-ec-esque class and some free play time with the local kids. This Tuesday also meant filming day for the faculty. We've been quite the visitors the past 8 days, showing  up with cameras and gifts and big american backpacks...and no one's really questioned us. I'm not sure when/if the conversation ever even  happened explaining our excessive videography and photography going on. The kids love seeing pictures of themselves and the adults are happy the kids are happy. Well, Jay sprung it on them this morning that he had some questions and would love to catch them on film answering. Being on camera is intimidating. Being asked random questions in front of the camera is even more intimidating. Add in the fact that 5 out of the 7 people watching/helping don't speak the same language, and you've had no time to think things over...I probably would have laughed and said "see ya later". But our sweet hosts barely batted an eye. Ricosuavejay was in full effect and caste his spell to bring calm and confidence to our interviewees. After almost 2 hours of set-up, questions, and break down...we all gained an Abroadened perspective on our impact here for sure.

Jay was the man with the questions and the only one who could really covey what those interviews were like, so I asked him to write a little about the session from his eyes---

>>>>>Today was intense. From the beginning of this whole project I knew that for the first trip I wanted to capture testimonials from the volunteers but also the community that we impact. Today we filmed four of the the staff members of the Colegio where we have been volunteering. Aurora, Juana, Maria and Nelson.  We set the scene up in a room that is currently ready for construction but had the exact feel for what we wanted everyone to see. The backdrop to the shot was a well worn hand painted picture of kids playing and the name of the school was written on the top of the wall. The pealing paint and the faded colors was exactly the vibe that I was trying to portray. 
Zach set up the whole scene. Moving tables trying a couple different angles and just making sure would come out perfect. Bill manned the second camera angle and I was the interviewer. I was obviously conducting this interview in Spanish so I had to make it clear that when I ask a question, the answer must be answered with the question first because my voice would not be part of the final product. The pressure was really on me here because if the answer wasn’t answered correctly, Zach was not able to intervene because of the language barrier. 

We started with Juana. She is a 60 something year old who has dedicated her life to cooking for the kids and taking care of any extra administrative responsibilities that arise. Her interview went well. She expressed that there our presence there was a huge help and that we give hope to everyone there that the future, with our help and the help of other volunteers, will be bright. Then we moved on to Maria, she is a teacher for the infant classes and while the school is on vacation she teaches cosmetology. She was the teacher that worked with the kids when they painted the volunteers nails and did their hair. She was very grateful for our assistance.
             The intense interview. It was time for Aurora. At first she came off a little nervous, like everyone else. They had never had an experience like this before. Expensive cameras all over the place,tripods, iPhones and a mic that she had to slip up her shirt and have Zach re-adjust so that it was perfect. We started off with her name and what she does here at Vida y Esperanza. Then came the question that made today what it was. “Cuentame un poco de porque has escogido hacer este trabajo”. (Tell me a little bit about why you have chosen this for your work). What came after this question is still somewhat of a blur because her answer was just so surreal and emotional. She explained how at the age of three she was abandoned and she never wants what she went through to happen to other children, ever. At this point she began to tear up. I am an extremely sensitive person, for those who know me you know it doesn’t take much for me to get emotional. After she finished the last question, I looked at her and just said “ok…muchas gracias”.
          Zach quickly removed her mic and I walked over to hug her. She stood up and wiped her tears. Zach and Bill came over and kind of formed a small circle around us. There we stood in a circle with sounds of children playing and speaking Spanish in the background. She thanked us again and said, in Spanish, “you guys are so lucky to have been born where you were born. You had a hug when you needed one, you had food when you were hungry and you did not go without. You guys took time out of your fulfilled lives to give us hope. Just know that you are always welcome here. When I say here I am not referring to my school, I am referring to Peru as a whole. If you come back, that is great but I just hope you continue to spread the love and help here that we as a country need".
          At this point she is tearing up again and the domino effect begins. I start to cry, then Zach and then Bill. All four of us are in a small circle with zero ability to hold ourselves together. We all kind of take our moments in our own little areas and then regroup. We all exchange hugs. Aurora steps back and puts her hands together in front of her chest…so we follow. From there she sweeps them out and up into a huge circle while breathing deep and finishes the circle back at her chest. She repeats this four times and we follow. It was a moment I will never forget. Again she says thanks us. 
           This moment for Zach, Bill and I was one that we will never forget. These are the kinds of moments that you have that inspire you to do this kind of thing. To have someone sit across from you and tell you that they believe you are sent for a higher power. It was intense. 
         We had our last interview with Nelson, Auroras son, and he had some amazing things to say as well about what kind of impact we were having. We were emotionally overflowing with feelings. I would say the highlight of the day was the moment where we were reassured that our presence in this Colegio was something they all believed was sent from a higher power and that, as Nelson put it, "Becuase of you, There is hope". >>>>>>>>>

THANK YOU JAY! To simply say our hosts made us feel loved and appreciated is an understatement for sure, but it's kind of hard to put into words what you see on thier faces and feel in thier hugs. They nailed thier interviews and I can't wait to see the finished product. 

Phew it was quite the morning. We napped on our ride home :) But our naps were short because there was little traffic and as soon as we got back we ate lunch and began to recollect ourselves to head back out. Nelson came to join us at the hostel and we grabbed two cabs to meet Lisseth's parents at a shopping center right outside the center of Lima. The place was crazy with 3 fllors of everything you myself ever imagine. It reminded me of the flea market we alwasy go to when we visit my grandparents in florida; a mix of inside and open air hallways that are full of stalls organized by category: shoes, workoutclothes, watches, wallets, jewelry, leather goods, alpaca trinkets, games, baby items...e v e r y t h i n g. Bartering is expected and its way too easy to get lost. It's a bit overwhleming, (which is why Zach, Bill, Morgan and Lindsey opted to find the cervaza <thats beer> section and post up until our meeting time, and I opted to not let Lisseth, her parents, or Jay out of my site. Great choices all around team. I let Jay do some bartering on my behalf, and watched as the Conza-Berman tribe scored the kiddos some wonderful new toys for fairer-than-listed prices. Success.

We taxied away from the crazy mall to the minimally less crazy shops of center lima. We all went a little loco ourselves gathering gifts and souvenirs since we probably won't have time for another shopping day before MACHU PICCHU! (thats the ginormous historical land of alpaca and ruins that just happnes to be one of the seven wonders of the world, in case you forgot).

It was such a long day I don't even remember what we had for dinner. And since everyone is already in bed as I finish typing this, I'll have to leave you (and myslelf) wondering. 

...until tomorrow xo

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

.:Day 8:. Monday

The whole reason I am in Peru is because Lisseth and Jay are on a mission to establish a volunteer oriented travel abroad program. The dream is to get groups of volunteers out to Peru and eventually Brazil and into local organizations that could use extra help. We are the guinea pigs for this "run through" (ps, did you know guinea pig is a real delicacy here? We haven't-and won't be- trying it, but its a real thing). I've been on lots of trips, some organized group trips and some just winging it, and I have to give Lisseth and Jay lots of credit for this trip having just enough structure and yet still plenty of freedom. I also have to give this group a lot of credit for being so go with the flow and open to the changes and hiccups that are a part of any new project. For the most part, we've been extremely fortunate with the people who run our volunteer sites ( I guess maybe it shouldn't be such a  surprise that these incredibly selfless and loving poeple would treat us as their own). And we've been lucky that doors seem to just keep opening at the right times...leading us to cab drivers who become friends, and expats with magic phone numbers for impossible to find volunteer sites. We've also somehow managed to catch the greatest sunsets by accident, have free days conveniently line up when some have been feeling under the weather and need to just veg, and stumble upon magic moments like picture perfect sunsets, pick up soccer games and a festival in the center of lima, and a proposal on the beach!

Pretty much, our days have been long, but filled with great things. So when Monday morning rolled around, and we learned that our volunteer oppurtunity at a women's domestic abuse center wouldn't be happening, it wasn't a stretch to think it was for a reason. Our full day turned into a free day which ended up being great for business here in Peru. Abroaden ( pretty soon you'll be able to google this and see something other than a yoga mat) got to do some filming. Our guinea pig status maybe underplays our roles down here a little bit. Amongst our test group, we actually have an amazing videographer (Zach), a photographer (Bill...and kind of all these ppl with their fancy cameras I suppose), a Morgan, who's our babay but also the groups comedian and blunt voice of reason, a Lindsey, another amazing photographer, and fearless traveler, and then me. We  have some responsibilities too (its not all fun and games folks) and sitting infront of a camera and answering a bunch of questions ends up being both time consuming and very draining. Eveyone here are photographers, I think we all agree we like being behind the camera way more than in front. And to have a mic on and have to answer questions and talk about your feelings....I think we're all hoping Zach's a video-editing magician (no pressure Zach).

We've filmed our personal sections twice now, which is great because it means we only have one left! But also great because as embarassing/uncomfortable as they are, they are great times to relfect on just how much we've done and seen. It's also exciting to see how this whole dream of L&J is coming together and how this website is going to look so amazing. Our free day also opened up time for Lindsey and I to take a trip to the airport in an attempt to sort out her flight to Bolivia at this end of this. And for a return to our favorite, dig-through-the-bins clothes store, and some hangout time around the hostel (we made 2 new friends!). George, from Puerto Rica who was actaully just with us for 40 mins before he had to catch his taxi back to Peru...but 40 minutes was enough time for him to introduce us to a new peruvian wine, AND warn us of the food poisoning that got him and his friend from the restuarant we had plans to eat at for our night out this week! thanks for that save George! And Tori from Arizona who's traveling solo for the month with a program called and has done so many cool things INCLUDING birthright and hiking through Zion and so we're pretty much new best friends. We also got to have another one of Mama-Lisseth's Home Cooked meals (a pesto? spaghetti with a chicken cutlet of some sort?) I'll have to ask her more about that one when I see her tomorrow beause that sounds very much italian and it was very much not. I forgot to take a picture.

Which, about tomorrow, its actaully today because I am a day behind writing this (almost two days since its 10:30 pm) ooops! But all in all Monday was a very full day for a whole host of things we hadn't even planned. Funny how that works. There's also a whole story behind the women's shelter that needs to be talked about, but there will be more on that soon. In the meantime, I will throw some pictures on here that most likely did not come from yesterday and let you figure them all out :D


Monday, January 18, 2016

.: Day 7 :. Familia en Peru

I'm officailly a day behind...and have no plans of catching up. So we'll jump right into day seven, which was yesterday (Sunday). Like most of our days, Sunday's plan was only a rough outline of possible events. Free day? Beach attempt take 2? Errands? Sleep? Visit to Lisseth's family in Ate? Sometimes it's great to have options, and sometimes it just means being decisive, which we already estblishe is not my (nor anyone else in this group's) strongsuite. In instances with choices on this trip (like this past Sunday) random events have worked out in odd ways to make our decisions for us. So this morning, I happened to wake up early and was getting ready for the day when Jay and Lisseth informed me that they and Zach had a taxi coming to go to Lisseth's parents. Since no one else was really up and going yet--- and since any chance to spend more time with Jay and Lisseth is worth taking full advantage of---I hopped on board. Bill was still feeling under the weather and happy to be able to sleep in. And Morgan and Lindsey were content in starting the days with showers and some chill time. Lindsey very much deserved a nice shower. She's going to write me up a little blurb to share with you all, because she went on a solo adventure Saturday to Ica to a place that involved a lot of sun and a lot of sand....(<---more on that later)

For now, I'm going to leave you with Zach, for his account of our day with the Conza's. [ I'm going to preface this with saying he did an exceptional job of describing our day annd I'm likely going to write way too much about this day too (shocking, I know) because it was that great and I loved every bit of it. Here's Zach:

>>>Peru. Day 5. Or is it 7? The hard drives that I’ve been backing my video up on tell me it’s day 6, but I suppose that’s a bit irrelevant at this point. Anywho, we’ve been here since the 11th and today was another one of those days where the real Peru further revealed herself to me.

We left our hostel around 7:30 and were en route to Lisseth’s parents house. My expectations were fairly limited, but I knew that we were going to be eating an authentic Peruvian meal for both breakfast and dinner. Good food equals happy Zach.

When we arrived at their home I instantly felt, home. I had met Cristina and Adelino earlier in our adventure, but it was a brief encounter - just enough to barely stumble along in some Spanish while I attempted to properly introduce myself. Despite how little they actually knew me, it felt as if they had been in my family for quite some time, almost like long lost grandparents. I greeted Adelino with a handshake and a hug and Cristina with a single kiss on the cheek - a South American tradition. I also said hi to Cooper, the family dog - a gorgeous mixed breed with golden fur and playful brown eyes.

Heavenly smells had already filled the room as Cristina was hard at work prepping the day’s meals. Our breakfast was simple, but had me wondering, “Why the hell don’t I do this for breakfast?” It was some of the most finely crafted bread I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying served with avocado (or palta in Peru) that may have forever ruined my perception of the avocados I eat in the states. You know how rare it is to get that perfect avocado? The one that’s just perfectly ripe, yet still green, fresh, and buttery on the tongue? Well every single avocado we ate was like that and there was a seemingly infinite quantity of them continually emerging from the kitchen.

For lunch we ate a meal that I’ve been thinking about since I found out I was going on this trip, authentic Peruvian ceviche. If you don’t know what ceviche is, it’s fish that is cooked with the acidity of citrus, primarily lemon. I don’t understand how a fruit can cook anything but believe me when I tell you that this was some of the most flavorful seafood my tastebuds have ever encountered. The lemon juice had become infused with the fish, ingrained into the very fiber of its existence - well, former existence I suppose. The fish was now dead and headed for my digestive tract.

Our meal also consisted of many other plates, all equally mind blowing in their own ways including sweet potato, Peruvian corn, a fried fish of some type, as well as fried corn which I’ve been told is the Peruvian version of popcorn. Think what corn chips are actually supposed to taste like. The entire experience was one of pure bliss. I realized that I hadn’t said a thing for about ten minutes and apologized. I kind of forgot I was a human being and not just a vessel for ecstasy in the form of ceviche.

Throughout our entire day we exchanged stories, laughed, ate, walked around town, I even got a much needed cat nap in! All the while I could not have felt more at home and I think that is a true testament to how beautiful Lisseth’s parents are. I see where she gets her charm from. Both of them have a magic about them. It’s a sense of instant trust that is rare to find in people. Despite having spent just hours with them I knew that no matter what, they were going to do whatever they could to make sure I felt safe and loved. It’s an amazing quality and I strive to achieve with as many as I can.

I’ve rambled on too much already but I’ll just say in summary, it was an incredible day and it has forever changed the way I look at the world and myself. You are beautiful Peru. Thank you for having me. Take it away Sarah! >>>

Hello. It's me.
I second all of that. And yes, I do like ceviche. And purple drink, called chicha. And hugs. And Lisseth's parents give great hugs. The language barrier didn't exist. We just were all day, we were joking and making fun of each other and looking through pictures of baby Lisseth. In between breakfast and lunch, Adelino took me and Jay and Zach for a walk around the town and we got to see the river that is the country's main water source, a little park, a league soccer game, and local futsol! I could have watched them play all day. Sunday's in Peru are dedicated to soccer and beer (Aaron, you need to come back here with me). We are going to try to find another pick-up game to hop into next Sunday. Harriets first soccer experience in Peru?! Lets go ACL #2.

We were in a food como and moving slow so showed up a little late to our meeting spot in the Plaza des Armas to meet back up with the group. But they were excited to see that Cristina and Adelino had joined us too and it was surprisingly comforting to have our whole little group back together again. us gringos took a tour through the catacombs to see the burial site of all of the franciscan Peruvian population from 1639 up until the mid 1800s ( that means we walked through a creepy church basement and looked at bones and were all completely grossed out). What better thing to fix a funk than do some shopping! And with 2 extra Peruvians to help us with our bargaining...we all went a little crazy. You're wlecome in advance family and friends, your gifts were purchsed for extra cheap :)

With our hand full and our wallets empty we made our way back to Pardos (Jays favorite place) and had a truly family dinner with the whole clan before having to say our goodbyes to Mama and Papa Conza and hitching taxis of our own.

Quick little facts: Keep and eye our for more guest blogs, I love spreading out the work(d)s and everyones getting really into contributing.
Don't be too sad we had to say goodbye to the Conzas because we get to go back anad spend all day with them again Thursday...and go to Gramma's 80th bday on Sunday! (Fun fact...Gandma Conza and I share THE SAME BIRTHDAY! Januray 13th is a great day to be born (thanks again mom))
Lots of the pictures attached to this blog aren't mine, but I haven't figured out how to add description.
I never mentioned Pisco, but he is our hostel guard dog and the naked looking creature on the couch with Jay. He's cuter once you get to know him.
Luigi (one of the hotel's employees) is going to give us a cooking class.
I'm obsessed with Lemon Grass Tea.
Ate is pronounced Ah-tay. The e should have an accent mark. I don't know how to add it from this blogger app.

Happy Monday! xoxo