Today was wonderful! First we went to Los Martincitos in Villa El Salvador. It’s the most impoverished city we’ve been to so far. The abuelos welcomed us with hugs and kisses on teh cheeks before we were even introduced to them. I mainly helped out the kitchen staff who really needed it – three of them to cook for 90+ abuelos every Monday, Thursday, and Friday, breakfast and lunch. One of the more experienced volunteers Judy introduced me to the sweetest abuela, Maria. She spoke a little English but I was able to understand her Spanish since she spoke slowly. At the end of our time there I saw her again, where she hugged and kissed me goodbye and told me she was so happy I was here and that she simply loved me because of that. My heart swelled with so much emotion I had to keep hugging her a bit longer.
Back in San Borja we ate another amazing lunch of pork and sweet potatoes, avocado, carrot, and cucumber salad with fresh-squeezed juice. It was so delicious! It was one of the program directors, Aida’s birthday so we sang and ate cake with her.
Next was a tour around Miraflores and Baranco with our driver Juan Carlos! He is bilingual and loves teaching us everything in English and in Spanish. He showed us the sites of El Parque Del Amor, which was a breathtaking sight along the coast. Seeing all the couples there made me miss Jovan terribly, I know we could spend all day in a majestic place like that!
Last were the Incan markets. So many shops with less aggressive owners than in Mexico or in the Bahamas. I learned that alpaca, especially baby alpaca is a Peruvian fashion staple and is ultra soft, softer than Gracie’s ears! Once we were done at the markets I went with Tacy and Heather to Pescados Capitales, a bomb seafood place that had the best cebiche of my life!! I got the Ghandi Cebiche which had squid, shrimp, orange, corn, red onions, and fresh fish. Our waiter gave us paper pictures with all the different types of sea animals that were a part of their logo. I tried a pisco sour for the first time with ginger ale and it was subtle and tasty! Made me super talkative on our cab ride home to our driver, who I bombarded with questions in Spanish since he didn’t speak Ingles.
A fulfilling first day as an international volunteer. I am so proud I decided to do this; I told shopkeepers, taxis, and the restaurant staff I’m a volunteer, and they warmed up even more. One shopkeeper gave me a discount and thanked me for caring about Peru. Mentioning this is what landed us pictures in the restaurant and a good cab fare on the way back.
You may get lost in translation every now and again, but the feelings of the heart are universal.