All of the abuelos were home today! They were all so happy we came to visit them. One abuela tried to teach us a few Quechua words; she had a poor house that she quickly cleaned up for us, and she seemed embarrassed but gradually warmed up to us. Another abuela was super excited to see us because her brother was already visiting her too. We sat in her hardwood-floored living room where her daughter served us Inca Cola, and her son joined us to talk story. The only abuelo we saw was glad to have us over because he lives alone ever since his wife passed away twelve years ago. He told us a story when he visited one of his daughters in Chile during an earthquake and also shared with us how he reads lots of books so he can tell the other people who go to his church what they’re about. He was funny when he said he was like Abraham in the bible since they share that name. He told us he was grateful we came over but was sorry he didn’t have anything to give us in return. I told him that giving hugs would be great and that made him smile. Another abuela was so happy to see us, opening the door with a missing-toothed, wide-grinned smile that was so contagious. We took some pictures with her and Judy showed a play a local troupe performed at the center sharing some abuelos’ life stories. Hers was one of them. The last abuela we saw owned a cute little shop where we bought snacks. We had tried visiting her on Tuesday but she was at a doctor’s appointment. Her body aches and she regretted not acting livelier when we arrived. I reminded her to smile since that’s good for your health, which made her smile. I ate a creme puff thing that her people in the Andes used to make with cornmeal; it melted as soon as you bit into it! We took pictures with her too.
Before the visits we went to the general hospital in Villa. It was only three stories and had people waiting all day to make an appointment. It was crowded and so much smaller than any US hospital I’ve seen. Tony explained how those with insurance could come there for medical help but those without had higher out of pocket costs and had to go to private practices.
After lunch Tony came over to tell us how Los Martincitos first began. He came together with four other people and a priest from their Catholic parish to bring move out aide specifically for the elderly after seeing so many needed extra help in the soup kitchen they all helped out at. Now, they manage ~$3k monthly budget since they only have partial government help. They’re going to start building a garden close to the center so the abuelos (who have great farming skills from living in the Highlands) can stay busy and feel more fulfilled.
I went to Miraflores with Judy and Adela for some shopping and gelato. There was an evening market taking place in Kennedy Park where I bought a few things. In Lacomar I found an Afro-Peruvian CD with the same song as one we danced to last night!
Long day of reflecting since tomorrow is our last day at our assignments. I’m going to miss Peru, its people mean so much.