The above quote is taped to the door of the bathroom inside a café in Cusco called The Meeting Place. We heard about this place from a friend (thanks Alice!) and went to check it out in the first few days after our arrival. Upon reading the menu, we noticed that they donate 100% of their profits to charitable causes! Pretty awesome. One of the overarching themes for the Kimble adventure is to volunteer and serve our fellow brothers and sisters, so this drew our attention immediately. After placing our order at the restaurant, we asked the manager if she would accept us as volunteers. “Absolutely,” she replied. “When are you available?” Karen and I looked at each other. “Can we start tomorrow?”
So, here we are, whipping up espressos, lattes, milkshakes and orange juice on a daily basis. We’ve also had the chance to get to know the managers and owner of the restaurant, allowing us to deepen our understanding of their mission and exactly how we’re forwarding the cause. The primary mission (though they support other smaller missions as well) of The Meeting Place is to fund an after-school project in Altivas Canas, which is located on the outskirts of Cusco. The project purposes to “provide a place for children of single mothers to come and be supervised in a loving and wholesome environment, which allows the mothers to be able to go out and work. This helps the mothers to be able to provide for their children and household needs.” What a great cause, and one we are happy to support in a small way through the time we spend volunteering there.
When we weren’t spending time at our “jobs” last week, we explored the city in some new and exciting ways. On Wednesday evening, we took a hike, literally, to see Cristo Blanco (White Christ). It’s a beautiful statue that overlooks much of Cusco and gives visitors an incredible view to gaze upon. Even cooler, is that there are spotlights surrounding Cristo Blanco, so when we look across the city at night we can see Him looking back at us!
Friday afternoon symbolized our passion for exploring the world through running. Karen and I spent the better part of three hours hiking and running up and down the unblemished mountain peaks residing behind our house. There is so much picturesque land untouched by humanity, just waiting to be explored. The magnificence of the mountains really takes one outside of their personal “bubble” and into the boundlessness of God’s creation.
The weekend involved more of the “cultural” aspects of Peruvian life. Once again, it seemed that in every instance we were the only gringos in sight. We visited Sabado Baratillo (the Black Market), which is only open on Saturdays and typically closes around lunchtime. Now, I want you to imagine something you might find at a market somewhere. Got it? Great, because so does the Sabado Baratillo! Some of the stranger offerings include live ducks, guinea pigs, kittens, and puppies, all of which can be had for the equivalent of less than one USD. We knew we were getting close to reaching the market when we saw at least one person every block holding a puppy! I have to admit, the thought of a $1 puppy was pretty appealing, but not the least bit convenient for our situation. So, if you’re looking for a bargain, send me a personal message and I’ll FedEx you a puppy. Just kidding…getting dogs through customs can be a real pain!
Later in the weekend we found ourselves at Parque Zonal, a local multi-purpose sport facility complete with basketball courts, fútbol fields, a swimming pool and a track. I had been itching to hoop from the moment I saw a men’s league playing at a court on Avenue El Sol, one of the main streets in downtown Cusco. We headed over and I was able to play two-on-two with a few Peruvians I met at the courts. It’s a pretty neat feeling to know that sports can transcend culture and even language. I couldn’t communicate with these guys using words, but we communicated through the sport of basketball. It was definitely a memorable experience. What’s even crazier is that one of the guys I played with was wearing a jersey from the men’s league we watched earlier in the week! And wouldn’t you know it, the team was the “Buffalos,” with a team logo that was a clear imitation of the Chicago Bulls. The whole situation wasn’t a coincidence; it’s what I like to call a Godincidence.
For the second straight week, Cusco didn’t disappoint. But we’re not finished. So much more adventure awaits!