For those of you who know me, you’ve likely heard the punchline of this toast before (credit to BP). The funny thing about Cusco, is in spite of the fact that we’re inland, we’re constantly reminded of all the (friend)ships around us. We knew that one of the hardest sacrifices of making a RTW trip was going to be missing our family and friends back home. Fortunately, with the use of “Viber,” we haven’t missed a beat! The application allows you to call, text and video chat internationally for free. In fact, we’ve been communicating (when we can get wifi) with a lot of our family and friends even more than when we were in the US! It’s funny how that works.
So, the fact that our contingency from home is “with” us has been great. But we’ve felt the impact of friends in a significant way here as well. It started with our host, Manuel, and his family. Since we’ve been a part of their home for three weeks now, they regularly use the phrase “you are family now.” And they mean it. What’s theirs is ours, and they truly want us to feel as though we are blood relatives. One thing I’ve noticed about Peruvian culture is they don’t issue empty sentiment. If they say something to you, it’s authentic (unless they’re trying to sell you something on the street). Last week we celebrated Manuel’s birthday with a special breakfast and they had a barbeque in the afternoon. Karen and I couldn’t attend the barbeque, so the family set aside full plates of food for us when we returned home from volunteering. Gestures like that really help one to know that family and friends are always near.
We’ve also picked up friends in some more unusual circumstances. In the middle of last week we were walking down Avenida El Sol when a furry friend from the street happened upon us. He had a limp in his step, but for some reason decided to trot next to us on our walk to the bakery and cafe. Well, wouldn’t you know it, he continued to follow us for almost two miles before we stopped into the bakery. At that point, he laid down and waited for us to order. We completed the order, he got back up, and we continued on to the cafe. This continued for the better part of an hour, until he finally got caught up with some other dogs and lost track of us. We looked out from the cafe and saw him looking around for us even after we left. Manuel’s theory was that he “picked up on our good energy.” I felt the same way, because I tried to feed him food and he wouldn’t have it.
A similar occurrence happened at our volunteer job late last week. We were winding down towards the end of our shift, and the little niece of the head cook at the cafe was walking around looking for something to do. I was washing some dishes and when I looked up, she and Karen were sitting together at a table laughing with one another. They were looking at videos and even busted out the Photobooth app on Karen’s Ipad. Within minutes they were making silly faces and crying from so much laughter. I think God just wanted us to know that friends are all around us in many different forms. Sometimes it’s in the obscure form of an animal or a little Peruvian girl, and other times it’s more palpable.
A more palpable occurrence happened last week when we received our first piece of mail in South America. Mail is fun to receive when you haven’t had any in awhile, but edible mail provides another level of excitement. The adopted mother of the Kimble family, Phyllis Keenan, sent us a box full of cookies and butterscotch bars, our absolute favorite treats! We originally met Phyllis through her daughter Katherine, who is one of our best friends and my former co-worker. She has been an incredible supporter of our journey and an ever constant reminder of the love of friends all around us, wherever we go!
To top things off, our travel companions Dan and Nichole Rudenga joined us on Saturday for a week full of adventures! We spent some time in Cusco before we will head to Machu Picchu, with intermittent stops in the Sacred Valley, Quillabamba, Cocalmayo, and Aguas Calientes. Thanks to our friends Mike and Alaina Smith, we will be joined by some wonderful travel prayers and protection sent via mail! It’s certain to be an unforgettable experience.
Check out our week three recap video below!