Meeting our new homestay families

We arrived at the small pier to be met by the local village leader and led up a hill, past crops and livestock to the school.

There we were introduced to our host for the night, Salinda – a young Amayra girl in her mid-teens.

After a short introduction between our group and all of the local hosts, Mike, James, Luke, Natalie, Seb and Eliza joined our football team for a 7-a-side match against another G Adventures group who were travelling from Lima to Rio.

Cheered on by the rest of the group, the boys tried hard but ultimately lost 2-0 to a much younger and fitter team. The second G team, then played a short match against some local teenagers, winning 1-0 as it started to get dark.

With the sun setting rapidly, there was just time for all of us to get dressed up in traditional dress and perform a lengthy dance ceremony. Even those exhausted after football had to admit that the dancing was perhaps even more tiring!

With it now pitch black and no street lights to go by, Salinda led us up rocky paths, through fields to her family home. Only the next day would we discover just how rocky, narrow and winding it was.

At the picturesque family home we were shown to a beautifully kept en suite guest room, before heading to kitchen and meeting Matilda, Salindas mum. She’d clearly been slaving over a hot stove all day, but after some pleasantries, smiles and plenty of sign language we were put straight to work cutting carrots and potatos.

We clearly failed, as Matilda ended up re-dicing our carrots. With our little bit done we were asked to sit at the table and served up a delicious thick potato and carrot soup. That alone would have been enough but was soon followed by a mountain high plate of rice, potato and carrot.

Weighed down by the double helping of carbs, we were both exhausted and ready for bed. The washing up would be left until ‘manjana’ and we said our thank you’s and went to our room.

It was only to 8pm but exhaustion and cold was setting in, so we climbed under the four heavy blankets, 2 sheets and thermals. The bedding was much needed but so heavy that you felt weighed down all night.

We woke up at 6am to the sound of donkeys and cows. After a cold shower we joined Matilda in the kitchen, where she’d prepped some dough balls for us to kneed into flat breads.

After a quick lesson we got the hang of it and by the end, all of our efforts were passing Matilda’s stringent quality control. The flat dough was placed in a frying pan and browned off – soon to be in a bowl, with ten for each of us.

With the bread on the table we were served a delicious breakfast of egg, our home made fried breads and jam. In the background the Amayra language Radio Pachu Mama played a broadcast by Papa Francisco (Pope Francis).

After breakfast we helped with the washing up, which was in an ice cold outside sink. Matilda had a very set process which we had to follow. She did however seem to appreciate the help, especially with the heavy lifting.

Once we’d finished, we were led down the path to a field, where we cut down a bundle of bean stalks and carried these back to the house. We sat down in the garden and started the pain staking task of picking and shelling hundreds of beans.

It was a task that would take a couple of hours, so it was a relief when we got a break to go down to the fields and heard the sheep. The two dozen sheep were all tied to stakes who needed moving to a new grazing area. It was the first time either of us had wrangled sheep but it was good fun.

After the sheep it was back to the house to finish shelling beans, and then down to another furrowed field to plough and harvest potatoes. Bent over, in the early morning sun, wielding a hoe was back breaking work – although rewarding when you saw how potatoes we had harvested!

We lugged our haul of potatoes up the hill to the house, where they were placed on a mountain of potatoes – clearly they’re a local favourite.

After washing our hands we were treated to a lunch of soup of quinoa, beans, carrot and potato’s, followed by a main course of cheesy omelette, potato, fermented potatos and beans. There was something satisfying about knowing we’d harvested half of the meals ourselves.

After lunch, Matilda brought out a selection of knitted goods – cute sheep and llamas which we felt compelled to buy. There was just enough time for a goodbye selfie in the kitchen, with Matilda and Salinda and a hug goodbye. Salinda walked us down to the port and we said our farewells and boarded the ferry back to Puno.

About twenty minutes out, the ferry paused to allow us the chance to jump into the 10c water. As we didn’t have our swimming costumes we foolishly dared each other to jump in in our boxers. Peer pressure meant half the group took the plunge. Rarely has anyone swum as quickly as when trying to get back onto the boat to escape the ice cold water.

Back on board we got into some dry clothes and relaxed on the journey back to Puno. The next leg of our journey would be one of the toughest and most anticipated of the whole year – Cusco and the Inca Trail to Machu Pichu.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s