Food is a large outward expression of love in Hispanic cultures. Raised on this notion, I sought out all the food of Peru, despite the knowledge that my stomach might take some time to adjust to everything.
On our last day in the community, we busily worked to finish our projects. As mid-day approached, many community members gathered to see how everything was coming to an end. The ACE team and 20 locals hiked up the residing mountain to a viewpoint (our second project for rural tourism). Once there, the locals gave a speech on how proud they were of our work and assimilation to their culture. As the speeches closed, a woman opened her knapsack and pulled out three roasted guinea pigs, a sack of potatoes, and handmade salsa. The women divided up all the guinea pigs and offered us as much as we wanted.
“Everything we did was because of a community – GVI, ACE, the locals – and we left as a family. My most treasured memories are of us gathered by a table, talking … and eating.”
Although we were a bit hesitant about trying such unfamiliar food, it was made with such love, and all of us knew this was a delicacy. In short, I didn’t hesitate to eat it. I put salsa on everything and joked with the locals as we were all gathered around a delicious meal – overlooking such a beautiful community. Looking back, my willingness to try anything and everything was well worth it.
Peru was a trip filled with love – in more than just food. I saw the most beautiful sights on these mountains, and met some of the most beautiful individuals. I applied to this trip unknowing of what to expect. I think I left learning how important family is, even if it’s not blood. Everything we did was because of a community – GVI, ACE, the locals – and we left as a family. My most treasured memories are of us gathered by a table, talking … and eating 🙂