One of the goals of WindAid was to give the volunteers the opportunity to explore the people and culture throughout the country of Peru. Throw on the fact that they didn’t supply us meals on the weekends, we saw a perfect opportunity to take advantage of the cheap public transportation to different parts of Peru on many weekends to make the most of our time there.
The first weekend trip we took was to the northern mountain city of Chachapoyas. We showed up to the town at the start of a week-long festival that was intended to celebrate the “pueblos” of Peru. The capital of each province would have its own celebrations, and Chachapoyas hosted since it was the capital of the province of Amazonas. Here we experienced the hospitality of the people of Peru. A friend of WindAid was the engineer for a project to build a school out in the mountains for a small village, and he took it upon himself to show us around the province to give us an immersive experience.
He took us to the mountain village where his mother had grown up two hours away from the city. He wanted to show us these local waterfalls he used to hike to as a child. It was a rainy day, and we had hiked two hours when a flash flood hit us. We immediately turned around as the trail we were on turned into a running river and the water soaked through our rain coats to our skin. We rushed back to the village as fast as we could as our boots filled with water and the clothes stuck to our bodies from the moisture.
We were understandably cold and miserable, but this nice Peruvian woman saw that we were wet and presumably tired so she invited us into her home. She had a rocky dirt floor and chickens were running through the house. She led us into the room that served as a kitchen, and there was an open fire burning with a pot over it. She took our wet clothes and hung them to dry over the fire and poured us cups of hot coffee as she prepared rice and beef to feed us. The hospitality she showed us was unlike anything I or the volunteers I was with had ever experienced, and I believed it served as a representation of the general welcoming attitude that many people of Peru have for others and for each other. This woman welcomed us into her humble home and provided food and shelter from the rain outside which was a truly heartwarming experience.
We thanked the kind woman for her hospitality and hired two moto-taxis to take us back down the mountain where we could rent a van to drive us back to Chachapoyas. I left that mountain with a much more grounded mindset and an appreciation for things as simple as protection from the rain. I may never see that woman again, but I won’t ever forget her vibrant kindness and generosity.