Nothing is a waste of time if you use the experience wisely. ~Auguste Rodin
I’m into my second week here in Peru and I think it’s safe to say that Cusco has captured my heart. The mix of ancient mystery and modern culture, cobblestone streets, daily parades and dancing, beautiful colors and sounds have not gone unnoticed. You really can’t understand life until you see the world from another person’s perspective.
I was able to travel to Machu Picchu last weekend. I hiked on the Inca trail up to the Sun Gate and then took a tour exploring the ruins and learning about the many siginficant and scientific and spiritual parts of the city. It was quite a journey to take a car, then a bus, then a train to Aguas Calientes and then wake up early to see the sun rise over the mountain and paint the ancient city with light. The mountains alone put me in my place…that being (again) small. The ruins somehow gave me a sense of being mystified and suprisingly connected, too.
Opportunities to practice and learn spanish abound. I push myself to talk in the taxis and restaurants at my family stay and at the language center. I work with a tandem partner an hour every day. I practice at the nutrition center, although I find the kids the most difficult to understand. They, however, are also the most patient with me as I slowly say what I´m thinking. Unfortunately for them, I am usually trying to explain why they can´t whack each other in the face!
This week I am working with older kids (ages 3-4). One of them, Jesus, is very affectionate and playful with me. He discovered my mole, of course, and also likes to count in spanish while poking me in the face. Today he had an encounter with the group ¨grabber¨( one of the girls who grabs people in the face when they upset her) and he was upset about his injury. I scooped him up and pretended that we were going to ¨the hospital¨. I explained that it was very serious and that he needed kisses for his cheek and I pretended to give him kisses. He was smiling and better pretty quickly after that and I was happy I was able to have this whole interaction using Spanish!
I´m learning so much about myself and about how I don´t really ever need to worry because things come together. I´m learning about other people and cultures, recognizing some of my pretenses and opening my heart. I’m learning about being present and making the most of opportunities. I’m often surprised how much I learn from simply listening or by asserting myself graciously with the children at the center or the people I see every day. The best part is that I didn’t realize how much I would really receive on this trip…I came with the purpose of giving, but I am present with the fullness of receiving.
(I mean, just look at these children!)