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Two Dragons welcome the sunrise with an improvised dance atop the Andes. Photo by Ryan Gasper.

First Impressions in Pisaq

As Jeff would say, it´s become clear that we are all just babies, trying to find our way through all these new spaces and places we´ve encountered in the past week or so. Or at least, I am. I find myself stumbling to do simple things, like asking a storeowner, “What is the exchange rate from USD to Peruvian Soles?“ I´ve had to begin thinking carefully about each and every word and syllable that I use, always hyper‒aware of the impact that any misplaced phrase might have on someone around me. I feel a new acute alertness to every single step that I take, knowing that this land is new, unfamiliar, and more significant than I can even imagine to the people who inhabit it. I take care to tread lightly.

Each morning so far in Pisaq, I´ve woken up in the morning and looked outside of my window to watch the bright sun burn off the fog that the skies placed atop the mountains every night. This reminds me of how small I am, of how much I do not yet know about the world of which I am a part. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced such so much “newness“ all at once‒from the new people surrounding me, a country I´ve never before visited, and an unfamiliar language, I´m definitely outside of my comfort zone in ways that I’ve never been before. But one thing that I do know is that from this inexperience and vulnerability comes the potential to emerge the most beautiful and meaningful kinds of growth. We are a few minutes away from packing up all of our belongings and heading to a potato‒growing community called Paru Paru, in the Parque de las Papas. There, we will begin our first homestays with families that primarily speak Quechua. As someone who is still trying to get a solid command of Spanish, this is certainly a daunting thought. But I know that being put into such a new and uncomfortable situation will allow me to learn more about the world around me and myself than perhaps any experience I´ve ever had before. All I can say is: bring it on.