It’s amazing how quickly your perspective can change when immersing yourself in a foreign culture. Already used to traveling using trufies or on busses that can be delayed by snow or political demonstrations at any moment, I’ve found myself not promising to be anywhere at a specific time. Instead, I always make plans using more general statements like “before dinner” or just “in the afternoon.” Before living in Tikipaya, I never thought I’d wake up at 5 in the morning and bless my lucky stars I had been able to sleep late. Squeezing an 18th person into a minibus that was already full 5 people prior has become just another part of my afternoon commute, along with the sometimes less than friendly dogs that “greet” me each time I walk home.
It is important to travel with an open mind and to allow yourself to slip into the lifestyle of another people, however strange it may seem at first. During our home stays, we were given the incredible opportunity to forget our old habits and live like our new families. Though we were only with them for a couple weeks, I feel the change in perspective that can come from joining another family travel will linger much longer. Riding towards El Alto, I am excited for our upcoming home stays with families living in the city, who likely share a culture that would seem equally as foreign to my rural Tikipaya family as it does to me. I am ready for whatever El Alto has to offer us (hopefully it involves sleeping at least until sunrise) before we dive headfirst into communities living in both the mountains and rainforests of Peru.