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Crossing the river before summiting 17,500 Pico Austria. Photo by Ella Williams (2016 Fall Semester Photo Contest, 2nd Place), South America Semester.

Family Sunday in Urubamba

The thought of having to spend the whole day speaking strictly spanish and doing whatever my host family decided definitely made me a little nervous.  Frankly, I imagined that I would end up spending most of the day cloistered in my room or doing anything to avoid awkward interactions with my host parents.

My Domingo Familiar (Family Sunday) was far from what I had imagined.

Noticing that I had been a little tired, my host family pushed breakfast back an hour so that I could catch up on sleep.  Upon waking up, I came downstairs to a breakfast of pancakes and fruit salad (two of my absolute favorites), with Michael Jackson music playing in the background.  After finishing up the delicious breakfast, everyone in the family began their own house-cleaning chore.  While my host dad Reyner washed the patio and my host mom Maria Theresa cleaned the kitchen, my 7 year old brother Baruc and I were charged with cleaning the fish tank.  Baruc took pleasure in teaching me the names of the fish and helping me place the miniature houses in the bed of small stones.  As wet and slimy as our hands were when the glass was crystal clear, we definitely bonded over the experience.

Once everyone had completed their respective chore, Reyner turned up the Queen and Rolling Stones Hits and began to teach me how to make a typical Peruvian dish: Arroz con Pollo.  As it was my first time making the dish, I was in charge of the simpler tasks of dicing, stirring, and seasoning.  Between chopping onion, garlic, and pepper, Reyner never hesitated to show me at what point the sauce was ready or to belt out a Bono lyric from a U2 classic.  After a couple of hours of cooking and waltzing around the kitchen, we sat down as a family to devour our culinary creation.  Needless to say, it was exactly what I needed to fill me up and give me energy for our afternoon of activities.  Maria Theresa even surprised us with a dessert of ice cream-filled crepes with chocolate syrup that she had prepared while we were busy laughing about a myriad of topics at the lunch table.

The crepes were gone within minutes, and before I knew it, we were outside standing beside the small garden in front of the house.  Reyner, Baruc, and I spent the next few hours jamming out to Bob Marley while pulling dry weeds, adding new soil, and trimming the various herbs and fruit trees.  Of course needing a small reward for our hard work, we returned to the kitchen to make strawberry milkshakes.  Not renowned as a Peruvian staple, I taught Baruc how to make an “American Milkshake.”  Thankfully, Baruc gave me his seal of approval and seemd content with his small reward.  To wrap up our long day, we all had a TV-dinner of Arroz con Pollo leftovers in front of the newest “Pirates of the Carribbean” movie (in Spanish of course).

My incredibly fun Domingo Familiar came as a surprise to me, yet it remains one of my favorite days in South America so far.