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Joe’s homestay

We arrived to the Andes early in the morning, and we walked into the town.  Later that day, we met our Homestay families, and saw where they lived.  Sophia and I met the other student’s homestays, then drove across town to meet ours.  We got out of the taxi, and Lorenzo, our homestay dad, pointed up the mountain.  We slept in their potato shed, and most of the time was dedicated to making food, in which we pealed potatoes, watched them cook, then peeled more potatoes.  We spoke a bunch of Spanish, and learned some Quechua.  They had minimal electricity, and most of their buildings were made of clay, and dirt floors.  The third day, we moved down the mountain, to be closer to the group, and moved in with a family of  4.  The mother speaks very little Spanish, but the children are quite fluent.  It is fun to speak and hang out with the kids, and to watch the mother work with yarn to make beautiful cloth objects such as scarves, bracelets, and bags.

Having lived both in the mountains and in the lower area, I have noticed a few differences.  First of all, the floors of the kitchens were both dirt, but in the mountains, most floors are dirt, where in the second homestay, the floors are mostly concrete.  In the kitchen, because it is so windy and cold, there is no ventilation for the clay, wood-burning stove, so the smoke fills the house and keeps the room warm.  In the lower house, there is ventilation to keep the smoke out as there are no winds to help clear the house.  In both homes, the views are incredible.  In the mountains, the house opens up to large rolling hills, bigger than the average mountains in the US, and a small walks shows the snow covered peak of Asongate.  In the second homestay,  a small walk also leads to a breathtaking view of Asongate as well.  In both places, the stars are unlike anything I have ever experience.

The Group is getting along really well, and I feel like I have known everyone for a lifetime.  They are starting to feel more like my family than a bunch of random teenagers from around the world, and that is something have not experienced, and don’t know if I ever will again.

From the Andes,

Joe Kuhl

Ps. For my family, I miss you all, can’t wait to hear about the fourth, tell Gretzky I miss her, and I can’t wait to tell you about all of my adventures.