Back to

Homestay en El Alto

Luciana is seven years old and contains more energy in her fingers than we do in both our eighteen year old bodies combined. When we met her for the first time she grabbed our hands and jumped up and down and spun herself around and around. Veronica, her mother, is a lawyer and showed us the way to their home. Luciana held our hands the entire time, even as we climbed four flights of stairs in near darkness. We were greeted by Celina, who is nine years old and more reserved than her younger sister. She was working hard on her math homework and Luciana pulled out a few board games. We settled into their room, which consists of two beds, two desks, a TV, two dressers, and a floor of wooden tiles that easily come loose. We attempted to help in the kitchen, but quickly realized we had no idea what we were doing. We tried to peel the carrots and stir the rice, but our technique was lacking. Veronica then showed us how to crush bread with a stone slab, and so we followed the instructions until we filled up a whole plastic jar with crumbs. She used the crumbs on the chicken, which she then fried to make ¨milaneza¨, which we asked her to teach us how to make for our families back home. We had promised before we left that we´d bring some recipes back home for everyone. As we sat on the couch and played with the girls, it occurred to us how much space we took up without even realizing it, how much this family was giving us without asking for anything in return. Celina, at 9 years old, is more familiar with the kitchen than either of us were at that age. After every meal, she stands up with her near-empty place and says ¨gracias¨ to each one of us at the table. Luciana once spent an entire evening quizzing us on our mathematics. Quick fire ¨2×2, 2×3, 2×4, etc¨. Daniel, their father, walks the two of them to school each morning. He often eats on the couch, along with Veronica, to make space for us at the table. We have less than a week left with this welcoming familia, and look forward to learning more about their story.