We are currently in Ocangate prepping for our six day Ausangate trek. We left bright and early this morning at 7 am from Parque de la Papa, where we just completed our four day homestay.
Parque de la Papa, or Paru Paru, is a little town situated at about 13,000 feet in the Andes, about an hour uphill from Pisac. We were welcomed by our families with dances and hugs, which immediately wiped my fears away. I lived with a family of 5 along with Miller. In addition to the parents, there were two girls aged 12 and 5, and a boy aged 10. Living among strangers and engaging in their activities was a great learning opportunity. After spending three hours cutting barley and wheat with a hand sickle with the two girls (and getting a nasty sunburn), I came to appreciate the daily lives of the families. Other students had similar experiences that equally spoke to the lives of the people in Paru Paru: some students made mud bricks, others milked cows, and one bonded with their family’s baby.
In addition to living with families, we also engaged in various activities led by the community leaders as a group. Mario took us on a seven hour hike yesterday, where we could see Ausangate in the distance and several brave students swam in an alpine lake. Rosa and Francisca showed us how they sow textiles, and Celestino led us in some traditional dancing. Overall, the people of Paru Paru were some of the most kind and welcoming people I have ever met. While I was sad to leave, I am looking forward to our group’s trek in a couple of days!