It was Saturday night and I had just put on my pajamas, and brought my laptop down to the dining room to do some work before heading to bed. I had literally just put down the laptop on the table when my host mom comes into the room and says to me “Sarita! Let’s go visit my sister in law!” I looked down at my pink shorts and grey tank top with skulls on it and then looked back up at her and asked, “I’ll go put on some pants first?” “No no!” se exclaimed, “It’s fine” I took a deep breath and followed her out the back door.
Fortunately we didn’t have too far to go because her brother and sister in-law’s house is literally in the backyard. During the week they live in Cajamarca where their kids go to school but they come back on the weekends. We walked into the house (which was also open in the back, just like our house) and into the living room. There we found her sister in-law and niece watching Yo Soy, a singing competition show, similar to American Idol but the contestants had to both look and sound like a famous singer. It was quite entertaining.
We got to talking and I learned that her sister in-law was into exercise and invited me to join her on a walk to her chacra (farm) the next morning. When she said she was planning to go at 5:30 am, I told it that if my some miracle I were able to get up at that time I’d give her a call in the morning. We finished watching Yo Soy around 11 pm and I headed back home with my host mom. That night before going to bed I set my alarm for 5 am, just in case.
When my alarm went off next morning I thought to myself “there’s no way I’m getting up right now.” I was tired and it didn’t really seem like she wanted me to go with her anyway. For all I knew, she was still sleeping and I didn’t want to call and wake her up. I’d go next time. So I decided to turn off my alarm and go back to bed.
I was just about to fall back asleep when all the sudden I heard tap tap tap tap. I thought I was imagining things and ignored it, but it continued. It took me a minute to figure out where it was coming from, at first I thought someone was tapping on my window, but then I realized someone was knocking on my bedroom door. I got out of bed and walked groggily over to the door and opened it. It was my host mom’s sister-in-law dressed in athletic clothes and ready to go. “Vamos Sarita? O no quieres ir?” (Let’s go Sarita? or do you not want to go?”) I couldn’t believe my eyes but I told her to give me 5 and I’d join her. I laughed to myself as I closed the door and started to get ready. “This would never happen in the U.S…,” I thought to myself. But I was glad she came by, and literally got me out of bed to go and get some exercise.
Less than 10 minutes later I was getting ready to head out the door when I ran into the grandmother in the kitchen. “What are you doing up at this hour?” she asked me. I told her that I was going on a walk with the sister-in-law and she gave me a strange look. “She’s not up right now, she’s sleeping” she informed me. I assured her that I had just seen her and that we were going on a walk together. She looked at me again. “Vaya a buscar una chompa que hace frío arriba!”(Go and get yourself a jacket! It’s cold up at the top!”) It was already in the high 70s and I doubted that I would need it but I nodded and ran upstairs to get a long sleeve shirt.
As I walked out the back door I saw the sister-in-law waiting for me in the backyard. “Thanks for coming over to get me”, I said. “Thank you for joining me”, she responded. We started off walking up a steep winding path that went up through the mountains, every so often we’d come across a random donkey along the way. When we reached the top of the hill we took a dirt path off to the side that led downhill towards the chacras, and as we did so ran into a campesino couple that looked after the chacra while the sister in-law was not around. They joined us on the walk. The remainder of the walk was steep and mostly downhill, and I had to concentrate very hard not to fall. I regretted wearing my running shoes instead of my hiking boots.
About an hour later we reached the chacra and as I took a look around, the only thing in site for miles were plants, crops, and mountains in the backdrop. The sister in-law showed me all the different crops and we filled a bag full of bananas, papaya, onion, and my favorite, avocado. We sat down on a couple of small stools and ate a couple of the bananas we had just picked as we looked out over the landscape. It was like being inside a painting.
After resting for a bit we began to head back. I was trying my best to maintain my footing and not fall down the mountain but I kept slipping and sliding every so often. Then, all the sudden my foot went out from under me and I fell. Fortunately, I didn’t roll down the mountain but I did get covered in dust and hit my thumb. She helped me up and brushed me off and took one look at my thumb as said “that nail is going to come off.”
As we continued to walk, she told me about how I needed to be more careful of the parts of the path that had lose gravel where it’s easy to slip. She had no sooner finished her sentence than Blam! Her feet went out from under her and she was lying face down in the dirt. She was silent for a moment but then began to erupt with loud laughter. I helped her up as she dusted herself off and by then we were both laughing.
By the time we got down the mountain and back into the community it was nearly 9 am, which gave me just enough time to eat breakfast, shower and get ready to attend my friend Richard’s host mom’s birthday lunch in San Juan. She invited me over to eat cuy (guinea pig).