I Could Not Have Danced All Night
As I mentioned, I was sick and bummed out on Amantani, during our home-stay. But it wasn’t all a bust, Friends! It was also very peaceful and relaxing at times.
Moreover, it was really cool to get to meet this family that I wouldn’t otherwise have met–Catalina and her 4-year-old son, Anderson (her older daughter and husband were away on errands for the weekend)–stay in their home and eat meals with them.
That was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and for that I’m grateful to have braved extreme exhaustion, lung tremors, and cultural commodification.
Oh, and did I mention…the food?!
This was honestly the best I ate the entire time in South America. Lunch was a brothy quinoa soup (with quinoa they’d grown in their own yard–I’d never seen that!) followed by roasted corn and root vegetables (including a variety of potato that was sweet yet hard, like a carrot) with fried goat cheese. We washed it all down with fresh lemon-balm tea made with whole, recently harvested herbs.
It was just what the doctor ordered. Dinner was a similar soup, followed by starch-on-starch crime–pasta and potatoes with a side of white rice. Still, though, it was home-cooked meal, and very satisfying.
I spent most of the time trying to get to know our hosts, though Anderson was shy and Catalina was having none of it. She seemed very used to having guests in her home (she’s been doing it nearly 10 years) but kept interaction to a minimum. I wanted to know, more than anything, how she felt about this experience, as to me it was such a unique clash of cultures.
But to Catalina (as I finally managed to ascertain), it’s just an easy second job, which means that she doesn’t have to work outside of the home. They host two guests, once a week, and the ends meet. Simple as that.
Then the rest of the time she can knit, talk with friends or family, and farm.
And I suppose she likes it like that? I don’t know. I spent less than 24 hours with her, and I’m reluctant to generalize (though I’m sure I already have). I guess what I mean to say is that I hope she’s happy with the arrangement. And I think it will be interesting to see the impact the constant influx of foreigners has on Anderson. For now, he seems pleased. And shy.