Today is our last full day in Huancayo! It’s so hard to believe that our time here is over. We’ve made so many amazing memories during the last 14 months, even up through our last week here.
To start off, we participated in our second cortamonte celebration with our host family. The celebration this year was even bigger than last year, with 6 montes (trees), a big stage for performers, and a crew from a local TV station. We skipped the costumes this time around, hoping to avoid drawing too much attention to ourselves, but we didn’t manage to escape getting doused with baby powder, ribbons, and confetti! We stayed late into the evening, chatting with our host family, while passing around a bottle of beer, pouring a bit into the cup, toasting those around us, and then pouring out a little bit for Pacha Mama (Mother Earth).
We took a trip to the towns of San Jerónimo and Hualhuas for once last round of jewelry shopping and yarn stashing, respectively. We decided to walk from one to the other this time, about a 4.5 km, hour-long jaunt through the countryside. We took in the corn fields lined by eucalyptus trees, while a thunderstorm rolled in overhead and produced the most beautiful rainbow over the valley. Little yellow birds flitted back and forth between plots of land. Cows, sheep, and pigs grazed, and roosters strutted their stuff. We passed families harvesting potatoes and children playing on the dirt road yelling “buenas tardes!” (good afternoon!) to us as we passed by.
Then, the grand finale, was a big pachamanca feast. We helped our host dad get the pit ready (and by that I mean we kept him company while he did all the work) and took fastidious notes of all the steps so that we might attempt to recreate it ourselves one day in the US. We stuffed ourselves silly on heaping plates of chicken, pork and lamb, with potatoes, beans, and humitas (sweet tamales). We sat around the pachamanca, heat still rising off the stones, and visited with our host family. We shared stories from the last year, and also learned new things, like how to properly wrap a traditional blanket around yourself to carry a baby or goods from the market, or how to wear it to dance.
Now we set ourselves to finishing stuffing all our clothes and souvenirs (and yarn!) into our suitcases and prepare for the last 8-hour bus trek (at least time around) from Huancayo to Lima. We’re both excited and nervous about heading home. We’re worrying about the counter culture shock awaiting us, but also looking forward to seeing the friendly faces of our loved ones!
Though our time here is closing out, this will not be my last blog post (more on that from the USA!). For now I’ll say hasta luego, Peru!