Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Parobamba- A village in the sky

It’s around 5:30 PM. It is already quite dark outside. I am sitting on Alpaca wool which is covering a wooden bench. I am in the family kitchen- a building separate from the house. In the right corner, there is a fire spewing, cooking our dinner for the night. There is very little electricity in the town, and the fire is illuminating the room. In front of it is the mother of the family- wearing a gray skirt, an orange cardigan, and her hair in braids covered by a traditional hat. Over her shoulder, skilfully wrapped in colourful weaving, is her granddaughter. I am talking to the father of the family, and the mayor of the village, about life in Canada and the cultural differences between Canada and Peru. Although with some difficulty on my part, we are having a serious conversation in Spanish. Three young daughters, of their nine children, are running around the kitchen, chasing the many guinea pigs and chickens which are running free. With a quick look outside, I can see the clouds settling below us and around us. I am in Parobamba. A village high in the Andean mountains. A village with stunning surrounding views. A village which regularly touches the clouds. A Peruvian village in the sky.

I cannot believe I am here.

I spent the last four days in Parobamba, teaching English to the kids in the community and learning more about the Quechua culture- the indigenous culture of Peru. It was an unbelievable interesting experience. To get to the village, I set out on a journey at 5 AM from Cusco and arrived around noon to Parobamba. It included many bus transfers and ended with a hike to the village. My way back was exhausting as there were no cars or busses from Parobamba (or anywhere near it), and as a result I had to hike for four hours to the nearest town to take the bus. The first hour of the hike requires the hiker to hike up the mountain and out of the village...which was excruciatingly tiring. The son of the family, who accompanied me, was perfectly fine, while I could not breathe how tired I was. I am going to scapegoat and blame the altitude. And not the fact that I’m also probably out of shape.

During my stay, I taught four classes of English. The first day, walking into the school was incredibly awkward. As I stepped into the school yard, all the kids stopped playing and looked up. Some ran up and surrounded me, while others looked and pointed from afar. As I sat in the classroom, waiting to speak to the teacher, the children crowded around windows, trying to peek in. The initially awkward experience was offset by the eager children who were very excited to learn English. We chanted ‘What is your name?’ together, and laughed at the pronunciation of ‘potato’ together. I explained the concepts of articles and the verb ‘to be’ in Spanish. It was definitely a very memorable experience.

The village was incredibly kind. The father of one of the students invited me for both dinner and breakfast during the weekend, while my host family was incredibly friendly, inviting and made sure I was comfortable during my stay. I saw the beautiful weavings of the village, learned a little Quechua, and played with the children. After one of the classes, I played a game of soccer with the kids- all while stunned that I am on top of a Peruvian mountain, with clouds below me, playing a friendly match of soccer with the kids.

For a few short days, living in a Peruvian village....it was an unforgettable experience. Going to bed at 7:30 PM and waking up at 5:30 AM, the warm hellos, the curious stares, the kind families, the rich culture, the beautiful environment, and the deathly tiring hikes....it was my experience in the village in the sky.
On the hike to the village- the llamas walking off into the clouds.

More llamas!!

You could not hear a single thing here. It was complete silence. I haven´t experiencedthat for years.

The clouds above the mountains.

After one of the English classes.

The chicken overlooks the village.

The last morning. The clouds settle over the valley which Parobamba looks over.


  1. "while I could not breathe how tired I was"

    ... did you mean believe? Or are you missing a "that's"?

    This sounds EXTREMELY different from Canada and Hong Kong. Still in disbelief about going to bed at 7:30pm!!

  2. Jevta this is all absolutley breath taking. It's so shocking to see you in the pictures I almost forget you are actually there. I'm so glad you are having a fantastic time, I miss my neighbor! Please take care, I look forward to more posts :))