Merrry belated Christmas to you all! I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday passing it with family and friends. This was my first Christmas away from home, even though it was tough being away from my awesome family, it was also an eye-opening experience down here as well, so I wanted to give a little re-cap to you all.
Christmas is celebrated a little bit differently down here, but is just as wonderful with a little twist. This past week, I have been attending numerous Christmas celebrations from chocolatadas, compartirs, bingo competitions, amiga secretas and ganastas. Essentially many large lunch gatherings, dancing with students, and secret santa parties. It is great to see people who have very little resources, share so much of their love and what they have with another.
Christmas Eve began with my family and I going to our neighbors house to cook Christmas lunch. We walked over with two live turkeys, and upon arrival they quickly broke and slit their necks, and began the plucking and cooking of the turkey soup. All in all, I was in shock at first as my mom and aunts laughed at my reactions. But I did eat the soup the next day, and it was delicious! Christmas night we went to mass where little girls aligned the aisle in traditional costumes and danced throughout the service. At the end, I was called to the front by the priest with the mayor, and government tenant to help hand out gifts to mothers. (Most of the family’s christmas gifts come from the municipality and church, rather than from family members). Afterwards, a firework show lit up the sky accompanied with live music and dances. Then my family and I all went to sleep in the hot desert heat :).
Christmas Day started with a church service as well, which was filled with a wedding ceremony and a couple baptisms as well as Christmas mass. At the end, the priest asked the volunteer I am replacing and I to help with the procession of the wedding. We kindly agreed, thinking it would be a quick walk outside the church. Little did we know…It turned into a two hour walk throughout the town (in 90 degree weather) carrying a large wooden structure around town to thank certain families of the community. It was exhausting but also awesome at the same time, as the whole town was walking with a band and dancers.
Later in the afternoon, I gave my family the small Christmas gifts as a thank you for opening their home, family and hearts to me this first month. They have helped me in every way possible and I feel extremely lucky to have such a supportive host family in Peru, along with my family back home. After the exchange, my parents and I shared a made a cheers with a bottle of wine, in which my host officially welcome me in as the older sister to his children and his daughter. It was a wonderful moment.
Afterwards, I went to the wedding celebration with other volunteers, Kelly and Annie. We thought we were only going to stay briefly, but upon our arrival the tossing of the bouquet was happening in which we participated, and it awkwardly fell into my arms. This led to my dancing with the groom just as awkwardly.
So overall, those were the highlights of my first peruvian christmas and it was one for the books! Also, I know I have posted in a while, so another one will be coming soon with my normal day to day updates. I love and miss you all back home, stay warm and send some of the cold down this way!