One of the greatest things about travel is how the people you meet dictate your decisions and experiences. I strongly believe that individuals are put into your path for a reason and it’s up to you to take advantage of the opportunity and figure out why they’re there.
It was Christmas Eve in Cusco and I was eating breakfast alone in the hostel, when 2 lovely ladies walked in and sat down next to me. Of course, my first thought was, a 3-some for Christmas would be great, but I quickly changed focus once we began talking. Turns out, I met friends from California and were in Cusco working with Peruvian Hearts, an organization that works to enhance the lives of orphans and other children living in poverty in Peru. I was impressed, and began to explain my literacy project plans for Bolivia. As we chatted a bit more I realized that Lindsay and I had lived in the same neighborhood back in San Diego and that she had worked for StayClassy, an organization based in SD that I knew very well. They told me they were going to spend Christmas with some of the orphans at their home and asked if I wanted to tag along. Before they had a chance to retract the invite, I jumped on the opportunity to do something more with my holiday.
We arrived at the Hogar Mercedes de Jesus Molina on Christmas afternoon with hot cocoa and panetone (like fruit cake) and my friennds (Kristen and Lindsey) brought lots of great gifts for the girls. They also did a great job organizing activities, but once we got there we quickly realized that the head mother would be running the show. It was great!
She sat the 3 of us down and had the girls line up and sing us Christmas carols. Then she told the girls to pay attention as she asked us to sing to them. Somehow I was then suckered into giving a solo performance, which everyone regretted immediately after.
In light of my pitiful singing, we decided to change gears and move into the dining room for a snack and some dancing. We played musical chairs, danced around in circles and Kristen and I put on a playful dance number for everyone to laugh at.
After the dance sequence we all sat around and enjoyed the hot cocoa and panetone before we broke out the art supplies to draw and decorate the GUESS fanny packs K & L brought. We laughed and chatted for hours before the sun came down and it was time for us to leave.
The girls were amazing and were so happy and appreciative to have visitors, and I was thrilled to be a little part of their Christmas. I couldn’t thank Linsday and Kristen enough for such a unique and humbling experience. This was definitely a Christmas I’ll never forget.
My plan is to travel around La Paz and then head to Cochabamba to work with the Orphaned Starfish Foundation for a few days before returning to Sucre and the BiblioWorks project. I’m excited about making an impact while living in Bolivia.