GREGORIA AND HER FAMILY ARE VERY WARM AND WELCOMING. I signed up for a homestay in search for a chance to interact with locals. I found friends that I am determined to keep forever.

I sit at the dining table each meal and watch either Gregoria or old abuela prepare food for me. The food is simple yet satisfying. Lots of carbs, but they always remember to give me more vegetables. 3 times a day, I speak with them about my day. They would ask about me, and I would try to reply in Spanish. Like their owners, the two family dogs, Pipo and Mimi are so affectionate. Pipo would sit on my lap while Mimi danced around my legs. Gregorio has a fascination with my electronics. The husband Mario, who works as a construction manager, seemed interested with knowing more about my work. Gregoria on the other hand, is multi-talented. Other than being a homestay mom, she weaves and sell her crafts through the Awamaki organisation, tends to her maize farm, and is also the hairstylist of the community.

Last night, during supper, I gave them little gifts. Everyone had to try to use the chopsticks. Abuela tried her earrings. It was so fun we talked until way past bedtime. This morning when I was leaving, I felt so sad realizing that I may never see them again. You would think that after so many goodbyes, things would get easier. And yet, every friend is so unique that new ones can never replace old ones, and vice versa.

I ALMOST GOT THAT DOWN FEELING BEHIND ME ON BOARD OF VISTADOME. Most people that do not spend 4 days hiking the Inca Trail, take trains leaving either from Ollantaytambo or Cusco to the town before Machu Picchu, Aguas Calientes. Several different options are available for train classes. The backpacker Expedition class, the luxurious Hiram Bingham, or like me, the middle-class Vistadome.

The train is spacious with huge glass windows for passengers to take in the views. Andean music play in the background while drinks and snacks are served. I find the sceneries very calming, moving from the low highlands into the cloud forest. There are several ruins along the way. If one is very lucky, you can even spot Peru’s national bird, cock-of-the-rock.

Aguas Calientes, or also known as Machu Picchu Pueblo, is just a town whose main job is to cater to tourists. There were more signs in English than in Spanish. The visitors are so focused on either going or coming from Machu Picchu, and the others focused on earning the visitors’ money. It does a good job of making everything convenient. Food and accommodation are widely available, although a tad bit on the expensive side.

It rained so bad throughout the afternoon and late into the night. It was downright pouring, somewhat mimicking the sad tears that I try to keep inside. All things aside, the moment I anticipated since the beginning of the trip is near. Time for me to get some sleep and welcome a brand new day tomorrow.

img_5826-2

Abuela makes my breakfast every morningimg_5834-2

Tasty maize cakes (made from maize that I’ve collected)img_5912

Lovely Gregoria and her husband Mario
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Gregoria tries chopstickimg_5914-2

Greg won the challenge!img_5919-2

Pipo is the light of the householdimg_5921-2

Mimi posing for a pictureimg_5950

Leaving Ollantaytambo for Machu Picchuimg_5936

The trains are very neatimg_5937

Cool viewsimg_5886-2

My lovely Peruvian family

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