A few weeks ago the boys from our Kusi home have been here in Lima on vacation.
Thanks to a generous donation, Angel and Rosa (the directors) were able to make the 9 hour journey with their 40 boys and staff and spend 10 days touring the city of Lima. Being a slow time of the year for volunteer groups, Billy and I were able to help the staff keep an eye on the 40 boys in a city of 10 million.
It was a busy 10 days, but so great to be a part of it, and great to share a little bit of this large city I have come to love. For many of the kids, it was their first time in Lima – and just a mega-city in general (most of the boys from Kusi are from small pueblos in the Andes and the largest city they might have been to would be Huaraz at just 100,000 inhabitants). In addition to the first time in Lima, for most, it was their first vacation (unless they go to stay with family somewhere else, most people don’t take vacations here – between expenses for food, transportation and a place to stay, in addition to missing time from work, they just cost too much).
Since everything was new, every time we boarded the bus to go somewhere, many intently stared out the window, taking in as much as they possibly could.
Wanting to take advantage of every opportunity during the 10 days, Angel and Rosa had organized a busy schedule of things to do with the boys. They stayed at the church in Villa El Salvador that Angel & Rosa attended when they lived in Lima and used it as their home base.
In addition to the first vacation, it was a week of first times for most; their first movie in the theater (Alvin 3), their first time to see the ocean, the first time swimming in the ocean, first zoo. Boys that are 14, 15 and 16 years old instantly turned into little 7 and 8 year olds when we did something completely new to them.
For me, one of the best part of the week was to see their reactions when we went to the zoo and they got to see lions & tigers for the first time, or how they youngest boys reacted at the beach when they discovered the ocean water is salty. I was able to relive some parts of Lima that I have come to take for granted and spent the week looking at things with a child’s eyes.
On Tuesday, we watched the sunset from the beach in Chorrillos – and stuck our feet in the water for the first time.
Wednesday, we went to the pool.
And then spent an evening at the Circuito Mágico del Agua (a park with about 20 fountains in downtown Lima).
Thursday was a day in the sun at the Parque Huascar in Villa El Salvador where we played games.
And saw an ostrich at the small zoo they had. Apparently it captivated the 4 boys I was with…
On Friday we went to the Parque de las Leyendas (a real zoo) and saw tons of animals from the coast, mountains and jungle of Peru, but also from all around the world.
Saturday was museums and lunch at a restaurant together.
And Sunday, we went back to the beach. This time we went swimming (and played in the sand)!
The nightly bus rides back to Villa El Salvador were full of chatter about the day’s activities and anticipation for the next day (I can’t tell you how many times I heard boys talking about how excited they were to see animals at the zoo!). The boys truly enjoyed their time in Lima and it is something that these boys will always remember. It was a blessing to be a small part of their adventure.
And, if the week wasn’t exciting enough, in the middle of all of this fun and new experiences in Lima, I turned 26. While I missed spending the day in Dearborn with family and friends, I could not have asked for a better birthday in Peru. On Thursday, my birthday, we spent the day at the Parque Huascar playing games and enjoying the amenities at the park. Later on that evening, once we had returned to the church the boys were staying at, I sat around with a handful of the boys talking about birthdays and how they are celebrated in the States, among many other random things.
Little did I know that their questions and the spontaneous walk around Villa El Salvador with 4 of the boys and Rosa, the director’s wife, was so that Billy and all of the other boys could get Rosa’s home ready for a party. After walking around Villa for a good 45 minutes and apparently killing time, we arrived at Rosa’s house and found the boys hiding in the dark, waiting to yell “surprise!”
Throughout the night a few of the boys stood up and spoke, a clown came and did a mini hora loca with us (remember the hour long dancing from the graduation party?), we ate cake and took lots of photographs. It was a wonderfully, fun, hilarious and exciting night, and a perfect way to celebrate my birthday.