Some great people have walked through the doors of Albergue Churup. La Doña (lady in charge), Nelly, called me the Public Relations official of Churup. I loved sitting at breakfast, watching people walk up to the top floor and catch the amazing views of the Cordillera Blanca after a sleepless night on the night bus from Lima. I can't tell you how many times I heard "Wow! This is the best place I've stayed at during my entire trip." (Remember: I roll with the budget traveler crew. This is no Ritz Carlton. But as hostels go, this place is as good as it gets.) I've had some great fireside chats with people like Cristian and Jaqueline from Berlin, Fernanda and Cayo from Sao Paolo, Benjamin from Belgium, Gunther and Mary Ann from Austria, Hannah from South Carolina, Elissa and Resillyance from Seattle, Mark and Stijn from Holland or Jonathan and Catherine from the UK. Some of those fireside chats turned into hiking companions the next day. Hostels are a great way to meet fellow travelers. I highly recommend them. And I'm thankful that I walked into Albergue Churup two months ago. I was so blessed to call this place "home" during my time in Huaraz.
I had the honor of spending about 20 hours each week with 10 amazing girls and the women who take care of them at a nearby children's home. I know that this organization does great work, but it's also painfully obvious that kids are meant to live with a family. It breaks my heart (there are actual tears streaming down my face as I write this) as I consider these kids I've spent the last six weeks with... and others... who are not being raised by a family who loves and cares for them. I'm convicted that a few hours of my life here and there is not enough. I'm called to do more. I just don't know what that "more" is yet. Or maybe I do, and I'm afraid to make that jump.
(Pray for Rosita and her family)
I found great company in the baristas and fellow travelers at California Cafe and Cafe Andino. I love the thoughts that fellow travelers think, and the conversations we have shared. And I love that Lola, Giancarlos and Juan Carlos came to know that me walking through the door meant a latte and chocolate chip cookie (un poco caliente) would soon be requested. Each afternoon the rain came and I knew that one of these places was where I wanted to spend my afternoon.
(Mi amiga y barista , Lola!)
(And a baby shower full of women in high heels just walked by and I'm thankful that I am not compelled, in any way, to wear those things. If you are, God bless you.)
I would be remiss if I didn't extend my gratitude to Lacy Rammuno for encouraging me to check out Huaraz. She has shared some amazing hikes with me, some incredible chocolate mousse with me (Thank you, Santino and the Trivio gang), some hillarious memories with me (card house and chuchuasi to name a few...) and her gracious hospitality with me. I look forward to our paths crossing again somewhere along the way!
And so, as the Huaraz chapter of my trip closes.... I'm thankful. Thankful for the people I've met here. I'm grateful. I'm grateful that The Lord provided an amazing place for me to stay, to volunteer, to enjoy and to relax. I'm overwhelmed. I'm overwhelmed by what it means to be "on the road again." I'm amazed. I'm amazed how The Lord has provided for me ever step of the way, especially those details of the trip that there is no way I could have planned for... Like having a place to rest this morning after an overnight bus from Huaraz to Lima and then the flexibility to adjust to a change in travel plans caused by thousands of miners protesting in (and closing) main roads throughout the country. Or amazed at the sun that is setting over the Pacific Ocean as I type this. Lord, why me? Why have you given this life to me? Muchisma Gracias!
Oh... And my stomach is grateful to have said "hello" to chicken empanadas made by three generations of these women. Thank you for providing me sustenance for at least half of my meals these past two months. Incredible!
Blessings to you all... wherever your journey is taking you. Mine is taking me to Cusco! Until then...