Summer is drawing to a close, and with the start of the new school year, things are shifting in big ways under my roof. My youngest daughter is starting kindergarten in just a week, and that means that, for the first time in over seven years, I’m going to have real time to myself again. On the one hand, I feel like I’m basically going to take over the world (no one interrupting my every thought!). On the other hand, I’m going to miss my girls SO much! They are absolutely the joy of my life and happiness in my days, and I know I’m going to have a tough time adjusting. In that vein, I’ve been spending as much time with them as possible this summer, soaking up this phase that will never be quite the same again.
For our last big hurrah, the four of us and my in–law’s all took a family trip to Peru to visit my husband’s extended family–namely, his uncle and beloved grandmother, who is 91. My husband and I have been twice before but this was our first time taking the girls and they absolutely fell in love. My oldest in particular, who is learning Spanish, adored the culture and getting the opportunity to practice in an immersive environment. (I have to say, I was pretty impressed with the growth in my own Spanish skills after practicing at home for the last couple of years!) They both fell in love with their great-grandmother and the food, and my husband and I really enjoyed getting to experience one of our favorite places through their eyes.
Whenever we visit Peru, it’s pretty family-focused and chill, so we have yet to visit Machu Picchu, though that’s definitely on our to-do list for one of these visits. We did have a lot of fun shopping, which is our favorite thing to do aside from eating (which is, admittedly, how we spend most of our time there!). Visiting the local stores, the Inca markets, and the fresh food markets are such a cool way to get a sense of the culture–the materials they use, their connection to the land, and to their heritage. There is certainly a fair share of touristy consumerism, but thankfully, we have a local (my father-in-law) to take us to the places that give us a real taste of Peru. We also visited the ocean, which was my youngest’s first time, and while it is winter in the lower hemisphere, we had a blast anyway, soaking our shoes as we tried to avoid the waves, collecting rocks and seashells, and watching the crabs sunbathe (or more appropriately, “cloud bathe”) along the shore.
By far, though, the best thing about visiting Peru is the food and we wasted no time gorging ourselves on all the things we’ve missed since our last trip over a decade ago. For me, it’s the flaky, savory empanadas at the market around the corner. For my husband, it’s the filled churros at our favorite deli. And for all of us, it’s the homemade Peruvian dishes made by our grandmother’s live-in caretaker who has long since become part of the family. Whenever we visit, too, I get to indulge my very writerly fantasy of sitting at a little café table in a foreign country, sipping my decadent coffee and people-watching on the sidewalk. If only I could do it more often!
It’s amazing how, as much time as we are around each other at home, we don’t spend nearly enough time truly with each other. Because that’s just life, and that’s okay, as long as every once in a while, we step away from our everyday responsibilities, put our cell phones away, and reconnect with the understanding that the people we share a roof with–no matter where that roof may be–are what’s really important.
How has your summer been? Did you do any traveling? If so, where?