Little did we know that when we stepped off the bus in Lima, we would be stepping into the open arms of the Zevallos family. From the moment when Enzo (Tom’s brother-in-law’s brother) picked us at the bus station to walk us the 3 or so blocks to his home, where his wife graciously fed us and then dropped us off at her Mom’s house in a Taxi we knew we were going to be taken care of. For the next few days we stopped being the intrepid adventurers we had been, and started being the protected and sheltered newest members of the family, like kittens with barely opened eyes we were gently carried from place to place, with everyone around us constantly making sure we were warm enough, fed enough, rested enough and amused.
Luis’ (Tom’s brother-in-law’s) family almost seemed as though they had a schedule passed out among them of who was going to take care of us when. We were brought sight-seeing, and out to amazing meals, shuttled to and from birthday parties, and if we tried to leave the safety of Mamitas home (where we were staying) we were only allowed to do so after we repeated her address dutifully back to her, and then only with assurances that she was going to come after us in an hour if we weren’t back.
Mamita, or Mercedes, is in her late 70’s and invited Tom and I to stay with her while we were in Lima. The family jokes that she only uses her cane during the day to save up energy for stepping out on the town without it at night. And she did tend to stay out long after Tom and I were in bed, her cane left forlornly in the corner anxiously awaiting her return, as anxiously as she awaited ours if we ventured out without her.
Staying with Mercedes was like being ensconced once again in the warmth of my beloved Grandma’s home. She seemed to be always urging us to eat or rest, linked arms with me when we strolled around the neighborhood, and introduced us to her friends and neighbors, proudly showing us off and joking that we were her new children- demanding that her friends notice how tall, fine and attractive we are.
It’s easy to see where the rest of the family got their generosity and kindness from!
It may be a bit difficult to return to our lives of footsore vagabonds after being surrounded so entirely by the care of family.