Capilla de Belen

This beautiful Sunday morning we returned to our beloved Belen to attend mass. It was a new experience for us because for the first time the mass was said in both Spanish and English, so we could actually understand what was being said, haha. It was a very intimate mass because we have spent to much time with the people of Belen, and being able to pray with them and sing along in spanish was very touching.
Even though the mass was a new experience for us, what happened after mass REALLY took the cake! We all ate beef heart with potato and corn. We were told that beef heart is a typical Peruvian meal, and for most of us, this was a first. Another interesting thing was that we met an elderly woman in Belen whose husband was killed by the Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path), a terroristic communist group which ravaged Peru not more than 20 years ago. After her husband was murdered, she traveled from a village in another region of Peru seeking refuge from the Sendero, and eventally found her way to Belen. She lives in a makeshift house of miscellaneous pieces of ply-wood and woven grass mats, and her next-door neighbors, who are just starting to build the foundations for their house, had broken into her house and trashed the inside, and tore down some of her walls, all because they want her to move so they can use some of the land for their house. In the province of San Juan de Lurigancho, where Belen is, they don´t own the land they live on; they simply find a place they like and build thier house on it. Pretty much what we know as ¨squatting¨. So anyway, we decided to help defend her by building her a strong brick wall so that her neighbors cannot terrorize her anymore. We will begin construction the day after we return from Machu Picchu.
Other than that we didn´t do much today, aside from packing our bags and getting some last minute things together in preparation for our hike to Machu Picchu tomorrow. We are all very excited and cannot wait to start our Journey!!! This will be the last blog until we return from Cuzco on Friday. We miss you all and will fill you in on how our hike went once we return! Adios!

- Chris Castagnetti a.k.a ¨Keoni¨

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