While living in Peru during the past few months, in a small town not far from Cusco, I met my neighbour one sunny morning as I hustled down the steep, dirt road from my home to town – on my way to the market.
I stopped by a large cement basin, a water reservoir of some type. A fit, 40-something Peruvian woman with an honest look and wide smile came up to me as I pondered this construction and we struck up a conversation. Her name was Maria, she lived just a few meters down the road, we were neighbours. She was quick to invite me to a one-on-one game of wind-the-string-around-the-post and the hilarity of hitting and occasionally missing this swinging weight on the end of the line had us both laughing in no time. Maria surprised me with her frankness and openness, not very typical of Peruvians towards foreigners, especially ones you’ve only known for 5 minutes. I felt as if we had been neighbours for years, she was so authentic and friendly that she inspired immediate confidence and trust. She had a lot of foreign friends she told me – a worldly woman – I thought to myself.