The journey began well, with the M25 parting like the Red Sea as we made our way to Heathrow. After emotional goodbyes and with the flight attendant turning a blind eye to our bulging cases, we wondered whether this was going to be easier than we thought. However, travelling with a 4-year-old and a 2-year-old half away across the world was, indeed, tough. We turned up in Lima having discovered that Sophia is airsick and our children don’t like to sleep in planes. I felt as if we had had quite enough adventures, but this was only the start of our 2-year placement in Cusco, Peru with BMS World Mission, working with young people and children.
Cusco is stunningly beautiful, nestled in the Andean mountains at a heady 3,200 metres above sea level. It attracts lots of tourists, as it is situated close to Machu Picchu, but there is also a great contrast between the rich and the poor. I want to share my experiences of what it has been like adapting to life in a new country with small children, as a mission worker. Indeed, the first time we visited the incredible Plaza de Armas was overshadowed by Daniel’s constantly reminding us that he was very hungry. He seemed entirely unimpressed with the colonial influence mixed in with the Inca architecture. A 4-year-old has a different perspective on things – especially when he feels lunch is overdue.
Although Cusco in many ways is a wonderful place to live with so many challenges, like most people, day-to-day life is pretty normal, with a slight twist. There is the school run (a private school), cleaning (I am currently dealing with cockroaches and fleas), playing with the children (without the support of parents and toddlers groups) and shopping (although this is the view as I walk to the supermarket).
The School Run
Here, Daniel attends a fee-paying school, something which I doubt I would have considered in the UK. However, in Peru, teaching styles are very different and formal from a young age. Daniel’s school is more similar to the education ethos back home as well as being bilingual. Daniel loves it there, and despite a rocky start where he found the amount of Spanish overwhelming, he has settled in amazingly. He has started to speak more Spanish, and always has tales to tell of his many adventures. I was very proud of him the first morning as he walked into this new school in a new country with a new language, without even a backward glance. However, it still seems strange to send him to this more exclusive place when the majority of people in my church can’t afford it.