Hola, family and friends!
Today was our first “free” day! Instead of having a set itinerary of planned activities with locals and a packed schedule, we broke up into small groups, accompanied by GGLs (Global Glimpse Leaders). We first rode taxis to Plaza Roja, where we walked into a local handicrafts market. There, we bought ponchos, chompas (sweaters), and accessories such as hand-bags, keychains, and llama dolls made with authentic llama wool. The day was lively and filled with welcomed surprises, and everyone had fun!
What stood out to me the most today was the passion and welcoming attitude of a particular shopkeeper, a petite woman with a smile stretching ear-to-ear. Her shop was in the corner of the market and looked the same as the adjacent shops close to hers, with one sharp difference: she warmly welcomed us into her shop with a gentle fire in her eye, similar to a loving mom seeking the best for a baby. She actively engaged with us in Spanish, and had an understanding laugh when those of us who were not fluent attempted to speak it. Her shop was a warm second home, drawing a majority of visitors to the market, local or otherwise.
We ended up making nearly all of our purchases in her shop, and before we left, she presented us handwoven friendships bracelets, and said we were welcome to come back anytime.
My key takeaway as a glimpser was the new experience of opening up and feeling welcomed by the community, and feeling that despite the mistakes I made, it was okay! You have to learn to be open to new experiences. Near the end of our “free” day in the city, with our handicrafts and purchases in our bags, we passed by a basketball court and decided to try to join in with the locals. There, at the basketball court, the teacher of a gaggle of kids playing on the hybrid basketball / soccer court allowed us to play with them and we quickly became engaged in a basketball game. It was nice to feel welcome and have no fear of making mistakes in Spanish or in making a cultural faux pax.