Jarrod and I found our home away from home. It’s in Cusco, Peru. Who knew?

    As we approached the last city on our around the world itinerary we decided to roll the dice and take a chance
on another homestay. We didn’t have the best of luck with this tactic in Santiago. Flashback to frantic sprints to
the toilet due to the poor hygiene standards of our host’s cooking. But what can we say, this place was centrally
located, included three meals a day and our own bedroom and bathroom. At this point in our life that is akin to a 5-
star luxury hotel. So we decided to gamble…

    If there is one thing we have found out over the course of our trip it is that expectations are everything. Or at
least half of everything. If you want to have a good time, if you want a wonderful surprise, just expect the worst.
That way, the only way to go is up. We have had this experience a handful of times during our trip. For example—
Athens. Everyone we met told us it was a dump of a city. In fact, they suggested we not even bother to spend a
day there. We loved it. That’s the way it goes. So in preparing for a total bust of a homestay we were blown away
with the jackpot we hit at Emma’s house.

    Emma is the owner of the homestay. She lives there with her elderly mother, two adult daughters and her
teenage grandson. In addition to housing these family members she also has three rooms that she welcomes
tourists into while in Cusco. I say welcome because that is the feeling Emma exudes. From the moment she met us
at the airport and took over the sometimes annoying task of negotiating with the cab driver she made us feel like
a part of her family. After settling into our private room and bathroom (!) we were given the first of what would be
endless cups of Peru’s national tea, coca de mate. It is tea made from the coco leaf. Not drugs, mind you. Put
Peruvians do turn to it to cure almost any ailment. From adjusting to Cusco’s 12,000 feet of altitude to settling an
upset stomach to curing sleeplessness, Emma wholeheartedly recommended and believed in the power of coca de
Emma, standing next to Jarrod, along with her family and Natalie, another tourist staying at the house
    As temporary members of Emma’s family we were privy to information, advice and activities that we would not
receive at a hostel or hotel. Looking back on our two weeks there we fondly remember:
    •Learning to salsa dance with Emma’s daughters via a
    “Learn to Salsa” DVD in their living room

    •Trading music with her family. We are now owners of
    some of Peru’s hottest pop music

    •Being treated to many native Peruvian dishes,
    homemade by Emma, such as lomo saltado, aji de
    gallina, chicha morado and salco

    •Benefitting from the knowledge of where locals go to
    shop for jewelry and clothes, CD’s and DVD’s

    •Being personally escorted to the local bus station and
    put on a bus to Ollantaytambo by Emma and one of her
    daughters, making sure we were charged the “local”
    price and not the “tourist” price

   We experienced many wonderful attractions while in Peru—
from Machu Picchu to the Andes mountain range to Cusco’s
cuisine—but we will always remember Peru as the country we
found our home away from home in. Living with a local family
when they are open and welcoming can be a truly rewarding
and memorable experience. We were blessed to be
considered members of Emma’s family for the time we spent in
Cusco and we will count ourselves blessed to return there
one day.
Our farewell bottle of wine
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Rooftops in Cusco
Emma's House