The summer of 2005 the whole family traveled to Peru to meet the Ashaninka - people who live in a small village called San Miguel about a 10 hour drive from Lima . We drove through a fantastic landscape with full of contrasts - from bare ice-cold high mountains reaching the same day an impressive jungle with exuberant vegetation. We fell at this moment in love with Peru . It´s hard to find a more beautiful landscape.
Little we knew that this was only the start for the most overwhelmingly experience in our lives. When we arrived San Miguel, it felt like we had arrived the gardens of Eden . An abundance of natural fruits in all varieties and the landscape was so colorful that it can not be described in 1000 words. It has to be lived and experienced. We learned to use the nature in a unique way. The natives relate to the nature in a way we never thought was possible. We made salads of palmtrees, fried bananas, consuming all kinds of different fruits, ate "mountain animal" (still we have no idea of what that was), barbecued guinea pig, all varieties of potatoes and everything tasted great.
But nevertheless, the strongest memory of all will be the people of San Miguel. We have never met a people more smiling, happy, unselfish, openhearted and humorous. We were received with the biggest smiles and opened hearts from day one. Despite the language obstacles, we became integrated from the first moment. It sprang up a fantastic contact between us and we felt as we were a part of the family. In the evenings we sat outside our palmtree-house together with our host family and other members of the great family under a sky of incredible amount of stars. We saw so many shooting-stars that at the end there were no more wishes to be made.
The kids played together as they had known each other the whole life, while the adults drank the local drink "masato" and talked about everything in life. The local music-group played at any moment and we all - young and old - danced together as good friends.
Our stay in San Miguel cannot be described in words. But their smiles, laughter, hospitality and happiness will be impregnated in our memories for ever. We miss all of them in the village of San Miguel and they are in our thoughts every day, and we hope with all our hearts that we will have the chance to return. It is inconceivable that our friends of fate live in a small village on the other side of the earth.
If you have the opportunity to make such a trip, we would strongly recommend it. An encounter with these people make permanently changes in our hearts and minds.
(Family Gundersen R øssland - July 2005)