Celebrating my 22nd birthday in Peru was a very memorable experience. I started my day with cake for breakfast. My host family was awake and cheerful. As usual, they were extremely patient despite my slight communication barrier. Spanish class at Centro Tinku helped me with this. Following class, I was given more cake. I spent the rest of the day in town sharpening my bartering skills and exploring what Cusco had to offer. One of my favorite things I discovered in Peru was “chicha morada,” a sweet drink made with purple corn, pineapple, and cinnamon.
When I returned to my homestay that night, I was given leftover cake for dinner. Birthdays in Peru aren’t much different from those in the US. There is cake with candles that you blow out after singing “Happy Birthday” to in Spanish. Peruvians love cake and find every reason to eat it from what I can tell. It was a popular dessert along with rice pudding.
I was glad I was not given any birthday gifts because I did not have much room left in my bags after all the souvenirs I purchased. Also, I was beginning to become fond of the idea of needing less stuff. Seeing some of the less fortunate Peruvians living contentedly without surplus material objects made me reconsider the importance of living simply. While I didn’t get any presents, I treated myself to something that would remind me of my special day in this special country and not take up any extra room in my suitcase. See photo below.