Staying in a homestay in a small Peruvian town, disconnected from the distractions of her busy life back home, photographer Marianna Jamadi fully immersed herself in the local way of life.
Before visiting, I had no idea that the small town of Chivay in southern Peru would leave such a lasting impression on me. Often referred to as the ‘gateway to the Colca Canyon,’ Chivay—rich with history that pre-dates the Incas—feels relatively untouched. Here, ancient agricultural and cultural practices seem to have escaped time, unaffected by modern technology and new ways of working.
Getting to the Colca Canyon from Arequipa meant stopping at a few towns. Some streets were filled with colors, beautiful faces, and cute animals like this alpaca. Each stop was a glimpse into southern Peruvian life.
On arrival at the homestay, Señor Pedro and Señora Julia greeted us with warmly. These two have lived in the area their entire life and now open their home to those who are eager to learn more about the local culture.
Their home is simple and full of heart. The colors are bright, as are their smiles, and while the altitude started to make my head fuzzy, we quickly got acquainted.
My room was inviting, cozy, and adorned with local textiles. I already felt like family even though I had just arrived.
The view from my homestay showed off the beautiful town of Chivay, tucked in between the stunning Andean highlands. With such a rich history, ruins and old structures are plenty in the area.
The view from Señor Pedro’s fields shows the Chivay Church. White, bright, and striking when it is against the green Andean highlands.
In the afternoon we head into their fields and begin clearing the land. Life here is closely tied to the earth.
Señor Pedro spends a great deal of time in his fields, harvesting the land, tending to his crops and picking vegetables for mealtimes. It’s as fresh as it gets out here. I had the fortune of working alongside him while gathering what was needed for dinner.
After we got our hands dirty and collected a few vegetables for dinner, I helped Señora Julia in the kitchen and she went on to tell me that while she may not have a lot, she has everything she needs. Though she primarily speaks her native dialect we connect through Spanish and while I am not fluent, I know enough to feel like I can connect and communicate with her.
After dinner, the altitude hits me again and I am quick to head to bed. A walk through the town and nearby fields the following morning shows me that life here is simple, hard and beautiful. I watch locals carrying their loads on their backs and on their livestock, taking paths that may take several hours to traverse, just to buy supplies from a nearby town.
The fields are plentiful with quinoa and the air, though thin, is as a fresh as ever. With 2,000 types of quinoa in Peru, it’s a staple in most households.
This baby alpaca was on the periphery of the fields along with other livestock that dot the landscape. These animals, native to Peru, are so iconic of the country’s landscape.
Without mobile phone service or internet, I was able to disconnect from my life back home and better connect with life in Chivay. When the time came for me to leave Señor Pedro and Señora Julia, I realized that sometimes, the best way to understand a place is to immerse yourself in the lives of those who live there.
Want to experience a local homestay while traveling through Peru? Photographer Marianna Jamadi’s homestay was part of Intrepid Travel’s Peru Encompassed trip.
Marianna Jamadi is a half-Finnish, half-Indonesian globetrotting photographer in search of authentic experiences. Nomadic in spirit, but steady in heart, she is based in Long Beach, CA, when she is not crossing borders and oceans.