CLawrence's Travel Journals

CLawrence Caitlin Lawrence

What do you want to do the next time you travel abroad?

learn a language, volunteer in a needy community, experience a new culture through volunteering, meet new people, change the world [somehow]

  • 29 years old
  • From New York, United States
  • Currently in Urubamba, Peru

Jompa "Sweater"

Stories of shopping with my homestay mother.

Shopping for warm clothes

Peru Urubamba, Peru  |  Jul 12, 2011
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A few days ago I went "Comprar" (Shopping) with my homestay mother Sonya, and of course baby Beckita. During our lunch in the plaza was delcious as usual, I told Sonya that I needed a new "Jompa" (Sweater) for the nights seem to becoming much colder. And now that I have finally learned how you are to dress here in Peru- is much different from the clothing to wear during the day when the sun is high in the sky, and very strong. She grinned and said "Companion?" of course I replied. She nodded her head and said okay after lunch we will go to the market. After shoveling all the food into my mouth some kind of mixture of noodles and pieces of bacon, and spiced with celantro- we left. I could have gone home after lunch but I thought it would be fun to hangout with the family- which i always feel content with afterwards. We went to change some American dollares into Soles at a small shop one block down from the plaze. $20 is approximately 55 soles. It amazes me everytime. After Sonya spilt her ice cream all over her clothes- I guess that is what happens when you are carrying a baby in one arm, a wallet, a cell phone, and attempting to eat a dripping ice cream cone all at one time. Due to the complete lack of paper here, paper towels, and specifically toilet paper we had to walk all the way  back to the Plaza to find some napkins to clean her clothes. After she was cleaned we tried to go to the market once again.  We walked for about 6 to 7 blocks  to find a small market-draped with blue plastic tarps, protecting the clothing and merchandise from getting wet from the rain that fell the day before. I was happy imediately because I have been living here for 5 weeks and I never even knew that this small market exhisted! And I walk down the exact block everyday for my spanish class. In search of "Jompas" (sweaters) I saw Sonyas eyes light up. I paused and asked, "Aqui?" (here?) she nodded and said "si" We pointed and awed at the beautiful hand knitted clothing-Sonya made me get clothing different then only purple "Maron" which I am thankful for otherwise I would have came back to America with only purple clothing. I picked out two sweaters and was really happy with my purchase. I glanced up at Sonyas face and i saw her eyeing a sweater. It was a different look. It was not "oh how pretty" but more so desire. I approached the man who was vending the section and asked him how much the sweater was. He repplied that it was 15 soles. which considering the exachange rate is really nothing.  I said no, "is this the right size?" she said "for you, yes" I quickly interjected and said "No para tu" She took a quick breath with a concerned expression on her face. I repeated the question- and eventually she said "si" I told her I am going to buy it for you- and she fought me on it for a minute or two-which was much expected. However her expression of happiness melted my heart. The entire walk back to the plaze she kept saying "Gracias Gaty" I feel that I have never said "De nada" (your welcome) So many times in one conversation before. As we walked threw the rest of the market a block away from the plaza- I felt her grab my arm quickly, and walked over to the local fruit vendor and bought a dozen pears for 3 soles. Most likely in attempts to thank me for her new sweater. When we finally arrived at our destination the family owned Ice cream store in the Plaza de Armas- Sonya immediately ran into the back room where we stash our belongings during the day when we are out and about. I followed her in the back- and she already had her old sweater taken off. One that she wears every single day- and looks as if she has owned it for no less then ten years. Tattered, fraying at the sleeves, and stained with food from preparing all our meals. I was so excited to see it tossed aside. She was so excited that she didn't even have the patience to untie the knot in the plastic bag- it remided me of the way a child can't wait to get home to use scissors to cut open there new toy wrapped in impossible plastic packaging. She started ripping it open with her teeth. I was trying not to laugh, and enjoy and remember the moment all at the same time. She instructed me to shut my eyes, and then open them a minute later. I opened my eyes to see Sonya wearing her brand new Jompa.Twirling around and glacing up at the only mirror we own-She ran into the main room of the cafe and continued to prance around and act like a pretty pretty little princess. She glanced up at the wall where a small mirror stands and a smile came across her face. Precious. She grabbed my face and started kissing me, cheek, after cheek, always finishing with a giant hug. Sonya grabbed me by the arms and we started dancing in the middle of the store- customers started to walk in asking for different kinds of food- and we kept dancing. Without music. The way people are supposed to dance.  Afterwards i decided to return back to the house and clean my room up a tad. I felt the need to write this down-because it's moments in life like this that assure me that the little things count. Be generous when you can. For making sure others are taken care of is much more rewarding then being concerned that you wear the same shirt three days in a row, unwashed. For when you are living and working in a third world country- fashion is the least of your problems.


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    Maureen wrote: Tue Jul 12, 2011
    I love you!! You continue to amaze me.
    We miss you so much. Can't wait to see you and hug you again! We miss you so much.
  • Shopping for warm clothes

    July 12, 2011
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