by Christina Parodi, Marketing & Communications Intern

A mother when you are a thousand miles away from home, our woman crush this Wednesday is Yony Usca Mejia, who always made sure I was well fed, warm and comfortable in my month long stay with her and her family.

Already a mother of two, Adriano 1, and Pierro 10, Yony made me feel as if I was her one of her own, and with her help I had no trouble with adjustment to life in Ollantaytambo. Her infectious laughter at the dinner table always caught me in tears as she would play with her youngest Adriano. Their silent conversations held more meaning than those with words and they would constantly laugh at one another’s facial expressions, making every meal a happy one for me. I truly feel like a part of the family, helping her teach Adriano to walk, jumping up and down in sheer excitement as he left my arms and took his first steps toward her. Whether it be braiding my hair every morning or going out of her way to make my favorite Pineapple-Orange juice, Yony always tried to start off my days with a little extra love and care.

Having worked for Awamaki for five years, Yony is not new to the cultural exchange of a homestay and is always actively participating, asking me how to say things in English and correcting my Spanish. She makes sure I’m always engaged in conversation which is how I know what a wonderful person she is.

Always speaking about her children, she is so proud of her son Pierro for being in the top of his class every year, and she beams every time she shows off his certificates of recognition. She is a very family oriented person, always spending time with her children and parents, even bringing me along to lunches with her parents to make me feel included.

She works at the artisanal market every day and tells me that everything she does is so her children can have a brighter future. I feel extremely lucky to have spent my first month in Ollantaytambo living with her and know that she will make everyone else that stays with her just as happy.