Kainan Shaw – Peru: “The Lake Titicaca Sunset Band”

Hey, everyone! I hope you all are doing very well. I’ve come well past my halfway mark and have about 3 months left. I’ve decided that it is time to tell you all a story from my vacation back in December. [Note: Volunteers at this organization in Peru have to leave the country after 6 months to renew their visas. So a few of the volunteers scheduled their vacation to Bolivia to renew their visas]. This post is less about a boring moral or object lesson and more about me just wanting to share a cool story with you all. That being said, this is also an enormous thank you to those of you who helped get me here. Some of you donated to my funds, many of you prayed for me and a few helped mold me into a man with a desire to serve, so this one is for all of you. What you’re about to read is probably one of my fondest memories of this year so far. It never could have happened if it wasn’t for all the wonderful people who helped get me here, so thank you. Please enjoy.


I ambled my way back towards Copacabana. The sun was setting in bright orange and deep red over my left shoulder and the immense lake. The fading rays of sunlight bounced off the towering thunderheads creating an ever-changing rainbow castle in the sky. I thought of the people I had just helped, two Argentinians traveling all of South America in a VW bus. I had helped them push their broken down bus out of town to a camping compound they were headed for. I thought to myself and hoped that someday I might be brave enough to make such an ambitious trip.
A slightly familiar sound caught my ear as I drew closer to the lights and buildings of the small, Bolivian town. As I had grunted and pushed the VW out of town earlier that night I had passed some people singing, dancing, and playing music. I once again neared their stretch of beach and heard the voices of guitar, mandolin and people alike rising into the night, telling stories about love, life, and greener pastures. As I walked passed their little camp I could not resist the urge to take a small part in this beauty. In spite of myself I turned and walked back toward the group and sat a little way off with my back against a wall. I quickly renounced my previous reservations about coming back. Right in front of me were two Bolivians and their families singing, playing and dancing to typical Bolivian folk music. The backdrop of their stage was the great Lake Titicaca, above and to the West still stood the sunset castle, even more radiant than before. To the North was a heavy blanket of deep grey fog, from it came a grand, crooked strike of lightning every thirty seconds.
I sat back a little more relaxed against my wall and took a deep breath, very content. The words of the song floated  inland on the cool breeze. The words talked about waiting faithfully for their love to return. I sighed and looked down at my side where my love should have been, but was nowhere to be found.  I felt a chill roll through my body, not only because the high Andean temperature was dropping fast, but because of what I saw and heard all around me. As if on cue a large, very furry, mountain dog moseyed by. I gave a soft whistle and offered my hand, he quickly came over and filled the previously empty spot at my side. I ran my fingers through his thick soft coat, envious of the heat it must retain.

The musicians stopped for a drink and my new friend laid his heavy head in my lap. I began to feel his warmth spread to me as the last of the sun set behind the distant Andean Mountains. As the last light left, it gave way to the persistent lightning in the distance. I was in a different world. This was the experience of a lifetime, the kind tourists can’t buy. The kind that only a lucky few find once in a while. This was Copacabana, this was Bolivia, this was Gods creation.

I fought to stop the tears from falling as another soft song faded into the cold night. My companion stretched and wagged his tail as I employed both hands to stroke his soft fur. I stood up and pulled a few Bolivianos from my pocket and approached their circle from my outsiders perch. They refused my money at first, but with some persuasion they took it and said thank you. They didn’t realize what they had given me that night. I patted my fluffy friend on the head and said goodbye, truly grateful for temporarily filling the empty space in my heart. After wishing the Bolivians a good night, I continued on towards the town.  I left their little circle and my canine friend behind. The lightning became brighter and the stormy sky got darker as I entered the lighted streets. I looked back one more time, knowing that I had experienced something very special.


Kainan Shaw is a student missionary from Walla Walla University serving as an English teacher in Peru through the NAD Office of Volunteer Ministries and Adventist Volunteer Service. This was originally posted on his blog on March 16, 2016, and is used with permission.

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