Before we departed to Peru for our big overland expedition into Manu Biosphere Reserve, I went to Trader Joe's where I saw my favorite seasonal cookies.  The "astounding" multi-flavor Joe-Joes.  You know the ones I'm talking about. 

Cellophane  wrappers stuffed with stacks of over-the-top, fudgy, double everything, minty delicousness.  For a traveler, the box was big, but I bought them anyway.  And made room in my luggage.

Once we arrived in Cusco, we began repacking for our trip to the jungle, which left the same day.  There are no restaurants in the jungle.  And the lodges in Manu have no way to get supplies, so each group is responsible to bring their own cook.  And all their own provisions.  Including plates, forks, salt.  And cookies. I planned to break out the cookies one night to share.

Victor is a cook, and does all the food shopping, organizing and preparation. He is amazingly talented.  And dedicated.  He has mastered the art of cooking anywhere.  On the Inca Trail.  In the rain.  At high altitude.  In a canoe.  In a mini-van. And in the jungle.  The meals he serves are fabulous! 

I gave the Joe-Joe cookies to Victor.  I thought he would appreciate how good they are.  For being store-bought.  So the next thing I see is a little girl holding the b-i-i-i-g box of cookies.  She was dressed in pink everything. And was about 2 years old. And that's how I found out that Victor was not only married, but he was a father as well.  And like most dads, he shared his prize with his precious daughter. 

We drove for several hours out of Cusco and stopped in Paurcotambo, the closest village to Victor's home.  While walking through the village I saw a group of local women, dressed in traditional clothing of the Andes Mountains culture, including their beautiful bowler hats.  Sitting in the lap of one of the women, was Victor's daughter, clutching the somewhat crumpled box of Joe-Joe cookies.  That had to be her grandmother.  So the cookies made the rounds.  From our local store in Virginia Beach, to Cusco, then to Victor, then to his daughter and I'm sure they were shared among many people.

Next July, a group of US high school students will visit Victors village for several days to work on a service project.  We'll travel from the US with supplies included toothbrushes, backpacks for kids, soccer balls.  And you guessed it.  More Joe-Joe cookies.  We intend to bring enough cookies for every student in the village school to have one.  Although we'll have to bring the ordinary Joe-Joe's since the multi-flavor cookies are not available year round.  Darn!