Time Capsule Letter
I can’t believe it has been six months since we were all together in the beautiful country of Peru! It feels like we just dropped you off at the airport hours ago, but time flies when you are having fun, and the last six months have been a complete whirlwind. Rudy is back in Phoenix, Arizona expanding his travel company and has since traveled with other students to Thailand, Spain and France. Natalie is currently in Spain teaching English near Madrid.
If you are ever in Madrid, please reach out to her so she can show you around. After both summer sessions, Faith stayed in South American doing solo travel and work. She explored more of Peru and then went up north to Ecuador and Colombia. She was traveling up until November so she has many stories to share. As for Bernardo, he is back in Lima working with university students in outdoor education. He is having the time of his life as he is trying to form new connections to share his passions.
Do you guys remember going to the historic ruins and playing with the alpacas at the farm? What about our tiring but beautiful Lares Trek where some of us got sick but the views were so worth it?! We will never forget Sasha and his hilarious comments at the ruins or his extreme flute playing? Do you guys remember our two dance parties? What about Phoebe, Cassidy, Grace and Sarah singing in the car every single time!? Do you guys remember how intense Step Into the Circle was and how every single one of you guys opened up? That was incredible.
What about your mentors groups with Bernardo, Faith and Natalie? What was your favorite activity with them? OMG remember our incredible soccer match and how we won?! Thank you Daniel for suggestion to dress up all in blue to show team spirit. Teagen, thank you for your amazing attitude and Meagen we will never forget your beautiful song or Love’s epic poem readings. Singing, dancing and teaching with the kids was also magical. I hope you realize how much the Peruvian students enjoyed their time with you. They loved your games and you taught them so much.
Please never forget about our group goal of “passing the light forward”. We talked about how your Peruvian experience means nothing unless we pay it forward. Where exactly are you with your goal that you committed to accomplishing? Did the fire burn out? If it did, it’s okay. This is just a friendly reminder that you have the passion to finish your goal.
As staff, we gave you the tools and guided you through a leadership curriculum to inspire you. Reminiscing about our trip brings us back to Cusco and being with all of you. We miss your friendly faces, the amazing Peruvian food, our home base staff, Alejandro and Patricia, and Mario. Please keep in touch with everyone and don’t be afraid to reach out to us for anything.
Love you guys and hope all is well.
Gracias from your GLA Staff,
Sunday July 14, 2019
Today was our first full day in Peru! Every student arrived safely and are excited to explore Peru. Our entire staff is eager to get our program rolling. As staff, we have worked hard and learned so much from our first session. We are confident to give this next group the experience of a lifetime.
On our first day we played some get to know you games, are our first Peruvian meal and ended the day with watching a Peruvian film called Pachamama! Hasta mañana!
GLA International Staff
Monday July 15, 2019
The Children of the Andes group has just finished there first full day in Peru!!! We started the day with a delicious breakfast of chicken-egg-avocado sandwiches and cereal composed of traditional Andean grains. After some brief card games we went to the school that we will be working at for the next couple of weeks.
We made lesson plans for tomorrow’s class and were greeted with affectionate hugs from the children that we will be working with. The next stop was the construction site where we will be building the greenhouse for a future high school. We learned a bit about how to properly use the tools that we will be working with and then made sure all of the measurement for the site were accurate.
We then headed back to the base camp and after some more fun games of cards and mafia went out to a local field to play a active and bonding game of capture the flag (team 5 won). Today was also Alex’s birthday and we surprised him with a cake! Yum! Exhausted, we finished the night off with a workshop designed to eliminate the harmful effects of stereotypes and prepare us to act as leaders in our own communities by fostering environments of acceptance and tolerance.
Tuesday July 16, 2019
Our third day in Peru!! We started the morning with a breakfast of hard boiled eggs, fresh bread, incredible mango and passion fruit juice. We then left and headed over to the school, where we did a few arts and crafts as gifts for the children. Then our group divided into two: one for the four year olds, and one for the five year olds.
We met them while they had lunch and assisted them through their routine then joined for a variety of games in the patio. Our next activity was teaching the kids English in their classroom which included the alphabet, numbers and some every day objects. After spending three and a half hours at the school we went back to Home Base and had a delicious lunch: tacos!! By far the groups favorite.
The next part of the day was construction work, where we worked on leveling land and sawing pieces of wood for benches. Sadly, it started to rain and we had to head home once again, but on the way we experienced stunning views of Peru’s mountains and colorful architecture. Then we had mentor groups and discussed many topics. Finally the day came to a close with pizza and another round of Mofia.
Wednesday July 17, 2019
Today was full of adventures and immersion into the Peruvian culture. After beginning the day with a authentic breakfast, we headed onto the busses to begin our tours.
Patricia, our home base director, lead us on our tour in Saxaywaman. Once there, we learned more about the empire referred to as the Four Regions of the Sun. We saw many structures with stones ranging from 50-300 tons! After spiritually connecting to Pachamama, we headed to the city of Cuzco to shop and walk around.
To finish off an amazing day, we had an intense session of leadership curriculum. In attempt to practice our vulnerability as leaders, we were asked to step into a circle if certain topics related to us as individuals. While some topics were harder than others, which left some of us in tears, we were relieved and happy to be in the company of other who understood us. This definitely brought us closer together.
We Miss You!!
Friday July 19, 2019
We started off today with a delicious breakfast that helped us gain strength for the hours we’d be spending at the greenhouse. Following breakfast, we loaded into the vans and took off for our day of service. At the greenhouse, we split into four groups: two leveling the ground, one mixing cement and laying bricks, and the last cutting wood.
Following three hours of labor, the group felt satisfied with the work accomplished and ready for lunch! We headed back to home base to find a lunch of rice, fried trout, mashed sweet potatoes and peppers stuffed with vegetables. Feeling exhausted some of us decided to take a nap while others played a quick card game before heading back to the greenhouse.
After a few hours of hard work at the greenhouse it was clear that a lot of progress had been made! We then began the trek back to home base, eager for another meal and rest. For dinner we enjoyed hamburgers, french fries, bread, and some sweet tea. We ended the meal by singing Happy Birthday to Anna, which was followed by a delicious cake. We then finished the day by having our second mentor meeting, and a well needed night sleep to regain our strength for tomorrow.
Sunday July 21, 2019
We left homebase very early in the morning: around 8am. After a long bus ride, we arrived at the river lodge. We got settled into our rooms, and then got changed to go rafting. We put on all our rafting gear and boarded the bus to head to the beginning of the rafting experience. We were given a brief explanation of the basic commands and then split into groups of six people and got in our rafts. After an hour and a half of an exhilarating experience, we returned back to the lodge, where we had a sauna waiting to warm us up. We were then served a great lunch.
After lunch, we had the option to zip line across the river. Many people took this opportunity and appreciated the chance to get out of their comfort zone. After an adventurous day, everyone took the time to rest or explore the surroundings until dinner. During and after a nice pizza dinner, we watched the movie Bohemian Rhapsody. Afterwards, everyone was exhausted and we went to bed early to prepare for our early hike up rainbow mountain the next morning.
Monday July 22, 2019
On July 22nd, we set out at 4 AM to take a bus to rainbow mountain. Two hours later, our hike began just as the sun began to rise. Although the hike was only 1.6 miles, the altitude made it incredibly difficult to continue our trek. Although, as soon as we got to the top, the view of the rainbow mountain made the difficult hike completely worth it. With the hardest part of the day completed by 9 AM, we still had a long journey ahead of us. After returning back to the lodge to have a huge bowl of spaghetti for lunch, we headed back to Homebase. Even though the rest of the day was spent resting in the car, the hike up Rainbow Mountain was an unforgettable experience.
Tuesday July 23 through Sunday July 28, 2019
Hey friends, family, and loved ones!
So sorry about the delay in blog posts- we’ve had quite the jam-packed itinerary, with activities happening from morning to night most days!
This one is sort of an overview of the last week or so:
We had a lot of service days with the kids, teaching them English through art projects, or playing games and dancing on the school patio. The service is really fun and rewarding- but working with 4 and 5 year olds can definitely be draining! Some lessons, we work with them on coloring pages and help teach colors and shapes in English. Other lessons, we bring posters that we prepared the night before to teach them about different rooms in the house, or other common scenarios that could be useful to know. The end of the week was our last day of service with them, and it was so hard to say goodbye! We spend the morning just dancing and playing with them before their break for Peruvian independence day.
We’ve also been making dolls and picture frames at the school, that we’ll be giving out to children in the high Andean communities during the Lares Trek we go on before Machu Picchu. For some of us, its the first time we’ve sewn- but they’re still cute!
Our other service project is work on a greenhouse that will be used by the school where we work with children. The progress has been unbelievable- but certainly not easy! We level the ground by hand, mix cement by hand, and lay bricks all by hand! We’ve been painting the fencing too, along with cutting wood to build benches. It really is amazing to think of where we started, and to see where we are now.
We had a soccer match against one of the other GLA programs- Foundations of Global Health. It was cool to interact with a different program, and to share similarities and differences of our experiences here in Cusco. While I’m sure our soccer skills had something to do with it, our team spirit surely led to our 2-1 win!
Later in the week, we took an excursion to an alpaca farm, the towns of Pisac and Urubamba, the archeological site Moray, and the salt mines of Maras! At the alpaca farm, we got to feed llamas, alpacas, and vicuña, and saw native women weaving their wool. Lunch in Urubamba was a beautiful outdoor buffet where we could play it safe with rice and potatoes, or venture out of our norm and try a traditional dish like alpaca! We also went to Moray- which was absolutely incredible! It was used as an experiment for agriculture, and the temperature difference between the top and the bottom is 15 degrees Celsius.
The next day, we visited the salt mines of Maras, and they were absolutely amazing! We were all shocked by the beauty of this place, and even got to try pieces of salt from the mines. We also got to visit a ceramics studio of a renowned ceramics artist in Peru- Seminario. We toured got to tour the facility, shape some clay ourselves, and even got to meet and speak to the artist.
The day before our trek to Lares, we went to the greenhouse for a Pago a La Tierra ceremony with a shaman. He performed a traditional offering of different natural things (like nuts, flowers, roots, candies) to Mother Earth, which he then packaged up and burned in a small fire at the greenhouse site. Then, everyone got to experience a short, personal coca leaf reading with the shaman and ask him one question. This was a one of a kind experience, and was a great way to put what we have been learning about Pachamama (or Mother Earth) in to practice.
Tomorrow, we’re off to start our trek through the Andes!
Sending lots of love to everyone at home!
On July 31st, we took an early morning bus from our hostel to visit Machu Picchu. After climbing to the top and taking lots of pictures for the memories, we gathered with the mentors and guides to do a 20 minute meditation session amidst the beautiful mountains. Then, we were guided in small groups around the ruins to learn about the fascinating history of the communities that once thrived in Machu Picchu.
When we arrived back into town, we had lunch at a small restaurant while listening to live music, and then enjoyed some free time at the surrounding markets and cafes. Later, we took a long train ride back to Home Base, taking in the views around us. Late that night, we arrived at home, tired from a long day but grateful for the amazing sights.