Sunday July 15, 2018
Bienvenidos a Peru! Welcome to Peru!
Welcome to our 21 day Children of the Andes Blog! This will be your opportunity as parents and loved ones to keep tabs on our whereabouts as we continue on our adventure of service, learning and leadership here in Cusco, Peru.
We are happy to say that more of our new team members have arrived and are settling into their new home here in Peru, and we are just waiting for one more student, Sofia. Upon the students arrival they were greeted with Coca Tea, a traditional drink in Peru that helps with the altitude as they shared stories of their travels and began to unpack. While tired, the students seemed excited for the adventure that lays ahead and the memories to be made.
Throughout the day we gave students the opportunity to rest and recuperate from their long travels as the last of the group arrived. Lunch was served in the afternoon which offered them their first taste of traditional Peruvian Cuisine by our wonderful local chef, Jessica. Throughout the day we went over some basic details about our new home including which water is safe to drink, diligence in hand washing, the importance of staying bundled at night, dressing in layers during the day, house rules and a tour of our home base.
Continuing on with the our day, we did various activities to acquaint ourselves with one another, get to know a bit about our backgrounds and what we’re excited, nervous and curious to experience throughout the trip. We introduced our US staff, Emma, the international Director, and Mel and Gaby our mentors all of which will aid in facilitating our program and work hand in hand with students throughout the educational and mentorship portion the trip. We introduced our homebase staff, Paty our homebase coordinator, Ale, our home base mom and Jessica, our chef.
Tired and excited, the students went to bed with a sense of wonder and curiosity for what lay ahead. Make sure to check back here for more updates throughout our 21 days.
The GLA Staff
Monday July 16, 2018
Sunday was a chill day, mostly devoted to napping and adjusting to our new home. We were greeted with a delicious lunch and dinner made by our amazing chef Pati, fully equipped with vegetarian and gluten free options for everyone. We were briefed on the ins and outs of our home base and played a few “get to know you” games.
Monday was our first full day. With the beautiful sunrise came another amazing meal. Gabby showed us what to put in our day packs and as a group, we created “The Alpaca Pact”, a culmination of all our individual goals and values. The group walked to a park, “La Cancha” and we played team-building games. We returned to home base and had yet another amazing meal. After lunch, we went to the school we will be working at for the trip. We met Mario, our Local Director, and he shared his inspiration for creating the school. We then brief visited our service site.
A few sightings of trip so far: dogs, an alpaca, cows, sheep, an adorable baby in a window, more dogs, and an amazing view of the city from our home. We have all taken quite a liking to ricoto- a condiment I would call “refined hot sauce”- so much so that we finished a full a full jar in only 5 meals. Our small group size has allowed for amazing conversations over meals. They kind of resemble an extended family get-together, but probably louder. We are having a great time!
Tuesday July 17, 2018
We began the day with a delicious chocolate porridge accompanied by toast and corn bread for breakfast! Our day was mainly spent touring many different historical locations in the city with the help of our lovely tour guide Mari who taught us everything we needed to know. The tour began by piling into the vans and taking a gorgeous drive up to Sacsayhuman and checked out Christo Blanco. The view of Cusco from there was incredible! Next we meandered over to get our first taste of Incan ruins wherein we explored an ancient mummification cave. After braving a pitch black tunnel, we also visited an incredible foundation of another Incan structure which had an amazing view of Cuzco AND of the glacier. Several alpacas were spotted there as well and some people even got to hold a baby! Lunch followed our architectural adventures and consisted of a much-appreciated buffet with an equally appreciated array of ceviche and sushi(among other things).
There was also a surprise performance from a local Peruvian duo who impressively presented their version of “Hotel California” among other songs. A visit to the center of Cusco followed suit along with a visit to a string of local stores. We were first greeted by a very enthusiastic store owner who gave us all tiny alpaca figurines for free(known as Alpaquitas by the group)and then split into small groups to visit other little shops. After spending a bit of time PERUsing the wares we moved on to a larger market by walking along the beautiful streets of Cuzco. We then returned to home base and spent the early evening recharging and eating a wonderful dinner of kebabs, yuca, and carrot cake! Afterwards we watched a Ted Talk about the dangers of singular stories and had provoking discussions of it as a whole group. It was late at that point so the night was wrapped up by just “hanging out and chilling”. Overall, a very busy yet eye-opening day!
Wednesday July 18, 2018
For breakfast we had avocado and cheese sandwiches (with, of course, lots of tea). At nine, we walked 30 minutes to the school where we are doing our classroom service. Typically we will be working in the four and five year old’s classrooms to teach english, art and gym, but today we met them at the playground. We played games (red light, green light) and got to know the kids which was really fun! They were very energetic and we were exhausted by the time the two hours were up. Then we walked home, accompanied by Bobby (our neighborhood dog). Lunch was super tasty, we had amazing corn soup and chicken with basil.
After lunch we drove to the construction site. We spent most of the three hours painting a fence and listening to music, then we headed home to relax a bit before dinner. For dinner we had amazing tacos and homemade guacamole with rice pudding for desert. After, we played cards until it was time for our mentor groups. Overall another great day and we are excited for more adventures tomorrow!
Thursday July 19, 2018
Today we woke up at the crack of dawn to get a head start on our early water adventure…RAFTING!!
Everyone sat down to a filling breakfast of creamy papaya smoothies, flaky toast and bowls of hearty cornflakes. Food was chowed down rapidly as we were in a hurry to make it to our own rapids.
Everyone was eager and nervous to embark on this new experience with one another. We suited up in ridiculously conforming wetsuits, jackets, water shoes, life jackets, and the cherry on top to our fabulous outfits-helmets. We waddled our way down to the river to me our raft guide who proceeded to explain to us all the moves we needed for our successful journey and then we were on our way. All of us were in awe of the breathtaking canyon and volcanic formations all around. Even though for some of us it was our first time participating in this activity everyone was beyond pleased with the experience.
After our scenic ride we were greeted by a toasty sauna and and a hot lunch. The meal consisted of steaming quinoa soup accompanied by scrumptious bread and for the main course chicken, rice and vegetables. Promptly after, we enjoyed the perks of free WiFi for the first time in the past 5 days, and let’s just say we took advantage of the situation. The ride back to home base was peaceful and quiet as most were asleep to revitalize themselves to prepare for the lesson planning before dinner. In groups we collaborated on what we would share with the students from the local school that we would teach the next day. Our stomachs began to rumble as we finished up luckily dinner was served!
We were treated with a traditional Peruvian dish called lomo saltado. This dish was a favorite of everyone’s that was indicated by everyone’s cleared plates. For dessert hot coca was pure in mugs and served with a delicious cookie. With warm full bellies all of us enjoyed some free time and then made our way to our rooms to our comfy beds to rest up for tomorrow’s big day in the classroom!
Friday July 20, 2018
We woke up slightly later to a delicious breakfast of fresh fruit and yogurt. Despite the rain, we embarked on the long bus ride to Pisac, breathtaking ruins. Before arriving at Pisac, we stopped at an Alpaca and Llama farm. There, we were able to see the animals up close as well as learn more about them with the help of our amazing tour guide, Mary Luz. After seeing all the animals, we got back in the bus and made our way to the Pisac Ruins. Despite the fact that it was still raining, it was amazing. The views were incredible and the history was fascinating.
Clouds could be seen at eye level since we were at such a high altitude, which added to the amazing view. After exploring the ruins, we went to lunch, at The Blue Llama, a restaurant in Pisac where we had great food. (Everyone loved the Tequenos.) After lunch we were able to explore the Pisac market which was right outside of the restaurant. The market had just about everything including sweaters, ponchos, scarves and blankets, jewelry and much more. The market also seemed to stretch on forever with stand after stand of beautiful goods. We explored the market for about two hours before making our way back to homebase where we relaxed before having a yummy dinner and doing our trek prep. Everyone is very excited to begin the trek tomorrow.
Sunday July 22, 2018
Today we woke up pretty early, at 6:00, to begin our three day trek ending at Machu Pichu. We ate really good sandwiches for breakfast on the bus as we started the three hour drive to the start of the trek. We stopped at a market for coca leaves and toys for people we pass while going through the villages. While driving we stopped at a snowy part, where we built a snowman and admired the snow capped mountains. Because there was so much snow, we had to turn back and do a different trek, since the road to the trail head was snowed over. After stopping in a small town where we got snacks and made a new plan, we went to a new campsite called pumamarka and ate lunch. After lunch, our trek guides, Santiago and Sonya took us to see Andian and Incan ruins. They explained some of the history behind what we saw and talked about the Incan society that inhabited the area before. We returned to the camp sight where we changed into warm clothes and had delicious hot chocolate and popcorn as a snack before another delicious dinner. As it got dark, we star gazed a bit then went to sleep.
Wednesday July 25, 2018
Today was a service day. Instead of being in the classroom, we met the 4 year olds at the playground and had an amazing day. The 5 year olds were having their class election so we were one-on-one with the younger kids. The kids kept us very busy and on our feet. Afterwards, we went home for lunch for a delicious soup and some pizza. We then drove to our construction service site where we were hard at work mixing and pouring cement on the fence.
Tonight we had our movie night. We decided to watch “El Dorado”, a movie about two friends adventuring in the new world. We were lucky enough to have a night full of desserts! In addition to two desserts, (churros and pudding), we also feasted on many snacks we bought during “Tienda Time” earlier in the day. These included wafers, doritos, every kind of ice cream, chocolate, and more.
-Lila (with the assistance of Lindsay)
Friday July 27, 2018
Today was a very active day and we were lucky enough to have breakfast later than usual. The day started off with a fresh bowl of fruit and warm toast with tasty jam. We set off at 9am and made our way to Mario’s school, where we painted a mural at the school, saying ‘jugar, crecer, aprender’.
We spent most of the morning at the school and we also helped clear the walls and stairs which were very dusty and full of mud. Our morning was very physical and active and we had a lovely lunch, of stuffed potato and salad, which helped us gain the energy we needed, to play a long football match with the local people (who were very good at football). Unfortunately we lost …
After the football match we all relaxed and we had a warm dinner of rice with vegetables, chicken and also a homemade flan. Our evening ended with a mentor group which is always interesting and relaxing.
Saturday July 28, 2018
Today was a full day of service. We started the day off with a filling breakfast of eggs, toast and chocolate porridge. After breakfast we headed to our construction site where we spent the morning mixing and pouring cement and placing rocks and wood along the fence. After a couple of hours of hard work, we headed back to home base where we had a delicious lunch of chicken and mashed potatoes. Everyone enjoyed the food as well as the break from the hard, but extremely satisfying work. We headed back to the construction site in the afternoon to continue working on mixing cement and working on the fence. The rest of our evening was relaxing, we had tacos (everyone’s favorite meal) for dinner and spent the evening in town for our wifi night.
Sunday July 29, 2018
Everyone woke up this morning well rested at 8 am to the smell of fresh pancakes filled with kiwi and drizzled with maple syrup. With full bellies the group had our usual morning conversations at the table. Today’s topic of discussion was what questions we would ask the shaman later this morning.
At 9 am we took our daily walk to school trying to contain our excitement of what the shaman would be like and what he would tell us about our future. Finally at the classroom we waited for the enchanting man to come and when he did we all conspired what questions should be best to ask. One by one we went to discover our fate and we were all pleasantly surprised as to what he had to say. After the readings the shaman did a traditional Peruvian ceremony that gave a payment to the the mother earth.
At lunch the group devoured the delicious meal that was prepared for us which were cheese taquitos with wonderful creamy guacamole for dipping and as a main course we had hamburgers. The meal gave us a little taste of home and yes we went back for seconds. Later that day we had music and dance lessons that were taught to us by local Peruvian musician and dancers. We shimmied our way to class and learned how to play and native music and dance a traditional dance usually performed at festivals. After a couple hours we made our way to some salsa dance lessons ( personally one of my favorite activities) where we learned how to bust a move at the next party we will go to.
While dinner was being prepared we preoccupied ourselves with a sweltering intense game of Banana Grams. Mid word the whole gang stopped because the enticing aroma of tomato soup and grilled cheese filled the wafting air. Thinking that nothing could top that amazing meal dessert comes out – ice cream. Filled to the brim with food we settled ourselves and went over our trekking pack list in order to prepare ourselves for our morning commute to our second hike of the trip. Just before we could go off to bed we ended the night with a SPLIT second of Banana Grams:)
This lovely morning we ate a breakfast of corn flakes and sandwiches and it was very delicious. We were able to sleep in slightly later then the days before, waking up at 8. At 9:00, our driver, Don Roberto drove us to the school where we finished painting our mural for the children at the school as well as cleaning and organizing the classrooms. After hard work at the school, we came back home for our final lunch at home based. We had cream of spinach soup which was delicious and one of our favorite soups of the trip. We also had spaghetti with cream of mushroom. After lunch and a bit of rest, we went and finished construction at the school. During construction, we hauled dirt and stones into bags and finished around the fence. It was very satisfying to see all of the hard work we had put into the construction site these last 3 weeks. Then we came back for dinner and we had kebabs of chicken and sausage with multiple different sauces along with sweet potato and white potatoes. After dinner we did a group activity and then went to bed.