Thursday June 21, 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 the last of our new team members have arrived and are settling into their new home here in Peru. 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. 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, Brooke 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 local staff: Patti, our lovely house manager, Rolando the housekeeper, and Yensor our fantastic 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
Friday June 22, 2018
Hola GLA Families!
Our first day on program has been jam-packed with food, fun, and excitement.
We began our day sipping fresh-squeezed juice and establishing community norms for our program. Together, we drafted an “Alpaca Pact” that emphasizes respect, inclusivity, open-mindedness, and support. Upon completing our group contract, we each received handmade bracelets to wear as a reminder of our shared values.
After, we set out for the cancha, or football field, to do some team-building activities. Together, we cracked Mentor Melanie’s jump rope code, created a group machine, and learned more about what we share in common!
After some time in the sun, we stopped by the neighborhood tiendas and panaderias for a mid-morning snack before returning to home base for some downtime before lunch.
Lunch was delicious and messy, with soup, barbeque chicken and vegetable rellenos for the vegetarians. Chef Jensor has truly put his heart and soul into each of our meals, and so, we’ve had a lot of happy bellies!
After lunch we hopped into our program vans to visit our service site and meet Mario, our Local Director. Mario and his wife, Rosa, created a school in 2005, in the local of Patrón San Sebastian, an area that previously had no access to public schools.
We learned that our service will involve teaching the children (ages 3-5) English, art and sports. Additionally, we will be contributing to the construction of a new school, under the supervision of a local engineer, Don Ignacio. This future school will enable students from the surrounding area to continue their studies through primary and secondary school.
The sun is setting now, and it is time to turn inwards for food nourishment and small breakout groups. We plan to take it easy tonight in preparation of a big day tomorrow—visiting Cusco’s city center, the San Pedro Market and the Sacsayhuamán ruins.
Saturday June 23, 2018
Today the leaders of the day were Fedora, Ella and Sara. After we woke up we went down for breakfast, which was banana pancakes. They were very good and everyone loved them. After breakfast we all went to the Inca ruins and learned the history and there were alpacas there that posed for some really amazing pictures. After that we went to a market and everyone got alpaca sweaters and other things made with alpaca materials. Once we finished our purchases we went to lunch at a restaurant in the city and it was a buffet. The buffet was very good and many people tried alpaca. Once lunch was over we went to another market but this one was smaller. Many people got things like bracelets and hats. Our finial stop was the sun temple which we admired from the outside and learned about its history. Then we went home and had dinner. For dinner we have chicken with quinoa it was delicious and went to bed.
-Fedora, Ella, Sara
Sunday June 24, 2018
Today had an amazing breakfast of assorted fruit. I especially liked the apples and bananas. We also traveled to a local salt mine outside of Cuzco called Maras. The salt mine consisted of 4,000 salt pools. Each pool has a clay base, following several layers of pink, white, and brown salt. After we left Maras, we traveled to Moray, an ancient Inca agricultural cite. They would experiment with different environment to discover which crop grew the best under the conditions. I was fascinated to see how the Incas were able to build such a complex structure without modern technology and how Moray acted as an Inca greenhouse.
For lunch we drove to a restaurant not too far from Moray! We (the students) got to choose either creamed potato soup or creamed corn soup to start, and then either steak, trout, or veggie curry as our main dish! Dessert was either homemade ice cream, apple pie, or a quinoa flan. Everyone left lunch with smiles on their faces and full stomachs!
From lunch we went to a weaving co-op, where we met Marleny who showed us her feature in a 2002 edition of National Geographic! Marleny showed us every step of the process of weaving, starting with the dirty alpaca wool. She took two roots and rubbed them together in hot water, creating a natural soap. She washed small pieces of the alpaca fur until it was completely white! Then we were able to see all of the different materials used to dye the wool! From a specific insect carcass to different plants found all over peru, we got to see how the wool becomes red, blue, purple, black, and pretty much any other color as well. After shopping around the co-op a bit and taking many pictures of the alpacas, we all drove back to home base. We were able to rest and hang out a bit after our long day!
For dinner Yensor prepared us chicken, rice, veggies and potatoes, and for the vegetarians there were soy meatballs in placement of the chicken. Everyone ate a delicious apple dessert!
-Nicky, Lena, Austin
Monday June 25, 2018
Today was our first day of service! We started our morning a little bit earlier and we were out and walking to the school by 8:30. Everyone split into our age groups: three, four, and five year olds. With the three year olds we had a hard time considering their short attention spans. One boy in the class was super shy and didn’t want to talk to anybody and hid from us until we got to go outside for recess and Ethan Fink actually got to interact with him. With the four year olds we drew self portraits, taught them head shoulders knees and toes, and got tackled on the play ground.
They were a joy to teach because they were all so excited to learn and we only had a few criers. In the five year old class, they were all super excited to see us and as soon as they saw us they ran out of the class hugging us and yelling, “ Amigo! Amigo!” Then, we played a fun game where the kids ran around the classroom to different people that were holding papers with colors written in English.
Then, we had a quick lunch and then we were off to construction service! We took busses there and immediately started work on moving a huge pile of dirt, constructing a bathroom, and digging trenches with pickaxes. The work we did was difficult, but with the help of all our friends and singing throwback songs, we were able to accomplish a lot of what we needed. At the end of construction, we were all exhausted but fulfilled with all we were able to do.
We got home after a long day of service and hung out and rested until dinner. After dinner, we had a group discussion and everyone went to bed and fell asleep after a long day of service!
-Anna, Avery and Nina
Tuesday June 26, 2018
This morning we woke up at 7:30 to a very delicious chocolate oatmeal and toast with a side of optional toast. It’s day 6 and day 2 of classroom service. The 30 minute walk to the school felt easier today, and dyed a day of experience with the kids, our lesson plans fell into place easier than yesterday’s. In addition to working with the kids inside the classroom, several groups worked in the garden.
After walking to home base for a lunch of chicken, vegetables, and mashed potatoes, we headed back to the school for dance lessons via bus. Everyone really enjoyed both the music lessons, as well as the dance lessons. We learned both salsa and a traditional Incan dance, in addition to several wind and percussion instruments. We returned to home base afterwards while in high spirits and dripping sweat.
Back at home base, we enjoyed a delicious noodle dish and a dessert of flan. Following dinner, we had a bit of free time before heading out to cafes for wifi night. We enjoyed some treats and getting the opportunity to reconnect with our loved ones. After another full day, we all were ready for bed.
-Hank, Sarah C, Mika
Monday July 2, 2018
We began our day with a delicious breakfast consisting of quinoa soup, toast with jam, and cereal. After breakfast we walked to the school where we complete our classroom service. At the school we were greeted with hugs and cheers. My students could not wait to hear about our experiences over the past few days. Though in my classroom they were even more excited to cut out and color in the animal stencils that my group prepared.
In addition to teaching English and art to our students, we also got to help work on the school garden. Outside, we had a blast painting fences and listening to music. After our classroom service was over, it was time for lunch. We walked back to home base where yummy soup, chicken and rice was waiting for us to devour.
The next part of our day was construction. We rested after lunch and then drove over to the construction site to continue to help build a new school. Me and my group took turns pickaxing to make a hole for a supporting column to fit in. It was hard work but we all cheered each other on and were willing to takeover whenever one of us got tired.
After our construction service we headed back to Home base for another delicious meal. Dinner was chicken and rice in an amazing green sauce. For dessert we had my favorite food of the trip so far, a wonderful orange cake. It tasted like delicious cornbread. Many students went back for seconds. (I know I went back for thirds!) After dinner we rested for a bit and then prepared lessons for classroom service the next day.
Next we met in our mentor groups to talk about our values. Following our discussions we played card games and had interesting conversations. Then it was time to get ready for bed so we could be well rested for the next day of fun!
Tuesday July 3, 2018
Today, luckily, less people were feeling more energized and more were able to participate in activities. Also, some of those who were feeling ill rallied to service. This morning we worked in the school again with the children. At the school we taught the three, four, and five year olds English, did art with them, and played sports with them. We also helped Mario with painting the fence as well as painting the wall where we will be doing the mural at the school. After the school we walked back to home base and had lunch and watched the World Cup for a little.
In the afternoon we drove over to the field by the school we work at to play a pick up soccer game with Mario, the principal of the school and some local kids, which were really good. We split up into groups and all played a bunch of games. Its really amazing to get to play soccer right within the mountains of Cuzco in a culture where soccer is so important. It was really fun and at the end, a Peruvian women’s club asked to play against some of our girls. Sadly we lost 3-1 but they had 8 players while we only had 6 girls playing.
After soccer we came back to home base and went to the tiendas for movie night snacks. After that we had dinner and then we watch the emperors new grove which was a great and funny movie!
Wednesday July 4, 2018
Today we started our day nice and early with a 7:00 breakfast. We had toast, cereal, and a delicious smoothie made of strawberries, banana, papaya, and more. By 7:30 we were on the road. After a relaxing two hour ride, we arrived at the Urubamba river to go white water rafting. Since it’s winter here and fairly chilly, we bundled up in a wetsuit, windbreaker, booties, and helmet. We drove another ten minutes and then, in groups of 4-6, began our adventure rafting. At the beginning the water was fairly calm, so we practiced the different commands: all forward, all back, right back, etc. After a few minutes, we hit some fairly tense rapids, which we faced on and off for about an hour. Luckily, in my boat, no one fell out. It took a lot of hard work paddling, and we got stuck on a few different rocks, but eventually we made it to the end.
After our tiring, but amazing time white water rafting, we relaxed in a sauna and changed back into our dry clothes. We then had lunch, which was served at the rafting facility. We had soup, a giant chicken leg, rice, beets and potatoes. After finishing this great meal we moved outside, where we suited up in preparation for zip lining. We had to climb a very high ladder, but it was worth it. Zip lining across the river was awesome and so many people conquered their fear of heights by doing it. We then left the rafting facility and headed back to home base.
At home base we got some time to rest after our exhausting day. Many people napped, some read, and others, including myself, went to the nearby field for a game of soccer. Everyone else met us at the field about an hour later for two different games that worked our communication and problem solving skills. Of course they were still very fun though. Finally we headed back home for our dinner of chicken with vegetables, rice, potatoes, and carrot cake (actually my favorite food of the trip) for dessert. We wrapped up the night in our mentor groups, discussing similarities and differences between our home and Peru. It was interesting to see how there’s a ton of parallels, but also so many things that are completely different. All in all, today was an amazing day. Oh and of course an amazing Fourth of July!
Saturday we all woke up at 3:30am to get get on the bus at 4:00 to drive to the beginning of our Soqma trek. A long two hour drive, eating our breakfast sandwiches and sleeping on the bus. The beginning of our trek was cold and gradual. We ended up climbing steep steps to a 60m waterfall.
After, we followed the steep path to a Incan lookout post. After wandering around this ruin site we continued to the camp site where we would stay the night. Once we got there we at lunch and rested from the long day. We individually reflected on the mountain side and contemplated our journey. After hanging out and eating dinner we rolled up in our sleeping bags and concluded our day.
-by Avery, Austin, and Ishaan