Tuesday July 9, 2019
It’s the first day in Cusco and after several flight delays most students arrived safely! We can’t wait to welcome Lily and Patrick tomorrow morning and to have the whole group together. With some fun name games, a session on Peruvian culture, and a hearty lunch we have started to settle into our home-base rooms in our sunny Cusco garden!
Tomorrow will include program orientation, a schedule overview, and a walking tour of the local area, markets, and city plaza. Then later this week we will dive into service, working on our Healthy Homes projects and getting to know the Peruvian country side. We can’t wait for the fun, adventure, and learning to continue!
More blog posts from students coming soon!
Lauren Schloss, International Director
Friday July 12, 2019
The day after arrivals, we all began to know each other and became familiar with our new home base. Wednesday, we left home base for the first time and explored Cusco. We went to the San Pedro Market where we got to see many traditional foods and souvenirs.
Thursday, we went on a reality tour with Medlife which showed us the conditions that Peruvians experience on a daily basis. The tour was an eye-opening experience into the local lifestyle. On the tour, we got to see two local schools and got to interact and play with the children. We also visited an animal sanctuary where we were able to see vicuñas, llamas, alpacas, and condors. Later that night we got our mentor groups, smaller groups where we share and reflect on our experiences so far and how they relate globally.
Today, Friday, Medlife came to home base and gave us a tutorial and explanation on the work we will be doing during service. For lunch, we went to a restaurant, Fuego, where everyone had different options, including alpaca burgers! Later, we experienced a “Pago” ceremony where we got to experience a Peruvian ritual by the owner of our home base, Papa Yuri. Later on, we had a leadership activity where we did a mock debate about large pharmaceutical companies and their ethics.
Tomorrow, we will leave home base for the weekend to river raft and experience our first hiking adventure. S.O.S it will be a new experience hiking at such a high altitude on a steep mountain. We’re still excited though, don’t worry J.
Blog written by Emilie, Andrea, and Lacey
Monday July 15, 2019
We’ve had a pretty active past few days. Saturday, we traveled far from home base, a 2 hour drive, to Cusipata for our first overnight adventure. Our adventure began with white-water rafting down the Urubamba river. Down the river and through the class 3 rapids, the views were incredible, and the water was frigid.
But we survived long enough to hit the sauna right afterwards! After lunch was ziplining across the river and back to the lodge. To end the day, we went on a walk through the rural town to experience what life is like in Peru. After talks with local children, we walked back, stargazing and telling scary stories. Bedtime was set early at 8 pm but for good reason.
We arose at 3:00 am the next morning for a light breakfast before our departure at 4 am. For what you may ask? RAINBOW MOUNTAIN, of course!!!! We slept through the hour-long curvy drive through the Andes. The hike to Rainbow Mountain was around 6 miles total at an altitude of about 5,000 meters (16,500 feet). The majority of the hike had a slight incline, but the last half a mile was killer with the steep, strenuous climb to the summit.
At the top, we were freezing cold, but the views of Rainbow Mountain and the surrounding, snow-capped peaks were worth it. On the way back, we got to see that the 1 hour ride back was on a mountainside with lovely views (don’t worry, we survived it!). After the long ride home from our excursion, we had a low-key movie night with yummy Peruvian snacks from the local convince store. We watched a movie based in Peru–Emperor’s New Groove!
Today was our first day of service! We drove about 45 mins to Secsencalla to help the local community. Today’s focus was on painting walls, building corn dryers, and constructing fruit baskets as a part of MEDLIFE’s Healthy Homes project. The mother of the family we helped, Loudres, was very grateful and prepared us some traditional Peruvian snacks including potatoes, fresh cheese, corn, and a spicy pesto sauce.
We came back after an exhausting day to showers and card games and are getting ready for dinner. After dinner tonight, we will reflect on the past few days with our mentor groups. And all are exciting for tomorrow’s surprise. Stay tuned to the next blog to find out what the surprise is!
Sending our love home,
Adyson, Carly, and Kendall <3
Friday July 19, 2019
This week we concluded the service portion of the program, having given our volunteered hard work to four houses in the valley village of Secsencala. Having sanded, painted, oiled, or re-fenced untold numbers of fruit crates, square feet of wall, or corn dryers, we have reached the intermission between our healthy homes project and our participation in MEDLIFEs mobile clinics. During this aforementioned intermission we will trek for two days, as well as travel by van and train, to the mythical, controversial, and beautiful ruins of Machu Pichu.
Also this week we were treated to a chocolate cooking class at Cuscos chocó museo, and a music and ceramics class. As per always however, the greatest rewards that have come of our hard work over the past five days are the smiles on the faces of the families that we have assisted, and knowing that despite the relative insignificant scale of our service, it will have potential positive effects on the people assisted that will qualify themselves on a plane of significance far superior to the initial work that we dedicated our week to, and will continue to do so come the conclusion of the weekend.
Hoping that all is well,
-by Jackson Howes
Tuesday July 23, 2019
Yesterday we concluded our two-day Lares trek through the Andes Mountains, where we overcame both physical and mental challenges. On Saturday we started the twelve-mile hike bright and early from the town of Lares to the town of Patacancha. In Patacancha, we boarded a bus and traveled to Ollantaytambo. The hike was challenging but pushed us out of our comfort zone and allowed us to view this country in its natural beauty. Our first night on the top of the mountain brought cold temperatures and an experience that will stay with us forever.
Early the next morning we finished our trek through meadows teeming with alpacas and learned about the advantages and disadvantages of living on top of a fourteen thousand foot mountain. Later we arrived at a hostel in the thriving town of Aguas Calientes. Here most of us took advantage of the warm shower and internet connection, resting after our energy-consuming adventure.
Another early morning rolled around and our group traveled via bus to the entrance of Machu Picchu! The Incan ruins were breathtaking. Being able to walk among a part of history that has stood tall for over five hundred years is humbling and learning about the civilizations that have influenced the entire world is amazing. To wrap up the weekend, the group took a four-hour train ride and thirty-minute bus ride back to home base. All of us crashed after the full weekend and refueled for the upcoming week of service.
Today we experienced our first day of clinics. After adapting to the cold weather and setting up all our stations, we learned about the issues that face the communities on the mountain and felt humbled after connecting with the people of San Salvador.
Now we look forward to soaking up as much information and experiences in Peru as we can for our last week!
Wishes from Peru,
Anastasia and Andrea
Yesterday we concluded our last week of service in partnership with MedLife. Working side by side with the Peruvian doctors was a thrilling experience. The seven different stations: OB/GYN, pharmacy, triage, the two doctors, toothbrushing, hygiene, and dentistry, gave us the opportunity to get involved in various sectors of the health industry and grasp the gravity of the poor health conditions in rural Peruvian communities, such as San Salvador.
Today, we were able to explore the Sacsayhuaman Incan ruins, which were breathtakingly beautiful and had steep rocks that were extremely fun to slide down! We then shopped around the Pisac market for jewelry, clothing, and last-minute souvenirs. After lunch at a local restaurant called Blue Llama, we visited an alpaca farm and some of us even got spit on by our new friends!
Sadly, tomorrow we will pack all our stuff to head home and finish the night with dinner and a show in the city. We can’t wait to see our families but will be sad to leave our friends and the beautiful city of Cusco.
Best wishes from Peru,
Tessa, Kate, and Stephanie