Friday June 22, 2018
We’re so excited to have our 24 fantastic students here in Peru for the next two weeks! We’re very happy that everyone is here— shoutout to the students who were super delayed and still showed up with smiles on their faces— and getting settled in at home base. Today was mainly about orientation, and tomorrow we will start experiencing and exploring the culture of Peru!
Saturday June 23 and Sunday June 24
By Andrea Schenk, Abby Riegler, Kaitlyn Carson, Katie Hays, Landon Keams, Laurel Whidden and Madeleine Dufault
We have already started their adventures and learning experience here in Peru. A group of students will be keeping a blog of our trip and update with the activities and lessons that we have in Peru. We’re excited to share our adventures with you!
June 23 was our first full day in country, and it was certainly full of fun and educational experiences. First, we got to experience a Quechua ceremony with Yuri (our host here in the Sacred Valley). It was amazing. We learned about forgiveness, acceptance, love, thankfulness, hope, and so much more. Yuri shared part of a new culture with us that has allowed all of us to open up our minds to new possibilities. Yuri explained that the ceremony didn’t have anything to do with religion. During the ceremony, we each received three coca leaves. Each one of the leaves represented the past, present, and future. We all got a chance to speak and confide in each other. One thing I always say, “Knowing yourself is enlighten, but knowing others is wisdom,” – Kaitlyn Carson. It was a wonderful experience to learn about another type of culture other than our own.
After the ceremony, we had a quick service introduction from Dr. Francisco, ate lunch, and headed out to explore the nearby town of Pisaq. The Pisaq ruins are a sight to behold! Many of us thought it was so amazing that structures from ancient times are still standing for us to see today. The hike wasn’t long, but it was more difficult at 11,500 ft than at sea level! It was most definitely worth it to see such amazing structures built by such an amazing society of the past. We also got to see the tombs that these ancient people were buried in. The tombs are holes that were carved in the side of the mountain. Our tour guide told us that the tombs with the walls and structures in them were for the royalty of the Incas. Common people got a much smaller tomb and had to be placed in a position that takes up less space. Our tour guide also told us a story about how Peruvians started growing the grain quinoa. It is said that a man saw glowing girls playing in the mountains and he tried to get to them. One of the girls tripped and the man helped her and continued to follow. It is then believed that a condor (which represents the future) flew him to the Gods and the Gods gave him seeds of grain to start growing. It was super cool to learn about ancient Peruvian culture!
After the ruins, we visited the Llama farm. I think we can all agree that when we found out about visiting the alpaca farm, it was nothing but smiles in the busses! When we arrived in the farm just outside of Pisaq, we were all taught a lesson on the difference between llamas and alpacas. Alpacas are bigger and stronger than llamas, which makes them better pack animals. After our lesson, we were all given alfalfa to feed both the llamas and alpacas. We even learned that if you hold the food by your shoulder with your back to them, it makes for the perfect alpaca selfie. Overall, it was an amazing experience full of crazy selfies, lots of laughter, and a lot of saying, “Awe! Look at how cute that one is!”.
The next day, we headed out to the river for another day of adventure. We got the chance to zip line over the river before rafting. The unexpected experience will be remembered by the group. “I’m super stoked” -Bryce “Zip lining was super cool and a fun bonding experience(she gives two thumbs up)” -Jacqueline “I loved it and I was ecstatic” – Kaitlyn “I was a little terrified to put my hand on the fast moving zip line cord, but it was beautiful” -Anna “It was really beautiful flying over the mountains” -Caroline
After zip-lining, we embarked on a great adventure with many fun surprises. We went white water rafting! White water rafting really brought out my adrenaline and my smiles. As I always say, I had a perma-grin. I loved my rafting instructor as well. After every rafting accomplishment, we would tap our paddles together and yell “Wooo!” The trip itself was 11 kilometers long, but it felt shorter because obviously we were having way too much fun. The mountains that we passed really completed the ride. It felt almost as if I was in wonderland, embarking on a journey across the river, with the giant green mountains on either side of me. I had a great time!
Monday June 25 and Tuesday June 26, 2018
We started our service this week with medical training! On Monday morning after breakfast, GLA mentor, Caitlin, instructed a mini CPR class. Dr. Francisco brought five dummies to home base for us to practice on. We learned the four steps on CPR. The first is to check if the person is okay by pushing on their shoulders and yelling to see if they are awake. If there is no response, you must call for someone else to call 911. Then, you must check to find a pulse, tilt their head back and see if the person is breathing. If there is no pulse or breathing, you then begin to start CPR. We all now know how to properly do CPR. This is just one of the new medical techniques that we have learned in our trip to Peru.
We also learned how to take blood pressure using a cuff and a stethoscope. It was really interesting to learn how people with limited technology collect medical data. We learned how to tighten the cuff, read the numbers, and then use the stethoscope to listen to a “tick” that marks the numbers for the blood pressure. We had a nurse from the town of Pisaq come in and teach us how to work with these medical tools. We thought it was super interesting to work with a local, and have our GLA Director Ana translate, while we were training. It was a great introduction to how we are going to be serving in the clinics later on in our program.
After lunch on Monday, we were taught some Spanish to help us with our service work. Our GLA mentors and Dr. Francisco taught us phrases and words to help us be as successful as possible during the hemoglobin campaign. It was so cool to have the experience of learning medical Spanish! Not only did we learn medical terms we never heard of, we also learned about how to speak to a patient to make them feel welcomed and comfortable. The doctor that taught us these things was super easy to follow and understand. He also taught us the different parts of the body in Spanish, such as “pulmones” (lungs), “costillas” (ribs), and many more! We feel like now that we have learned these things, they will help me so much in the real life!
On Tuesday, half of us traveled to the Lamay clinic to be trained on how to take hemoglobin tests. We were trained by a local nurse and practiced on each other using the equipment. When doing the tests on each other, it was hard to get enough blood to come out for the test. However, when doing the tests on the nurse, a decent amount of blood came from the prick. It was cool to learn how different hemoglobin levels corresponded to anemia in different age groups. We also learned that there is a “correction factor” for the test, because people will have more red blood cells at this altitude than at sea level.
The other half of us travelled to Urubamba and had the chance to work with doctors studying in America. We all got to perform various tasks in order to be of service to these medical professionals. The rotations were helping to diagnose problems, taking vitals such as heart rate, blood pressure, and oxygen. Some of us had the opportunity to work with the pharmacist to help him hand out medication. Others were able to work with the pediatric unit and shadow the pediatrician and observe her help the kids. When asked “how has this experience changed you?”, Nick, who was one of the Americans we were able to work with, answered that his experience “helped [him] realize how much [he] liked to help other people and also the natural environment. We are one and we have a unity relying on one another”. Some of us are having the same realizations! This experience has been such an amazing experience. It has opened our eyes to what global health work is really like!
-by Esha Dasu, Andrea Schenk, Abby Riegler, Kaitlyn Carson, Katie Hays, Landon Keams, Laurel Whidden and Madeleine Dufault
Saturday June 30, 2018
We spent the morning in Cusco on Wednesday. The hospital in Cusco, Peru was so heartbreaking. They only have 3 doctors for night shift. Cusco’s hospital usually has about 20 patients that come in at night. You can only make an appointment if come to the hospital at 3am. You can’t call and make appointment like in America. They don’t get a lot people who have Yellow fever or Malaria. If they do it’s because people are coming from the jungle. Peru’s jungle makes up 1/3 of Peru. 2/3 of Peru is rural areas. Lima’s hospital receives more people with Yellow fever and Malaria. They don’t have an Epidemiologist. They have Oncologist, Enologist, Pediatrician, and etc. To get to another unit in the hospital most of the time you have to go outside. Their hospital is open-spaced. Overall, to be able to see Cusco’s hospital was a life changing experience.
We were so happy to have the chance to walk through the busy streets of Cuzco, Peru. This city was so beautiful in its own little way. It felt so bright and happy, as if no one ever had a care in the world. The entrepreneurs of Cuzco were definitely very good at their job. People from left and right would call out “solo uno sol!” and “handcrafted, original artwork!”. When you do actually want something though, they WILL try to scam you. That is why you need to be educated in the art of bargaining.
Without further ado, we present to you, how to bargain:
Step #1: Examine the quality of your item. Not everything is handcrafted, it may be mass produced, and easier for them to make a profit.
Step #2: Negotiate your price. After figuring out the quality, you may have a good idea of how much it cost to make the item.
Step #3: Listen to the price they’re willing to pay. (Trust me, it won’t stay that price forever).
Step #4: Lower their price by ten soles. You do not want to make them feel intimidated either, so you need to start slow.
Step #5: Stay strong, be stubborn and keep lowering. (Self-explanatory)
Step #6: Stick with your money-spending gut. When you feel like you have met your goal closest to your original price, then stick with it. Go with your gut.
YOU ARE DONE! If you follow these six special steps, then you will never have to worry about overspending again. Get as many souvenirs and you want. Go ahead, be the best tourist out there!
A long time ago when the earth’s plates were shifting, some of the oceans water was trapped between two mountains. This water trickles down a stream from the mountains down into shallow pools that are owned by local families. The water in the ocean is 15% salt, but this water is 25%. The sun dries out the water in the shallow pools and separates the salt into three types and layers.
The top layer is the most white and pure, the middle layer is for cooking and has a pink-ish coloring, and the bottom layer has the most nutritional value but looks the most unappetizing, so is the least used. Other than salt, they also sell delicious flavors of chocolate (which was a very great treat for all of us). The salt mines were also a very pretty view, especially as the sun set over them. We all enjoyed seeing the amazing view, eating some sweet chocolate, and learning about the salt mines!
Today we went to an archeological site. It was beautiful! From the site you could see snow covered mountains that looked incredibly steep. We learned how the different terraces were used to adapt plants from different elevations and temperatures. This archeological site allowed the Incas to control food surpluses and eventually gain power back in 1400. So far this is one of the most interesting archeological sites because we learned about how it was used, and how it influenced society.
Ever since the flight into Cusco, one thing has stood out for sure. The landscape of Peru is completely breathtaking. From the snowcapped mountains, to the rolling hills covered in small towns and farms, there is always a different amazing view around every corner. The photo opportunities never stop, and it’s nearly impossible to get tired of seeing them! At altitudes around 11,000ft, you could expect nothing less than amazing, but yet you receive something much more than you could dream of!
-by Andrea Schenk, Abby Riegler, Kaitlyn Carson, Katie Hays, Esha Dasu, Laurel Whidden and Madeleine Dufault
Well after a good night’s rest and some hot showers, it was finally time for Machu Picchu! We woke up early to get in line to catch a bus to go up, and then made our way up some winding roads. When we made it to the top, we all unloaded and made our way up some stairs to overlook Machu Picchu. At the top we all got to see the post card perfect view! After a lot of group pictures, we started our tour.
We learned all about how it was built during the Inca time period, in the 15th century, but no one really knows why it was built. We got to wander through the ruins learning all about how the Incas lived and a lot of their cultures. It was really an amazing once in a life time experience! The fact that there is something so planned out and precise in every structure, but no one knows why it’s there, is so amazing. The wait was definitely worth it and there is no way any of us will ever forget it!
-By Andrea Schenk, Abby Riegler, Kaitlyn Carson, Katie Hays, Esha Dasu, Laurel Whidden and Madeleine Dufault