Thanks for the checking out the blog for this Global Leadership Adventures program!
This blog is for the Peru split session starting July 1, 2023, which includes both the 14-day and the 21-day student groups.
Here are a few things you can expect:
- We typically receive 2-3 blog posts per week here at GLA Headquarters from our program staff and students, so please don’t be alarmed if you don’t see a blog post daily – that’s totally normal.
- Blog updates sent on weekends may not be posted until Monday.
- Due to many factors, including but not limited to internet accessibility, photos may not always be available to post onto the blog. Sometimes onsite program staff are only able to send text back to Headquarters, where our team updates the blog.
Thank you for your patience and understanding, and we hope you enjoy following along on these unforgettable adventures.
Cell Phone Policy: The GLA cell phone policy is currently in place this summer to help foster meaningful connections between students. This means your student’s phone will be collected every day and returned to them after activities are completed to have with them through the night. Actual tech times and regularity will vary greatly by program location and time zones. During designated ‘tech time’, your student may use their phones as they wish. Please note that your student may not always choose to use this time to get a hold of their parents. If you are not hearing directly from your student each day, you can assume that no news is good news! We strongly recommend you follow the blog to follow your students’ experience without talking to them every day. If you are a parent and would like to get in touch with your student directly, you can call us at +1-619-758-3031 and we can set up a formal time for you to connect with your student.
For frequently asked questions about the blogs, please visit our Program Blog FAQ page.
-The Global Leadership Adventures HQ Team
BLOG POST FOR JULY 1
After the group traveled all night to get here we were so excited that most of our group arrived this morning safe and sound. Soon after arrival, we made our way back to our charming home base in the historic district of Cusco. Once we got to home base, we found our rooms, unpacked, and hung out with the group on this beautiful sunny day. After getting situated, we ate an energizing lunch after some long travels and got to know each other even more.
Once lunch ended, we were able to do some introduction games and made some beautiful portraits with a mix of the features of everyone in our group. Then, our wonderful mentors introduced a comical game where we learned about each other through acting. Soon after, we sat down a bit for orientation followed by a delicious dinner which was accompanied by a cup of tea (they do say Coca tea helps with the altitude). Now that dinner is over, we’re ready to turn in early to recharge for the exciting days to come!
– Adela Traeger (International Director)
BLOG POST FOR JULY 2
Written by Tev
Today we left the hotel in the morning to see a military parade in the city center. We then did a walking tour around the city. Some of the students bought local merchandise from the vendors at the market. Students bought ice cream, fresh orange juice, jewelry and alpaca clothing. We headed back to home base and we ate a traditional Peruvian lunch. With our free time we did an activity and debated if a dirt road should be built on indigenous land.
In the afternoon, we took a bus and hiked for a little while to see beautiful landscapes and we saw traditional rituals performed by natives in the mountains. We then went back to home base and ate dinner. Towards the end of the day, we got our mentor groups and we played jeopardy as a group.
BLOG POST FOR JULY 3
Written by Cece
Today we all had to for breakfast at 7am. Then we left for the reality tour in preparation for our medical volunteer service tomorrow. We visited towns along the whole outing, places in the Sacred Valley along with see the outside of a rural school and glancing inside a rural medical clinic. We later ate lunch at a lookout and got to try a delicious fruit called granadilla.
After lunch, we got to visit a zoo with alpacas, llamas, condors, and a variety of other animals. We also got to hear the animal’s stories and how they got to the zoo/sanctuary. We then drove back to home base and met the new students who arrived today. We watched a presentation about what we were going to be doing tomorrow and then also got to go to a local store to get snacks. Afterward, we ate dinner and then had a presentation about appropriate photography.
BLOG POST FOR JULY 4
Written by Isabel
We started our day today with breakfast at 7 am, and then left for our first day in the clinic. When we got there, we helped set up all of the stations, which included education, toothbrushing, triage, dental, general medicine, and pharmacy. Our well organized system allowed us to see and help 70 people! We all participated in two stations, helping doctors attend to patients. Some were very hands on, including dental where we got to help the doctor with suction. When we got back from clinic, we had a July 4th themed reverse talent show which was really fun! It was such a valuable experience to be able to make a big impact in this community, and we’re so excited to do it again tomorrow!
BLOG POST FOR JULY 5
Written by Nate
Today, we continued our service days with the MEDLIFE traveling clinic. We set up shop at a local schoolhouse, and got to work, seeing patients of all shapes and sizes. We met a friendly dog whose name roughly translates from the Quechua phrase for “Little bear,” as well as interacted with a family of 5 children. Later that night, we (eventually) made it home to the hotel, where we learned dances from all three major regions of Peru; ranging from those that imitate the mountain harvest, to the explosive, flamboyant dances of the Peruvian coast. All in all, we had another eventful day in the sunny nation of Peru, and we all look forward to where our adventure takes us next!
BLOG POST FOR JULY 6
Written by Elizabeth
Hola! Today we had breakfast at 7:00 a.m before heading to our last day of clinic. At the clinic we had the most patients of any other day! It was very busy, but everyone got lots of experience with clinic work and speaking Spanish. During clinic everyone ate their lunch sandwiches quickly to get back to the patients.
After clinic, when we returned to the hotel, we had a music workshop. During this we learned about Peruvian instruments such as a harp that you hold on your shoulder. We learned a song to play on the Pan Flute that we played as a group. At the end of the workshop everyone got to try any instrument they wanted. Later we had a great dinner before heading out for our night time activity. We walked around two plazas while taking pictures. Before heading back to the hotel for the night some people got food such as Peruvian fried doughnuts (picarones).
Having a great time!
BLOG POST FOR JULY 7
Written by Agam
Today we started our day with breakfast at 7:30 am, and then left home base to go to our cooking class at 8:30. We cooked 3 different meals including a beef stir fry (lomo saltado), chicken with cheese and bread (aji de gallina), and a mushroom stir fry. We all had so much fun with the chef! Then we headed back to home base for a break, and then we were off to our tour of the Qoricancha museum. We learned all about Cusco’s history, and the religious symbols and aspects.
Then we moved in to our afternoon activity, where we split up into two groups and tried out coffee shops in Cusco. We got affogatos, cookies, lattes, and discovered new peruvian coffee spots! Then we went to dinner at 6:30 pm and head to our rooms for early lights out and packing for our departure tomorrow for Machu Picchu!
BLOG POST FOR JULY 8
Written by Lily
After eating a hearty breakfast to give us the energy for our exciting day we set off for our first stop. With beautiful weather and great company we made it to Maras. Learning about the salt mines and getting to take in the beautiful views was a great way to begin our day of adventure! We got to learn about the history of Maras, buy different kinds of salt as well as some tasty chocolate from the markets. Back on the bus we headed over to Andean Colors for some delicious lunch of soup, lomo saltado, and Cuy!
After a delicious meal we got the opportunity to feed the alpacas while taking some cute pictures and learn about the process of making Alpaca textiles. We got an immersive experience in the development of those beautiful sweaters and blankets we see in the markets lining downtown Cusco. We ended our time at Andean Colors by browsing the stores and buying some memorable souvenirs to bring home!
Dinner at Mijunapas had a change of plans when there was a time constraint and we ended up having to box up our food and take it to go. Even though our initial meal was a little rushed, we got to enjoy some amazing food while experiencing the breathtaking mountains on the train from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes. After arrival, we walked to our hotel for the night and got prepared for our big day tomorrow at Machu Picchu!
BLOG POST FOR JULY 9
Written by Ruby T.
After a nutritious (and certainly early) hotel breakfast, we set off for the bus station to take us to the stunning and historic Machu Picchu! On the scenic bus ride up the mountain, we couldn’t help but marvel at the sights of one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
After hiking part of the original Inca trail (which required some scrambling and inhaler puffs), we finally arrived at the breathtaking Machu Picchu. We saw this as a wonderful opportunity to take some photos and soak in each moment before heading down the mountain, closer to the ruins. Our wonderful tour guides, Matteo and Delia, were sure to inform us of the rich history behind the ancient citadel. Meaning “old peak” in Quechua, Machu Picchu is believed to be constructed in the early 1400s as a palace for Emperor Pachacuti, sitting majestically at the meeting point between the Peruvian Andes and the Amazon Basin.
Craving a taste of home, we enjoyed a nutritious lunch of burgers and pizza. Yes, it was as glorious as it sounds through your screen. After walking around the bustling city of Ollantaytambo and picking up souvenirs at some authentic artisanal markets, we enjoyed some ice cream and prepared for a LONG journey back to home base, which clocked in at a whopping three and a half hours. You heard that right – we were wiped.
Unable to keep our eyes open at dinner, we tucked in early and are so excited for more adventures tomorrow!
P.S. Find the hidden Viscacha (squirrel-like and rabbit-like and chinchilla-like animal) in a photo below! -Adela
BLOG POST FOR JULY 10
Written by Bella
After our wonderful trip to Machu Picchu yesterday, we thankfully had a late breakfast at 9 am this morning! However, one of our mentors, Jesse invited anyone who wanted to come for a 8 am Starbucks run. After getting our coffee we headed to a local bakery called “Dumbos” and found some delicious croissants. The Starbucks group hurried back to catch up with everyone else during breakfast. After breakfast we had a group game called “Queen Bee.” The game was fun and lead into the leadership activity of discussing the effects of assumptions. We had about an hour after this discussion before heading off to the MedLife roundtable event, so some of the group decided to go to the local grocery store while others stayed at home base for some free time.
Around 12:30 we hopped on the bus and trekked about an hour and thirty minutes outside of Cusco accompanied by the Medlife staff. We had the opportunity to meet past patients from Medlife clinics who the organization has continued to support and follow up with throughout the years. The patients were gracious enough to invite us into their private homes and shared their personal stories. This experience was a beautiful way we as students were able to connect on a deeper level with the community and really understand the challenges some of the local people face. We, along with the Medlife staff, brought the patients household items to show support and to continue to make a profound impact on the patients’ lives.
After the roundtable we headed back to our hotel in Cusco for a quick briefing on the exciting adventures of rafting, zip lining, and hiking Rainbow Mountian. These activities begin tomorrow so we were given a chance to meet one of the guides and understand what the adventures will entail. We had about thirty minutes of free time before a 6:30 dinner.
After our yummy meal prepared by our great chef, Jorge, we headed into the local plaza for a group activity to close out the day. During this activity we were assigned random partners and were given three sets of about 12 questions to ask over 45 minutes. We had 15 minutes per set of questions, but not one group made it through every question because, as we talked, side questions would be asked and a deeper connection was formed as we got to know our fellow students on a new level.
After this activity, we headed back to home base and got to walk through a local high school performace which consisted of beautiful costumes, music, and fun! Before heading to bed we stopped at the corner Peruvian donut shop (picarones) for a night time snack. Everyone is excited about our adventures tomorrow so once back at home based we quickly got packed and headed for bed!
BLOG POST FOR JULY 11
Written by Sophia
Today we had breakfast at 7:30, then hopped on a bus to our next homebase, where we will stay overnight. Upon arriving to our beautiful lodge overlooking the Vilcanota river, we got our rafting gear on and drove to the area where we’d begin whitewater rafting! Our teamwork was put to the test as we navigated the rapids, while admiring the gorgeous views of the mountains along the way! Countless splash fights, paddle highfives, and races resulted in many happy (and not so dry) faces! We returned to a delicious meal of soup and chicken with a dessert of chocolate pudding, which definitely hit the spot after rafting! Then, we ziplined across the river, which was thrilling! A few hours later, we made s’mores over a bonfire beneath all the stars. Matteo (local director) had his very first s’more! It was a relaxing end of the day before our early wakeup for Rainbow Mountain tomorrow morning!
BLOG POST FOR JULY 12
After a very early wake up this morning (4:00 AM), and a necessary breakfast of french toast, hot chocolate, and of course coffee, we started our journey to the marvel that some call Rainbow Mountain and others call Vinicunca. The bus ride, from the River Lodge where we stayed the night, was about an hour and a half. We then started the strenuous but exhilarating hike up to the mountain. It started out flat, but as we got closer the incline increased…a lot. The combination of the uphill hike and the very high altitude made the arrival of every person in our group so rewarding and impressive. For most of us (if not all), this was the highest altitude we have ever experienced in our lives, about 5,000 meters or 16,400 feet, and we were rewarded with the most incredible views of rainbow mountain, colored by different minerals in the dirt, and to the other side a close up view of Ausangate, a glacial mountain that we can see every day from Cusco city (4 hours away!).
After many amazing pictures (accompanied by fluffy dogs and photogenic alpacas) and a meaningful conversation about the mountain and culture from our guide, Juan Carlos, we made our way back to the River Lodge for lunch. We soon ate a very filling lunch and got some rest, then we headed back on our 2 hour journey to home base. Upon arrival, the group was revived by some much needed rest and free time. We then had a wonderful dinner followed by a night activity lead by the mentors. This consisted of a HA HA game and a hilarious game of hide and seek. Soon after we headed to bed to dream about the many incredible mountains of Peru.
– Adela (International Director)
BLOG POST FOR JULY 13
Written by Jack & Maddie Oh
We began the day with a secret santa style game by each person drawing a random name. Afterwards, we spent a couple hours at the market with 10 soles to spend for our given person, and to buy any personal souvenirs as well. Once we finished shopping, we walked as a group through the city to some delicious cafes. In the cafes, we got food ranging from savory empanada pastries to delectable sweet cakes. Soon after, we went back to home base for a quick lunch, and took a bus to the beautiful countryside. The 14-day departures and 21-day departures were split into two groups, with the 14-day’s reflecting on their experience, and 21-day’s writing a new mission statement for the upcoming week. As soon as the group sessions wrapped up, we had a fun time at the top of Templo de la Luna exchanging our mystery gifts with each other. Following our exchange, we took a scenic walk back to home base and had dinner. Since this was a special last dinner for the 14-day departures, a tasty carrot cake was served around the table. As the day wraps up, our group pleasantly bonds together before members of our group leave tomorrow. 🙁
– Jack & Maddie Oh (AKA Mack)
BLOG POST FOR JULY 14
Written by Ruby and Elce
Today, we woke up bright and early to prepare for our last day of clinic! We said heartfelt goodbyes to the first batch of 14-day program students after breakfast. As somber as it may have been, we are so excited to see where their adventures with GLA takes them, and we know they will accomplish incredible things.
We set up our mobile clinic at a local school in Pisac, Cusco. Today was one of our busiest days yet – we provided care to over 80 patients and demonstrated proper tooth brushing/hand washing techniques to the local children. After an exciting soccer game (we were promptly demolished), we had some downtime before dinner. Some students ventured out to San Pedros market (the largest market in all of Cusco), while others relaxed at home base.
Unable to keep our eyes open at dinner, we tucked in early after a hilarious game of “Who’s Most Likely To.”
Stay tuned for more adventures tomorrow!
Elce and Ruby
BLOG POST FOR JULY 15
Written by Callie
Today we woke up for a delicious breakfast at 7am and left at 8am for our first day of the healthy homes project! We travelled with Medlife (thanks to Rodrigo and Mateo) an hour and half south of Cusco where we did some work on a family’s home.
We started by sanding the paint off the walls before we painted the bright new colours on the walls. We also cleaned the brick stove and refurbished the white strips between the bricks. We had lunch and continued to work until 2:30pm when we finally finished. It looked great and the family was very happy.
She showed gratitude by making us a special type of Peruvian popcorn and fresh cheese from the market. We said our thanks and travelled back to Cusco. With some free time to clean up for our wonderful Quechua guest speakers we had an educational presentation about ancient natural medicine Quechua people continue to use this day with a variety of many plants.
We all went out to Starbucks for a quick coffee break after the hard work from today and then had our delicious dinner at 7pm.
We ended our fun packed day with a scavenger hunt thanks to Jesse and Kasia. Lights out at 10pm for our next day of healthy homes!
BLOG POST FOR JULY 16
Written by Peter and Gabe
Today we had a bright 7am breakfast and shortly after we headed to community of Secsencalla and started on another home. We painted the interior and exterior of a lovely families kitchen. We then drove back to home base for some much needed rest, before heading to the Choca museum where we learned the process of how to make chocolate. After learning this process, we made our own chocolates, and left them to cool. We then returned back to home base and ate fried chicken and cilantro soup for dinner. After a delicious dinner, we picked up our chocolates and scouted around Cusco for live music and fun vibes to enjoy our last night with our beloved mentor Jesse.
– Peter and Gabe
BLOG POST FOR JULY 18
Written by Eunnie
Today, we rose before the sun at a healthy 4:00am. It was the beginning of the excursion we’ve been waiting for: the hike to Lake Humantay. The bus ride took around 3 hours, and we stopped for a light breakfast before we started the hike.
90% of the hike was undeniably uphill and there were slippery rocks along the way. To say it was tough is an absurd understatement. Thankfully, the elevation is much lower than Rainbow Mountain–if they were the same, we surely wouldn’t have made it.
When we arrived at the lake, it appeared as though we’ve hiked straight into a scene from a fairy tale. The photos barely do it justice, and words can hardly describe how magical it was, but I suppose I could try. The lake was an unreal blue, the color of mermaid tears and freshly cut diamonds. Ethereal glaciers towered over like they were guarding this sacred place from the outside world.
After we admired the stunning view and filled our camera rolls with photos, we went for lunch at the base of the mountain. We taste-tested several kinds of potatoes that are native to this region. The bus ride back took another 3 hours or so, and we rushed straight to dinner and a refreshing shower.
Overall, the experience was mesmerizing and surreal. Not many sights can compare to what we’ve witnessed today. It was completely worth all the effort, as it will be an unforgettable experience for the rest of our lives.
BLOG POST FOR JULY 19
Written by Matthieu
We woke up later than yesterday, but still relatively early, to have breakfast at 7am. Afterwards, we walked to a nearby café and ate some pastries! We then had a short break, and due to outside circumstances instead of going to the Healthy Homes clinic we went to the Pisac community, about an hour northeast from base camp, for a ceramics class. We first learned about the process of properly creating ceramics, which included getting the clay needed ready through burning then drying minerals, molding the clay into the desired shape, and painting the ceramic after it dried. After the instruction, we got to make our own necklaces, bracelets, and earrings!
For lunch, we got to drink muña tea and eat Huatia, an Andean tradition where during the potato harvest people create a temporary underground oven in the field to cook potatoes. After lunch (relatively late, at 2pm), and an informative class, we went to the instructing family’s shop, where they taught us about the significance of ceramics in Incan culture, through them being used as musical instruments and communication devices between inhabitants of different areas. We were also given time to buy what we wanted, and afterwards we got onto the bus and headed back to base camp.
After returning and a short break, we ate dinner, which included potatoes, onion tomato salad, and beef. After dinner, we had a nighttime activity where we were given a random partner and a list of questions to ask, and had to ask some questions on the list to each other within a given amount of time (half an hour for the entire activity). Afterwards, we retreated for the night. Today was very informative for all of us, and while we weren’t able to go to the Healthy Homes clinic today we’re excited to do so tomorrow.