Time Capsule Letter
Hola from the past, Amores!
As I am writing this, during our last few days at Villa Magica, you have all just officially made it home. We miss your spirit and presence here already.
As you are reading this, Pulkit is into his first semester of college, Lily into her first term of high school, and the rest of you are busy with the newness of the school year; band, football, cheerleading, soccer, AP’s, applying for college, etc.
Yuri, Jess, Lauren, and I hope that you have stayed empowered by our experience shared in Lamay, and that you have adjusted to home while keeping your passions and new perspectives alive and with you. We hope that you have been able to share many stories of your time and of the Sacred Valley of Peru with your friends and family.
We hope that through your “One Meaningful Goal” Instagram account and Google Classroom, you have been able to stay in touch, continue to Be The Change (backwards E), and inspire those around you to do the same.
If you haven’t been active on the Instagram account or Google Classroom
lately, we challenge you to reach out, post, or continue the conversation on someone else’s post. Remember your mission to inspire others to take action and promote meaningful change by sharing service experiences, “14-dayers”, and your mission to create a safe and supportive space for the group to share impactful experiences with one another to continue reflection and outlet throughout the year, “21-dayers”
And remember, like planting the quinoa seed, when you put the knowledge and experience you have gained into action, it can turn opportunity into incredible growth and impact…creating thousands of quinoa plants from just that one tiny seed.
“Quote Queen” Manon started our session with this one:
“You will never be completely at home again because part of your heart will always be elsewhere. That is the price you will pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place” -Unknown
…And as Yuri analogized with the colibri, the hummingbird, as you continue to travel, you not only take something good with you, but you leave something good behind. We keep your lasting impacts with us through memories like…
…Anan setting aside his initial dismay at placement with the toothbrush station and finding a way to make it positive, Clelia’s one-day transformation at the Pisac Market into the most improved bargainer known to this side of the Urubamba River, Lily rescuing our Bucket of Dreams, with literal blind faith in our group and Riley’s plan (little known fact that Drum majors make excellent charades players)…
…Abby’s insight into the group dynamic, and soulful wisdom, Norah’s calm and flexible approach to adversity, Condor James’s determination and authenticity (the only condor who Yuri would let hold baby Alaia), Will’s patience and relaxed demeanor even in the heat of hectic MEDLIFE days…
…Krissy facing her nerves head-on and completing the Lares Trek with grace and strength, Lae making it through the Lares Trek with the 21-day program with a smile and without a single complaint despite feeling sick, and meanwhile, Annika singing “Peanut Butter Jelly” time with Patricia on the 14-day trip to Mapi…
…Alexandra realizing the need for our group’s stronger Spanish foundation for MEDLFE Service and initiating our impromptu “crash course” and Pulkit calling us to challenge ourselves to learn more Quechua to better connect with our patients…
Remember when we tasted cuy? Shared stories around our celebratory bonfire before our groups split? Drank limitless cups of tea and talked on the couches? Found a way to relate the post-trek mini Harry Potter marathon to Leadership? Laughed about Jell-O (I still don’t get it), and “rain jackets for the rain”? Remember Simona, Michi, and Choo Choo?
During the week with MEDLIFE, you and those who supported your GLA trip helped to serve over 1,000 patients in the highlands of the Pisac region. Remember that all of these people and communities have just one health center with one doctor. Through “construction and deconstruction” during the Baño project, you supported the foundation of bathrooms for four families in the Lamay community.
We hope that this letter finds you all well and that it rekindles the camaraderie and passionate intentions that you share as a group. We ask you to take a few minutes today to sit with your memories, connect with your GLA family and, with this, to reflect on the past months and where you are currently headed. We miss you all, wish you so much love and courage, and hope that you are finding the pollito and tortuga balance in your life back home.
This blog is for the Peru split session starting July 15, 2019, which includes both the 14-day and the 21-day student groups.
Click here to jump down to the most recent posts!
Monday July 15, 2019
On Monday the 15th, we arrived at Lamay and settled in to our new home, La Villa Mágica. The rainbow ornaments and cultural beauty surrounding the Villa were quite welcoming. The next day, we had an orientation outside on the couches, as the Peruvian sun shone down on us. We participated in a cultural ceremony called Pago A La Tierra, which was led by Yuri. Pago A La Tierra is a gathering to show appreciation and thankfulness to the lives that the earth has given us. Towards the end of the ceremony, there was a warm fire, and hugs for all.
– James Surgenor, Will Sullivan, Abby Cooper
Wednesday July 17 through Friday July 19, 2019
On Wednesday morning, Yuri explained what poverty is and what stereotypes are associated with poverty. He also introduced the bathroom construction project we will be working on. During our discussion, we participated in activities to highlight the differences between US and Peruvian culture. After lunch, we went on a walk to a lookout over the town of Lamay and we even saw a rainbow! Most of us continued our hike to a Pastry shop in the town and enjoyed sweet treats. Finally, we ended the day with a debate about the construction of a road on part of the Lares trek, which the 21-day students will be hiking.
On Thursday, our group prepared for service by taking a reality tour of Cusco. We visited a local kindergarten and hospital where we learned more about the medical and educational culture of Cusco. Afterwards, we had a very relaxing lunch in a grassy field with the view of Cusco and the beautiful mountains. We ended our day by going to an animal rescue center where we saw and learned about the many animals native to Peru!
On Friday, we visited the city of Ollantaytambo, an ancient Incan war capital. We had hands -on experiences about medical wilderness training. First, we were educated on which patients to treat first and the priority of their injuries. Then, from a trained local Quechua woman who promotes first aid in her community, we learned how to treat a variety of issues including how to splint broken bones, make a stretcher, and use materials we had around us to our advantage when placed in an emergency situation.
– Written by Kristina Holmen, Riley Raddohl, Annika Engelbrecht, Clelia Juliet Megwa, Lily Huang, Manon Le Palmec, Alexandra Sobiech, Norah Catherine McCarthy, Laetitia Huyghues-Despointes
Sunday July 21, 2019
On Saturday, the students here for the 14-day program went whitewater rafting! With the sun on our backs, we navigated through chilly water on a two-hour rafting journey while enjoying the mountainous landscapes of the Urubamba River. After dinner back at home base, we talked about the individual values that hold the most meaning to us. With the instruction of Yuri, the 21-day program students helped with the Bathroom Project, as we dug a hole for the new septic system. Pick axes were swung, and showers were taken after becoming extremely dirty. Although we were tired, it was a successful day!
On Sunday, many of us went to the Pisac market, where we explored and bargained for ponchos, blankets, bracelets, and necklaces! We ate lunch at a cafe nearby called The Blue Llama and then went to a llama and alpaca farm. After dinner back at home base, we watched a TED Talk about single stories and stereotypes.
Thursday July 25, 2019
On Wednesday and Thursday, we served with MedLife. The weather was cloudy and cold but as always the group did not shy away from persevering. The tooth brushing station was especially busy on Wednesday, as all of the children from the local school arrived at the same time. After cleaning up at MedLife, the group was dropped off at the Pisac market, so that everyone had a chance to buy items and contribute to the local economy. After dinner, we had a group discussion about Voluntourism, and reflected on how we have impacted the local community so far, and the ways that GLA can better their approach at sustainable development.
As the night comes to a close, we are all going to bed with reflections about self-perspective and sustainable volunteering. On Thursday, we had our last day of service with MedLife. We returned to home base in the afternoon to pack for our adventures this weekend and have a final celebratory dinner and bonfire altogether. The 14-day students will continue to Macchu Pichu before flying home on Sunday, and the 21-day students will hike the Lares Trek before heading to Macchu Pichu, and then returning to homebase for the rest of their program.
-by James Surgenor and Abigail Cooper
Friday July 26, 2019
Today we said goodbye to the 21-day trippers as we embarked on our journey to Machu Picchu. First, we stopped and experienced an art workshop. We made ink prints, clay pieces, watercolor paintings, and a stop motion. Then, we took a train to the town of Aguas Calientes where we visited the natural springs and enjoyed a wonderful buffet!
Written by Clelia Megwa
Saturday July 27, 2019
As the culmination of our journey in Peru, we traveled to Machu Picchu and enjoyed the spectacular views of the mountains and Incan ruins! We then explored the small tourist town of Aguas Calientes, where we ate pizza for lunch and went shopping at the local markets. Lastly, we traveled four hours back to home base in Lamay and ate a hearty last dinner in Peru.
Today we had a late start, with a 9:00 breakfast. We went on a quick hike over the town of Lamay, and returned after an hour or so. We said goodbye to Villa Mágica at 12:30, leaving for Cusco. We had a hearty lunch, and passed the time until we left for the airport. Gracias Peru, it has been such a wonderful adventure!
Written by Pulkit Gupta and Anan Meraney
Tuesday July 30, 2019
On Friday, after saying goodbye to our 14-day session friends, we started the Lares trek with a scenic drive from Home Base to the town of Lares, where we took a quick stop to watch the town’s Independence Day parade.
When the parade ended, we continued our drive until we arrived at our lunch spot. After lunch, we began the scenic hike to our campsite. Shortly after arriving to the campsite that evening, we were treated to popcorn and hot chocolate before a delicious dinner. Following dinner, we bundled up in extra layers and went to bed very early.
We woke up early the next morning, and some of us witnessed the sun rise over the snow-capped peaks. While some of us weren’t feeling the best, we all powered through to reach the highest peak of the trek, then continued mostly downhill for a few hours through fields of llamas and alpacas. We completed the trek in time for lunch, all of us proud of the hard work we put into the hike. After lunch, we took a van to Ollantaytambo for dinner and to catch the train to Aguas Calientes.
Saturday evening, we checked into our hostel in Aguas Calientes and enjoyed hot showers before going to bed.
We woke up early Sunday morning eager to go to Machu Picchu, and were not disappointed by the spectacular views we experienced all morning. After spending a few hours at Machu Picchu, we went to a local restaurant for some delicious food before leaving to travel back to home base.
We spent yesterday serving with the bathroom project in the morning, walking into town in the afternoon, and resting after a full weekend with a movie night.
Last week on Tuesday morning, we finished the toilet project with Yuri. We made good progress on the septic tank, but we could not continue digging because the rocks that we dug out were too heavy to remove from the hole. Yuri even told us that the family would have to destroy the rocks with dynamite. In the afternoon, we took some down time to watch a movie together.
On Wednesday, we participated in a relay race in the morning. Then we practiced traditional Andean building techniques, as we constructed models with homemade adobe bricks. In the afternoon, Yuri taught us about Biodanza and Salsa dancing, and we had a dance party.
On Thursday morning, we took a two hour bus ride to a lodge that we would be staying at for the night. When we arrived at the lodge, we went zip lining over the river that was next to the lodge. Afterwards we changed into our swimsuits to go white water rafting! Rafting was so much fun, we got to experience class one, two, and three of the rapids. We also stopped along the riverbank to watch a Pachamama (the celebration of Mother Earth in the whole month of August) Pago a la Tierra ceremony.
Then we continued rafting and went cliff jumping off of a big rock (while wearing a life jacket and helmet). The water was so cold but very refreshing. When we finished rafting we came back to the lodge to eat lunch and had some free time. Before dinner, we had an interactive leadership activity where we learned about cultural differences.
On Friday, we had to be at breakfast at 4am to take a short but steep hike to Rainbow Mountain. The early wake up call was very much worth the vibrant colors of the mountain. After our wonderful experience, we left the lodge where we were staying to do a little more shopping at Pisaq. We spent around an hour getting some last minute gifts and then went back to La Villa Magica to rest.
After returning to home base from Rainbow Mountain, on Friday, we celebrated Lily’s birthday with delicious food and cake. Saturday morning, we met in the Maloca and did a capstone activity and a final meditation ceremony with Yuri. Before lunch, we built traditional Andean Watia and baked potatoes in them.
After lunch, we began packing our things. In the evening, we enjoyed a delicious farewell dinner and participated in an Appreciation Circle before going to bed. We are all excited to return home, but are sad to leave such a beautiful place and all of our new friends.
– by James Surgenor, Alexandra Sobeich, Manon La Palmec, Riley Raddohl, Kristina Holmen