We all arrived safely to homebase. This is us in the stairwell on the way to our first mentor meetings (minus Lee and Francesco, who were tired from travel and fell sound asleep after dinner!).
Today after arriving and orientation we spent the afternoon having lunch together, taking a walk around the neighborhood, playing name games and getting to know each other, and then planning for tomorrow. We get up at 5:45 and will go to a mountain village and spend the day with local families, getting to know them and learning about life in rural Peru. Can’t wait!
Today we woke up our peers at 5:45AM to some rockin tunes. We then made our way to breakfast and scarfed down the Peruvian specialty: omelets. Next, we loaded up the vans and traveled to the small village of Patabamba. Once there, we divided into groups and completes chores for local families such as shucking corn, sorting lima beans, cutting grass and more. The families kindly prepared us quinoa soup, salted cheese and potatoes. Sumaq mijuna (Quechua for tasty food)!!
After that, we played soccer with a few of the local kids. It was a blast! Around 5pm, we returned back to home base and organized a fun “speed dating” exercise to get to know our peers better. Finally we had dinner and mentor meetings which sparked many debates and discussions.
Goodnight from the “Leaders of the Day”: Lily, Sabine, Abby and Lauren!
We were so excited to start our first week of service today! We arrived to the town of Chocco at 7:30, and after a hectic game of tag, started working at 8. The previous groups before us had already created the base of the greenhouse, so our job was to continue building up the walls. During today’s service, we pick-axed dirt, sifted it, made ‘barro’ (a mud mixture made with our feet), and sculpted/moved adobe bricks. Halfway through the morning, we took a break to play games with the school children as well as a group game of Frisbee! After a long, fulfilling morning of work, we returned to the hotel, only to leave a little bit later to walk around Cusco in search of pharmacies and a supermarket. While exploring, we went into an arcade, and played intense games of basketball and air hockey.
Throughout the afternoon, we were a part of three presentations. First, we learned all about what we should bring on the hike to Machu Picchu, which begins Wednesday, and talked about what we would experience on the hike with Richard, our guide. Later, we watched an eye-opening presentation about the socio-economic realities of Peru. The main thing we took away from that presentation was that the traditions and culture of the Cusco community are beautiful, but while appreciating that, we should not forget about the poverty here. As the day closed, we watched a TED Talk about how no culture, place, or person has a single story.
Adios y buenas noches from today’s group leaders: Hannah Steele, Joel Cruz, Grace Buono, and Isaac Hoehn.
Today we went to the city of Cusco and explored local markets, went on a scavenger hunt, and got a chance to experience the culture first hand. While in the city we went into a market and purchased different foods, clothing, jewelry, touristy items etc. Then we were sent on a photo scavenger hunt with a list of items to take pictures of including: a 12 sided stone, Japanese tourists, an alpaca, a sign with the local dialect (Quechua), and dancing in front of a ‘discoteca’ and more. Next in preparation for our trek, which is tomorrow, we went to a market called ‘El Molino’ to buy any last minute items necessary for our hike. Today was a well needed chance to prepare and rest before leaving for our trek tomorrow.
Blog written by the leaders of the day: Bella, Hannah, Erin and Francesco
July 15-17, 2015
These past three days have been equally challenging and magnificent. First we hiked up the Andes mountains in the snow, and by the time we finished, we had reached almost 15,000 feet. Our guide, Richard, led us through his own trail through the snowy mountains, which although it was beautiful, it was also a very strenuous hike. That night we camped in the snow and the temperature was below freezing. The second day, our route was cut short due to dangerous snow conditions. We descended down the mountain and waited on the road for our vans, and along the way we saw many llama and sheep. Some of us were even able to feed trout at a local house! The buses took us to the railroad track, where we hiked 8 miles to the town of Aguas Calientes. This is the town at the base of Machu Picchu. We ate dinner at a local restaurant, Hot Springs, where many of us got wifi for the first time. That night, we walked to our hotel room and immediately went to sleep to prepare for the next day. On the next day, many of us woke up at 4AM to climb the stairs up to Machu Picchu. It was especially challenging because many of us were sore from the previous day’s hike, but some of us were able to keep up with Clint and make it up to Machu Picchu in under an hour. Others took their time and enjoyed the sunrise along the hike. Once we reached Machu Picchu, we explored until meeting up with those who took the bus up. At 8am,we began a two-hour long tour of the Lost City. The tours were very interesting and educational, and we learned a lot about the temples and the sacred animals. We then took a group photo before leaving to catch the bus back down to Aguas Calientes. In Aguas Calientes, we had lunch at Hot Springs and shopped at the local markets. We then boarded the train back to Ollantaytambo. The views from the train were spectacular; we were able to enjoy the jungle scenery and comfortable seats. When we arrived, we boarded the buses and drove back to the home base and had dinner. Although the drives were long and the hikes were strenuous, we will never forget the incredible moments in the Andes mountains and in Machu Picchu.
Written by: Hannah Riedy, Cindy Chen & Annie Manella
Howdy folks! Today was our first day back after the trek, we got to sleep in an extra hour. After tasty pancakes for breakfast, we began our day by heading off to the service site. Work included gardening, digging trenches for a water pipe, and continuing to stack adobe bricks. In the afternoon, we took part in a traditional shaman experience. There we had the opportunity to have our coca leaves read, in which many learnt about things such as love lives, career paths, and future health. What a time we had! Tonight, dinner was a delicious chicken dish. After mentor meetings, we are now off to bed.
From the leaders of the day: Kate, Zoe, Paige, and Isabella.
All of our shoes neatly stacked at the homebase.
After recovering from our three day hike and a day of service, we were able to sleep in an extra 2 hours. Our day consisted of a city tour around Cusco. We split into two groups and enjoyed the morning in the sun visiting different Incan ruins. At one of the Incan sights, we were able to slide down a rock “slide” naturally created from sedimentary rocks. We also visited a beautiful Catholic cathedral located in the central plaza of Cusco. We then proceeded to end our day with a TED talk about leadership skills and qualities. We will now be able to use the ideas from the video as we work at the service sight tomorrow and the following days. Today was another great day!
From your leaders of the day,
Grace, Joel, Yadi, and Lily
Another day at the GLA Peru home base goes by, and as on any other day, there was never a dull moment!
Grace, Lauren, Christina, and Lily.
All students have successfully passed through security at the Cusco national airport!