Last Day of Service and The Market
Today was our final day of service at the school working on the greenhouse. Thanks to the four consecutive days of moving and laying bricks, the greenhouse’s walls are nearly finished. All of us carried an estimated 21 tons of brick up the hill. It was a wonderful feeling to have finished our portion of the construction although heartbreaking to say goodbye to the many friends we have met at the school. All of the kids were so happy to see us for the first time in a couple days but soon realized we wouldn’t see them next week. After we returned from service and had lunch at homebase, we piled into the buses ready to blow our soles at the artisan market. Two hours later we still weren’t ready to leave the endless aisles of ponchos and peruvian goodies. Before dinner, we got to show off our purchases and brag about what great bargainers we are. We finished the night with a round of happies/crappies and stayed up talking past curfew as usual.
Our last day together the group went to a small mountain town, untouched by tourism, called Patabamba. There we split of into groups to help families with there chores. The work ranged from plucking lima beans off the bush to plowing a field with nothing but a pick ax. The locals were very welcoming and thankful for the work we were doing. After we finished work we had lunch, followed by a game of soccer with two local boys names Kevin and Exo, who were better then most of us even though they were ten years old. We then returned to home base were we had a great activity where we wrote compliments about each other anonymously. Then Charlotte Ruda, Guilherme Missaka, Sarah Gundy, and Alex Zaruba were all nominated to become ambassadors. Lastly we went to an all you can eat buffet that had a great band and lively dancers.
Trip to the OrFUNage
Hi Yogi and to whomever else it may concern:
Today we continued our usual morning routine of service. It consisted more games of This or That during our adobe brick assembly line. Families of the children who attend the local school had a presentation of the food from three regions of Peru: mountain, coast, and jungle. Some of the foods included ceviche and plantain soup which some of us got to try. After lunch, we had the opportunity to go to a local orphanage that housed about twenty girls ranging in ages twelve to seventeen. Although it was difficult, we were able to bridge the language gap through game of volleyball with some of the girls from the orphanage, hula hooping contests, and rocking to some sick beats that Alice was dropping. After returning to home base, we had a speaker come and share about malnutrition and how it affects about 40 percent of Peruvian children. This fact was pretty chilling considering we have grown very fond of the children at the local school and that four out of every ten of the children we know could suffer from chronic malnutrition. Today wraps up another day in Peru filled with laughter, culture, and growing friendship.
Como te Llamas?
Today was anything but llame(a). We began with a deliciously late wake-up 45 minutes after our usual time, followed by a breakfast of–you guessed it–eggs.
At our first day back at service after our hiking escapade, we made visible progress on the wall of the greenhouse, raising it up to three layers of bricks, which was pretty inspirational. Everyone was so down to earth (pun intended) that we got the work done at a surprisingly quick pace. Since we all have the muscular prowess to lift hundreds of bricks (not), we passed the time and made the workload easier by playing Would you Rather.
We came back to the hotel and were pleasantly greeted by the three week GLAers who had arrived that day. After considering terrorizing them like the previous three week group did to us, we decided to be nice and found them to be a friendly bunch. But we did introduce ourselves to them in different voices. Shoutout to Ann’s, Sydney’s and Sanders’s British accents! They were almost as good as mine. Almost.
We then headed to a llama farm to fulfill everyone’s goal of getting a selfie with a llama–oh, and maybe learning about Peru’s sacred animal and how it influenced the Peruvian culture–but mostly the selfies.
After buying alpaca gear at the farm’s gift shop and buying Peruvian knockoff Pringles and other assorted snacks at the supermarket, we came back and chowed down on each other’s food, potluck style. We also had some live entertainment, courtesy of Delaney and Olivia’s dance moves.
We ended the day with some inspirational and thought-provoking activities from our mentors and with some fun games. I thoroughly enjoyed my frigid shower to wrap things up (thanks Miguel for telling me there was hot water at 9:30. Public Service Announcement–there isn’t.)
As a true American, I was super grateful for my wifi for 20 minutes to post this blog and to email my parents–love you Mom and Dad and Chikoo!! And to check Instagram (what, who said that?)
~Medhaaaaa (to be read in Trevor/Sanders’ voices)
Today we had the INCAcredible pleasure of visiting Machu Picchu! Our day started out at our hotel (the promised wifi land) with lots of instagramming of the great memories from hiking Mt. Veronica. After taking our beloved hot showers we all enjoyed the comfort of a warm bed in the hotel. In the morning we took a bus down to Machu Picchu and finally got to see it in all its splendor. As our tour guides quoted Michael Jackson, “This is it.” It was even better than expected. Our cameras couldn’t do justice to the breathtaking scenery. The mountains were the perfect backdrop to the legendary ruins. After the tour and free time for pictures, we headed back to Aguas Calientes for a delicious lunch, explored the city shops, and got on a train back to home base. After finally settling back into home base and unpacking, we enjoyed a relaxing movie night.
–Ann Easley and Medha Sharma
Upon awakening from what was likely the coldest night of many indoorsy individuals’ lives, those who hadn’t already laughed about the previous day’s misfortune began to relax their vendetta on all things wilderness. Slipping back into our wet shoes, we huddled into the meal tent and heard the good news that an anticipated three more hours of waterlogged hiking would be reduced to a 20 minute uphill trek to the vehicles. A scenic descent by bus into the jungle brought us between waterfalls and some to depths of motion sickness. Local hands prepared a picnic lunch within the walls of Incan ruins before we continued by bus and train to Aguas Calientes, the launching point for tomorrow’s excursion to Machu Picchu. Wifi, hot showers, and free time to see the town were enough for full recovery from a complaint filled 24 hours in the Andean elements.
Obstacle 1: Mental block
To begin the day, we took a bus ride up to the launching point of our expedition. After being thoroughly scared, many were afraid to start the hike (for example, Audrey). You would think after fighting off bulls and ragged stray dogs, we would all be prepared to enjoy some of Mother Nature (Pacha Mama)’s splendor. Unfortunately, this was not the case. Our good friend/guide/paramedic Richard managed to convince everyone that you would need to damage your spine before you could ride an emergency horse, but we soon proved him wrong and got someone on one for the long hike ahead of us.
Obstacle 2: Snow
While Guilherme, our Brazilian bad boy, had his first experience with the natural wonder of snow, others found a new thing to complain about other than heavy packs and muddy boots. An unexpected cold set in, and many began feel “frostbite” in their hands and toes. Of course, going up proved to be less stressful for many than going down.
Obstacle 3: Muddy Butts
Freezing after a moderately warm lunch in the tent, we made our way down Mt. Veronica slipping and sliding. Some didn’t have walking sticks, others had no sense of inner balance, and either way many ended up sliding on their butts a little ways down the mountain. The snow wouldn’t let up, and without gloves, my hands were frozen, especially after dipping my bloody finger in the snow to clean it off. The snow and the fog managed to make us stray from the path once or twice, leading a few of the less experienced hikers to panic. After crying, shouting, and insulting almost every person involved in the decision to go hiking, we found ourselves at the campsite just before dark. Sleeping bags were opened and crawled into, and some we’re destined to emerge from them only after the sun had risen again the next mornjng. Others enjoyed tea time and a hearty dinner, with lots of snuggling close for warmth. Overall, a day that went sour ultimately led to a heartwarming tale of complaints, curses and camaraderie. Oh, and hi mom.
-Trevor aka Andrew Garfield
Brick by Brick, Note by Note
Day 5 was chock-full of work and fun, despite the obviously sore hands after carrying 152, 25lb mud bricks one by one down our group assembly line. Our crew was very pleased to see our work visually coming together as the walls of our greenhouse rose from the muddy ground. After lunch, we took a ride over to participate in a music workshop! We were shown instruments ranging from flutes to drums to sheep-hoof shakers, we even got to try them after the demonstration! We learned the history behind some Incan music traditions, like a conch used by special Incan messengers, or the drum that used to be made of human skin (ours was thankfully past that tradition). It was a chilly afternoon and he group was eager to return to base camp and enjoy a hot dinner, a hot shower, and a very intense dance party to warm us up even further for the hike to come tomorrow!
Bulls and Donkeys and Fortunes, Oh My!
Today in Peru we woke up bright and early for a day of service and fun. We were all a little sore from yesterday but we went straight back into finishing the foundation for the greenhouse by making clay and laying down rocks. We started to bring the bricks down for the walls and it looks like we’ll get to start those tomorrow! Some of the kids who attend the school where we’re working came to visit and kicked our behinds in a game of soccer or football as they called it. We did have some unexpected spectators who decided to take the field in the form of a pair of bulls! They started to chase some of us around the field before a brave donkey and pair of dogs herded them away, very exciting! After a delicious lunch we traveled up into the mountains to visit a shaman. We each made three wishes and had our fortune told through his reading of the coca leaves. A lot of people were really excited to hear their fortune. All in all it was a very fun and very tiring day!
Shoutout to my Mom and Dad – I’m having a lot of fun and am missing you lots <3 Sophie
First Day of Service
Today was our first day of service! We are working to build a sustainable greenhouse for a local elementary school. The previous group was able to dig and finish the foundation so our goal is the to finish the walls. To do this we have to dig all of the the surrounding land with picks, rakes, shovels, and pick axes as well as sift through to get the fine dirt and then mix it with water to create clay. The clay is then used as a cement for the rocks and bricks in the walls. We were fortunate enough to see another greenhouse that GLA built last summer and it is already a success. Even better is that each structure is expected to last 30-40 years. This alone plays a role in the nourishment of the children which allows them to grow into healthy adults and contributes to a prosperous Peru in the future.
After service we watched a Ted-talk video called the power of a single story. Taking the information from the video we went to the plaza and played a game to help us understand cultural diversity and how important it is to have an open mind while traveling. We also had the opportunity to stop by a grocery store and stock up on some local goodies for the rest of the week and the hike.
Hello readers! Mostly parents I assume, I’m going to be your very first blogger. Now for the reveal, my name is Audrey Jones! Hi Mom, do tell Andrew and Maeve I said hello. Today was our first official day in Peru and it was, in my opinion, pretty superb. I think that all of my other peers had a great time as well. We started the day bright and early at 7am, with breakfast shortly after at 7:30. After breakfast we all filed onto buses to drive to the Sacsayhuaman ruins. They were INCA-redible (excuse the pun; thanks Alice for coming up with that one). We saw ancient tunnels, extraterrestrial-esque walls, and fantastic views of Cuzco. I got to take a selfie with a llama so that was also super cool.
We then proceeded to load back onto the buses for a lunch break. The food at the restaurant was delicioso! We had this corn with kernels bigger than my thumb, and also some odd purple corn juice (which you should all definitely try if you’re in the mood to juice some corn). The view was also amazing and the company was the best part! I learned that Hannah (Lorde) can’t sing, Trevor (Andrew Garfield) can sing – he’s in an acapella group, Charlotte has lived in 4 different countries, and Daniel is a lifeguard. We toured the city for a little while after that and then head back to home base for some quality bonding time. Everyone gets pretty into Uno and card games and to be honest, the competition was getting pretty heated. Chloe pulled out a victory in Uno and after that we had to switch games so we chose a nice, relaxed, game of assassin (which I promise is much less sadistic than it sounds).
Finally at 6:30 came dinner at which point we were all more than ready to eat again, the food here is great. After dinner we had a group meeting after which everyone scrabbled back upstairs to play more Uno until lights out at 9 – we have a big first day of volunteering ahead of us! And now I too must go hit the hay so that I’m ready to build a greenhouse tomorrow! Ta-ta! And parents I wouldn’t worry, we ́re all having a blast!
All students have arrived safely in country and are ready for an amazing program! Stay tuned for blog updates and photos!