Welcome to Cusco!
Today we picked up students from the airport throughout the morning and allowed everyone time to rest. We went on a walk around the neighborhood and visited a local market. Then we headed back to home base to play fun games and get to know each other. We also learned about the service site we will be working at and were introduced to the local home base staff. Then we all enjoyed a delicious dinner followed by breaking into our awesome mentor groups. We all headed to bed early after a long day of traveling and orientation. We can’t wait to hit the ground running at the service sitetomorrow morning bright and early!
Looking forward to meeting our last two students, Nia and Lauren, when they arrive tomorrow!
Written by: Dani & Emily!!! Woohoo!
Today began our first actual day of Peruvian experiences. After breakfast, we headed over to the construction site where we became acquainted with adobe construction. Mud stomping, trench dredging, and brick laying were some of the tasks we labored over — and possibly worm eating (just Cray).
After a long morning of hard work, we had a delicious lunch of carne y papas. Following lunch there was a short span of down time, before the “Money Man” came to visit us. To continue the day we further became familiar with our peers over a few rounds of speed dating. The haven that some call the supermercado beckoned for us to come and explore its riches and glory. Soon after spending countless soles on Oreos and Inca Kola we began our trek back to base camp, of course stopping for ice cream on the way. We ate what we could of our dinner since our bellies were full of treats. A social economist gave us a very eye opening presentation on all the different aspects of the everyday life of Cuzco.
This concluded our first breath taking day, literally, in Cuzco. We are very excited for what this great culture has to offer us and what we can offer it, in the days to come.
Written by the leaders of the day:
Kanishk- Hey mom and dad, hope y’all are having fun in Texas.
Cray – Also shout out to my family, friends, and girlfriend back in Ohio
After an early morning start, we arrived at the service site and continued our work on the greenhouse. Today’s work included mud brick building, trench digging, ground leveling and teaching some local children English. We arrived back at home base around 1 pm for lunch and took some downtime to change out of our muddy clothes! A couple of hours later, we went to the mountainous countryside to participate in a music workshop. We learned much about the origins and evolution of native Peruvian instruments. Following the presentation, we had the opportunity to attempt to play several different instruments. After this great experience, we went back to home base for dinner and had some free time before we watched an interesting presentation on the effects of certain chemicals within our body and their effects on leadership and human interaction.
-Ajit Kalsi, Ava Bender, Phoenix Alix, and Kenny Steinberg
As leaders of the day, we are in charge of waking our entire group up. This mornings wake up call consisted of parading around the halls blasting “Cheerleader” accompanied with “Good morning!” and “Rise and shine!” We were greeted with sleepy groans and confused faces. After breakfast, we headed to another day at our work site. We have finished laying the adobe walls, but a new task soon presented itself. We spent the day flinging pickaxes and taking turns gawking at the dirt’s stubborn and surprising immobility. At break, we ventured to the neighboring snack shop to nourish our sore, sun-burnt bodies. As we munched on our snacks, some local children schooled us in a spontaneous dance party. And also limbo.
After returning to home base, we enjoyed some specially made Peruvian ceviche followed by steaming beef stir-fry with yuka fries and rice pyramids. To top off our meal, chichorrones drizzled with honey were served and quickly devoured. Then we were briefed on how to pack for our Machu Picchu trek and spent the afternoon checking our gear to make sure we would all be nice and toasty. Before dinner, a local nurse spoke to us about the malnutrition and health issues prevalent in Peru, giving us a better perspective on the greater purpose and importance for our greenhouse project.
Following dinner, we broke off into our mentor groups to discuss what kind of leaders each of us are. It was another eventful day of new challenges, discovery, and as always, fun.
-Lindsey, Ava J., Jessica, and Rachel J
Today was the first day that we didn’t spend at the work site and after a much appreciated late wake up we set off to explore the city of Cusco and its infamous Incan ruins. Our first stop took us through an Incan underground tunnel system that led us to some breathtaking views overlooking the city. After learning more about Incan architecture and its various meanings that revolve around the balance between man, woman and their surroundings (and a ridiculous amount of selfies) we visited an enormous statue of Christ named el Cristo Blanco that overlooks Cusco, almost as if it were Cusco’s protectorate. After our various cultural adventures it was time for the best part of the day — LUNCH. Lunch consisted of a traditional three course meal that entailed delicious Alpaca meat and Peruvian ice cream. We ate with much content while admiring the magnificent view of Cusco from above. After the wonderful lunch we headed back down into the city of Cusco and explored the Cathedral of Santo Domingo; one of the oldest Cathedrals in South America, containing a fusion of Incan traditions and Catholic gold leaf ornaments. With brains full of attained knowledge, we packed back on to the bus and headed back home.
-Katie. Ava H., Isabel, Caio
This morning we woke up at our usual 6AM, ate breakfast, and then left for the service site. We arrived at the service site and subsequently commenced our warm-ups. Our warm ups consisted of a game called knights, cavaliers, and horses followed by ricochet-tag. We then started work in the greenhouse and on the trench. After 4 hours of hard work we came back to home base for a tasty lunch of beef and rice.
In the afternoon, we took a semi-long bus ride to Awana Kancha, a llama and alpaca farm whose community weaves and receives fair profits for some of the finest wool. We were shocked by the numerous breeds and colors of both animals. Feeding them alfalfa and taking pictures with spitting llamas were the highlights of the beautiful trip deep into the mountains.
While on our way back to home base, we stopped at a market called El Molino, which is reminiscent of Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar. We picked up a few last minute items for our upcoming trek and finished our day with cena (dinner) and a TED Talk about the importance of challenging cultural perceptions.
With love from your leaders of the day,
– Ellie Copps, Asim Mohiuddin, Humayra Mohiuddin, and Emily Williams
We started off our morning with a lovely wake-up call. The leaders of the day snuck into each person’s room, sung Happy Birthday (no it wasn’t anyone’s birthday), and were met with varying reactions including giggles, angry words, and thrown pillows. Breakfast this morning included two sunny side up eggs and then we picked up our brown bagged lunches on our way out the home base.
We took an hour long trip to the town of Patabamba where we helped the families with their daily chores. Some of the chores included harvesting and sorting beans and corn, washing lettuce, stacking firewood, and carrying trees up and down mountains. During our service we had the opportunity to eat home cooked Peruvian dishes which included a snack of potatoes and queso andeo (Andean cheese) along with Quinoa soup. After a half a day of service we went to eat our brown bag lunches and play a game of soccer with the locals.
After a ride back to home base we cleaned up and packed our duffel bags for the trek tomorrow. Following our sumac mihuna (tasty dinner) we watched Miguel, a member of the kitchen staff, arm wrestle and beat every guy in the hotel in about five minutes. We finished off the day with mentor group meetings and headed off the bed so that we could get up early for our trek tomorrow morning.
John Brady – Shout out to Mom, Dad, and Grace
Will Long – Shout out to Mom, Dad, Warren and Christina
Jake Branham – Hope you’re having fun in Wyoming, Mom, Dad and Jordan
Nia Singleton- Shout out to my fam <3
8/2/2015 – 8/4/2015
Trek Day 1
Rise and shine was at 5am and we left at 6 for our long bus ride to the trail head. After a mid-way stop at Ollantaytambo, a lot of us bought walking sticks (as well as hot chocolate) in anticipation of the steep (and cold) trail ahead. We were greeted at the trail head with chocolate covered crackers and bananas for one last energy boost.
As we climbed higher and higher, the views became more and more breathtaking. Massive, cascading mountains surrounded us, and one of our stops was even at a beautiful lake nestled into the side of the mountain. When we reached our camp for lunch, our tired selves rejoiced at the smell of warm quinoa soup and pasta.
During our next 3 hours of hiking, led by our fearless leader, Richard, we reached a pass measuring up to 15,000 feet! And of course, this was cause for a celebratory selfie. We arrived at our final campsite at around 5:00. Frozen and exhausted, our incredible porters served us hot chocolate and popcorn as a post-hike snack. As we got settled in, we enjoyed the wonderful view of Mount Veronica. Dinner was served at 7, and consisted of steaming tomato soup, chicken and rice and potatoes, and chocolate pudding. The stars came out very quickly and we gazed in awe at the vastness of the Milky Way and the crazy amount of shooting stars until our toes were numb.
Trek Day 2 (arrive in Aguas Calientes)
Hot coca tea and pinkish hues illuminating Mount Veronica greeted us on the morning of our second day trekking. To fuel the long day ahead, breakfast consisted of bread, oatmeal, and pancakes. With frozen fingers, we packed up our duffels and departed onward. The morning began cold, but quickly warmed up as we hiked up and down the rolling mountains. Mid-morning, the slower group took an shorter route (due to time) and met back up with the rest of us at the buses. The buses then took us winding down from the cold mountain to the edge of the humid Amazon jungle. After about 3 hours, we arrived at the train tracks that would lead us to Aguas Calientas. With another 8 miles on the tracks, we trekked into the night. We arrived in Aguas Calientas sweaty and famished. Walking right into Hot Springs restaurant, we devoured a delicious dinner. We checked into our hotel, enjoyed our long awaited showers, and went to bed to rest up for Machu Picchu!
Machu Picchu Day
The morning of Machu Picchu, we were given the option to either hike or to take the bus to the top. The group split pretty evenly and we all met at the entrance. It was a beautiful, sunny day as we all followed our tour guide around the incredible ancient city. Perfectly cut stone and adorable baby alpacas filled our morning. We learned more and more about the rituals of the Inca and their fascinating culture. After a morning of roaming around, we descending back down to Aguas Calientas for lunch.
Following lunch, we were given free time to roam around the colorful city. Some separated to go to the hot springs, and the rest of us strolled through the vibrant craft markets and shopped. We then met up for an early dinner in order to catch the 7:30 train back to Ollantaytambo followed by a 2 hour bus ride back to our home base in Cusco. We rolled in at about 11 absolutely pooped. Home sweet home!
“Pago a la Tierra” Shaman
Still recovering from our trek, we were able to sleep in a little later this morning. We arrived at our service site at about 9 and worked until 12. After lunch, we went to see a traditional Shaman. We took a 30 minute bus ride to his house outside the city. Filing into his quaint courtyard, he then walked through all the components in an offering to Pachamama (mother earth). We made wishes on coca leaves and then each blew on the offering for good luck. He then took it into the garden and burned it. Afterward, we had the choice to ask the Shaman questions about our future. It was fascinating to learn about the important religious aspects of their traditional culture. We finished the day with dinner and a Ted Talk about leadership.
*Photos by Brandon Yung:
Our penultimate service day started at 6:00 AM with wake up. At 6:15 our group ate breakfast together and got ready for work. To warm up, we played Sharks and Minnows and finished off with a game of Hug Tag. During service, groups broke off to work on separate projects. One group continued clearing the ground inside the greenhouse to prepare it for planting. Another group brought water to the greenhouse in an attempt to curb the dust. A third group brought adobe bricks to the second work site down the street, and a fourth group taught English at a local school.
After work and lunch, we set off for the market. The first market we went to was called San Pedro; it offered a variety of items, from local Cusco food and drink to memorable souvenirs. We walked to a second market called the Artisan Market and bought many keepsakes. After dinner we finished the day by watching inspirational videos and talking further about what leadership means and how we can move forward after our GLA program comes to an end.
Written by Julian
Special Thanks to Caio, Ajit, and Asim
Photo Cred: Brandon
Bittersweet. That’s all we could think of this morning when we woke up for the last day. We woke up for breakfast as usual, and headed to the service site to wrap up the work we started 13 days earlier. After one last game of the extremely popular “Hug Tag,” we started our last day of hard work. We had the daunting task of finishing the trench under the road. We then filled up the trench we worked so hard to create after the pipe work was laid. Much work was also done at another service site, where the starting base of a new green house was completed. We came home for lunch exhausted but feeling good that we had contributed to the GLA mission. We know it’s our last day here, and that we will be leaving soon but we also know that our memories here will come home with us and we can smile back at the challenges and the good times.
Written by LOD- Geovani, Humayra, Kanishk, Agnes