Time Capsule Letter – October 2016
Between all the mud mixing, stair climbing, shouts outs, and “retweets” I think it is safe to say we had fun. We successfully finished the construction of four cuy houses in the community of Choco where several families are now able to raise guinea pigs in a cleaner and more effective manner. Big shout out to all of you for participating and taking pride in the beautiful consistency of every batch of mud made and brick laid. Returning to your Spanish classes you will probably be the only students there who can say “más barro” with a perfect accent and understand what it means on a whole other level.
Not only did you finish the buildings, you also climbed high into the Andes mountain range to where the only light at night was the full sky of stars. When things get stressful or challenging in your lives at home picture the starlit sky, hear the songs of your group singing through dinner and exhaustion, and feel the sense of accomplishment you felt when we reached camp the first night with the Mount Veronica welcoming you. Most importantly remember being together with everyone from our group laughing and eating together. If you can make it through the trek when you thought you couldn’t breathe anymore or if you can climb the Incan steps to Machu Picchu in the pouring rain, you can do just about anything and even smile through it.
May you let social media keep you all connected, yet not take up too much of your time so you can continue to live in the moment like we did so well here. Laugh about the battles between the “rave cave” and “babe cave” and the dance parties when you need it most. Let people surprise you with their generosity and honesty and believe that sometimes lost iphones can be found, but also be careful and don’t leave backpacks at Incan slides. Appreciate bus rides that don’t make you sick and smile through the rain and eat oreos when life gets soggy. Let the lessons you’ve learned and the memories you’ve made carry you forward with laughter and love!
We send you all hugs!!
Julia, Kyle, Phillip, Brittany, and Carolina
Summer Blog Posts
July 30, 2016
Editor’s note: All students have since arrived safely!
Landed. Safe. Fed. Oriented. And waiting for our remaining three compatriots. Already the silliness is proving warm is proving intelligent is proving excited is being funneled into two rich weeks of work and adventure. Tea is served, and it’s about that time, that cozy horizontal time, when altitude dissipates into the blankets. Tomorrow we see the city. The ruins, the Cathedral, the temple of the sun. And some brave ones will eat ALPACA, nicely grilled and with a fine compliment of potatoes. Off we go!
July 31, 2016
Greetings from Cusco 🙂 This blog entry is brought to you by the rockin’ chicks in room 201. Most of us arrived yesterday, so we relaxed at the home base and got to know each other. Today was our first full day and we spent it on a tour through Cusco city (9 hours long!). We saw Incan ruins, lots of alpacas, and a few cathedrals/temples. We had lunch where some of us got to feast on alpaca, while the tables next to us ate guinea pig. A highlight was seeing Saqsay Waman, or, as we call it, “Sexy Woman,” an Incan ruin on the side of a mountain with beautiful views and lots of history attached to it. We were joined by 3 more students today who jumped right into the activities with gusto despite being on a long plane ride just hours before. The cathedrals we saw had beautiful architecture and our upbeat and welcoming tour guides taught us about the history of the Inca Empire and how present it still is in Cusqueño life today. We ended our day back at Home Base where we celebrated our fellow student, Addy’s, birthday with a delicious dinner and two cakes- one of which was smashed in her face. We had a fire/earthquake drill and got lots of strange looks from locals as we all crouched outside the Home Base wrapped in blankets. After dinner we all sat together and did more orientation activities and there was so much laughter that we had a few almost pukers :). We are super stoked for the rest of the week and should hopefully be more acclimatized to the higher elevation soon. We are headed to bed now (lights out at 10:00 Peru time) so we can be ready for the beginning of our service work tomorrow. Many of you may think we are here to build greenhouses, but we were all surprised to learn we actually get to build guinea pig slaughterhouses! (Actually they are adobe houses in which they are raised…) This is actually a very important part of the health and economy here in Cusco because they provide essential proteins and nutrients for the folks here. We miss you back home! Hi, Mom!
The rockin’ chicks in room 201 – Anneke, Jamie, and Corinna
August 1, 2016
Today our day started off by a delicious breakfast at our home base before heading out for our first day of service. Our service site was located 20 minutes away at the quaint village of Chocco. We divided into groups and started our projects, which included helping create Cuy, or guinea pig, farm. Other activities included pix axing, shoveling, and moving piles of dirt to the riverbank. After our service for the day was completed, we walked to a local shop and bought snacks, such as apple breads and wafer candies. We then played soccer at a local field, and headed back to the home base. After resting for a bit, we walked to a local grocery store and bought everything from Peruvian cereal to peanut butter to Casino cookies. A trip to the Molino market followed where we could buy watches, sunglasses, and electronics at great prices. A local government representative came to the home base to talk about the socio-economic problems of Peru. Our dinner consisted of chicken, vegetable-rice, home-style fries, with chocolate pudding for dessert. Journaling time gave people the opportunity to reflect on the experiences we’ve had so far. After a few games, we settled into bed.
Written by, Mary, Ana, Laura, and Jackie
Today we began our second day of service by using pick axes to create a fine mixture of dirt.
After many trips to the stream to fill the buckets with water, we sifted the dirt and used the fine dirt to make mud. Next, we used the mud to fill the fine cracks inside the cuy house. We also cleaned out the cubbies where the cuy will live. When we went back to the base in Chocco, some students and mentors played soccer. Then, we went back to the home base and had lunch. After lunch, we watched a performance from a local musician on Andean music and instruments.
He taught us how to play a traditional Andean melody on a pan flute! We learned that there was a drum originally made from the skin of enemies that was played by the dismembered arm of the enemy blowing in the wind. That was Bella’s favorite instrument! Dinner was spaghetti with meat sauce; and it was quickly spilled all over Anneke.
Hayden, Bella, Phoebe
August 3, 2016
At 7:00 sharp, the GLA group was out the door and off to Chocco. At Chocco we spent about 5 hours mixing mud using our feet which is the traditional way (also the cold, and painful way) , and laying adobe bricks to our almost complete guinea pig farms. After our hard work, we played soccer for 45 minutes and enjoyed treats from a local grocery store. We boarded our buses and headed to home base for our lunch. After lunch, some group of kids split with our mentor, to load up on gear for our upcoming hike to Machu Picchu. Then, we settled back at the home base for a very enlightening talk on public health care in Peru.We learned about malnutrition in the villages of Peru and how it could be dealt with. In the evening we divided into our mentor groups, some of us got access to WiFi, while the others brainstormed activities for the orphanage, and played games. Later, we were briefed by our guide about the hike to Machu Picchu. Then, we finally went back to our rooms, and cozily rested in our beds, with our now mud exfoliated feet.
August 4, 2016
Hello everyone at home!
Today started off with the usual 6:00 AM wake up call and wonderful breakfast of omelets. After breakfast, we ventured out to each of our service sites in the village of Chocco. We continued working hard on the cuy houses which entailed creating tons of mud and setting bricks in place. Our afternoon activity consisted of visiting a shaman where we took part in a ceremony with an offering to Mother Earth. Afterwards, the majority of us paid 5 soles to the shaman who offered to read our futures through coca leaves. Many of these questions consisted of how many children we would have, what careers we would end up following, or any information about future spouses. Those who were feeling brave asked how old they would be when they died or how they died. After this, we went back to the home base, had dinner, then celebrated Jamie’s birthday. Tomorrow we will be leaving for our 3 day hike and Machu Picchu!
Emily, Anjelica, and Sarah
We started off our glorious day by waking up at 4:45. After that we headed down to breakfast and exited the hotel to embark on our journey to Machu Picchu. The journey to Machu Picchu started with a whopping 1800 steps up the mountain. The weather was not playing in our favor and we had to face downpours all morning during our journey. Once we finally reached the top of the mountain, we were relieved. While being led around by a tour guide we got to witness the man made Incan ruin, Machu Picchu. The never ending steps and the bad weather were no longer a problem for us because we were so amazed to be taking in the views. What goes up must come back down so after our tour we descended the mountain and went back down the steps.
What the mountain say to Machu Picchu? Why are you RUINin my style!!!!
1800 steps later, our entire group felt a great surge of pride in our ability to hike up and down Machu Picchu. The sun began to shine on us, while the clouds parted. Lunch was essentially what preoccupied our minds the entire time. Pizza, pasta, chicken, risotto, and beef were the options and it had to be the most-deserved meal of all time. Sweaty and exhausted, we finished our much appreciated lunch and headed to the train. The ride was expected to be 1 hour and 45 minutes. On our journey, we were entertained by the most comical and haunting figure. He was covered in radiant colors, but what scared us the most was the oddly designed mask. After experiencing such a humorous yet creepy show, we watched a mini fashion show with the waiters/waitresses as the models. The oohs and has rang through the train car as the models strut along the walkway with their clothes. The clothes changed in multiple ways. A bus ride followed our train trip and that was quite the experience. All of us were so sleepy and finally we reached home base. We were all so excited to sleep.
August 8, 2016
The day began as usual, with the rigorous mud mixing each of us students secretly dread, as the sun climbs over the mountainous horizon. However, our afternoon activity not only brought perspective to our lives, but also a smile across our faces. Once we GLA students strolled through the gates of the female orphanage, we were suddenly struck with awe, surprised that each little girl carried a contagious smile. The tour along the grounds was spent gazing upon out-of-date equipment, mainly supplied by donations. Following the tour we were granted the privilege of interacting with these energetic and jubilant children. Exiting this glorious new oasis of fun was difficult to say the least; as each child clung to our arms, begging us to stay for just a little longer. We, after engaging in such a unique experience, now have a greater appreciation for the little nuances that surround us.
Written by: Dylan Helkey and Bruno Zecchi
August 9, 2016
Today we began the second to last day of service in Chocco. We are finishing up our work on the Cuy (Guniea Pig) farms. We took a mid work break and played with the children in the local school for an hour. After we finished our work for the day, we proceeded to visit a llama farm. We learned about all different species of llama and alpacas and the different methods of dying their wool to make colorful cloth. Once we finished our afternoon activity, Phoebe’s birthday bash began! We had a giant pizza party, and afterwards we had a surprise. A surprise pinata! After a few swings the giant star was broken and candy flew everywhere. Once it was all picked up we headed upstairs to watch a movie for the remainder of the night. Rahil and Cole
August 10, 2016
Instead of participating in the conventional service work, we traveled on busses to the countryside to a town named Patabamba, and aided families in various ways. One manner in which we helped them was through shucking beans. During the service, the families offered us potatoes and cheese and some soup. After the work, we engaged in activities with the local children – such as soccer and other games. At around 4 o’clock, we left the scene and returned home to the base. In the evening, we ate dinner and then went on a scavenger hunt. The scavenger hunt went throughout the city, and lasted for nearly an hour and a half. Most everyone believed it to be one of the most fun activities offered at the program. After the hunt, we went to bed.
Daniel and Salil