We are group B from Service in the Sacred Valley! Today was arrival day!!! We picked up many of our students from the Cusco airport! They arrived safely to the hotel and was pleasantly surprised that they had to hike to the 4th or 5th floor for rooms. After some rest time, we had an amazing lunch served by the hotel.
Most students, although tired, were very ready to meet others and get started with the program. We did some brief orientation after some getting to know you games. We tried to keep it as relaxed as possible so that everyone could acclimate with the altitude and also rest up for service day tomorrow.
We’re all very excited to start our service building guinea pig farms tomorrow!! Keep posted for more great things to come.
Greetings from Peru! Today was our first full day here in Peru! Waking up early, those of us who hadn’t just arrived, ate a quick breakfast and hopped on the buses to head to our worksite. The place we are working at is a small community outside of the main city of Cusco, called Chocco. The people are living are very deprived of the privileges we have back at home, and even lack some things we consider necessities, like clean water, sewage systems, and easy access to the stores, education, and the city. Our job is to help these people build guinea pig farms in their own backyards to help them maintain a solid food source. The families we helped had either five children or twelve living in one home. As we learned today, a lot of Peruvians are deprived of protein as growing children which causes them to face issues regarding malnutrition for the rest of their lives. This causes them to have trouble learning and functioning well into adulthood. A shocking seven out of ten children living in the countryside are considered malnourished. To start this work and know that we can make a difference really is humbling and exciting.
After work, we got back and did some more team bonding, which helped introduce everyone to the new students and also become familiar with those we have already met. Even though it’s only the second day in, we all feel very close and comfortable with each other! We went to the supermarket today to get some snacks. It was the first time we’d walked through the city and it was an eye-opening experience but a truly beautiful walk with the background of the mountains behind the city. It was crazy how different yet similar it was to a typical American grocery store. At night, we played some games and sat down to a hearty dinner which also consisted of birthday cake since Gigi celebrated her birthday today!
All in all, it was a fantastic second day and everyone is excited for the rest of the trip and all the experiences we are going to have together.
We’re going to PERUse our way to bed now!
-Gigi and Lindsey
Greetings from Peru! Today was our third day here in this beautiful city, Cusco. Instead of the very “grueling” manual labor we endured yesterday, today was a much more laidback yet equally rewarding experience. We split into four groups to visit and assist four different families in Patabamba, a mountainous community about an hour away from base. The drive up was scenic and breathtaking as we scaled up the mountain by bus. As we each arrived at our respective homes, we were warmly and swiftly greeted by the entire family in each one. Animals were everywhere, and the dogs and even farm animals were extremely friendly and adorable. Even with the amount of people in each family, so much work needs to be done within each household, making it difficult for these families to live proficiently and get all their jobs done.
Although this community differed from the one we visited to build the guinea pig farms, we could still really see the assistance that would be of benefit to them. The houses were small and open-aired, lacking bathrooms and appliances that we would consider necessities. Nevertheless, these home owners were proud, happy, and hospitable people. All these houses had a large supply of beans which needed to be peeled in order for the supply to be of use to the family, especially because their food supply is relatively low. That was where we came in. For hours we helped them peel beans while bonding with the animals, the adults, and the children. All of us did our best to try and communicate, whether it was practicing Spanish or using hand-motions. We all made connections to people from another culture and gained a lot of perspective from this experience.
After we did service, we came with some members of each family to an open field on the top of the mountain overlooking a scenic valley. For a couple hours, we played multiple games of soccer that were not only a teamwork experience for the GLA team, but was definitely a highlight for a lot of the local children, and even adults. We were blown away by how talented and enthusiastic they all were. It was an eye-opening day overall from the drive there to the drive back. This is something we know we’ll never forget!
PERUsing our way to bed,
Gigi, Lindsey, Abrielle
Hola from Cusco!
We had another wonderful day of service here in Peru. This morning we got up bright and early to head off to our work site in Chocco, where both service groups got a ton accomplished on our guinea pig houses. Being our second day of construction, we were all able to find our niche on the site more easily, whether it was hauling rocks, pouring mud, pick-axing dirt, or using Inca style tools to dig trenches. When we reflected on today’s experiences later in the night, we all agreed that our ability to work together made us more efficient in the long run.
After we finished our service today, we walked to a market a couple minutes away from home base. The market was full of stall vendors selling everything from sunglasses to TVs to clothes and more. Many of us got to practice our Spanish haggling skills at the market and were able to get some good deals on different items. The atmosphere had millions of sights and sounds to take in, and it was definitely a unique experience to remember.
In the afternoon, we enjoyed a great talk given by a local economist about the socioeconomics of Peru. We learned so much about culture, tradition, poverty, and health within this country; it was eye-opening to contrast our lives in the United States with the lives of citizens here. Many of us never knew that almost half the population of Peru lives in rural areas or that some Peruvians make the equivalent of only $3 a day for their work. After learning this interesting information, we all were able to have an even better understanding of this wonderful country we have the privilege of visiting.
We are constantly becoming a closer and stronger GLA family each day that we get to spend together. It’s crazy to believe that this was our fourth day and we only have ten more to go! With that in mind, we are very motivated and excited to make the most of our time here.
Thanks for tuning in—off to go count llamas in our sleep,
Greetings from Peru! Today was another hard day of service and work for our group. Going back to the sites where we are building guinea pig farms, we continued the work we had left off on. We mixed a lot of mud and many of us got caked in dirt from head to toe! It was yet another fulfilling day of hard service, but we can see the progress at both workplaces.
After showering and resting for a bit, we headed off for the Shaman, which is a person who practices the arts of leaf readings and other spiritual practices. After making an offering to Mother Earth, the Shaman read our leafs for us and answered any questions we had about our futures. The Shaman even gave lucky beans to two of us who have celebrated or are celebrating birthdays around this time It was an amazing experience in a beautiful, scenic location. We had yet another fun and productive day in Peru!
PERUsing my way to bed,
Hola from Peru!! Today was another amazing day. We took tour buses all around the main sites of Cusco. First we visited Saqsaywaman which were ruins from the Inca Empire. Saqsaywaman is walls of huge rocks built around the formation of the Incan calendar. We explored the ruins from top to bottom, even going down some smooth rocks like slides! There were alpacas and llamas everywhere and it was many of our first experiences seeing them. There were a lot of native Peruvian women who walked around with the animals wearing very traditional Inca clothing, which made the whole trip even cooler. We saw two more Inca ruin sites which were both beautiful and intricate in their own ways. Not to mention, the views from every Incan ruin were breathtaking and the sites were so much fun to explore.
At noontime, we went to a traditional Peruvian restaurant with a beautiful view of the entire city of Cusco. Not only was that amazing, but the food was delicious and was definitely needed after the morning of trekking. All of a sudden, a band appeared and played some traditional music for us, as well as a cover of La Bamba! They definitely rocked the house.
After lunch, we made our way back into the city to visit the Temple of the Sun and some beautiful churches. Both places were full of intricate detail and it was evident how much effort and time went into making these architectural masterpieces. Inside, we made many stops at different altars made of gold and silver and detailed woodwork. It was interesting to see the different portrayals of religious figures that we would stereotypically see in America. The Cathedral was stunning and eye-opening to a new culture.
It was definitely an experience of a lifetime and truly showed us the city that we are staying in for these two weeks! A totally new place from anywhere we have ever been. Followed by a nighttime adventure to the supermarket and some very heartfelt mentor groups. Everyone here is so incredibly different and brings a new aspect to the table. It’s so wonderful how close our group has become and how cohesive we really are together. We never want to leave.
PERUsing our way to bed,
-Lindsey and Gigi
Hola from Peru! Today was the best day so far. We started off the day bright and early to head to the worksite. It was earlier than usual because there was a city wide strike due to the unfair salaries given to teachers. It was really something cool to see. Our bus finessed its way through a series of road blocks and we surprisingly made it to the work site in time to grind. As soon as we got there we went right to work carrying heavy adobe blocks up a steep cliff. We made three separate assembly lines as we pushed our bodies to their absolute limits and got the large bricks up the mountain side. It was definitely a challenge, but seeing the 400 adobe bricks sitting at the top really made everything worth it.
After we got home from the worksite we made our way to a local orphanage in Cusco. This was definitely one of the most special moments for a lot of the kids in our group. As soon as we got there, orphans of all ages ran out of their rooms to greet us, so excited with smiles ear to ear. They held our hands, hung onto our legs, and were just filled with absolute joy to see us. The sad part is, all these kids either don’t know their parents at all, or were abandoned at a very young age. That’s why it was so important for us to be there, because they don’t have many older figures to look up to. We took a tour of their building, saw where they live and play, and then got to spend time playing with them out in the yard. Each kid looked like they were having the times of their lives: playing soccer, running, teaching us how to dance, and just hanging out with us. Not only did this probably make their day, but it also make an impact on each and every one of us. Even those of us who don’t particularly like kids were touched by the down-to-earth sweethearts we met today in Cusco.
Another incredible day to add to the most incredible trip. We are all feeling super lucky to be here after seeing those kids both at the orphanage and at the worksite today.
PERUsing my way to bed…
Day 8 Blog
Greetings from Peru! Today was another hard day of service for us. We went back to our respective worksites and continued to work really hard as we only have a couple more days of service yet. We spent four hours carrying bricks up and down mountains, mixing mud, and doing work on the guinea pig house. Even though the work is getting harder, we are all feeling much more in shape than we did at the beginning!
In the evening, we went to visit a man who showed us traditional Peruvian instruments and demonstrated how they can be used. After he played us many beautiful songs using really interesting and unique instruments, he allowed us to try them all out. There were flutes, rattles, and drums. After that, he gave us our own flute to play and learn a traditional song on. Many of us ended up buying the flute as a souvenir. It was a really cool and one-of-a-kind experience that was really fun for all of us!
Off to bed,
Greetings from Cuzco!
Today was our last day before we embark on our Machu Picchu trek tomorrow. We started the day off right with another solid service session in Chocco. Both groups made more great progress on the guinea pig farms. We hauled bricks, leveled the ground, and built up the walls to the enclosures today; we were happy to see our hard work starting to take shape, and it was crazy to think that this was our second-to-last day working on this project. Shoutout to our wonderful mentors who have continued to motivate us throughout our entire program— we wouldn’t be successful without them! Our service ended early with a special surprise today, when we got to play soccer and volleyball with the locals who live around our site. Being able to meet and play with the people from Chocco was a pretty special experience and we all had a wonderful time.
After service we made a trip to the market for any last minute Machu Picchu supplies, then we hopped in the vans and drove to a llama and alpaca farm! We loved feeding the animals and taking pictures of/with them for a few hours—it was another unforgettable experience we were lucky to have while we’re here in Cuzco.
Tonight we packed up for Machu Picchu, which everybody here is very excited (and a little nervous) for. We also celebrated Z’s 17th birthday with a delicious cake courtesy of the amazing chefs in the kitchen! As the night is winding down now, we are all ready to begin our trek in the early hours of the morning tomorrow. We’ll take pictures!
¡Buenas noches y adios!