Tuesday June 12, 2018
After a long day of travel, the majority of the students for the first Service in the Sacred Valley Program of the summer have arrived!!! We are looking forward to having the whole team together when the rest get in on Thursday (Alexander Judson, Harris Hussain, Leead Silverstone, and William Stanwick). Our first group picture came out a little blurry but I think that it speaks to home much of a blur day one was. All of our students successfully arrived to Cusco despite numerous delays, missed connections and long days. I’m very proud of everyone for navigating the unexpected hurdles that international travel can provide. This is a group of bright individuals with a wide range of personalities and experiences. Speaking of bright, the snapshot of snow-capped peaks and yellow fields and flowers was taken on our bus ride from Cusco to the Sacred Valley.
Once everyone got settled in, the amazing team of Mentors led a variety of fun activities to get to know one another and our home for the next two weeks. We all shared dinner at our homebase in the town of Ollantaytambo. I included a photo overlooking our small mountain community- we are surrounded by towering Andean peaks and beautiful Incan ruins. I am looking forward to our meaningful service project we begin tomorrow. Stay tuned for more details about the adventures to come!
Saludos de Peru!
Thursday June 14, 2018
This morning we woke up to scrambled eggs, rolls, fruit and popcorn for breakfast!! YUM!! We then headed to our service site where we unloaded GIANT logs, hauled them back to the sight and then stripped the outer layer of bark off the tree. We ate lunch and then headed back to home base where we rested before dinner. For dinner we had some Peruvian mac n cheese and then played a World Cup debate game that showed us how to be more open minded. We then had our mentor groups and went to bed!! Can’t wait for tomorrow!
-by Carol & Cassidy
Friday June 15, 2018
We started out the day by visiting Saqsaywaman (or sexywoman), a site that hold the ruins of the Incas. There, we saw a sacrificial platform and the cave where mummification took place. We also had fun racing each other down the naturally formed slides on the other side of Sexywoman. We then had a very yummy buffet lunch in the heart of Cusco where we threw caution to the wind by trying alpaca stew and purple sushi. We walked off our meals by competing in a scavenger hunt around San Pedro market in the old city, before taking some time to shop for ourselves ( and maybe some lucky friends and family 😉 )
Written by the Leaders of Day: Avery, Nick, and Devon
Saturday June 16, 2018
Today was such a fun day despite having to drag ourselves out of bed for breakfast at 6:45. After a long bus drive we arrived at a beautiful little campsite to go white water rafting! we got geared up with wetsuits and headed out into the freezing cold rapids. Though it seemed a little scary at first, rafting turned out to be a blast! After the cold rapids we got to warm up in a sauna at the raft operation lodge. Their dog was absolutely adorable! After a delicious lunch we went zip lining over the river. What a thrill! Finally we had an amazing quechua speaker after dinner that talked the about the Andes culture and folklore. We even got to buy some of the children’s books he wrote to help support the local communities. Can’t wait to see alpacas tomorrow!
~ Kayla, Riley, and Peter
Sunday June 17, 2018
Today we started the day with a drive to Pisaq where we walked through an alpaca and llama farm. The animals were so cute and social: we even got to pet, feed, and take selfies with them! We then went on an interesting tour through an ancient Incan cemetery hidden in the mountains. We learned about how the Incans burried and worshipped their dead. From there, our group had a delicious lunch at a local place called the Blue Llama. After we were refreshed with food, the group started shopping in the Pisaq market. Some of us truly shopped till we dropped! We finished up our day adventure by trying the local delicacy cuy – they actually eat guinea pig here! The day in Pisaq was super fun and we can’t wait to explore more in the coming week!
Cecilia & Jamie
Monday June 18, 2018
Today we learned about the community, Patacancha, where we have done our service. We went to a Pre-Incan worship site which during colonization was turned into a church which is still used today by the local population. We also visited some terraces that have been used for farming for centuries. They dug canals from a glacier to irrigation every level of the terrace! Then we went to our service site to learn from the local women. They taught us how they dye and spin wool. It’s way more work than I could have ever imagined! Afterwards, the women also helped us to weave our own bracelets! After sharing a traditional Andean lunch, we went back to Ollantaytambo and shopped and visited the local bakery.
-Grace & Harris
Tuesday June 19, 2018
We had an amazing breakfast at 8:00 and left for the Awamaki office at 8:45. Awamaki is the non-profit we have been working with to do our service. We learned a lot about the organization from an intern named Kira. After that we split up into groups and went on a scavenger hunt through Ollantaytambo. On the scavenger hunt we saw Incan ruins, a farm, and new products from many Peruvian shops. Next we ate lunch at the home base before learning and experiencing local pottery and Andean music. Everyone got to play a variety of Andean, African, and Australian instruments. The pottery activity involved everyone making their own creation from a block of clay and painting it. We finished the day with a great dinner.
– Joylene and Alex M.
Wednesday June 20, 2018
Today was our final day at the service site. 🙁 We moved and stripped lots of large trees and also moved over 75 giant mud bricks. These materials will be used to finish the walls and roof on the new kitchen for the women’s co-op. Right before lunch with the women, we had a limbo contest! Megan won!! It’s amazing how much we learned during our service days in the local community. After we returned to home base, everyone was given the opportunity to either go to the town square or play soccer on the local field. We spent the night preparing for our trek and getting all packed. Big day ahead!!!
Alexa, Megan and Reese
Thursday June 21, 2018
Thursday morning we rose before the sun to eat an early breakfast at 5:45. We loaded onto buses, all packed for a two-day hike through the gorgeous Andes Mountains. A scenic three-hour bus ride later, we arrived at the beginning of our trek, with six miles to go until our camp. Our tour guides led us through a few miles of Andean beauty before we stopped for a delicious lunch prepared by our guide company’s chef in a small mountain community. Afterwards we continued on to our camp, at around 14000 feet of elevation. As the sun set beautifully over the snow-capped mountains and the thin air cooled, we bundled up in all the layers we had and waited for another great meal. We all went to bed soon after, resting for another day of hiking.
Friday June 22, 2018
Today, we woke up bright and early to the smell of breakfast and the cold mountain air. We started the second half of our Lares trek right after we ate. The first hour was probably the most difficult part of the entire hike, but once we reached the top the views were amazing! We were able to make an offering with coca leaves and rocks. Thankfully, after reaching the 14,000 ft peak, the remainder of the six miles was mostly downhill. We finished our hike in Pataconcha, our service site, where we had lunch made for us. After our amazing lunch we quickly went back to our home base to unpack our bags and prepare them for Machu Picchu. Once we were ready, we headed to a delicious buffet dinner in Ollantaytambo before catching a ride on the Inca Rail train. The train ride was very relaxing and almost everyone slept the entire way. Right now we just got to our hostel in Aguas Calientes and are preparing for another awesome day here in Peru, and the highlight of the trip- Machu Picchu! Excited for the rest of the trip!
By: Kelly, Leead, and Will K.
Today we were able to explore the beautiful Incan ruins here in Ollantaytambo. After a short and scenic walk up to the top we were able to take in the beautiful and historic view. After our morning of exploration we were out on the town. Although the time out in town was short the experience was amazing. Our final day in Ollantaytambo was definitely one for the books. We concluded the night with a farewell dinner and a short and sweet toast from Sheila. The trip overall was definitely one of the best experience ever. The mentors and local staff could not have done anything more to make these last two weeks any better, the students here on this trip can all confidently say that this trip has changed our lives for the better.
Hugs and kisses,
-Diallah, Will Stanwick and Maddie