All the students have arrived safely and most are about ready for bed! Our first students started arriving at 5:00 this morning, and we had everyone together by lunchtime. After exchanging money some students spent the afternoon resting and others went for a quick walk through the neighborhood. One of our students, Tayah, celebrated her birthday today and the kitchen staff baked her a delicious cake. We are ready to tour the service site tomorrow and get to know each other better in the next few days.
Today, we continued working on advancing the cuy (guinea pig) farms in the Mayrasco community. It was only our second day of work but it’s already so rewarding to see the progress we’ve made on building the farms and the impact that it will make on the families living in the community. It’s so interesting to experience such a different culture and definitely makes me/the group appreciate the opportunities we have back home a lot more.
In the afternoon, we went to an Andean music workshop and were able to learn more about the history of traditional Peruvian music while surrounded by the breath-taking mountains. Listening to the man teach us about the music, it was made evident how proud these people are of their heritage and how excited they are to share it with us. Their way of living differs greatly from what we consider the ‘norm’ but its humbling how happy Peruvians are with the things that they have.
Today we visited the community of Patabamba, where we divided into small groups. Each group visited a different family and helped them with household chores. Most (if not all) groups helped to separate beans from the pods. Then, each group ate freshly boiled potatoes, cheese, and quinoa soup that was made by the families. They also gave us a sweet tea. In our group, we held the guinea pigs and learned about how useful they are to the community. Later, we walked to a small hill where you could see many Andean mountains. It was one of the most beautiful sites that most of us have ever seen! Then, some of us played football (soccer) with the women and children of the families. Overall, it was such a beautiful day and such a life-altering experience!
Today we went back to the service site to continue working on building the foundation for the cuy houses. Our group started mixing mud today to cover the first layer of rock, for the base of the structure. After a few hours of working we took a break and went up to the soccer field and played with the kids at the school. We played soccer and pato ,pato ,ganso (duck,duck, goose).
Today was our last full day here in Peru and it is extremely bittersweet. While I’m excited to go home and share my pictures, stories and memories with friends and family, I will also miss all the friends I made here and the constant activities and opportunities that we were presented with. It’s crazy how much I learned about myself, how to work with others, and the Peruvian culture in just two weeks and I’m extremely grateful for all the valuable lessons I learned and all the great friends I made.
Personally, my favorite part of the whole trip was the three-day trek (and seeing Machu Picchu) that we got back from last night. The first day of hiking was extremely grueling but incredibly rewarding once we all reached the campsite and got to look down over the mountain that we had just climbed up. At night, we got the chance to star gaze without the night sky being intruded by city lights and it was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. Being surrounded by huge mountains and an ever bigger sky made me feel so small and humbled but also reminded me that despite being in such a big world, trips such as ones with GLA equip me (and others) with tools to make a big difference in a big world. The next day we continued on our trek to the town of Aguas Calientes and the day after, we hiked up to Machu Picchu. It was also extremely humbling and thought provoking to think that the Incans that built the city, one day abandoned it- but hundreds of years later its considered a “wonder of the world”. This reminded me the things I do now and think to be almost insignificant when I don’t get instant gratification, are possibly more impactful and important than I think.
I’m beyond thankful for this trip, my mentors, and the friends that I made. I definitely will be going on another trip with GLA in the future and encourage other teens to, as well.
We finished the trip by going to a farewell dinner with live music and dancing. Some of us got pulled up on stage and the whole restaurant sang to Alana for her birthday.