Time Capsule Letter – October 2016
Summer Blog Posts
Wednesday, June 15
All expected students have arrived safely at home base! We’re anxiously awaiting two more students (Saige and Giulio) expected to arrive tomorrow, June 16.
Tomorrow is our first day at service!!!
June 16, 2016
Day two started bright and early, as boots were put on for the first day of service! We arose at 6 am and shoveled some breakfast down before winding our way up to the community in the hills of Cusco.
The community is called “Mayrasco”, and it is at about 13,000 ft above sea level. It is located in a beautiful valley which overlooks the city of Cusco. Upon arrival, we were greeted by community leaders, who each introduced themselves in their native language, Quechua, and expressed their gratitude for our efforts.
Our project is to build a fish farm for the community. We are to build three different ponds, on three different levels of terrace. The water from the ponds will feed into one another in order to oxygenate the water for the fish, and ultimately waterfall into a large reservoir. The fish that will be raised in these ponds will be used as a valuable source of nutrition for the children of the village to promote health and enable them to continue their education. We split off into three teams, and, after a safety demonstration on how to use the tools, got to work!
Between water breaks, songs, and getting to know you conversations, the time passed quickly! After two hours flew by, we took a snack break and hiked down into the community to meet the school children during their recess.
The students were initially shy, but once a soccer ball appeared that quickly changed. They eagerly led us out to the “cancha”-soccer field, and we commenced laughing and playing for about an hour. It was so difficult to say good-bye, but we had more work to do before lunch! We all bade “nos vemos mañana” (see you tomorrow), and hiked back up the mountain to our site for a last half hour of solid work.
When we returned for a hard-earned lunch and shower, we were joined by our late arriving group members – Saige and Giulio! We are all so happy to be a full group of 19!
In the evening, we were joined by a Peruvian economist who spoke to us about the socioeconomic challenges of life in Cusco and the surrounding communities. The talk was very informative and strengthened our sense of purpose and dedication to our service project.
After sharing stories, we happily retreat to our rooms to prepare for tomorrow’s activities and get a good nights sleep! Buenas noches!
Bryce & Julia
June 17, 2016
Day three has come and gone and was even better than before. The morning began like the last with our daily service. However, though it may have been very fulfilling, we are all already starting to feel it. Our backs are aching. Our arms are sore, but we have never felt better. Through our extensive efforts, our team has made amazing progress in just these couple days. With morale incredibly high and motivation through the roof, it’s really starting to come together. After about four hours of work, we decided to call it a day and move on to our next excursion.
Once again we were able to play with the local children, and they just keep getting feistier. Every day they seem to open more and more to us. Games were played such as duck, duck, goose (pato, pato, gonzo in Spanish), tag, futbol, and many more!
When we returned back to home-base, we were given the chance to relax before our next exciting event. (Trust me. We needed it) Anyway, without hesitation we hopped on the next bus. About thirty minutes later, we arrived at this beautiful open field with gorgeous lighting. At first, it was a little concerning, for there was no one in sight, but surely enough we were greeted by an indigenous “music man”. He showed us a multitude of ancient Inca instruments, as well as demonstrating how to play them. Luckily, we were also able to try to play these, yet most of us were not very successful. Nevertheless, it was incredibly fun and an amazing experience.
To finish our night, after dinner, we watched two Ted Talk videos explaining what it means to create a story and how important it is to have more than one story. It really put things into perspective as to why we’re here. Each day we are expanding our very own stories. By being exposed to this new culture, it has already been truly eye-opening. Through these next few weeks we hope to broaden our story even further.
Written by Ethan Schwartz and Sabrina Delaney
June 19, 2016
Today, our began our morning with an extra hour of sleep, a gift that all of the campers were surely appreciative of. After a typical breakfast, we took off in buses. First we explored ancient Inca sites and traversed natural rock slides. Later in the day we also explored the Cuzco Cathedral, appreciating the various altarpieces, Spanish Baroque architecture and painting, and history behind the colossal building.
Here’s also a bonus video from an impromptu lunch dance party! Click here to view. (Video may load upside-down; our apologies for the inconvenience.)
Finally, we also explored the remnants of the Incan Temple of the Sun in the late afternoon before returning home. Aside from traditional GLA activities, everyone also watched “Paloma de Papel”, a story surrounding the Peruvian civil war in the 1980’s between the traditional Peruvian government and communist radicals.
By Ashley Silva and Samir Kumar
June 21, 2016
Hey guys! It’s Ashvin (Hi Mom). Today was a really productive day in Cuzco. As per usual, we got up at 6, ate breakfast, and headed to our work site to begin our daily service. And let me tell you, building fish farms is TOUGH. We dug, picked, and shoveled for 3 hours before spending some time with the kids of the local village school. Afterwords, we went back to the home base where I ate a huge lunch and took a MUCH needed shower.
For our afternoon activity, we participated in a textile workshop where we learned how textiles and fabrics were made. Personally, I thought it was so cool how all the dyes were completely natural, ranging from plants to even insects to use as dyes! After, we were able to shop for hand-woven clothing made out of sheep wool, alpaca wool, etc. The whole experience was so cool, although I probably spent way too much on alpaca wool clothing at the textile workshop… All in all, it was an awesome day learning not only about Peruvian culture but making significant progress in our service work. Hasta luego!
For our afternoon activity we went to a girls orphanage. As we got there we were greeted with a multitude of hugs from many different little girls ranging from ages 6-12. In fact, I was embraced in a HUGE hug by two little girls. We also had a tour of the facility before going to the playground with the kids. Since we have already become like a big family, it was an ease to start playing different games with the kids. The two little girls that hugged me decided to take my phone and took pictures of each other, me, and the other people in the GLA group. They did my hair in a ponytail, spicing it up with a beautiful red flower. Later, I was sitting on top of a seesaw and saw all of my friends having a time of their lives as I looked out in the distance. As I reflect upon our day, these little girls showed us how to enjoy the little things in life. They brought so much joy to our group and left us with a memory we could never forget. I also got to work on my Spanish since I came into this trip knowing nothing at all. Hasta pronto!
June 22, 2016
Buenos noches from Cusco! The notorious nineteen have survived their seventh day of service, officially passing the halfway mark. Our fish farms have progressed all the while.
Despite the physical strain, the process has proved rewarding through interactions with the children and leaders of the Mayrasco community, girls in the orphanage, and various educators who were eager to share their knowledge, in private sessions with the group, about the challenges facing Peruvians. Limited access to full nutritional needs, continued education, and other socioeconomic strains that are all too familiar everywhere in the world, all stain the development and success of these communities. In our learning about these topics the work we are doing has become more and more meaningful while further motivating us in our contributions to the small village of Mayrasco.
Our gratitude and eagerness continue to thrive as we look forward to five more service days, along with additional visits to other communities and foster homes throughout the remaining time.
We’ll continue to update you on our latest adventures. Buenos noches from our home base to yours!
-Palmer White & Gavin McGough
June 27, 2016
Hello all! The last couple of days have been a lot of fun here in Cusco.
First it is worthy to mention the day we spent Saturday, peeling beans and spending the morning with the Andean people living at Patabamba, an agricultural mountain community south of Cusco. They invited us into their homes, telling us upon arrival we should consider ourselves family, and fed us potatoes and quinoa soup full of herbs and fat leaves of spinach. It was a moving display of hospitality, which was followed by an afternoon playing soccer on the hillside above the clay-brick village. The Andes hung in the background against the blue sky, and full clouds cast moving shadows over the wheat fields and grazing sheep.
One of the more exciting experiences for the group was the Pisac Market. This market, about 45 minutes out of Cusco, had literally everything you could want to buy: sweaters, shirts, hats, trinkets, backpacks, bags, food, everything. Vendors set up shop in a central square over cobblestone streets, creating alleyways in which to explore the goods, where tourists browsed Peruvian crafts, alongside locals seeking exotic potatoes (really!). We think our parents will also be happy to know that we saved a couple soles by haggling, a common practice in markets like Pisac. All in all, it was a great experience, even though we probably bought way more stuff than we needed.
Today we also had the opportunity to learn a traditional Inca dance. This dance, focused on the idea of birds and flying, required us to put on traditional robes that included hats, jackets, pants, and sashes (we looked HOT). Although it was cold and slightly wet, we still had a great time and learned an awesome dance.
-Ashvin Dhawan and Gavin McGough