Starting at 6 AM this morning, students began trickling into our home base here in Cusco. Everyone besides two students made it today, and we’re expecting their arrival tomorrow. With our new roommates, we climbed the four flights of stairs to our rooms on the 5th floor and started unpacking. The stairs proved to be worth it after we saw the beautiful view. After our first delicious Peruvian breakfast and lunch, we played name games and got to know our family for the next three weeks. Later in the afternoon, we headed out into the streets of Cusco for a walk around the local area. We were immediately exposed to the street vendors and stray dogs followed by a beautiful town square filled with kids dancing in preparation for the Incan New Year and others playing soccer. We headed home, excited for the new memories and friendships to come, with smiles on our faces. After meeting with our small mentor groups, we enjoyed our third delicious meal and immediately got ready for bed, ready to crash after our long but successful journeys to Cusco.
first photo: group walk to town
second photo: view of the mountain side
third photo: view of the mountains from the plane this morning
fourth photo: dinner!
On our second day of our Peruvian adventure we ventured at 7 am to begin our service project of building a greenhouse for a rural school, we worked arduously begin the foundation of our community service project. By far, the best part of the day was getting to meet the kids as we indulged ourselves in their recess, where we played various forms of soccer, volleyball, hopscotch and attempted to connect with their daily lives. Afterwards we went to the grocery store and shared various forms of quinoa. We all went to the second floor and sang karaoke. After that we listened to a speaker that made us see the importance of our mission. We’re all exhausted but, ready to continue tomorrow.
Written by: Jacob, Chris, and Tatyana.
Our GLA Extravaganza – a Magical Day Tres
Today our magical adventure was filled with digging out rocks (mostly done by Julio) and a visit to the Shaman. We continued to bond over our various hardships and funny moments – some of our (unspecified) students faced the many woes of the world traveller. We began to build the base for the green house that will be for the Peruvian school. The children were excited to see the effort we put into the first steps of the green house, some even began to help us dig out rocks and dirt. After a long day of work and a great meal we all traveled to the local Shaman where we gave offerings to the gods, we got our fortunes read and had some unexpected…happenings (Stay tuned, Gina and Aaron Schroeder!). Some of us were even told that we will have multiple jobs and be passionate about them! (Stay tuned, Claire and Bobby Misko, & Lisa Witt & Steve Herz). Overall, a successful and informative.
– Maddy S, Hannah M and Sara H
Starting at 6:00 AM, students and mentors were woken up to the sound of the drums from Down With the Sickness and flashing strobe lights by their leaders of the day. They were not amused…
An hour later, they piled into the buses for a 45 minute scenic ride to the village of Patabamba. The ride was probably more terrifying than scenic from all the skinny roads and steep heights. Students then broke into 4 groups and were each assigned a host family to work with for the day. Some groups shucked corn while others picked beans, and our families fed us a tasty snack of cheese, potatoes, and quinoa soup. We then played a soccer game with the local community and admired the view from the high altitude. After the ride back to home base, we ate dinner and got ready for a night of fireworks and churros. We walked two and a half miles to the city square to see the festival celebrating the end of the week of Cusco. After struggling through rough crowds, we found a fabulous spot to watch the flamboyant fireworks from. The 5 mile round trip proved worth it, AND no one got lost. (:
We made a new friend when a stray dog followed us back to home base, but then Miguel shooed him away. 🙁 How rude.
We tiredly shlepped to our rooms, changed, brushed our teeth, and fell into bed, excited to sleep in the next day.
Renee, Arzoo, & Dustin
The morning was a special and happy one for the group, as everyone slept in until eight for a sightseeing tour instead of struggling to wake up at six for service. The city tour was around Cusco and its surrounding areas, including various Inca ruins. Some of the sites we saw were Tambomachay, Pukapukara, Q’enqo, and Saqsayhuaman. In the city itself, we went to Qorikancha (Temple of the Sun) and Basilica Catedral. Tambomachay is the “Water Temple,” which has had nonstop running channels of water since its construction. Our tour guide, Arturo, explained to us that the Incas built everything with the same attention of detail and how the buildings had changed over time. This was our first stop, and after a short bus ride, we then arrived at the greenhouse that the previous year’s GLA group built. Although the greenhouse was empty and plants were still being ordered, the current group had an idea of what the project would look like upon completion. Along the way, we met friendly and excited locals – both the women and children. From there, we traveled to the other sites previously mentioned. We went through caves, tunnels, and explored the areas while doing some light shopping as well.
Lunch was a special treat today. The group was taken to a restaurant on the side of the hill overlooking the city of Cuzco. Although there was an initial mix up and we went the wrong restaurant, we eventually found the one we were supposed to be at. We had the opportunity to enjoy many different foods – ranging from chicken to pasta to alpaca. Both the view and the dessert (ice cream :)) were greatly appreciated by the group.
Qorikancha, Temple of the Sun, was our next stop of the day, where a large number of paintings were displayed. Most of the artwork was completed by anonymous painters, and represented the religion here at Cuzco throughout the centuries following the introduction of Catholicism. Our tour guide explained the historic background of these works, and we headed to the Basilica Catedral in the city center. The Cathedral’s construction spanned over 140 years, and was completed in the 1600s. Arturo explained much of the religious background of the Incas, and how Catholicism was a significant influence. For example, Jesus is known as the God of the Earthquakes, and holds an extremely important role in the religion. Also, Arturo noted that the most of the artwork in the Cathedral mimicked the European paintings and was not signed, as the local painters were not allowed to.
At about five in the afternoon, we returned to homebase. From there, we had free time until dinner. A game named “Fishbowl” was organized by the mentors for the night. Everyone seemed to enjoy their time with inside jokes, awkward relationship stories, and interpretive dance battles (even one between Sara and Miguel).
That’s all for today!
Talia L, Dayanara O, Hannah S
Today we went back to the service site, and we finished doing the trenches and we started to put the rocks inside. After lunch, we went to a local orphanage and got a tour. We also played with the kids on their playground. After dinner we played Buffa Buffa, an interesting team building game that was very new for many of us. We learned about how different cultures interact with one another through this game.
We woke up and air horned everybody to death before heading to service. There we embarked on a muddy adventure where nobody was spared. We had various fried objects for lunch and then went to Andean/Incan music workshop where we attempted to learn how to play the pan flute and “waka waka.”It was a grand ensemble. After dinner we made a grocery run where are stocked up on chips and candy, and went to a sketchy pharmacy. It was a splendid day.
Martine, Chris, and Jacob
By Madeline S, Spencer G, and Hannah M
Our Magical GLA Experience – Day 8
We started out the day by busting into our group’s rooms and dancing to “Milkshake” while wearing headlamps. The Peruvian solstice celebration was today, so the group trekked to the plaza to bask in the festivities. It is the festival of the sun, and is therefore a highly regarded and celebrated part of the Peruvian/Incan culture. While it was fun and a great way to experience the culture, we were bombarded with street vendors! A word to the wise – “No tengo dinero” is your best friend. Afterwards we began to work on the greenhouse; the walls are being constructed with mud and rocks. Nobody was safe from the mud; Julio said we looked like his pigs by the end of it! We also began packing for the big hike to Machu Picchu on Friday – stay tuned!
Love, your muddy children
We went to service as usual today, which began at eight in the morning and lasted until noon. At work, we built more of the wall with rocks and mud that we mixed with our feet. It was freezing!! Most of the foundation for the wall is now completed and we will be working on adobe bricks when we return from the hike. After lunch, the group went on a WiFi and shopping trip in the city. Students had the opportunity to contact friends and family as well as have a milkshake or coffee. Some went to shop for last minute hiking afterwards while others bought souvenirs and local products including scarves, bags, socks, etc. Upon returning to homebase, the group had dinner and watched a documentary on Machu Picchu and its history. Before going to bed, students have to have packed everything necessary for the hike from Friday to next Monday.
That’s all for today!
Dayanara O, Eliza R, Hannah S