June 22, 2017
Today was the day! We were so excited to meet everyone and have an amazing day. We started out our day with a couple airport visits, lots of breakfast and had a good time getting to know everyone.
We finished out our day with a birthday celebration, dinner, and orientation.
All of us are looking forward to meeting our last two students tomorrow morning. So excited for the opportunities this program offers and all the fun, adventure, and service that lies in the weeks ahead.
Day Three Blog
This morning, we had to wake up at around 7 because breakfast was now at7:15 instead of 8, which is what we were expecting since that was the time for breakfast the day before. We had a delicious variety of foods like eggs, sweet bread, and sausages with freshly squeezed orange juice, which was really refreshing. Later in the day for lunch, we had a delicious quinoa soup and potato bites with guacamole. When dinner came around, we had some chorizo, which is thinly sliced beef in a savory broth with rice and also potatoes.
Today in Cusco, Peru, our #squad did our first day of service and our last day of double service. Double service is working at two different times during the day and since today was the hardest we needed more time. Today during service we mostly transported materials like bricks, dirt, and cement up flights of stairs for hours. We also did other things like help break up dirt and mix cement, which was very tiring very fast. Even though service was really tiring and strenuous, everyone maintained a positive attitude and really put in the work. We were working on multiple flights of stairs passing up materials to one another in an assembly line, which worked out great.
There are so, so many dogs all in different sizes and shapes. You can’t go two seconds on the streets of Cusco without seeing dogs. They are literally in all locations and sometimes follow you. Most of the dogs are friendly but there are some that are defensive. At service, we worked near two dogs named Olivia and Negra. Negra was very chill most of the time and really liked getting pet. Olivia was the feisty one and at times it would seem like her constant barking would be pointed at nothing.
Written By: Emily & Paul
DAY 4: June 25, 2017
The day started at 7:15 with a breakfast consisting of crepes, oatmeal, sweet potato chips and assorted fruit. Our first stop was at Moray in which we saw the Sacred Valley. Here the Incas created an agricultural advancement that showed which microclimate produced the best and most efficient growing crop. We then bused to the local salt farm known as Maras, where acres of pure salt is cultivated. Shortly thereafter, the group made their way to a wonderful buffet where they could feast on glorious food. We were able to try the delicacy of Peru: Cuy. This dish includes roasted guinea pig that tastes similar to pig. We were also served fresh cold beverages which seem to be quite rare in the Sacred Valley. We hopped back onto the buses and drove to Chincheros. Along the way, we witnessed a variety of diverse sights, such as stray dogs, llamas, alpacas, pigs, sheep, and cows. Once we arrived to Chincheros, we were greeted by multiple merchants, some of which were children who asked you to purchase local merchandise. We walked up the curvy trail to the ceremonial site for Incas which was later modernized by colonization. Our tour guide retold the long history of the land and guided us down into the ancient ruins. Here the Incas performed astrological tasks that foretold their future. After such a long day exploring, we drove back home, unfortunately getting delayed by traffic. About 2 hours later, we divulged the chicken and vegetables provided by our amazing staff. Finally, the day came to a close and we all snuggled up in our cozy beds.
Written By: Spencer and Brooke
DAY 5: June 26, 2017
We started the day early with a breakfast of sugar cane, kiwi, bread, and plantains. We put our hiking boots on and drove to Tambomachay. We visited the Inca ruins and watched sheep graze. Then we continued on to Pupa Paucara, Kenko, and Sacsayhuaman, which are all more ruins. Along the way, we stopped at an alpaca clothing store where we learned about how Peruvian people dye alpaca clothing. We walked from place to place in preparation for our hike. We will all come home super fit. Each view continued to get better and better. We looked down at Cusco and snapped a lot of pictures. We stopped for lunch at an Indian restaurant in buffet style and stuffed our faces until we were full. We spent some time after lunch at a Peruvian grocery store and were able to buy some fun snacks. We explored Cusco as we made our way to a market. Within the market, vendors lined the walls making way for the food being sold in the center. We grabbed some souvenirs to bring back to the United States. As we hurried out of the market, we grabbed delicious juices and got on the bus to go back to home base. There we had breaded chicken, rice, cucumbers, tomatoes, and starfruit juice. We all met to plan the next day of service with the kids. After some free time, we all crashed after a long day.
Written By: Martha and Jake L.
Day 6: June 27, 2017
Today we learned the value of serving the community by working with a few of the children in Peru. In the school we worked with the kids by doing an art project with each child, teaching them english, and playing soccer. The highlight of working with the kids was the smiles on their faces as soon as we entered the room. The language barrier was a setback at first, but once we began to teach, the language barrier become more of a learning experience. In the afternoon, we got the chance to learn about the music and dance culture of Cusco. We learned a basic song on the pan flute and we learned a traditional Peruvian dance that we will later perform at the end of the trip.
Day 7: June 28, 2017
Today we spent the day continuing the work on Mario’s greenhouse. We made a lot of progress today, making a concrete walkway into the greenhouse, painting murals inside of Mario’s school and tiling the bathroom. The work today was very difficult but it felt great to see some of the progress we have made over the last couple of days. After we got done working, Mario talked to us about what to expect on the three day trip to Machu Picchu. After dinner, we watched The Danger of a Single Story and had a good conversation about the dangers of stereotyping. Finally, we did a group activity that allowed us to share our experiences with the rest of the group.
Written By: Nathan Hellstedt and Rachel Doan
Day 8: June 29, 2017
So, we started our day at 7:15 with a breakfast consisting of eggs, potatoes, watermelon, bread, and hot chocolate. After breakfast we walked to the local field to play soccer with some people from the community. We played many intense games which took some getting used to because of the high altitude. We felt as if we had a disadvantage compared to the people who live here, which may explain why we were beaten so badly. However, we had a great time interacting with them and getting a good workout. We took the bus back to home base for lunch, which was made up of some super delicious chicken alfredo pasta. After lunch we prepared for the three day trip to Machu Picchu, and bussed to the school to try Peruvian food. Our local director, Mario, and his wife prepared six different Peruvian dishes for us to try. The catch was we didn’t know what we were eating until after. The boys and girls were pitted against each other in a race to see who could eat each food the fastest. The six unique foods we had to try were Chicken feet, Dried pig blood, chicken gizzard, chicken heart, lamb intestine, and Bull testicle salad. There was some controversy after finding out what the foods were, but some students were eager to have more. We then went back to home base to eat dinner and celebrated Brooke’s birthday with some delicious cake. Then we went into our mentor groups and talked about the meaning of service. We have a long three days ahead of us (going up to Machu Picchu!!), but we are excited for what’s to come.
Written By: Jackson and Ananya
PS We may not be blogging until we return from Machu Picchu (on Sunday). Stay tuned!
Day 9, 10 & 11: June 30, July 1st & July 2nd
Machu Picchu Weekend
On Day 9, we woke up EARLY, VERY EARLY. We took a long and bumpy bus ride. It was all worth it because we went to an alpaca farm, there were a variety of alpaca’s. All of us, including the mentors, fed these alpacas and they were so greedy when we were feeding them greens. Some people got spat at but everyone had an amazing time. We learned all about their history and evolution. They also had the nicest bathrooms there.
On Day 10, we woke up fairly early and ate an amazing breakfast!!!!!!!!!!!!! Then we got to swim in the local hot springs where most of us got eaten alive by mosquitoes but the gorgeous view and warm water made it worth it. Later that day we hiked 5 hours by the train tracks. The view was amazing. We went off trail to the waterfalls but ended up going to the wrong one… it was a really small fall.. But then we found the right waterfall. Eventually we started back on the hike by the tracks and it started to pour rain. Everybody’s bags and clothing got wet (our clothes were soaked for days). We eventually arrived at the town and saw this beautiful hotel which we THOUGHT we were staying in but, no, we stayed somewhere else and still ended up having a fun time. We were all elated to get to the hotel because we were all so tired from our 5 hour hike through the amazon jungle, which was gorgeous. We all probably would’ve slept a little easier if we had dry clothes to sleep in but unfortunately the majority of us did not.
The next morning, Day 11, we got up around 5:45 to pack up our stuff for the trek up to Machu Picchu then we headed up to the 4th floor for a filling breakfast. After that we checked out of our hotel and left for the scenic hike up to Machu Picchu. The hike was pretty intense but it was the most amazing feeling when we reached the top. We split into two groups and went on a tour of the archaeological site. There were llamas roaming around and the whole place felt magical. After the tour, most of us hung out at the little town by the entrance but a few daredevils went on an extra 45 minute, complete uphill, hike to the Sun Gate. It was cloudy at first but it cleared up eventually and the view was absolutely incomparable. After waiting in a very long line, we took a bus back down Aguas Calientes for lunch and did a little souvenir shopping after. Then we took the train back and were fed free corn nuts and cinnamon buns on it. After that we got dinner and took another bus and finally arrived home around 11:00pm. Everyone unpacked and hung their wet clothes and then crashed.
Written By: Tyler, Natalia, Keala, and Will
Day 12: July 3rd, 2017
This morning we were able to sleep in a bit and had breakfast at 8:20. After breakfast we made our way up to the school and spent the morning with our kids. We divided into 2 groups of those working with 4 year olds and 5 year olds. In groups we played sports with the children, taught an English class and facilitated an art class. The children made pictures of insects using pipe cleaners, cotton balls and stickers on their construction paper. After spending the morning with the kids we took a bus to home base and ate lunch. We then took a bus back to the school to have a traditional music and dance class. We practiced playing our Peruvian flutes, the zampona, and then practiced our dance routines with our partners. We walked back to the home base to enjoy dinner at 6pm and following that we had our instructors for white water rafting come and explain our day tomorrow. We all were surprised to find out we are also going to be zip lining as well tomorrow. After our big surprise we worked on our capstone projects in the common areas and enjoyed free time before lights out for the night.
Written By: Madison F and Walker V
DAY 13: JULY 4TH, 2017
In celebration of July 4th, we spent the day rafting and ziplining. We woke up earlier this morning due to the two hour drive to the rafting base camp. Due to the roadblock of the teachers’ protest, we were forced to take another route which delayed us half an hour. When we arrived at the base camp, we were suited up in rafting gear including wetsuits, life jackets, booties and helmets. After, we took a fifteen minute drive down the Urubamba river to start our two hour rafting expedition. After rafting, we all crammed ourselves into the hot saunas to relax after the rigorous rafting. Then we ate a warm delicious meal of soup, chicken and rice before ziplining across the Urubamba river. We left the base camp around 3:30 to make it back to HomeBase for a 6:00 dinner which reflected the spirit of fourth of July. After dinner, we all took a bus to various coffee shops for Wi-Fi time and shopping at the supermarket to stock up on snacks for the upcoming Lares Trek.
DAY 14: JULY 5TH, 2017
Today was an extraordinary day. We went to service around 8am and then split up into groups for different construction projects. One of the groups worked on painting a mural of the alphabet for the kids in the school. Another group mixed cement and put down a walkway inside of the greenhouse. Another group leveled a hill to make room for a garden just outside of the school. The last group helped to tile a new bathroom and plaster an outside wall of the greenhouse.
The second part of our day we took part in a Pachamama ceremony held by a Shaman. He explained a specific way to give respect to Mother Earth by using different materials like grains, herbs, candy and sweets and putting them all together in an offering. After we finished the offering we had an opportunity to experience fortune telling by the Shaman. When we finished with the ceremony we walked back to home base and had a little free time to go and play sports and walk around before dinner. Then, around 7pm, we discussed our Lares Trek with Max and finished after about an hour.
Written By: Thira and Mason
DAY 15: JULY 6TH, 2017
This morning we woke
It was a very nice sleep
Breakfast was tasty
-A haiku by Devon and Molly
Like every other day of service, the amount of work we accomplished was very productive. There were no people who slacked off. Everyone was working hard to make a bathroom, another wall, a sidewalk, and a garden. After the hard satisfying work, we got to watch Despicable Me 3 with the children from Mario’s school. Afterwards we got to grab a quick snack and play some arcade games with los ninos. After the movie we came home and had lots of free time to pack for our 3 day “Lares Trek”. We then got to enjoy yet another delicious meal specially prepared for us by our kitchen staff.
Today was a very enjoyable and productive day. We are glad that we have been slowly preparing ourselves for the long hike to come.
Devon & Molly
PS. During our 3-day Lares Trek we will be unable to update the blog. Stay tuned for our next post on Monday!
DAY 16, 17 & 18: JULY 7, 8, & 9, 2017 ~ Lares Trek
First day of Lares began early Friday morning. We began the hike in Urumbamba around 8:30. Everyone was healthy. To carry our bags were 25 mules, llamas, and horses. Thirty minutes in we stopped for a snack. Continued hiking and saw Incan archaeological sites that were used to train women in textile as well as other arts. Around 11:30 we stopped in a small village where we were able to clean up outside and see how the people in the village lived. And if you were lucky you may have been able to pet a chick or duck. We had lunch in tents and were served hot soup and tea. Something we all appreciated as it began to get cold. After lunch the trek began to get more difficult and a few people began to get sick. Most of the trek was uphill and everyone went at their own pace. There were many beautiful views along the way. We stopped at 13000 feet the first night. The night was cold and everyone was bundled up in many layers. After staying by the fire for a while everyone was happy to get to bed. A challenging but scenic first day.
The second day of our trek was quite intense, as we had to hike up to the highest point yet. It was all uphill and we traveled this a bit slower than before. Again, the beautiful views were stunning. A few times we saw ponds that had a thin layer of frozen ice and we say bits of snow along the way. Yes, it was quite chilly!!! Once we reached the top we stopped to enjoy the view but we couldn’t stay still for too long, as it was very cold. We continued on our way to reach our camping grounds for the night. We arrived at around 630pm. We were well rewarded with some time in the hot springs and had a surprise dessert- a yummy peach in a sweet cinnamon sauce. Everyone was exhausted so we went to bed quite quickly.
On our third day we were able to sleep in until 830am! We had a yummy breakfast of oatmeal and pancakes with honey and dulce de leche. Then we had some time to pack, take another dip in the hot springs, go on an optional 45-minute hike, and relax around our beautiful camping grounds. Around 1130, we started loading the bus to head back to homebase. After our 3 hour bus ride home, we unpacked and many of us took naps. Then we had a dinner consisting of a delicious homemade mustard sauce, chicken, rice and salad. After dinner we played running pictionary, in which we had to draw out various things that had happened so far and it was a blast!
Jake H and Lizzy
Day 19: July 10, 2017
Today was the final day at the service site for our three week program. Mario, the regulator of the project, gave us tasks to conclude our work on the greenhouse project. A group worked inside the school near the children in which they painted a beautiful mural of a train set with numbers. They were able to paint all the boxcars blue and began splashing yellow on as a secondary color. Another group worked in the bathroom where they painted the walls above the tiles as well as the door and window frames. The bathroom really seemed to open up with the nice light color schemes. A strong group of boys were able to level a large plot of land that will be used later as a side garden for Mario’s school; the land used to be a steep hill but with a few pickaxes and shovels all the dirt was removed and leveled. A final group cleaned up the remainder of the work site such as dusting out the bathroom, removing extraneous cement, and bagging up leftover dirt. While at the school we also worked on our music and dance performance that we will all present tomorrow. We were able to finally play our flutes in sync with the instructor and the drummers. Can’t wait to see our performance tomorrow!
At midday, we came back to homebase and ate a savory lunch made by our kitchen staff. We then took a bus out to the market where we could purchase a collection of souvenirs with the remainder of our soles (peruvian currency). Sweaters, bracelets, blankets, hats, anything that one desired was available. We happily bought all that we wanted to remember our trip here in Peru. Shortly thereafter, the group split into thirds and found local cafes for wifi time. With delicious treats and meals, the students connected with parents and friends with smiles slapped on their faces. After returning home for dinner, we all huddled in the kitchen for a surprise movie night. Wrapped in blankets and munching on snacks, everyone was intrigued by the movie Point Blank, an action movie about extreme sports. We then went off to bed after another long day in Cusco, Peru.
Written By: Brooke and Ari
Today was a very sad but very eventful day. We woke up for our last breakfast together and headed to the theatre for our service celebration. We had been practicing both a dance and a musical song played on our flutes to perform for the kids and the teachers. Although we were a little rusty, it was a good way to say goodbye to Mario and the kids. After the service celebration we headed back to homebase for lunch and packing. We also had student evaluations to reflect on how well the mentors did and how the program is in the students’ opinion. Later in the evening we commenced our last mentor group which was sad because our mentors were great role models for us. After that we took our stools to the terrace where all the students talked and laughed. We all enjoyed a nice dinner together made by our chefs. Pati purchased a piñata which many students smacked really hard except for the time one student who almost accidentally hit another. We later enjoyed some carrot cake which was amazing. After dinner we all went downstairs for our talent show where Mason and I were the MC’s and, might I add, we did an amazing job. There was an immense amount of talent in the room, ranging from singers to comedians and our mentors had quite the talent too. We ended our night with a slideshow of pictures of all the moments the students shared together including the mentors. Until next year, peace out Peru, it’s been real (Next stop Fiji).
Written By: Tyler and Mason