Thursday June 28, 2018
What an exciting day we had in Peru! Our great team of Mentors woke up very early to meet all our students in Cusco for their arrival. After many long hours of travel, students were grateful to have friendly faces waiting to help them at the airport. Once we got all the bags- everyone’s bag made it!- we took our shuttles back to Homebase.
As you can see in the group picture, Homebase is situated right in the mountains. Our town is at the end of the Sacred Valley and is called Ollantaytambo (It’s easier to say after some practice). This evening involved name games, orientation, getting to know everyone and mentor groups. We have two adventurous weeks planned and I look forward to working with this group of bright individuals. Everyone headed to bed early to get a good night’s rest. Not without stopping to gaze at the brilliant stars overhead first though!
Stay tuned for updates of our service activities, cultural adventures and outdoor excursions!
P.S. Our Local Director, Raquel, is hiding out in the far right of the picture! She’s super happy to welcome this group of students to her home town and share all her local knowledge.
Saturday June 30, 2018
We had another amazing day in Peru! The day began with a tour of the local ruins and the town of Ollantaytambo. We got to experience our first market and learn some history of our town. Later in the day after a wonderful lunch, we had an option of going to a WiFi caffe, playing SOCCER!!!, or staying at the home base. I chose soccer and so did quite a few others:) It was so much fun, and one boy named Jose that was watching us joined our game!
He was so good and so was everyone else. The ball went over the wall once though but we retrieved it and a cactus didn’t pop it unlike last trip so yay! Once you got over the altitude it was amazing! And we might be playing more soccer later in the week! Then we went back and talked with our group in preparation for this amazing Quechuan and Spanish story teller. He shared tales of his Incan ancestors and how in their culture one plus one can equal three- it’s crazy!
The Andean/Amazonian cultures believe that everything has two parts, like moon and sun, male and female, past and future. He talked about the need for multicultural professors in order to understand these beliefs. He also explained why the children think the way they do to help us make sense of their fundamentally different ways of thought. He told us about how grandparents are considered the future and grandchildren the past for being born later while the grandparents were born before. It was truly amazing! I’m just so blessed to be here and to experience this with all these amazing people!:)
Sunday July 1, 2018
Stayed the first day service today, we left home base around 9am and arrived in Huillac around 10. The natives told us about their culture and taught us some basic Quechua phrases. Shortly after, we continued building the weaving center to help the women of Huillac become economically independent. Service included: mixing mud into clay to be later used to make bricks, clearing out space in the structure. After cleaning up, we arrived back at home base for lunch. Following some free time, local musicians and artists came to teach us ceramic basics and native Peruvian music. The group separated to either play soccer or go to the market to get snacks. We all joined back at home base for dinner and immediately following there was a surprise bonfire, where we told ghost stories, bonded and sang together.
-by Ava and Peri
Monday July 2, 2018
Today we had a full day of service. There was brick making, dirt sifting, rock breaking and ground leveling at different stations. We got to the foundation at around 10 o’clock and worked until lunch which was at 12. We went to Marta’s (she is the president of the women’s co-up we are working with) house for lunch where we had fried rice and crackers. After lunch we went back up to the foundation and worked until 3. We got back to home base around 4 and some students went to go play soccer with the locals. We then went to dinner at a local pizza place. Some of us got the chance to try alpaca pizza. Overall it was a rewarding and fun filled day!!
-Brooke & Nichole
Tuesday July 3, 2018
Today we had a full day of service working to construct the weaving center for the women of Huilloc. We left home base after breakfast around 9:00 and arrived at the site around 9:45. We continued our work from yesterday by splitting up into stations that consisted of sifting, mixing adobe, laying mud bricks, creating mud bricks, shoveling dirt, hammering stones, and collecting water. We worked hard until lunch around 12:30 at Marta’s house where we ate rice with squash soup. After lunch we were presented with the work of several women weavers who sell their goods to Awamaki (the NGO we are partnered with). We were given the opportunity to buy items straight from the women who made them and thank them personally. We then headed back to the service site and continued to work until 3:00. We later got back to home base around 4:00. We had dinner at 6:00 and began packing for our trek tomorrow morning!
– Abby & Bailey
Wednesday July 4, 2018
Hola everyone! Greetings from Peru! Even though we were not in the US for the Fourth of July this year, we all had a great time celebrating by starting our 2 day hike.
We had to get up super early for breakfast at 5:45. Afterwards, we took off on a bus ride to the start of our hike. We hiked for around 3 hours before stopping for lunch in a little town. We were able to give the local children some gifts such as pencils and marbles. The views throughout the entire hike today was absolutely incredible. We walked among wild alpacas, llamas, horses, and sheep.
After lunch, we hiked another 3 hours which was mostly uphill to our camp site. We all settled down, ate some dinner, and gazed at all the breathtaking stars. To celebrate the Fourth of July, we each got sparklers and had cake! We topped off the night by singing some classic American songs such as The Star Spangled Banner, Party in the USA, and Firework, by Katy Perry. Most of us fell asleep early because of being so exhausted from the hike.
We are all very excited to finish our hike tomorrow. Hasta luego!
-Brenna, Emily, and Peyton
Thursday July 5, 2018
Today we woke up at 6 o’clock in order to pack up our tents and get ready for the second half of the trek. We left shortly after breakfast and had an hour of hiking upwards until we reached the overpass, the highest point of the trek at over 14,000 feet! The hike was super difficult but the breathtaking views were definitely worth it.
We made a traditional Andean offering to Pacha Mama with a rock statue at the top of the pass. The rest of the afternoon involved hiking through high alpine mountains until arriving to Patacantcha for lunch. It was about three more hours of hiking but again, the dank views made it worth it. After lunch, we drove back to home base to pack an overnight bag and to have dinner in town, later catching the train to Aguas Calientes to stay in a hotel for the night. We are all tired from our hike but very excited for Machu Picchu tomorrow!!!
-Lucy, Joey and Thomas
Machu Pichu, a place of wonder, freedom, and ideas. Machu Pichu is one of the world’s seven wonders and one of its many mysteries. Besides being an Inca civilization no one knows what it was for. Some say it was a convent for the virgins of the sun, others day it was a beautiful winter sanctuary. However the tour guide of my group, Santi, said something that struck my interest. He said that Machu Picchu was a freedom to decide what you thought about it. What I’ve decided is that Machu Picchu is freedom itself to express all the beautiful sides of humanity of the Incan people. Machu Picchu is beautiful! It has amazing architecture of the Inca people. You could tell who was royal versus unimportant based on how the stones were shaped and if there was clay in between them or not. The Mountain views were breathtaking, and you could really feel the energy of everything around you. Walking in the Inca’s footsteps showed us how truly amazing they were and like them we can always be a part of something bigger. Like the Incas to the mountains, we are to our service project.:) over all it was a very fun and beautiful adventure!!!:) alrighty bye for now!:)😜😋
-by Ella K.
Saturday July 7, 2018
Today we slept in and had a great breakfast. Afterwards, we went to play soccer or get wifi at a local café for an hour. Then, we drove to Pisaq and had a delicious three course lunch at a restaurant where we sat on pillows on the floor. Later, we shopped at an outdoor market for souvenirs and fun gifts. Bartering in a local market was super exciting! After the Pisac market we got to go to an Alpaca farm! We were taught how the wool is made into very soft, high-quality goods.
We saw some women weaving the yarn from the alpaca wool. We also got to feed the Alpacas some alfalfa! After the alpaca farm we got to visit some ruins near Pisac. We learned about the burial traditions of the Incas and saw some tombs in the mountains. On our way back to Ollantaytambo we stopped at a restaurant that sold cuy (guinea pig) and everyone that wanted to got to try some (Cuy is a delicacy in Peru!).
-by Nichole & Chelsea
Sunday July 8, 2018
We woke up early again today for a scenic hour bus ride to Cusipata for rafting. When we arrived, we received wetsuits and safety gear to help us stay warm in the frigid rapids. We were split up into rafts in groups of 6 and learned the basics for Class 2-3 rapids. After this, we got on the river and realized just how cold the water was when the sun went behind the clouds. Even though the wind and water were chilly, the wetsuits did their job! The adventure was unforgettable with several exciting parts along the river. We had lunch at the lodge after warming up and had the opportunity to zip line over the river! We drove back home and played an intense game of Peruvian jeopardy after dinner, and although we were all exhausted by the end, we enjoyed today’s adventure!