Last Day of Service
It is finally here, our last day of service in Yuncaypata. We successfully finished the foundation after long hours of placing rocks in the trenches and delicately crafting the mud to complete the structure. The long hard three weeks of manual labor with limited tools ended late as we worked tirelessly though lunch to complete what we had started. Our hearts were touched as we shared final memories with the children from the school near our worksite as we ate crackers and juice and played during our long break. As emotional as it was, our goodbye was humored as the kids attempted to steal our soccer ball during our tragic exit. As we purged our shopping addictions at the artisan market, we indulged ourselves in knitted llama ponchos and fuzzy hats followed by our final (and of course delicious) dinner at the home-base. The baby cows, loud donkeys and stray dogs of Yuncaypata will be missed, as the work of our blood sweat and tears will be carried on by the next group.
-Sofia, Gen, and Harrison
A Hard Day of Service
Today we started with a hard day of service. We continued to move boulders, make mud, and create a solid foundation for our greenhouse. Everyone was still exhausted from our long weekend, even three days later! Following our service, we went into the town of Yuncaypata to watch a religious celebration of the Virgen del Carmen. The children from the school we volunteer at were all dressed up in traditional Peruvian costumes and they performed a dance for the village. The teenagers of the village also performed a dance that consisted of a lot of whipping! Apparently, this is to represent bloodshed. All of the villagers were very welcoming and offered us bean porridge and “chicha”. After we left the town and had our lunch, we all headed to a boys’ orphanage. We brought donations of laundry detergent, shampoo, and art supplies, among other things. They gave us a tour of the orphanage and explained that it housed boys ages 6 -18. We all had a blast playing with the children. When it was time to go, we all were extremely heartbroken that we had to leave them because we had had such a wonderful time. Only 3 more days to go, so we’ll see you soon Mom and Dad!
–Ashley Widen, Sarah Gordon and Rachel Ayres
After a difficult day of service yesterday moving boulders, we had to continue this task to complete the foundation. It was obvious how tired and fatigued everyone was, physically and mentally. Halfway through service we took a half-hour break. Silvia’s mentor group went to the school to teach the English alphabet while the other mentor groups went to the basketball court to relax, hangout, and play soccer. We continued service for the last hour before lunch and then came back to the home base. After lunch, we had time to relax and we watched a documentary called “Bullied” and later discussed the prevalence of bullying in our schools and ways to stop it. Following the documentary, we had a speaker come to talk to us about the health problems in Peru that many children face. According to her presentation, 5 in 10 children in the Cusco region have a parasite, 7 in 10 children are anemic, and nearly 2 out of every 10 children suffer from chronic malnutrition. OK, love you bye.
– Calli Haramaras, Hannah Berzinis, Kiley Therrien
Starting Our Last Week
Today we started service for the third week. We were told earlier that we were getting gravel, however when we arrived at the work site we were greeted by giant boulders. We then started moving these rocks by both assembly line and by wheelbarrows, which turned out to be a very demanding job, especially since we were all so sore from the hike. We also had to start mixing dirt and hay to make clay for filling in the foundation. We got to hang out with the kids in the elementary school again today which was very fun since they were so adorable. After another hour of hard work and getting covered in mud and rock dust, we visited a llama farm. We got to go into a llama pen and feed them, and we were suddenly swarmed by tons of super fluffy llamas, there was one super fluffy one we dubbed “big booty Judy (see photo)” The llamas got a little mad at one point and one spit all over us, which a few girls were quite looking forward to! We also learned that there is one very rare llama, the Vicuna, and the clothes made of its fur costs thousands of dollars, but don’t worry mom and dad, no one bought a 3,000 sol sweater!!!
– Alex, Isabel, and Andrew
This weekend was very hard and tiring for the whole group. We hiked a total of 45km towards Machu Picchu. We hiked uphill and downhill and took amazing pictures during our long hours of walking. From the bright stars at night to the ice caps on the mountain tops we were amazed by the scenery. We walked through loose rocks and dusty trials. Even though one of our own had hurt her ankle we all still managed to stay strong and hike though the misty clouds to our campsite. After two nights of camping at high altitudes, the group hiked the rest of the way down the mountain and took a few buses towards the town of St Teresa. Soon after we arrived, we learned that the train was overbooked with only 10 seats available. So the rest of the group hiked an extra, epic 9km! Though long and tiring, were were able to see the back side of Machu Picchu! Aguas Calientes treated us with a good dinner, wifi and a cozy hotel. And the next morning we saw the ruins of the amazing Machu Picchu which made the hiking worth it all. It is sad to think that we only have 6 days left on our Peruvian journey. Thank goodness we all took lots of pictures.
-Ashley, Yaseen, Felix, Diego, Michelle, Isaac, Brian, Kamran, Nick, Lisa
Worms, Weaving, and Words
Today was a day of worms, weaving and words. The group began the day with a series of notably chaotic wake up calls, a egg-citing breakfast and a somewhat hectic shuffle to the work site. Once we finally arrived, we began work on a drainage platform that will hopefully allow the green-house-to-be dry. Of course, as we are in a fairly rainy part of the world, we made some wiggly friends during our digging. During an extended break mid day, part of the group split off to teach English words to Yuncaypata’s Quechua speaking children: needless to say, it went very slowly. When our arduous day was finally done, we hopped back on the bus (this time more smoothly than during our morning shuffle) and drove out to an Incan weaving center on the outskirts of Cusco. There we had an opportunity to see traditional weaving first hand, smell dyes, pluck strings and of course, empty out pockets for fine textiles. Don’t worry, our purchases were gifts (mostly).
Adios, padres, hemanos y amigos,
-Genevieve Simon, Gaby Lai, Yaseen Ahmed
Service & Culture
The day started with our usual early wake up at 6 am. After breakfast we headed to our service project. During our usual mid work break, one of our mentor groups started their English teaching class to the local children for their recess. Their first English class was proven productive for the kids learned all of the basic colors. The other two mentor groups had a fun break of playing soccer. All three groups worked for one more hour at the service site and then headed back to home base for lunch. After lunch, we attended a meeting discussing the requirements for our four day Macchu Picchu excursion. Then, we loaded onto our buses and headed to our traditional dance workshop which was a goose mating dance. Haha! In the workshop, we were able to dress in
the traditional clothing of the Andean people. It was a fun and funny workshop. Once our workshop was over, we headed back to home base and had a delicious dinner. Today was a very productive day that was filled with hard work and fun cultural activities.
-Hannah Berzinis, Rachel Ayres, and Isabel Campos
Back to Work
Today was our first day back on the work site since our camping trip. As a group we struggled to get up on time and out the door to continue service. After arriving on the site it was evident how groggy and lethargic everyone was and we knew it would be difficult to maintain our excitement for our service of the previous week. We started the morning off with stretches and jumping jacks to loosen our muscles and get our blood flowing. The goal for our day was to continue leveling the ground so we could begin the foundation of the greenhouse. It was difficult at first, but as the day progressed we managed to succeed. Half way through the workday, we took a 30 minute break to play soccer, relax, and enjoy our surroundings. Following our lunch after the workday we watched a TED Talk called the “Single Story” and later discussed the importance of keeping an open mind and not having stereotypes about anyone or anything. Next, we went to a nearby smoothie café where we were able to access the internet and use our phones to catch up with friends and family. Our last activity for the day was taking a Quechua class by a local instructor who taught us the basics of the language. Although the language was difficult to understand and learn, we know we will be able to use our basic knowledge of the language when we visit a native village where the only language spoken is Quechua. After our class we interviewed our teacher about the importance of keeping the native language alive to maintain the Peruvian culture of over a thousand years. Our final excitement of the day was having pasta for dinner. Although we have been enjoying the food, we were glad to eat something that reminded us of home. Despite only having two leaders of the day, we managed to succeed with our goal while having fun.
–Janice Koo and Calli Haramaras (the best leader duo there ever was…**hair flip**)
An Awesome Weekend
Today we went mountain biking and visited a market in the town of Ollantatambo. We got to sleep in half an hour later and woke up at 6:30. We packed up our tents and then enjoyed a delicious egg omelet. We loaded our stuff onto the vans and made our way up the valley. After stopping at the top of a mountain (a 14,000 foot mountain!) we then proceeded to get fitted for our bikes and helmets. Soon after, our group finally embarked on our journey. Although a few of us were frightened at daunting hills and sharp turns, we all managed to push through and make it down. Afterwards, we enjoyed a lovely picnic lunch, which consisted of chicken, quinoa and a vegetable medley. Following our lunch we took a quick bus ride to an open air market. We had forty minutes to sift through the many colorful stalls and shops. Some of us stopped for the pizza and wifi, while others searched for the perfect souvenir. Finally, we headed back to home base to enjoy a dinner made up of meat and rice pilaf. Our long day came to an end when we all settled in to watch Indiana Jones.
Kiley and Sarah
P.S. Hi mom.:))
Today was spent by rafting, playing with kids, and playing fun activities. We woke up at 7:30, one hour later than our usual wake up time, then dropping off our first load of laundry to be washed when we would be away. Then we started on our one and a half hour drive to the Urubamba river that we would be rafting on. Of course not forgetting to stop at two different bathroom stops along the way, but not for the bathroom but for the alpaca sweater stands. Once we arrived at the river, we got out of the buses, to carefully hear the instructions on how to raft and how we would “fight fire with fire” against the class 3 rapids. Every part of rafting was spectacular; when we weren’t going hard down the rapids we were splashing other boats. When we arrived at our camping spot, we changed out of our wet clothes to have lunch.
After lunch, we had to wait to put our stuff away because our tents weren’t ready yet. So we played with the local kids that could have lasted us ten hours instead of the one hour that it actually did. Once our stuff was put away in our tents and we put on many layers , we played the snackpack/flag game that we learned a couple days before, followed by a somewhat physically chill but mentally interesting game called ‘the village’. Right before dinner we found out what type of leaders each of us were by answering a bunch of questions. Dinner went by fast, but definitely the best part was the Nutella burrito dessert topped off with the strawberry jam. The leaders of the day made a camp fire and we made s’mores. Later telling scary stories that definitely affected how each of us slept that night. Finally we headed to our tents, and went to sleep.
Today was our fourth day at the worksite and we (Kevin, Harrison and Nick) were the leaders of the day. The day consisted of digging trenches and moving dirt from the top of the hill to the bottom of the hill to even out the plot where the greenhouse will go. The mud has started to become a “friend” of us. It is stuck to all of our work shoes and clothing. We also visited the local school and enjoyed spending time with the local school children. Some of us taught the children some basic English. The rest of us played around with the locals on the see-saw, swings, slide, and other local playground equipment.
In the afternoon we visited a Peruvian Shaman, a healer and fortune teller. We participated in a ceremony where he called to the four local mountains. He spoke to them and offered our “spiritual package”. We also had the opportunity to get our fortune read by the shaman, which was very interesting and fun.
We also visited the local supermarket. Many of the students bought some more snacks to supplement our hunger from all of our hard work.
Tomorrow we are going to go on our first excursion of white water rafting and biking. During this trip we will be camping and it will be a great experience for many of us!
PS: The other leaders of the day, Nick Stein and Harrison Marsh, did not contribute to this blog due to the consumption of Oreos. Ha ha!!!
Photo: Visit to the shaman — him making the offering to the four surrounding mountains.
A Full Day
What’s crackin’ parentals and to whom it may concern, it is us, Maddie/Sofia/Michelle the triple entente of room 305 aka: Power team, After hours of being splattered with mud, we have tirelessly worked to form a foundation for an adobe greenhouse using nothing but pick-axes and rods. Sore muscles and dirt stained socks are only the beginning of our daily strenuous endeavors. We have been bonding with the local kids from the community we are working in, and are planning to start teaching basic English skills every week. Today we visited an Andean music specialist who enlightened us with his magnificent musical expertise. We learned a simple Incan tune as we overlooked the entire beautiful valley of Cusco from a cliff. We have grown extremely close in the past four days and our bonds are only getting stronger. We have just started to prepare for our first Peruvian adventure where we will be backpacking, white water rafting, and biking through the Sacred Valley of the Andes Mountains. Beside the goose bumps in July, chapped lips, and muddy hair it has been a smooth ride with much more excitement ahead.
PS: to any worried parents, we are alive, well, and kind of miss you because we are having the time of our lives.
Michelle Costello, Sofia Maria Bergmann & Madeline Starr Kahl
Second Day of Service
Today was our fourth day in Peru and our second day working in the Yuncapata mountain village. We finally finished clearing the site for the greenhouse and started building the irrigation system for the greenhouse. It felt like we worked for about 24 hours and nothing got done, but at the end of the day we really did make some progress, such as taking down trees and building a canal. It was really neat getting to see our hard work paying off and watching the water flow through our newly built canal. Unfortunately we missed recess and weren’t able to hang out with the school children today, but we did get to go into the city and get our fix of internet access in an internet cafe. After that, we went to the park and played some team building games with a rope, which quickly turned into a game of jump rope with the local kids in the park. After dinner we had a speaker come and talk to us about the current economy and social standings in Peru. Even though it was a long lecture, it kept our attention the whole time, because it was so interesting. He even reminded us why we’re here- not necessarily to just build a green house, but to inspire the community to keep improving. Now we feel as if we know the true Peru. (By Andrew, Alex ,Lisa — The best Leaders of the Day so far… haha!)
Our 3rd day in Peru. Today we started our service project with the ultimate goal of building an adobe greenhouse. When we arrived at the plot of land we were to build on, it was almost entirely covered in weeds. Our local director, Richard, showed us how to use the tools. We cleared the entire plot using pick-axes, machetes, and clippers in only a few hours. Then from there we started marking the dimensions of the land we were going to build on and cutting down the trees around the outskirts of the property. We couldn’t get all the trees down, a task for another day, but the progress we made was incredible. Also, about halfway through our day of work, we had a chance to visit the nearby school of kindergarten through 3rd graders. The kids were very shy, some didn’t speak Spanish, but rather the native Incan language of Quechua. While the language barrier was a challenge, having fun is the universal language, as we played on swings, slides, sesaws, and building paper airplanes. It’s an understandable nervousness harbored by the kids with all of us being strangers, but as we continue to work we’ll only get closer with them.
-By Jack, Arielle, Diego
June 30th, second day of Peru. We woke up bright and early, and had a breakfast of eggs. We left to Qorikancha, the temple of the Sun at around 8:00 a.m. After that, we visited the Plaza de Armas, which was the city square. After that, we visited the Iglesia de la Sagrada Familia, a very large and intricate cathedral. At this time, we were extremely hungry, so we went to a “mirador” restaurant, which provided a sprawling view of Cusco below. The meal doubled with the amazing traditional music performance by Inka Marka resulted in a very satisfied group of tourists. After lunch, we visited Saksaywaman. Despite its name, it has nothing to do with attractive females, but it was an Incan temple which also doubled as a Spanish fortress during the Incan civil war. Before we left, we took pictures with some Alpacas. Some of us even got to hold a baby Alpaca. After all of our adventuring, we came back to Home Base and visited the supermarket, and loaded up on junk food. It was indeed wonderful. After grocery shopping, we came back to Home Base and had a little journal meeting, but before that Serida gave the group some riddles, which were mind-boggling. Some were able to get them within a minute or two. We walked a lot, but it was fun and worth it at the end. It was a great experience.
-by Brian and Kamran
Hi, this is Nick, writing from the headquarters in Cusco. I was the first to arrive, and therefore was assigned the first blog entry for our trip. Even though I’ve been here for less than 24 hours, it feels as though I’ve been here for a few days. After my six in the morning arrival, I slept until lunch, which was where I met everyone. Following lunch, we started playing name games and getting to know each other. Orientation continued throughout the day, breaking only for dinner and some down time. The food has been wonderful, and all of the adults in charge seem to be pretty cool. We were broken into our mentor groups today and I really liked that because I felt like it was a time to just talk about how we were feeling. The only thing I can think about changing is the altitude, which has had a definite affect on all of us who aren’t used to it. However, everyone seems to be very happy and excited for the trip. I’m looking forward to our first day in Cusco where we are going on a tour with some local guides and visiting a local cathedral. Overall, everyone is really happy and we’re all looking forward to our time in Peru.
All students have arrived minus one, orientation is on! Photos and blog posts to follow!