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Tuesday June 19, 2018
Arrival day! All of our 14 students arrived to Cusco today and we had a beautiful one hour drive to our home base in Chinchero! All of the students were very excited to get to know each other and are really looking forward to photographing the spectacular landscapes and communities of Peru! We had a short orientation to get to know the staff, home base, and Peruvian culture. Looking forward to getting started tomorrow after some much-needed rest!
-Jenna DeLaurentis (mentor)
Wednesday June 20, 2018
Day 2 was our first full day in Peru! First thing after breakfast, we took the bus to our service site in a small village about 20 minutes away. The students were all well-rested and excited to learn more about their service projects.
First, we arrived at a primary school where the children greeted us with handmade bracelets! The Peruvian students talked and played volleyball/soccer with the GLA students and everyone was having such a nice time learning about each others’ cultures and countries! Next, we took a quick walk to our other service site. At the site, a new school was built that the children will be moving to from the old school. Our job as GLA students is to help construct a greenhouse on the school grounds that the school and community can use to grow their own fruits and vegetables! After service orientation, we headed back to home-base for lunch and a quick rest.
In the afternoon, Diego, our photography instructor, came to home-base and gave a lesson on some basic aspects of photography. We then headed out to the field and walked to a textile market in Chinchero, where the students learned how traditional Peruvian textiles are made!
In the evening, we had a few activities and also had our first photo presentation! The students were asked to submit one of their favorite photos that they had either taken previously or in Peru. Then they were given the opportunity to present their photo to the group! It was an excited way to view everyone’s unique photography styles.
Overall, it was an exciting day in Peru! The students are beyond excited to start working at the service site in the morning.
-Jenna DeLaurentis (mentor)
Friday June 22, 2018
Yesterday, we made adobe bricks. For those who are not aware of what adobe bricks are, they are simply a mixture of mud and clay, mixed with Andean grass in order to create a strong, stable and efficient substance which is later dried into bricks. Adobe, being both extremely strong and extremely cheap, is the main building material used here in the Andes. In order to create this material, we had to dig and fill a mud pit, in which clay was already present due to the geological structure of the Peruvian highlands. For the next hour, we treaded repeatedly through the mud in order to create a soft, moldable clay-like substance. After adding the grass in our mixture, we molded it in to bricks, after which we left them to dry for the next twenty days.
-by Emilien Panczuk
Saturday June 23, 2018
Today our group traveled into Cusco to explore the beautiful city and see all the amazing colors and sights! We started out at an archeological site called Sacsayhuaman and got to see the amazing spread of buildings in Cusco from up above! Then we ventured down into the city on foot and ended up in the San Pedro Market in the center of the city. Today is the winter solstice celebration for the Peruvian people so the streets were packed with locals dressed in the colorful traditional garb, dancing, singing, eating and laughing.
At every turn was a local women selling some sort of fresh fruit, juice, or meat and the smells were mouth watering. At the market itself there was so much to look at and buy the immensity of it was overwhelming. Anything you could possibly think of was sold there from alpaca sweaters to pig heads!! All of us got to practice our Spanish with the locals and buy amazing souvenirs. After the long day we are all ready for a good nights rest. And also I had a very good pickle.
-by Kayden Barker
Sunday June 24 through Tuesday June 26, 2018
Qenqo: A Once In a Lifetime Experience, by Abbey Martichenko:
After spending a few days in the High Andean Community Qenqo, I have realized that the true experience of travel lies in the hidden wonders of the world.
It is one thing to be tourist in a new place as you travel to all the places you’ve heard of before. However, when you are taken to a place that is seemingly devoid of the rest of the world the richness of travel becomes apparent. Qenqo was not simply a destination that can be checked off of the list. Instead, it was an experience that reminded us of the power of nature, companionship, and simplicity.
After taking a bus ride farther and farther into the amazing Andean mountains, we finally reached the cabins that we would call our temporary home. Without diving into extensive detail of the unbelievable beauty that surrounded us, it felt as if we had been dropped into another world. A deep blue lagoon was nestled in between towering mountains; mountains we would climb over the next few days. Hills and land stretched out as far as we could see. While the nights may have dropped down to about 35 degrees Fahrenheit, we were all distracted by the sky full of stars that shone over the beautiful lagoon.
Our time in Qenqo consisted of service work in the community, hiking up and down mountains, traditional ceremonies, and candlelit card games. We were introduced to a community, culture, and way of life that was starkly different than what we considered “normal”. Yet, as we’ve come to realize over the course of our trip, normal is irrelevant in the grand scheme of such a diverse world.
However, without our phones, showers, and heat to warm us at night we were able to dive into other aspects of living that have become far too rare. We were constantly outside, talking with each other, and became less concerned with our appearances as the days went on. Suddenly the simplicity of our living situation in Qenqo seemed to make it so enriching.
I will take away so many things from my short time in this community. I will always remember the welcome the Qenqo community gave to us, the unbelievable work ethic of the people, the wonder of the mountains, and that unforgettable lagoon.
I’m grateful for the pictures I have to remember my time here, but I know nothing can compare to the once in a lifetime experience that Qenqo was.
Wednesday July 4, 2018
We made it! The expedition to Machu Picchu was a success! Our three day trip was spent with one night in Ollantaytambo and the second night in Aguas Calientes. The hotels were a nice change of scenery and both towns were more touristy than our home base in Chinchero. Much shopping was done and many a fools were consumed. The train ride from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes was the most majestic and scenic ride of my life. It was so beautiful seeing the green covered mountains outside every window.
Our walk up to Machu Picchu was much warmer than what we are used to here in Chinchero. We spent a total of about 3 hours hiking around the ruins. Our hike ended with the buffet of the century in Aguas Calientes, where all of us had more than a few platefuls. A well-deserved rest met us at the end of the day after our train and bus ride back to Chinchero.
-by Alyson Hagen
Thursday July 5, 2018
Hola! Hope everyone had a great, fun-filled 4th of July! Our 4th out in Peru was actually a lot of fun (which made us all very happy since we weren’t able to party out back in the US). We went to the school and saw all of the incredible, fun, energetic, loving kids and got to teach them more English and play games with them as well. At the school we also ended up playing the Spanish Service Adventure GLA group in a few games of volleyball. It was a lot of fun to connect with a different group that also consists of fun kids. Going to the school and spending time with the kids will never disappoint. Once you start to connect with them, you never want to leave them. Once we got back to home base we had another learning session with our photography mentor, Diego, and learned about editing techniques. Later that night we had a very, unexpected surprise awaiting us. The local staff here planned a 4th of July celebration for us! There was cake, hot chocolate, glow sticks, fireworks, a bonfire, and some good ol’ classic American music. Not one of us was let down by the incredible staff that we got here and we are all grateful to have the best staff we could have asked for.
Author: Cole Rawsky
Photos by Molly Stanfield, Cole Rawsky, and Sam Slatcher
Yesterday our day in Chinchero started with our photo exhibition. In the morning we put together all our 3 best photos & hung them on a board to show the people in the town. At first everyone was pretty skeptical about people coming & looking at our work but many people did show up & admire what we have been doing. It was such a nice feeling having the people look at your work & actually like it.
Today we had our cooking class with Oscar our chef. Everyone got together & helped prepare the quinoa chaufa. Everyone got to participate in either cutting the food up or preparing the avocado dip. It was so amazing to see what they use & how they do it here in Peru. Such an awesome experience i will never forget.
Author: Gabby Packer