All students are on their way home!
Our adventures in Peru are quickly coming to an end and today’s rafting, weaving demo and Andean music were great additions to the memories made and things learned while on the trip. We embarked on our whitewater raftering adventure in the morning and not a single one of us stayed dry. The two-hour journey was filled with water fights and beautiful scenery of snow-capped peaks. After lunch we met with some Peruvian women in a town called Chinchero to learn about how alpaca fur is transformed into the colorful woven goods that we have seen in various markets. After the demonstration, we were on our way to Cusco for a private Andean music performance when we found ourselves stopped in the street waiting for a parade to pass by. The parade was full of vibrant, folkloric costumes, energetic dancing and festive music. The day’s activities concluded with live, traditional Andean music. The music was beautiful and great for dancing. Afterwards, we had a late dinner at the home bas with cuy (guinea pig) for dessert! None of us are quite ready to leave behind the beautiful landscapes of Peru or the friends we have made, but we are grateful for the time we have had together.
Lots of Activities!
Brennan and Zach’s day 18 started bright and early at 5:30am due to the alarm on Brennan’s broken phone. The rest of the team GLA Peru arose somewhat later, but equally excited for our last day of service in Mancco. It only took until noon to finish up all of the loose ends around the work site and then we headed down to the town soccer filed for a very special lunch. The towns people prepared for us a traditional departure lunch of potatoes cooked in an underground oven. The rest of the afternoon was spent playing soccer, tending the fire or resting. We took the time until dinner to write personal letters to each other that will be received upon departure. After a scrum-diddily-umptious dinner we ended our day with a discussion about consumerism. We talked about its impacts and our role in it. We went to bed with thoughts of self-loathing and domestic terrorism. Overall it was the type of excited day that we’ve come to expect in Peru.
-Brennan and Zach
Finishing Our Projects
It was a typical workday and we spent our time in Mancco putting the finishing touches on our paths and ecofridges. We thought it was interesting how our projects incorporated traditional stone-laying techniques and adobe made from mud collected in surrounding areas; it was nice seeing all of our collaborative work come together! After work, our day consisted of shower-time followed by a hilarious (optional) session of laughter yoga! Just before dinner, we had an out-of-the-ordinary scavenger hung as our last Spanish class before saying goodbye to out teachers with gifts ranging from cards to chocolates. We capped the day off with an interesting group talk on gender issues.
Today we woke up very excited because we were going to able to visit schools in the area and interact with some of the local children. At 8am we departed for Mancco as usual and continued working to build the walkways for the homes. We worked until our deadline time of 11:30am and then boarded the buses to visit the children. The schools were located halfway between Mancco and Andahuaylillas. The students then split into two groups: half chose to visit with older children of 8-10 years old and the other half went to work with preschool children. We played sports with them such as soccer and tag. We also did arts and crafts with them. When we came back to the home base where we spent most of our time cuddling three cute puppies that we were babysitting. The dogs belonged to a family in Mancco who let us take care of them for the night. At 4:30pm we had Spanish class, which lasted until 6:30pm. After dinner, our activity for that night was salsa lessons. Our teacher was awesome and nice and very enthusiastic and encouraging, and we all had a good time making fools of ourselves.
-Julian and Bella
Today was a typical service day in Mancco. Most groups started cementing their pathways and others finished laying stones. After returning to the home base, Erica and Julia talked to us about their intriguing experiences in the Peace Corps and AmeriCorps. The mentors’ stories and experiences convinced many students to consider their own futures with these programs.
-Megan and Andrei
Today was a day of strengthening bonds. After having the typical breakfast, we then traveled to Mancco. In our work group, we finished cementing our rock paths, to better aid our family. We all shared a traditional Peruvian dish made of rice, potatoes, chicken, vegetables, and a cream sauce. Then, we returned to home base to shower and make pottery. Afterwards, we attended Spanish class, in which we discovered bonds between our languages and cultures. Finally, after dinner, we discussed global citizenship. We learned what it means to be a global citizen, and how we can all actively participate in our world. Whether it was filling paths with cement, or discovering international bonds, and how everything is interconnected, there were bonds made this day that will never be broken.
Today’s the day. Machu Picchu!!!! After waking up at 6 AM to get an early start we headed to the BEST of the seven wonders of the world. After a scenic bus ride up the mountain , we excitedly walked up the long set of steps, knowing these belonged to ancient civilization. We were amazed by the elegance and beauty encompassing the ancient city of Machu Picchu. Before we could delve into a picture sesh, a mysterious fog rolled in, concealing the entire city right in front of our eyes. No wonder this beautiful city was able to stay hidden so long. We embarked on a strenuous hike that reaped great rewards when we finally reached the sun gate of Machu Picchu mountain. We then returned to take an hour tour of the ruins, including free time to explore and take pictures for all of you. The architecture was impressive, the llamas were photogenic, and we had the best time so far on the trip. Then, it was finally time to go. We went to a buffet that filled our adventurous stomachs and hopped on a train back to Andahauylillas. We will remember this day for the rest of our lives!
-Machu Picchu is the name of the mountain, not the actual city.
-One king, called the Inca, ruled Machu Picchu, the Quechuas were the ones who built and inhabited the city.
-Shira and Aaron
Our morning began with an atypical breakfast of banana pancakes. These pancakes fueld the first leg of our hike to Aguas Calientes, a small town just below Machu Picchu. The walk to lunch was about 2.5 hours; filled with beautiful sights and the company of two stray dogs, Maxwell and Theodore. Once we reached our lunch place, we unloaded our bags and headed on a short walk to a waterfall where some brave students took a dip in the chilly water. After lunch we continued the trek to Aguas Calientes through a deluge of water. Tired and soaked with rain, we finally arrived at our hotel. We were treated to a delicious dinner at an interesting Italian-Peruvian fusion restaurant whre students ate dishes ranging from lomo saltado (a Peruvian dish with steak, rice and potatoes) to spaghetti and pizza. Our long day was concluded with everyone frantically trying to con net to Wifi.
-Laura and Malia
Half Way Through
It’s hard to believe that we’re half way through already. What started as a flame of awkward silence and small talk seems like ancient history. All we have now is a raging fire of everlasting friendships and newfound knowledge. This trip has shown the true colors of each student, including myself, and I have yet to be disappointed by any of them. Spending so long in a new place with people is bound to have its ups and downs, certainly. I have not looked at a computer screen in nearly two weeks and I am everything but upset. Today, at the service site, I witnessed a new born llama take its first steps ever, and it reminded me that Andahuaylillas may not be the city of love, or light, or high rise buildings that never sleeps, but it has opened up a new page in my life, and I couldn’t be happier.
Service & Fun
Today we went back to the service site to continue working on our projects. Most of the groups started laying down concrete to complete the patios. We ate lunch at the service site and then finished up our work for the day. Back at home base we had story time with Lucas and Brennan followed by a photo scavenger hunt around the town. The scavenger hunt was super fun and we got to run around looking for the items on the list. Today was a good day.
-Caitlin and Maddie
The Sacred Valley
Sunday the 13th of July we went to see ruins at the Sacred Valley. We had a mini hike through Incan ruins and saw an ancient Incan cemetery and learned about their farming system.
Later we went to the market where we saw a variety of items which many of us bought: some examples are hats, scarves, bags and bracelets. For lunch we went to a local staff members house where we got wiFi for the first time and ate chicken and french fries for lunch. All were happy because while eating American food with our wiFi we watched the World Cup!
To finish off the night we had a group meeting where we explored our personality traits and leadership qualities and skills. It was really nice to learn about the people we’re living with and understand them better. It was an exhausting but unforgettable day and we are really happy to have been apart of it!
-Ginger And Layla
We awoke knowing that we would be biking, but we had no clue what to expect. We heard that there’d be four lakes atop a mountain, yet the sights surpassed all that we had imagined. At 8:00, we departed to the beginning of the ride. To our left was a massive lake that was so surreal, and to the right were towering mountains. A quick downhill ride soon turned into a painful climb through the Andes. Not fully acclimated, the ride was a lot more difficult than expected. But, after the lengthy climb, the views were amazing and awe-inspiring. We had just passed the second lake and we were exhausted already. The remaining sections were downhill, allowing everyone to enjoy the scenery while riding. We passed through many quaint towns, with friendly people cheering us on. Even though we had a few incidents with minor crashes, the ride was still very memorable and breathtaking (literally). The final stretch was steep and fast, but very rewarding to all of us, no matter our previous biking experiences. The rest of the day provided us a chance to rest as we enjoyed low-key activities such as team challenges and a movie night.
-Caelin and Brandon
A Day of Firsts
Today was an exciting day of firsts. We worked at our service site in Mancco, a small village located amidst breathtaking mountains, for the first time. We built stone pathways across the small dirt courtyards of locals in order to connect the various doors of their houses and prevent them from tracking in mud and contaminants. Within hours, we became professional pickaxers and stonemasons. We worked side by side with the locals whom we were helping, and were amazed by their skill and strength. As we all worked at the puzzle of fitting various rocks together, we conversed in Spanish with the Peruvian locals to find solutions to tough spots. Furthermore, as the small village children assisted us by passing us rocks, we felt truly united with the people who were no longer simply foreigners to us, but who were now our friends, united with us by a shared goal. The service groups’ endurance and enthusiasm led us to work much faster than expected; however, sore limbs are the price we’re paying for our rapid progress. Later, despite our exhaustion, many of us went on a hike to a nearby river between picturesque Peruvian hills. Regardless of the cold temperature, we stayed in the water, splashing and engaging in seaweed wars. Then, in the evening, we played a game of Spanish charades and then learned about Peruvian national history from a local history teacher. After experiencing so many elements of Peru’s richness, beauty, and culture today, we truly ended the day feeling more connected, aware, and awestruck by this fantastic country that we are privileged to have the opportunity to experience.
Finally Made It
I can’t believe I’m actually in Peru! After months of preparation the group has finally arrived in Andahuaylillas in a home base that is beautifully decorated with flowers and grassy sitting areas. The center of town is less than a five-minute walk from the home base and is a popular place to go to during free time. So far the favorite sport has been soccer. It’s also a great way to meet locals. One group found a field to play in near the center of town and soon found themselves in a game with the local children. I wasn’t there, but sources say that there were a lot of them and that they were very fast.
Yesterday, after breakfast, we got in the bus to explore Cusco. We shopped in a marked that reminded me of a very large farmers market. They had everything: fruit, herbs, hats, backpacks, jewelry, shoes, really everything. I got to try a tree tomato, which is like a normal tomato, except smaller and sweeter; almost like a grape. I also bought a bracelet and a small bag for 16 soles total. It was quite the deal.
After shopping we traveled to a museum that explained a lot of the differences between the Incan period and the Colonial period. We got to see the Temple of the Sun modeled by both groups so we could see the difference in theme and intention. For example, the Incas prioritized astronomy, clearly the Temple of the Sun was very important. This is precisely why the Spanish later wanted to paint over the temple – to erase the Incan culture. The tour guide also walked us through town and explained the ancient architectural technique that prevented the walls from caving in during earthquakes. It was all very interesting to learn how developed the Incas were despite how long ago it was.
After the trip to Cusco, we came back to the home base and met our Spanish teachers who all seemed very nice. They gave us a quick placement quiz which was a bit nerve wracking. Personally, my Spanish is a little rusty, so I know I wasn’t placed in a high level. The great thing about this group is that there are so many different kinds of people. I think the classes are pretty evenly dispersed between beginner, intermediate and advanced. This enables the group to improve their sills with other students of the same level. I’m excited to begin classes soon!
All 33 of your sons and daughters have made it safely to Peru. We will be spending the next three weeks at 8,000 feet above sea level (or higher) so we’re easing into it by putting together our group flag tonight. After dinner we talked about our goals for the trip. These students are extremely impressive, which will make for an awesome trip!
Cusco is celebrating your arrival!
Meet two of your awesome Mentors: Julia and Erin. We’re looking forward to meeting all of you guys – see you tomorrow!
-Eric, International Director