First full day of Spanish Service Adventure!! We’re having a great time getting to know each other and learning about what the next few weeks have in store for us. Spanish classes start this afternoon and then we’ll share stories around a campfire. Everyone is happy and well!
Yesterday, we slept in until 8, then ate our typical breakfast. Next we hiked up part of the mountain to Q’ewar, the service site we will be working at. We took a tour in Spanish of all the service activities, including sewing and stuffing dolls, working in kindergarten classes, and peeling quinoa. Next we went back to homebase, ate lunch and started our teambuilding activities. We discussed group rules and goals and played some fun games to educate ourselves about different cultures. After our games we were placed into two different Spanish classes based on our personal skill levels. We worked with our Spanish teachers for a few hours and then ate dinner. After dinner we had a bonfire and shared some stories, then went to bed after a long day of learning.
We awoke to a fog covered horizon that almost looked photo shopped. It was our earliest Day so far, clocking in at 7 am to a simple, Peruvian breakfast consisting of fresh baked bread and other Peruvian delights. After breakfast we hurried to the bus by 8 am and filled the hour long ride with fun and interactive car games. Once we arrived to the Cusco Market, people were overwhelmed by the sights and sounds of the different surroundings. We then broke up into teams and navigated the bustling market, practicing our Spanish with the locals and buying ingredients for lunch that we made together at the home of a local Peruvian chef.
– Eileen Jackson, Hanna Mauck, Ben Berliner, Megan Samuels
Today was the first day of service. Everyone was assigned a different task at Q’Ewar, which is the nonprofit organization that makes homemade dolls. Activities ranged from making doll clothes, shaping wool doll heads, teaching in a kindergarten classroom, knitting, and working the field with quinoa. Each were very different, and people learned a lot of new skills. For the rest of the week, we are keeping the same tasks, and we’ll hopefully get a little better. So far the group members are all great friends, and today at dinner there was a better rendition of High School Musical by the entire squad. Today was somewhat low key after the service, but we had Spanish classes as well. In the Advanced class, people had to do pushups after speaking in English (Nic lost). In the lower group we played 20 questions using Spanish.
We interviewed Julio, the founder and director of the entire Q’Ewar program, and learned all about its origins. Julio has had an interesting story that includes teaching in Europe and in Lima. When Julio started the organization in 2002 there were only 3 women working there, but it has grown tremendously. There are 47 women working at Q’Ewar, and they are building a nonprofit school to educate the children of Andahuaylillas, the town we are staying in. Today, volunteers come from around the world to stay at Q’Ewar and help at the nonprofit.
– Julia Danson, Nicolas Salem, Hanna Mauck
Today we woke up extremely early and eager to go to our service site. We faced yet another challenging four hours of various complicated tasks. Although the day three hasn’t gotten any easier, our level of patience has definitely risen and we have become more accustomed to our work being corrected. After the service site, we went to a local high school and were fortunate enough to interact with Peruvian students our age. Our Spanish teachers then came to help improve our Spanish and we ended the day with a delicious dinner and an early bed-time.
– Samantha Kerzic, Emily Kohn, Hanh Nguyen
Thankfully this morning we got to sleep in until 7:15 before heading to breakfast. We then ate and hiked up to project Q’ewar and preformed our various duties until 12:30. After Q’ewar we ate lunch then watched a moving Ted Talk about stereotypes. Then we got to rest and hang out with each other before our Spanish classes and dinner. After dinner we had a hilarious salsa dance class. The sickness that has washed over us all is finally leaving and we are almost completely back to our normal selves. Our favorite thing that happened today was playing with guinea pigs and having them pee on us multiple times. Hoy era un buen dia!
– Megan Samuels, Alanna Jaffee, Lachlan Claman
Yesterday was an amazing day! One of the big highlights had to be the shaman. Connecting with the earth and experiencing a big part of a different culture was exciting, spiritual and grounded some with the earth.
– Eileen Jackson, Hanna Mauck, Grace Villmow
Blog post for today: Today we woke up, ate breakfast and headed to the Sacred Valley to bike around The Four Lakes. We safely biked a few miles along a very scenic route. After our bike ride we ate lunch and rested. Some of us then went to a festival one town away in Urcos. We then played with the town puppies and ate dinner. After a long, packed day, I’m sure we will all sleep well!
– Megan Samuels, Sarah Cooper, Nic Salem
Hi all! This has been a super busy week, so sorry we are a bit behind with posting our blog. Here goes a condensed version of our week…
We continued to attend service at Q’ewar. Some students love to do the more labor intensive work such as moving adobe bricks and carrying bundles of cornhusks uphill. Other students have learned some basic knitting techniques and love it! Most of us have figured out what we are good at and what we are not. Tuesday evening we celebrated the winter solstice at Q’ewar with a huge bonfire, roasted marshmallows, mate (hot tea), pan al palo (bread we cooked on the end of a stick) and music. Wednesday we went on a beautiful hike alongside a river surrounded by so many trees and mountains. Thursday we visited a local church known as the Sistine Chapel of Peru. It was built in 1610 and was recently restored. An American organization donated 2 million dollars to the restoration of the church. It was cool to see before and after pictures of the 5-year process. Thursday was also Julia’s birthday, one of the students on the trip, and we got to celebrate it with pizza, cake, some dancing and a bonfire.
Today was our last day at Q’ewar. We sang songs to the women of Q’ewar and said some words of thanks, and they sang songs for us and also said kind words of gratitude. It was a touching and fun ceremony and we also taught Don Julio, the founder of Q’ewar, how to do the whip. After lunch we went to a local fair and played foosball and jumped on a trampoline. Tonight we will be busy packing for a 3-day trip that will culminate in a hike at Machu Picchu!
-Spanish Service Adventure Group
Saturday we woke up bright and early and got in the bus for the long bus ride to Santa Teresa. We traveled over some beautiful mountains for a few hours before stopping and having lunch. After lunch we continued to drive along a beautiful cliff where we saw amazing waterfalls. We then went to some hot springs and spent a few hours swimming. Next we went to the hotel and got ready for a dinner where some of us ate alpaca, pasta, fish and chicken. We had a long day of traveling and beautiful views.
Sunday we woke up and had breakfast and got ready for our long hike. We drove to a hydroelectric plant where we began our hike. After a few hours we stopped and went swimming in a waterfall. After swimming we ate lunch and got ready to continue hiking. We hiked for another few hours all the way to our hotel in Aguas Calientes, or Machu Picchu town. After resting a little we walked to a restaurant where we ate pizza for dinner! 🙂
We woke up very early, ate breakfast, and packed our bags for Machu Picchu. We took a bus to a landing area and then hiked for a few minutes up to Machu Picchu. We walked around and learned about the history of this beautiful and interesting wonder of the world. After many pictures, some of us hiked up to an area called the sun gate where we got a beautiful panoramic view of Machu Picchu and the mountains that surround it. After this we went back down and had lunch and walked to the train station and got ready to return to homebase. We took a train and then a bus back to Andualillas. Monday was a truly spectacular day that I’m sure none of us will forget!
Last night we had a cookout and a talent show. Many people tried cuy (guinea pig) for the first time. The cuy was picked from the mini cuy farm on the property. We watched the whole process of how a cuy is killed and readied for cooking. We were able to eat around the bonfire and hang out there until bed time. Our director Julia played guitar and sang for us as we all got pretty emotional about leaving a place we have called home for 3 weeks. The talent show had so many hilarious and interesting acts that had us hysterically laughing. Luckily, since it was our last night, we were allowed to go to sleep at almost midnight. We woke up at 5am this morning to say goodbye to our first family member to leave Peru. Then we ate breakfast a few hours later and finished packing. We said our goodbyes to the staff of homebase as we all got emotional. We then drove to Cuzco for some last minute shopping and lunch. Then we went to the airport and said our final goodbyes. This trip was truly a life changing experience for us all and we can say with honest conviction that we had the time of our lives. To our parents, thank you for giving us this amazing opportunity. To GLA, thank you for making this happen and for making it absolutely incredible. We’ve made great friends and have great memories to share with everyone when we get home. See you again soon, Peru.