Time Capsule Letter
The whole team here at Spanish Service Adventure – Luismom, Sophie, Estefany, Lauren, and Javier – misses you already. You were a curious, intelligent, fun loving and generally fabulous group. We wanted to reach out now that you’re back to your daily lives in the U.S. and let you know that you’re still on our minds and to remind you of all the adventures we shared together this summer!
First of all, we want to say that we’re very proud of you for the work you put in at Pampallacta. Our service project was hard! As you all agreed upon, “adobe be heavy.” That being said, you all worked incredibly diligently, and special shoutouts to those willing to wheelbarrow the adobe, arguably the most tiring task of all.
Not only did you put in the physical effort during service hours, but you also connected emotionally to the project. Your overall dedication to Pampallacta was evidenced in the official ceremony, where all of you participated and some of you shared beautiful words of appreciation and thanks alongside the maestros.
We are equally proud of your willingness and dedication to learning Spanish. No matter your level coming in, you all improved, even if it meant just learning a couple new phrases that you’ll always remember, and some of which we’d never heard of (“qué piña!”). For those of you who found your passion in learning a second language, we sincerely hope you keep it up. Who knows, maybe you’ll replace us as mentors one day!
Beyond Spanish learning and service, there are experiences we shared during our 21 days together that none of the GLA brochures could have prepared us for. They are the magical moments that come simply from spending lots of quality time with a special group of people. Although we can think of endless such moments, here are some of our favorites:
– Javier leading us in a beautiful meditation amidst the Pisac ruins
– Half the group’s hilarious soccer game above the cemetery, with our four unstoppable, and tiny, porteros and the animated Chilean family (“chi chi chi, le le le, viva Chile!”)
– The other half of the group’s wildly successful time playing games and practicing their Spanish with local kids in the Jardín Botánico
– SOUP EVERY DAY
– Everyone thinking we were getting hamburgers because of the ketchup and mustard on the table and instead getting…just french fries. Oh well, they were delicious!
– Cheering Vishnu on as he prepared to jump of the rock on rafting day (and cheers to all of you who took the plunge)
– Thinking we were going to have to offer someone’s blood (by way of a blunt, wooden skewer) to make the cacao drinks at the chocolate museum
– Hearing our destinies and strengths read by the shaman on our last day
– Being suprised and wowed by everyone’s talent at our sing-along the last night (Theo, where’d you come from??)
– Our extremely heartwarming appreciation circle, and the feelings that come with recognizing others and being recognized ourselves
Whether we mentioned you by name in this letter or not, we hope you know that you each made a lasting, positive impression on all of us. You showed heart and soul in your general attitudes and your friendships with one another, embraced the challenges of the program with humor and poise, and (thank you!!!!) behaved yourselves all the while. We’re excited for what each one of your future’s brings, and hope all of the shaman’s predictions ring true.
All the best from your exhausted but extremely pleased GLA team.
Tuesday June 18, 2019
Hola Dear Parents!
We’ve finally started our Peru Spanish Adventure! Most of our students have arrived and are at our Home Base in Pisac. Unfortunately Charlotte, Madeline R, and Xander will join us tomorrow morning as their flights got delayed.
Even though the team was tired after a long travel, we all enjoyed a delicious lunch / dinner together. We also had some time to settle down, go over our Home Base safety rules, and get to know each other.
We’re excited for our Spanish placement test tomorrow morning and to meet our 3 friends who are currently flying. We also have our fingers crossed for Sydney C, Vishnu, Viktoria, and Anna’s bags to arrive tomorrow.
Due to late arrivals we were unable to get a photo with the entire group but we promise we’ll do that tomorrow.
Stay tuned for more news.
Sophie, Estefany, Lauren, Javier, and Luismi (el equipo)
Wednesday June 19, 2019
We started our day meeting our Spanish teachers Susana and Miriam. Students took a Spanish placement test to figure out which of 3 levels they’ll be in. We then did a Yincana (scavenger hunt) that helped us get to know Pisac better and interact with locals. Around noon Charlotte and Xander joined us after their long flights here; we all welcomed them with a delicious lunch. Anna and Sydney C’s bags also arrived, which was great!
In the afternoon we went to Amistad Sagrada and met Sanan, who told us all about our community project up in Pampallacta. We then completed more elemnts of our Orientation back in the homebase, where we created an Acuerdo Comunitario (community agreement), went over safety guidelines, culture awareness, and responsible photography and social media.
At dinner time Madeleine R joined us after her long journey here, and afterwards we played a fun game called Get to Know Your Mentors – things got competitive!
Everyone’s excited for our first Spanish class and service session up in Pampallacta tomorrow.
Thursday June 20, 2019
We were split into three groups for our Spanish classes based on the level we placed into the previous day. We then went to our respective classes, which lasted two hours. Our class reviewed the usage of articles in the Spanish language. After receiving our tarea (homework) we went to a community very high in the mountains called Pampallacta to flatten a hill that will be built upon later and drove back. Now, we are in a café and eating ice cream and drinking coffee.
-by Anna and Vishnu
Friday June 21, 2019
Today we had a delicious Peruvian breakfast and then set straight out to spanish class! On the way to spanish class, our middle group (which the writers are in) saw a ceremony in the market right by home base! The ceremony consisted of a flag being raised and the national anthem. This was for the anniversary of the town we are staying in! Then we ate a quick lunch so that we could head off to our service! After service we went to a special dinner at a local pizza restaurant! After that it’s relaxation time and then lights out!
-by Molly and Maddy
Saturday June 22, 2019
Today was the start of our first weekend in Pisac. Since we are leaving Pisac for our next two weekends, we are staying and doing day trips around the town this weekend. Some students started off the day with a run bright and early with our mentor Sofia. We also had a slightly earlier breakfast so that we could have plenty of time to go on our hike down through the Pisac ruins. Our local director Javier led us through the ruins today and gave us great history lessons about what we were seeing (for example, holes in some of the mountains house the bones of the deceased). Our trek started uphill and winded back down, going through stairs, tunnels, terracing, and lots of rocks. We walked all the way back down to our lovely town of Pisac with about 4 miles under our belt.
We had lunch at the Blue Llama, a local restaurant, and got our much needed break. After lunch, we headed back to home base. Our afternoon activity was a debate about women’s and civil rights in Peru. Each student was part of one group: the Catholic Church, an American NGO, local artisan women, or the Macho machismo group. We had a long conversation about the implementation of an international women’s support group and how each of our perspectives would feel about that. After our enlightening debate, we had some free time until dinner. Card games were played, as well as the guitar (shout-out to Dean), and we enjoyed spending more time with our new friends. We are currently having some lovely spaghetti for dinner and will either play Mafia or watch movie afterwards. Overall, a very exhausting day so we should all sleep well tonight.
Cordelia and Dean
Sunday June 23, 2019
Five early risers crawled out of bed early this morning to participate in a yoga session lead by our mentor Sophia. On another note, after breakfast, we all gathered in the dining room to discuss the controversy surrounding international voluntourism programs.
We observed a traditional mass at the local Catholic church, all said in the native Pisac language of Quechua. Then, we were free to browse the nearby market for souvenirs. I’m sure our friends and family will be delighted to receive everything from ponchos and alpaca socks, to turquoise rings and woven blankets when we come back home.
As lunch approached, we tied our aprons and put on our hair nets as we prepared to make the midday meal ourselves. Tables floured and dough rolled out, we stuffed our empanadas to the brim with ham, cheese, and tomatoes. ¡Que rico!
Sunset came and we found ourselves at a little animal sanctuary nestled in the mountains, where we fed alpacas and llamas handfuls of grass in exchange for fluffings and fun selfies.
Maria y Watt
Monday June 24, 2019
!Hola y buenos días¡ Today started off as a lazy day. People trickled into breakfast around 8:00 and we enjoyed a refreshing meal of orange juice, bread with butter and jam, and a fried egg. Sofie, one of our mentors, graced us with her angelic voice and strumming of the guitar as we all got ready for the next activity. Later on, we all went to our respective Spanish classes.
Lunch was divine. We enjoyed a warm soup and a hearty meal of white rice and lentils. We were also provided chicken, trout, more vegetables, and fried eggs. Half of the kids headed out to Pampallacta to continue working on the community center. The rest stayed in Pisac. We were supposed to teach the local kids some English and Art, however today was a special day. Today was the Inti Reina day, a day that is dedicated to expressing ones gratitude to the Sun god. Many kids had traveled to Cusco for the day, so we went on an adventure. We decided to go play soccer, or fútbol, at a local field, however no one was there.
Instead, we went to a nearby store and bought a soccer ball. We walked to our previous stargazing location and began an intense game of soccer. Soon, we were joined by Martín, a foreigner from Chile, and four local kids: Daisy, Andrés, Bacilio, and Raul. They were all a force to be reckoned with. Daisy, Andrés, Martín, and Raul were young, around the ages of 3-6, but they came up with a strategy of standing in a line in front of the goal. Together, they blocked four goals, and also gave us a chance to practice our Spanish. Bacilio was older, around our age, and he immediately and effortlessly became part of our group.
Afterwards, we came back to home base and met up with the other group, who had progressed greatly in Pampallacta. We all enjoyed a dinner of cream of mushroom soup and pasta with avocados, broccoli, and a spicy cream sauce. Afterwards, we played a game of “Where I’m From,” where we all unknowingly answered questions and created poems that managed to express who we feel we are, Overall, it was a wonderful day, and even though we experienced twists and turns, we all enjoyed today.
By Sam and Xander
Tuesday June 25, 2019
Buenas noches! We are currently waiting for our always delicious dinner. We started our day this morning with breakfast and then a music and ceramics workshop. We made a variety of different pots and sculptures using the clay and tools provided by the instructors. We also learned about traditional Afro-Peruvian drumming patterns and dancing.
As usual, we then had an amazing lunch and piled on to the buses to Pampallacta, the site of our service work. Our progress has shown as we have moved on to the next step of our project; hauling 50 lb adobe blocks up to the soon to be Cultural Center. Upon coming home from a hard day of service, we found that the reason for the common power outages was the result of more than two people showering at one time. Soon we will be heading off to a cafe to eat some Peruvian desserts and take advantage of the free wifi. Bye, or adios!
Madeleine R and Viktoria
Wednesday June 26, 2019
We began the day promptly at 8:15 with a breakfast of bread and hard boiled eggs. After a few minutes of free time, we went to our fourth spanish class that consisted of grammar and a short story. In the time between class and lunch, we paid a visit to the local “Mercado Sofi” and bought an unhealthy amount of snacks at a great value. !Fue una ganga!
Our lunch consisted of a soup and then a rice and pea stew with a side of chicken. Soon after we embarked on bus ride to Pampoallacta. Once at our work site, we started digging the two foot deep foundations according to the lines drawn by the community workers—nothing like some manual labor for the soul. After yesterday’s difficult task of moving the adobe bricks, everyone was tired and sore, but we still made good progress. By the end, everyone was covered in dirt and ready for dinner back at the home base.
Hopefully tomorrow we’ll finish digging the foundations. We left the site right as the sun was at the top of the mountains, making for a gorgeous drive back. We ended the day with dinner, an activity exploring our most important values, and, later in the night, a viewing of Pan’s Labyrinth.
-by Nino and Charlotte
Thursday June 27, 2019
Today, June 27th, students started the day with our usual breakfast. Then, we headed to our Spanish classes for two hours. After classes, we headed to lunch before headed to Pampallacta for service.
At Pampallacta, we dug out two separate trenches in order to prepare for building in the following days. Today, we had GLA photographer Matt photographing students working at Pampallacta. We worked for a solid, hard about three hours before headed back to home base for the night.
Instead of the usual dinner at home base, we took a small trip to Tierra Bistro to celebrate student Lucas Kraatz’s birthday. After a fun, lively night with friends, we headed back to home base to get well rested for the day ahead.
-by Abe and Sydney T.
Friday June 28, 2019
¡Hola from Pisac!
We started our morning with some delicious fruit, coffee, and eggs before heading off to our final Spanish classes of the week.
In the afternoon, half the group returned to Pampallacta to continue digging and carrying adobe bricks. They slaved away through the cold, unrelenting rain, and although they were shivering and wet, they continued working with as much strength and energy as ever. As their time at Pampallacta came to an end, a double rainbow appeared, and many have claimed that they saw the face of God. (The rain was light, the cold was mild, and in all seriousness, we had a great time).
The other half of our group helped with after school activities at Amistad Sagrada. They went to a botanical garden with the children where everyone enjoyed a game of tag. Then, they had an art class and taught some English to the kids.
Tonight, mentor groups will be presenting movie trailers which they have translated into Spanish. We’re expecting to see Star Wars: A New Hope, Toy Story 4, and Sonic the Hedgehog en español.
Today was a fun and productive day, and we are looking forward to whitewater rafting and hiking Rainbow Mountain on our weekend excursion!
-Sydney C. and Rosie
Saturday June 29 and Sunday June 30, 2019
We kicked off our second weekend with a bus ride to an eco lodge in Cusipata. After checking into our rooms, we hopped in rafts to traverse the Urubamba River, crossing class 3 rapids. Halfway through, we took a quick pit stop to do some quick cliff jumping. Much to our sorrow, we did not achieve 1st place in the rafting race.
After white water rafting we heated ourselves up in the sauna to quell the freezing temperatures that were exerted on our bodies by the water. Following the sauna, we had the opportunity to zip-line across the river. Before sitting down for dinner, we circled around a bonfire to perform skits in Spanish. In anticipation for the coming morning, we had lights out around 8:30.
At a late 4:00 AM, breakfast included an array of guacamole, strawberry yogurt, and hard boiled eggs. With a quick turn around, the group boarded the bus to begin our trek toward the summit of rainbow mountain, otherwise referred to as vincucuna. The exodus to the apex was no walk in the park, including rocky pathways and taxing uphills, eventually concluding with a peak of 17,000 feet. We then returned back to the lodge for a lunch of trout, and boarded the bus to return to Pisac.
-by Theo and Victor
Monday July 1, 2019
Today we woke up at 8 AM to enjoy a breakfast of scrambled eggs, bread, and fruit. After breakfast, we had time to prepare for Spanish class. Lucas and I had a different Spanish teacher today and we had a super inquisitive and fun Spanish class. Something that our Spanish class thought was hilarious was the tongue-twisting words in Spanish that mean scrambled eggs, “ Huevos Revueltos.”
After spanish class we had a delicious lunch and then had two groups of eleven people split. One group went to Pampallacta, which is where our service project is located, and the other group went and taught local children.
After everyone was back at homebase, we settled down for dinner. After dinner, we all did an extremely fun activity called “let’s understand each other.” In this activity, we split into our mentor groups and decided on a specific cultural personality to portray. Lucas and I were in the same group, and our group decided to put on a display of aggression and passiveness, just to emphasize how they might look in other cultures. Overall, today was a great way to start July and Lucas and I enjoyed all of our activities very much.
-by Felix R and Lucas Kraatz
Wednesday July 3, 2019
Today we started with breakfast at 8:15 as usual. After a few cups of coffee we were all a little more ready for spanish class at 9:30. Part way through Spanish we went to the Chocolate Museum to pick up the chocolate from the workshop the day before. After meandering back through the streets, we finished class and then went back to the market. Soon, we returned to home base for a lunch of noodle soup and rice with quinoa and peas. At one, we left for Pampallacta and continued to move and stack adobe.
Anna and I worked together to make the adobe bricks as well by moving the mix of mud and grass into the mold. The work was muddy and fun and acts as a natural exfoliate for your hands and feet! Back at home base, we ate soup and pasta for dinner. Shortly after dinner we went back to a cafe called Herba Buena where we ordered different pastries and desserts. Molly, Anna, Lucas, Victor and I finished the night with an intense game of Egyptian Rat Slap (which I won).
-Charlotte & Molly
Thursday July 4, 2019
Bonjour!… wait, wrong language. Hola!
Today marks our last day of service work in Pompallacta (so sad!). Y, nuestros clase de español fínal. Four people, woke up fairly sick with stomach problems on top of other things. It’s the 4th of July, (but there seems to be a lack of fireworks here in Peru for some reason?) For dinner we were served up some hip’ity hop’in french fries with some United States condiments! (Yuck mayo) Did you know that Peru’s national day of independence is on July 28th? We celebrated in a GLA fashion by lifting more adobe brinks and rocks!
Tomorrow we will have breakfast at 8:00am and set off fin de semana with a train ride to somewhere, I’m honestly not sure where, hopefully Machu Pichu!
Friday July 5, 2019
We awoke to the pitter patter of rain dripping onto the courtyard pavement. Our breakfast was coated in fog and wind. Bellies full, we piled into the vans. Everyone popped in their earbuds as we trekked through the picturesque Sacred Valley. Mothers dressed in embroidered skirts carrying children on their backs, cows grazing on the land, and mom and pop shops zoomed past us. Around noon, we pulled up to a tiny secluded cottage in the countryside. There, we were given a tour around this artist’s nook and spilt up into groups for various painting, animation, and pottery activities.
Once again, we hit the road for Ollantaytambo. We were treated too a nice lunch and toured ancient ruins and gardens. Tired, we walked to a nearby cafe to enjoy the free WiFi and pastries. Afterwards, we took a short drive to the train station where we picked up the PeruRail express bound for Machu Picchu. We pulled up to our hotel late in the night, exhausted and satisfied.
by Maria, Victor and Theo
Saturday July 6, 2019
Today was our final excursion with our GLA family: Machu Picchu! This morning we woke up early (even those of us who were slightly ill) to take a bus up the mountain to Machu Picchu, arriving around 8:45. Until around noon, we spent our time walking through the site looking at ancient temples such as those of Pachamama (mother earth) and the Sun. We also meditated on one of the terraces and a few people (your writers included) enjoyed a nice rest.
After Machu Picchu, we took the bus back down the mountain and went to lunch at an Italian restaurant in the town of Aguas Calientes. We devoured many many pizzas while we were there. Afterwards, we did some light shopping in the local market and many people bought ice cream! We then returned on the Machu Picchu train and got to watch the sun set during our journey. Upon returning to home base, we were welcomed by a candlelit dinner because the power had gone out. Luckily enough, it came back on near the end of our meal. We’re sad to see our time in Peru ending, but we’re looking forward to taking all we have learned and many memories home!
– Rosie and Cordelia
We started our last day in Pisac with a traditional shaman ceremony to send us off. We each made an offering that represented our path and prayed for the health of family and friends.
Afterwards, we did some last minute shopping in the Pisac market. In the afternoon we did some packing and then some activities. We reflected on what we learned here and how we will take it back to the United States. Additionally, we each made a personal goal that we’d like to achieve.
Before we left for dinner, we did an activity where we anonymously appreciated one another. Nino described it as “warm and fuzzy.” We went to a restaurant for dinner and ate with our Spanish teachers and others who have impacted us here in Peru. There were many goodbyes and a few tears, and we ended our evening back at home base with a musical jam circle. A great end to a great trip. ¡Adios amigos! We’ll be home soon.
– by Rosie and Cordelia