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Wednesday June 20, 2018
Bienvenidos a Perú!
Our group has arrived safe and sound at our home base in the town of Yucay in the Sacred Valley of Peru. We took in the breathtaking views of the snow capped Andes on our drive from the airport and had our first taste of delicious Peruvian cuisine. We spent the evening settling in and getting to know each other. We are looking forward to the arrival of Michael tomorrow and to the adventures ahead of us!!!
(Not pictured: Michael Carpenter)
Thursday June 21, 2018
Day 2 of Spanish Service Adventure in the Sacred Valley and we’re off to an amazing start! We visited our service site today and met all of the students and staff at the school we’ll be working at. We played volleyball, soccer, and watched Peru play in the World Cup (see picture below). After service we did some more ice breakers / “get to know you” activities in the common space at home base. We continued with some orientation and program hype! T-2 days until we get to explore some of what Cusco has to offer!
After orientation students took a Spanish placement exam to determine which level class they will be in. Then classes start tomorrow and everyone learns some common phrases to use in the market which will be put to the test in Cusco and Chinchero. Also, today was our international director Ellen’s birthday. So after a filling dinner we surprised her with cake and our rendition of “Feliz Cumpleaños”. To close off the day, we grouped up to come up with some community agreements that we all want to stick to for the remainder of the program. My favorite is “Hang up and hang out”. Being present and losing myself in the moment is what I want to hold myself to for the duration of the program.
As for tomorrow, I’m looking forward to getting our hands dirty as we start our greenhouse construction at site followed by what I’m sure will be an amazing almuerzo (Spanish for lunch – the biggest and perhaps most important meal of the day here).
Friday June 22, 2018
Today we started working on making adobe bricks for the greenhouse. We split into several different groups and most of us ended up pretty muddy while the other groups worked with the kids. The adobe groups had to mix the water with the clay that was piled up and smooth it out to make it suitable for making bricks. After mixing it all up, we had around 6-7 people running around in it flattening it out and getting the consistency correct. While we were doing this we sprinkled straw in it for structure later on and it got everywhere! Finally we had a few people putting the adobe into molds where it will dry and be ready for building. By the end of the day we had made around 60 bricks!
After our afternoon siesta, we had our first Spanish Class where we learned about market terms for our trips to Cusco and Chinchero where we will go to different mercados. After dinner we had our first mentor group session and talked about ourselves and what we plan on doing this trip. We learned more about each other and why each of us came on this adventure. We are all excited for our trip to Cusco tomorrow, stay tuned for more info!
Saturday June 23, 2018
Today was our big trip to Cusco, Peru. There was a big celebration all day for the pride of the lively city and the celebration of the sun. On the way to Cusco, we stopped off to learn about (and feed) llamas, alpacas, and everything in between. After the bus trip, we started off with a tour of the nearby Inca ruins Sacsayhuaman. After going through a small cave, we arrived at the old Inca slides. After everyone got their share of the slides, we all went down to a small outcropping that gave us a beautiful view of Cusco and the parades below. We then split up into our Spanish groups and worked on our language skills while taking a tour of the ancient ruins.
We ate a delicious lunch at a local restaurant in Cusco. After everyone had their share of food, we headed over to the local marketplace. We practiced our newly acquired vocabulary by buying various fruits and vegetables. Afterwards, we headed over to the artisan markets to buy various Peruvian goods. We’re all very comfy and warm in our new alpaca sweaters! We’re looking forward to our second excursion to Chinchero tomorrow where we will be learning all about weaving!
Sunday June 24 and Monday June 25, 2018
Our true cultural experience started on Sunday with a visit to Moray, an Incan agricultural ruin where they experimented with many different microclimates by building terraces. Our guide, Davey gave us a comprehensive historical background of the area and Incan farming techniques. Did you know there are over 3,500 types of potatoes that grow in Peru? After far too long taking classic tourist photos, we headed off to Chinchero to explore their traditional market, which is the only place in Peru where a system of bartering and trading still exists. We bought more souvenirs than necessary, so be expecting presents. Afterwards, we walked through the town to a traditional weaving market where we all tried cuy for the first time. For those of you who don’t know, cuy is a traditional Peruvian delicacy otherwise known as guinea pig. Next, we headed to the workshop to learn the process of creating a textile and got to try our hand at weaving. In the evening, we shared our life stories with each other, got to know one another, and bonded as a group, even though we all thought we were already pretty close.
On Monday, we headed over to our service site and had another fun day of adobe, working, and talking to kids from the school. We spent our morning covered in mud, and arrived back at home base to take much needed showers in the afternoon. We had a calm day to relax and bond. Our evening continued with Spanish lessons from our local teachers. Their lessons and encouragement have already made us more confident Spanish speakers. Later, we finished everyone’s life stories, and had the opportunity to discuss our experiences. After a busy weekend, many of us are ready for bed but excited for another fun, mud filled day tomorrow.
-Tommy Crookes and Savanna Denton
Tuesday June 26 and Wednesday June 27, 2018
We started our morning working hard on the adobe bricks at our service site. The day began cold and gray but ended with sunshine and dancing. A new group of people got to experience the classroom while everyone else continued making progress with the construction. When it was time for break instead of volleyball some people decided to have a dance party with the students. Everyone bonded on a new level with many laughs and embarrassing dance moves.
Art class was starting right in the middle of our fiesta and the teacher decided to teach us a traditional Peruvian dance instead. All the students loved showing us that part of their culture, and learning new things from us as well. Unfortunately, time was up and the group had to race home to eat lunch in time for the music presentation and Spanish class. During the music presentation, we all got to experience and try playing the different instruments. In the eveing we got to have a movie and game night. Some of the group watched “Coco” and the others played games. Lights out came too soon, yet not soon enough for this very eventful day.
The next day began with a breakfast of potatoes and eggs. We got ready for service and had our morning hype circle. At service today a new group of people spent time in the classroom, while the rest of us worked on cutting hay, mixing adobe and forming bricks. In the classrooms students learned about diversity and discrimination in their communications class and sex ED in their health class. Students and mentors who sat in on the classes were surprised at how differently teachers in Peru tackled these topics and how open they were to discussion.
Outside of the classroom we got to work with two local parents and one brother of students at the school. It was really great to see how involved the community was with their school. Service ended with an intense and fun filled game of volleyball in which both GLA students and local students participated. Working together as a team brought a new sense of connection between the local students and GLA students. Playing together allowed us to communicate and share an experience that helped break down the language barrier between us.
Back at home base lunch was quite the treat as our chef, Guillermo, returned [from cooking for another GLA program] with a delicious meal. On this trip we have enjoyed many amazing, delicious and unique Peruvian dishes. After lunch, and a few more showers, we quickly turned around and headed into the town of Urubamba to a little café called Kachi Wasi where we feasted on desserts and enjoyed our first internet day in Peru.
Afterwards students had the choice to supplement their diets with treats from a local grocery store, which many of us did. The night ended with another amazing meal from Guillermo and a mentor group meeting which allowed us to reflect deeper on our similarities and differences and learn what we each bring to this program.
Adios for now,
-Lacey Walker and Ezra K.
Monday July 2, 2018
¡Hola, amigos y familia!
We finally returned from our three day trek, which ended at Machu Picchu. On the first day of the trek, we hiked up a mountain that overlooked a beautiful lake and had gorgeous views of snow capped mountains. The hills were alive with the sound of music. After enjoying lunch at the peak, we began our descent to the remote lakeside hostel, where we stayed for the night. There, we learned how to dehydrate potatoes and herd llamas to a nearby town. We enjoyed a candlelit dinner as the moon rose over the glimmering lake and distant mountains. After dinner, we made a campfire and roasted flavored marshmallows while telling not so scary ghost stories.
We arose to brisk frosty air and began our second day of hiking. There was about an hour of uphill climb and the rest of it was switchbacks and downhill. We passed beautiful waterfalls and crossed bridges, figuratively and literally. Even though it was a serious challenge, we all felt very accomplished and learned many valuable life lessons. We completed our journey with a strong sprint to the train and enjoyed the views as we travelled to Aguas Calientes. Finally, we ended the night with pizza and went to bed early.
At 4 o’clock A.M., sixteen young travellers arose before the sun to catch the sun rising over the mountains at Machu Picchu. After waiting in line and marvelling at the skill of the bus drivers, we arrived at one of the seven wonders of the world. The best one. Many photo shoots later, we learned from our beloved tour guide, Davy, about the Incan Empire and the discovery of Machu Picchu. Unfortunately for the many of us with full bladders, Machu Picchu began their new rule of prohibiting reentries that very day (as the restrooms were located outside the premises). We were very excited to get special stamps in our passports as we departed. Next, we had lunch at a fancy buffet and swam at man-made hot springs. Arriving to the train station with ample time to spare, some of us enjoyed tasty snacks and we all fell asleep on the train ride home.
On July 2nd, our first day back to our regular schedule, returning to service was difficult. Half of the group tore down the previous greenhouse walls, while others went to the classroom and helped teach English. During a recess dance party, we exchanged different styles of dances. Ultimately, we returned to home base for a well-deserved siesta.
¡¡Gracias y adiós!!!
(shoutout to the Song fam:*)
So long, farewell,
Lily Song and Jennifer Ahmann
Tuesday July 3, 2018
On our first regular schedule day back since trekking, we started the day off with a delicious breakfast made by our amazing chef. Following breakfast we had a beautiful drive up to our service site in Chinchero. Once arriving to the site we broke into groups for the morning. Some students went to the classes to observe and sometimes take part in the lesson.
Classes today consisted of learning about long division and photosynthesis. Others continued digging up the old greenhouse to make room for the new one. During their recess we played volleyball with the kids and in one classroom some students taught us how to do a traditional Peruvian dance. Driving back to home base we all took a well deserved nap before lunch. After lunch we had time to relax and hang out with our friends.
During Spanish class we broke into groups to learn about Peruvian holidays. We got to go talk to locals in the community to ask them about our chosen holiday. After learning a ton about those celebrations we taught the rest of the group about what we had learned. We got to break out of our comfort zones during that class. We ended the night off with an amazing Asian-inspired dinner.
Wednesday July 4, 2018
Today the group headed back to our service site in Chinchero. For the past two weeks we have been building a new green house for the school with the help of the students’ parents. We finished destroying the old wall, and began gathering rocks to put into a trench of mud bricks that were already there from the day before. While some worked outside, others went to the classrooms to be active in the classes with students and teachers. We had worked long hours gathering rocks and understanding what the students were learning in the classrooms and their conversations. During recess we decided to challenge the other GLA group that was there at the same school to a game of volleyball. We fought hard in the first game only losing by two points despite the ten point comeback late in the game.
However we did not give up we did rally back in the second game and went on a hot serving streak late and broke the game open winning by ten points. The third and final game was competitive and went down to the wire with many lead changes and hot streaks despite our efforts we came up short but we never gave up and we kept fighting no matter how many points we were down by. After the game, we left Chinchero and went back to our home base in Yucay to have lunch and then to leave for the internet café. We had delicious cake and hot coffee as well as going to the market to get snacks for the last stretch of a full week ahead.
After the internet café we then went back to the home base for our Spanish classes where we went out and asked people around the neighborhood about different mythical legends such as El Machu, giving up the opportunity to practice using the Spanish we’ve been learning in the classroom. After we had gathered our information about each creature we had to tell a story or history about the animal. After we had finished the presentations we had a special dinner of hamburgers and french fries. Then we out to a little square to watch a “meteor shower” when we all got surprised with fireworks since the staff from Peru knew it was the 4th of July.
After the quick show of fireworks we then had a big mentor group meeting and watched a TED talk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie called “The Danger of a Single Story.” We talked about what our preconceptions of Peru were before arriving, and where these ideas came from. We talked about how stories can both empower and oppress a group of people, depending on who is telling the story, and the idea that stereotypes are often incomplete. This activity gave us the chance to reflect deeper, and we were given the homework of asking 1 person here in Peru to share their personal story with us.
Thursday July 5, 2018
It’s Jack. Today was another jam packed day here in Peru! We started off our day at our usual service site but we actually started building the foundation for the greenhouse. Even though carrying and placing those rocks was hard work, all of us are excited to actually start the construction! After a couple of hours of hard work, Team Adobe came back with a vengeance in the volleyball game and won by a landslide! And to top it off at the service site, it was a particularly special day at the school because it was teacher appreciation day! We were lucky enough to be allowed to see the kids’ performance, where they performed a traditional Peruvian dance. After all that excitement we headed back to home base to relax and get ready for our Spanish plays. Basically, we all had to perform a scene about a different Peruvian mythological creature. It was a fun time and we got to immerse ourselves into the culture even more! And to end the day, we were treated to a dance presentation. We got to see three different types of Peruvian dance, all with their own set of props and attire, and we even learned a few moves. And thats a wrap for today,
Friday July 6, 2018
Today instead of doing our service at the local school in Chinchero, we cut wheat at a student’s farm as today is Teacher’s Day and there is no school. That was a great experience because it opened our eyes to the domestic lives of the students and how hard they work on a daily basis in the fields, supporting their family by cultivating different kinds of wheat, and potatoes as well as raising animals.
After lunch, we had a special Spanish class, as it was the last one and we all made stories and cards and bought gifts for our teachers. Everyone sat in the dining room and sang and played games. It was sad to say goodbye but as one of the teachers said, it was not an, “adiós” but an “hasta luego”.
Saturday July 7, 2018
Today we woke up early to prepare for an outing to Cusco once again before our ever impending departure drawing nearer. With the adventure largely beginning to wrap up, it was good to see everyone in better health, and the whole group spirit seemed to make a return, a welcome change. Without a strict plan in mind, we arrived in Cusco with the goal of seeing the innermost part of the city and get to some last minute shopping for gifts, apparel, and other purchases of the like. Crowded streets and traffic meant we had to walk aways to reach our first destination, which was that of sightseeing at the Plaza de Armas.
It was a change of pace to be surrounded by tourists and locals alike as we got to get a glance of the heart of Cusco first hand, rather than just the view of the plaza we had from Sacsayhuaman from what feels like so long ago. We explored the plaza and got to see a dance performance from a joyful group of children. We then ventured to San Blas, a small plaza filled with people- some having just celebrated a first communion and others there to enjoy the atmosphere. Here we stopped to complete our first shopping obligations of the day, exploring and using our developing bargaining skills to buy all the square had to offer.
After a nice lunch in the plaza filled with music and chatter of locals and tourists, we moved on to regroup in a small cafe on the side of a busy street. We enjoyed a spectacular snacking opportunity and took somewhat of a breather from the bustle of the lively city with time to enjoy ourselves. After psyching up for yet another shopping trip, we went on to find the San Pedro market for an even more exciting shopping and sightseeing experience.
The market was filled to the brim with people of all kinds and had an atmosphere of its own as we seemed to step into a different world of shopping and bartering and crossroads of cultures. There you could find everything you could possibly expect as well as exotic items and foods you’d never have thought to find in such a place. Even time itself seems to flow differently within such a diverse little world, and it truly did fly past us. Long before we began to know it, we were headed back up the hill again to begin the short journey back to our home base.
Even though the time itself felt exceedingly short, we were plenty tired once arriving to our temporary home and ready enough to enjoy time simply to ourselves and relax. It is still hard to think that we have to say goodbye soon, but more and more of us are starting to realize both that the end is sneaking up on us, and that it does nearly feel like time to be back in our home lives once again.
-by Michael Carpenter
Hello friends and family!!
I am so happy I get to tell you about another awesome day her in Peru. Today we went white water rafting!! We left home base a little later than normal to hopefully catch some warmer weather on the river. When we arrived at the rafting launch area we had loads of fun trying on our wetsuits and helmets before we got a safety talk from one of the leaders.
Before getting on the river we were all pretty nervous but by the time we got out on the water we were having such a great time we forgot about many of our fears; which was really great to see. After about an hour of exhilarating rafting and fun splash fights we found ourselves in Ollantaytambo.
We had a delicious lunch in this beautiful town and also got some last minute shopping in. After a pretty sleepy bus ride back to home base we had some free time which we used to play card games and mafia or get some much deserved sleep. Then we had the privilege of meeting the staff who work behind the scenes to coordinate all of our logistics and fun adventures!! We had a great time dancing with and getting to know these incredible people (also…..Guillermo made us a delicious tres leches cake which we all really appreciated).
After coordinating some thank you presents for the outstanding home base staff we had a photo contest with all of our favorite photos from the trip. Finally, although we will be sad to leave this beautiful country and its incredible people, I know we also can’t wait to come back home, see everyone, and talk all about our amazing adventures.
Love you loads mom, dad, and will<<33
Monday July 9, 2018
On the last full day of the trip everyone got up nice and early to get to breakfast and then to say goodbye to all of the students at the school. Breakfast is usually pretty quiet, which is to be expected, seeing as most people just rolled out of bed just minutes before, but today it was eerily quiet even by the normal standards. This was due to the act that the realization that today was the last full day that we had together, and we were saying goodbye to all the friends that we had made at the school over the past three weeks.
We all loaded onto the bus to drive to the service site for the last time, and in order to lighten the mood I set the record for the most dad jokes told before departure. As expected the bus ride there was a lot quieter than usual due to the circumstances. Once we got to the service site and walked through the gates all of the students started pouring out their classrooms in order to greet us.
There were several games and activities scheduled for the day in order to fill our last day. First we played a game to which the name I do not know, but it involved several different trains of people running around trying to steal the scarves tied around the last person in line. The team that ended up with the most scarves at the end of the round ended up winning. I can confirm that it was just as much fun to play it as much as it was to watch. The next game required us to split into two big groups and form a huge circle by joining hands.
After we formed our circle a stretchy circle of rope was inserted in a random place and it was our jobs to get the piece of rope all the way around the circle without letting go of the people around you. The next game involved six person teams and each person had a cone with which they had to run from one side of the volleyball court to the other and as each person ran they made a stack out of the cones. The first team to successfully form their tower wins. The last game involved everyone on the two teams putting as many articles of clothing on one person as they possibly could. By the end each of the two students had tripled in size.
After all of the games were finished we taught all of the students how to do the “Cotton Eyed Joe”, and with the help of our fantastic dance teachers I can say that it went very well. After the dancing was finished all of the students gave all of us gifts as a thank you for everything that we had done. The girls received a nice pair of earrings and the boys received a nice bracelet. After all of that we had to say goodbye to all of the students, which was not easy to do for either side. Lots of pictures and kind words were exchanged and then we had leave. As to be expected the bus ride home was extremely quiet.
Once we got back we helped Guillermo make ceviche for lunch, and for all of us being rookies, I would say that it turned out very well and everyone liked it. After lunch we had free time/ time to practice our thank yous to the home base staff. Once dinner rolled around everyone was getting very anxious for our thank you performance. When the time came and the dance was over, everything went perfectly, and the home base staff loved our performance.
After the main performance there was another group the had prepared a different dance routine which led to a dance party afterwards. After all the thank yous to the staff we had some group activities to say thank you to each other for making the trip everything that it was. With the night winding down we played lots of Mafia and then everyone went their separate ways to go to bed.