Hola Peru SSV Session 3!
I hope this letter finds you well. The cuy houses are done, and I am sitting at the home base with a cup of coffee wrapping things up for the summer. What a blur! I bet the summer flew by for some of you as well! It seems like just the other day that we were eating picarones, checking out the crazy stuff for sale in El Molino, and taking so many snack runs to the Super Sol (so. many. snack. runs.)
Remember mixing mud for the construction, moving adobe bricks, and building up the walls of the 4 cuy houses? Do you remember how heavy the pickaxes felt at first and how you felt stronger at the end of the trip than at the beginning? At the end of the summer, the community members expressed thanks to all of the groups that helped with the project, and the cuy were safely inside their pens on wood chip bedding. Even if you didn’t get to see the project through to the very end, all of the work that you put in made it possible for us to finish the project and follow through on the commitment that we made to the community of Mayrasco. Nice work!
And of course there was our adventure in the Andes as we made our way to Machu Picchu! I remember getting up super early in the dark to leave and sleeping most of the way on the bus to the mountain pass called Abra Malaga that was at over 14,000 feet. A bunch of you scrambled up the hill above our lunch spot to get the best views of the glaciers on mount Veronica. It was windy, and the wind was chilly, but the rocks were warm and as soon as you dropped down on the other side of the ridge, the hill blocked the wind and all you could feel was the warm sun.
Hiking down to the fish farm, the views were amazing and you all did a great job with the many stream crossings. I remember how you all felt pretty accomplished after making it up the steep trail to our campsite. Then the stars came out and we saw the whole Milky Way sparkling above the mountains. The next day, the walk along the train tracks to Aguas Calientes seemed easy in comparison. Hiking up to the base of the ruins was a challenge for some of you more than others, and I am proud of everyone, regardless of speed etc.
Remember that it’s not speed etc that determines the character of a person, but their attitude and how they overcome obstacles and deal with disappointment! After that we had our tour of Machu Picchu. I imagine you all have tons of great photos of that experience, especially of the crazy llamas wandering around the ruins. They were getting a little bold, if I remember right. ; )
I hope you all remember some of the Spanish words that you picked up while you were here! Remember what the words pico, pala, barro, and adobe mean? You all practiced your Spanish quite a bit and got pretty good at bargaining when we went shopping at the artisan markets in Aguas Calientes and Cusco!
Most of all, I hope you remember the things you learned about yourselves while you were here. How you found out that you could do hard things, work at high altitude, get to know people even if you felt nervous, get around using a different language, camp overnight even if you had never camped before, work things out with people different from you, and learn that sometimes you have to do things that you don’t want to do, but there is satisfaction afterward of a job well done.
Here are a few highlights from session 3:
-Playing pato pato ganso with the community kids at the school.
-You played so many games of Prez!
-A bunch of you huddled together outside at the campsite talking and watching the stars.
-The wild chinchilla we saw chillin’ by the Temple of the Condor.
-The rock slides at Sacsayhuaman ruins
-The contented pig who was always laying in the sun at one of the service sites.
-The kids in the community totally showing us up with their impressive pickaxeing skills.
-The smell of the eucalyptus tree trunks that we used for the second floor of the cuy houses
-Getting ice cream after the city tour.
-Talking and having fun on the late train ride back from Machu Picchu
Enjoy the memories!
~Grace King and mentors Jill Swanson, Nico Couto, and Tami Aldorondo