How is it going at home? Do you miss those cold showers from Peru? Crazy how time flies, it feels like just yesterday that we were all in Peru being immersed in service and Peruvian culture. Over those two weeks you came out of your shell, took risks, got to know a fantastic (and funny) new group of people. You bonded with new people, made new friendships, and challenged yourself mentally and physically.
Most mornings started with service in the community of Chocco, Peru which is about 20 minutes from our home base. We built two guinea pig houses for two families in the community. The construction had already been started, but it was our job to finish the guinea pig houses. These houses will help the families feed their children, as well as giving them an opportunity to sell the guinea pig at the market for additional income. Want to carry some more adobe bricks? The work was challenging, but working in our service teams kept us all motivated listening to music and passing on compliments with every adobe brick. The families even came out to help us when things got tough! It was rewarding to see the progress that we made each day. We could see the impact we were making for the families, the completed houses are probably already filled with guinea pigs.
Even though the mornings were filled with challenging service, the afternoons were occupied with fun cultural events. We had guest speakers that informed us about health issues and the Peruvian economy. Who could forget feeding the llamas and alpacas though? I’m sure we all have some fun llama selfies to look back on! And that city tour of the ruins around Cusco and the Cathedrals, WOW! Remember the master stones or the Inca cross? I don’t think any of us will soon forget the trip to the orphanage. Your generosity in donations was inspiring. We were able to go shopping to fulfil most of the orphanage’s wish list.
Not only did we bring supplies, but we brought the fun! From dance parties to volleyball in yard, I will never forget the laughter I heard and the smiles I saw on everyone there. Oh, and don’t forget about Patabamba! We were introduced to some amazing families that opened up their homes to us. We helped them shell beans and were presented with some amazing potatoes and homemade cheese! That wasn’t all we did in Patabamba though, after a scenic picnic lunch we were fortunate enough to have been invited to play soccer on the turf soccer field. A lot of the locals came out to play soccer and cheer us on. Playing soccer in 14k feet was not easy, but regardless of how out of breath we were, it was an awesome time! We can’t forget about the Shaman either! Did any of his prediction come true for you yet?
Our mornings were filled with service, our afternoons were packed with cultural events, but what about the evenings? Thanks to our event coordinator we had fun games nights and parties. Who could forget the epic performances from the Lip-Sync night: Glamourous, Fergalicious, Genie in a bottle, and cup of Joe, to name a few! The boys let us know that, “Saturday is for the boys”, but they opened up their Saturday party for everyone to enjoy snacks and ping pong on the sixth floor. We tried some yoga and played numerous games to fill our nights. All those times spent together helped us bond into the tight knit group we became.
Then, the big moment came: the Machu Picchu trek!!! Day one…am I going to make it? Day two….are we there yet? Day Three… WE’RE HERE! We survived our trek of almost 25 miles to make it to Machu Picchu, do you still have blisters? A sense of accomplishment came over the group as we arrived to our campsite on the first night. We camped in style and the local staff made us some amazing food! Then we were off again in the morning, many of us caught up on more sleep in the car on the way to the train tracks. We trekked along the train tracks all the way to Aguascalientes. The excitement for the Machu Picchu the next day was tangible! The day came, we toured Aguascalientes before lunch and then we were off to Machu Picchu! Did you count how many steps we went up? My fitbit said 89 floors!! What a workout, but the top was well worth the hike! I will never forget your faces when we first arrived- pure joy and awe seeing the ruins for the first time!
Our trip came to a close with our last day of service. The two service groups combined forces to finish the guinea pig houses one at a time. What a feeling! The roofs got put on and we were done! We spent time with the families as they showed their appreciation through a wonderful potato treat and little gifts for all of us. After we finished our service, it was time to shop! The much anticipated shopping trip did not disappoint and many of us left with multiple bags of souvenirs for ourselves, family, and friends. Our final dinner together was complete with a full buffet, a live show, and some of us even got pulled on stage to participate! What a way to end the trip!!
You are all back at home now with clean drinking water, strong wifi, and a closet full of clothes. Do not forget the lessons you learned here and who you helped. Never stop sharing about the people you helped or the lessons you learned while you were here in Peru. Many of you lived outside of your comfort zone and met the new challenges that this program gave you. Remember our full value contract to take risks and try new things? Just because our program has ended does not mean you should stop getting out of your comfort zone. Do not forget what you did here not only for the local community, but for yourself as well. GLA’s motto is “be the change”, I hope that you take what you learned here over those two weeks to be the change that the world needs you to be.
Thank you for an amazing two weeks, I truly enjoyed getting to know each and every one of you!
-Lauren Bercha & Brenda Troyo