Dearest GLA Students:
Our first week was full of new learning and sight seeing. We met Mario and he told us all about his school and our future plans for our 3 weeks of service. Little did we know how much dirt we’d be able to move! We were so impressed with how well everyone worked together and with the efficiency of our various assembly lines. The walkway and walls to Julio’s house looked amazing and created a fertile ground to commence the building of a greenhouse. The tiling on the bathroom gave it such an elegant touch and made it look absolutely beautiful. Everyone did such great work with the pickaxe and shovel to make way for a garden; can’t wait to see the fruits of your labor- literally!
During each and every cultural activity, you picked up a nugget of knowledge about the local culture. You learned about the vast and complex buildings of the Incan- it seemed like no part of was without use and intent. At the salt mines, you learned more about where salt came from and the long process it went through before arriving at your table. During the Pachamama ceremony, you were shown what it was to connect with mother earth and all that she provides for us. During the textile presentation, you were brought closer to your clothing and were able to discern between different alpaca materials, knowledge which you effectively used at local markets!
You all proved yourselves to be adventurous souls as you trekked up the seemingly endless steps to Machu Picchu. But it was well worth it, as you learned all about the Incan civilization and what they did. However, there was one Trek that you all so valiantly survived, Lares Trek. We will never forget those 3 days filled with beautiful landscapes, 4,600 feet of altitude, camping, low temperatures, and, of course, Max. May you always be able to tap into the strength and courage that led you to the successful completion of this and into the warm embrace of the much awaited Hot Springs in Lares.
Our Favorite Moments:
- Exploring and taking in the incredible views of Machu Picchu after a challenging early morning climb
- Rafting down the freezing cold Urubamba river, followed by cliff jumping and then ziplining! What a day of adventure!
- The talent show (who could forget it!) Hosted by Mason and Tyler, students and staff revealed their many talents with singing, story telling, musical instruments, and impressions. And of course, if you didn’t share a talent, you were in the Hot Seat!
- The epic soccer tournament of GLA Students vs Peruvians. Most Valuable Player: Matt the Ninja Goalie
- The Service Celebration – you wowed the kindergartners of Mario’s school with your amazing perforrmances, playing Peruvian pan pipes and percussion instruments in a musical number, followed by the unforgettable Flower/Llama Dance – this was outside of many of your comfort zones, but you totally pulled it off!
- Mario’s Food Presentation – you tested the limits of your taste buds with Peruvian delicacies such as lambs’ intestines and bulls’ testicles. The boy’s team won for fastest eaters, but the girls’ team won for correctly identifying the most dishes!
- Juan Carlos’s memorable quote that he shared with us at our farewell dinner: “Alpinism is the art of climbing mountains by confronting the greatest dangers with the greatest prudence. Art is used here to mean the accomplishment of knowledge in action. You cannot stay on the summit forever. You have to come down again. So what’s the point? Only this: what is above knows what is below, what is below does not know what is above. While climbing, take note of all the difficulties along your path. During the descent, you will no longer see them, but you will know that they are there if you have observed carefully. There is an art to finding your way in the lower regions by the memory of what you have seen when you were higher up. When you can no longer see, you can at least still know.” — RENÉ DAUMAL, from Mount Analogue
Always remember that slow is fast and fast is slow,
-Yensi, Sierra, Raquel, Matt