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Peru Hardcore Service Adventure 2017

June 27-28, 2017

We finally arrived yesterday in Lima after meeting our first guide in Miami airport, Victor. We were all excited not only about the trip, but meeting new people who we will be traveling with the next couple weeks. After a 5 hour flight to Lima we checked into our hotel then woke the next morning and took a stroll around the Barranco area. We saw the Puento de Suspiros and took photos. We then boarded the bus to the airport and flew to Cusco where we took a quick tour of the center and met our other two Global Works guides, Fabricio and Katie.

After two days of traveling we finally got some downtime and not so rushed moments at Samana Wasi, our hotel that is located on a some beautiful farmland in Urubamba. There is a rainbow right now in clear blue skies! We have been getting to know each other and what the Peru program has in store for us. Right now we are going to see some llamas, alpacas, and do some shopping at Pisac market! More soon!

June 29, 2017

Thursday morning we woke up and had a wonderful breakfast at the hotel. Then we moved to our pyramid room for a meeting and practiced haggling for our upcoming trip to the market. Our exciting ride to the market in Pisac consisted of lots of switchbacks and awesome views of the Sacred Valley. Upon arriving to Pisac, Fabricio showed us ancient Incan agricultural cutouts in the side of super steep mountains. He also pointed out an ancient Incan castle at the highest peak of the mountain. Then we continued to the largest open air artisan market in Peru where he recommended good local souvenirs to buy for our friends and family. The market atmosphere was very lively and filled with vibrant colors and local kids running around. We had two hours to explore the market and enjoy delicious local empanadas. Before ordering empanadas we visited a giant guinea pig castle behind the century old empanada oven. After buying a variety of local goods we took a scenic trip to a llama/alpaca farm. We thoroughly enjoyed feeding alfalfa to the friendly llamas and alpacas. The friendly locals on the farm showed us how they make their fabrics from llama hair and natural dyes. After playing with the energetic kids on the farm. We traveled back to Urabamba and had fun preparing for our homestays with skits. We finished the day with a social bonfire in the cold Peruvian air.

-Ben, Kylie and Hunter

June 30, 2017

Our final morning at the hotel consisted of packing up and playing a few games while we waited for our buses to take us to the school. We met Wilber, the local school director, professor, and unofficial mayor of the town. He told us all about the 25th anniversary of their fun, colorful school. To prepare for festivities we cleaned the volley ball court and sanded the monkey bars. Then we moved into painting the court, playground, and lunch tables. We took a break and had a lively birthday celebration which consisted of a Peruvian tradition where the member took a bite out of her cake and Wilber smashed her face in it. We hurriedly finished painting while the cold rain approached our work site and awaited meeting our host families. By lunch on Friday we all were at the houses with our homestay families in Urubamba. We ate traditional Peruvian foods and practiced our Spanish as we got to know our families. At first we struggled with acclimating to the new environment but very soon we adjusted to the new lifestyle. At 5 o’clock we joined in on the 25th anniversary of the local Escuela de Sagrada Corazon de Jesus where the parents of the students performed various timely Peruvian dances while dressed in colorful traditional attire.

-Ben, Kylie and Hunter

July 1, 2017

After a restful night with our families we returned back to the school to continue watching the celebration. Later that same morning we jumped on the bus and took a scenic drive to a local Quechua village. Greeted with homemade necklaces, music, and hot tea, we jumped right to learning about their lifestyle by watching the locals create a traditional oven in the earth based off of ancient Incan methods. As we waited for the mud brick ovens to heat, the families took us to us to see their homes where we got to shuck corn and learn more about their unique way of life.

After, we returned back to the site of the ovens, we threw potatoes in and we took a short hike to see an ancient Incan ritual to the gods. Later, we ate the smoky potatoes with a cream cheese sauce (all without a fork or knife). Afterwards, we got to learn and try how to plow a field with two bulls. Right before we left we sang happy birthday to the numerous people celebrating birthdays on the trip by dancing together with the locals and their live music. All in all a fun day learning more about indigenous people and the Incan culture through a unique and eye-opening experience.

-Sarah, Olga and Henry

July 2, 2017

Sunday was family day for us Global Works students.  It was a chance to get to know our host families better and to explore the city of Urubamba.  Ben celebrated his birthday with his host family, and they bought him a cake.  Some of us attended the local Catholic Church and were impressed by golden altar and beautiful designs.  Others explored the local market with the families to buy fresh fruits, vegetables, and cuy (guinea pig meat).  While most families stayed local, some brought us to explore Incan ruins atop the tall mountains.  Other bonding activities included playing soccer with our host families and even playing against other families.  We were also provided with a chance to call home, with some using local cybercafés in lieu of electricity in order to connect to the internet.

-August, Ryan and Charlie

July 3, 2017

On Monday, our leader Katie’s birthday, we met at Sagrado Corazon de Jesus to discuss our day with the family and to participate in a Spanish language activity. From there, we walked to the special needs school Arco Iris and watched dances by some of the students.  Unfortunately, not all of the students and teachers were able to attend on account of the teacher’s strike in the state of Cuzco. We played with the attending kids and sanded down a mural in order to repaint it, as well as painting the monkey bars and the swing set.  We leveled out the ground in order to prepare it for the construction of an oven to be completed on Friday. Also, in preparation for teaching students English the following day, we made lesson plans for English classes at the Sagrado Corazon de Jesus.  After lunch at home, we met at the plaza to begin ceramics at Arco Iris. We had the opportunity to learn about the local ceramics process. The clay and sand is mined locally and they use both wheel and hand techniques.  Many of us had the opportunity to try our hand at the pottery wheel. Each of us designed and painted a pottery plaque which we will be able to take home with us after it gets fired in the kiln. After a full day we headed home to our host families and the hot cooked meals that awaited for us.

-August, Ryan and Charlie

July 4, 2017

The Fourth of July was another exciting day in Peru. At 8:00 A.M., the group met at the Sagrado Corazon de Jesus to teach English to grades 1-6. The sub-groups entered the classroom, not knowing what to expect. They were welcomed with various types of greetings, from songs, to a chorus of “hellos.” The children eagerly engaged in the lessons and activities we had previously planned. Surprisingly, many of the students already knew some English. Following the lessons, many of the members of the group played with the kids during recess. After a short break, we continued our service work. Some of us grabbed shovels and pickaxes, and dug out the bases of the playground foundations. We then continued to fill the foundation with cement in order to hold the playground up for future years. After the cement was in place, we moved to sanding down and painting one of the walls of the school. After hard work, we split up to go to our homestays for lunch.

We regrouped at the school for the second time that day. One half of the participants moved on to a hike, while the other half went to create silver rings and try guinea pig for the first time. The hike was short, but at the same time, very steep, which made it rewarding. At the top, we were able to look over the entire city of Urubamba. The mountains surrounding the city were also very beautiful. At the shop, making the rings was also very enjoyable. We did most of the work ourselves, which also made seeing the final product rewarding. The guinea pig tasted surprising like chicken, though everyone had different opinions about it. Once again, everyone went back to their homestays for the rest of the day to eat and sleep.

-Madeline, Alicia, and Alex

July 5, 2017

The next day started with a bus ride to Calca. We worked with the Sacred Valley Project to build dormitories for girls who would otherwise have to walk for hours just to get to school every day. We all had different jobs, including making mud, digging, and building adobe bricks. After working through the morning, we took a break to eat snacks and native fruits. We are now going back to work, and excited to go back to Urubamba to eat lunch with our host families and then play sports with kids from the school this afternoon.

-Madeline, Alicia, and Alex

July 6, 2017

We started our day by meeting at 8 AM at Sagrado Corazón de Jesus, the main school we had been previously working on. After a short meeting, a bus picked us up and we drove about 30 minutes outside of Urubamba back to the worksite to continue making a girls dormitory. Once we got to there, we picked up our work from the other day, which included the making of an assembly line to construct a wall. We also continued to construct more adobe bricks, and ended with a total of 364. After that, we returned to our homestays for lunch, and then met back up at Sagrado Corazón de Jesus school. From there we split into the same two groups from Tuesday, and 1/2 went on the hike, and the other half made rings and tried cuye (guinea pig). The hike was short and only lasted 45 minutes. However, the hike was very steep and at high-altitude, making it a tough climb. Despite this however, the view was breathtaking and we all had some good laughs. At the ring shop, each person got to make their own ring by heating up metal and welding them together. The majority of the group also enjoyed the cuye. Needless to say after these activities both groups were exhausted, and we returned to our home stay for dinner and sleep.

July 7, 2017

The next day, the 7th of July, we once again met at 8 AM at Sagrado Corazón de Jesus school to get ready for the hard work ahead of us. However, instead of going back to the girls dormitory, we split into two groups and went to two different schools. Half of the group stayed at Sagrado Corazón de Jesus school to finish the work that we had started on the first day of our community service, which was painting and putting in a new bench. While 1/2 of the group did this, the other half returned to Arco Iris to help the other group finish their work. At 1 o’clock we had successfully completed all of our projects we had started earlier this week. We returned to our homestays for lunch, and then spent the rest of our afternoon playing and hanging out with our families. During this time, we also prepared for the big going away dinner party we would have at Pizza Wasi. There, we shared our letters that we had written to our families to say thank you for their kindness and generosity they have given us this week. After a great party, we all return back home with our families for our last night together.
– by Justin, Hannah, and Brenden


July 8, 2017

Our final morning in Urubamba was spent with our homestay family, participating in last minute cookie runs and family fun. We all reconvened as a group to get a big group photo and to say our last goodbyes at the school. A bitter sweet moment as we were all sad to say goodbye to our new and loving families, but excited for our upcoming adventures at Macchu Picchu.

After a quick bus ride from Urubamba, we arrived to Ollantaytambo, a preserved ancient Incan town. We walked up the Incan terraces to see a spectacular view as well as the Incan symbol etched onto one of the many huge rocks scattered across the terraces. In addition to these terraces, all of the houses in the town are built upon the original stones of the first Incan town that occupied the region. The town, surrounded by many vast mountains, is overlooked by Taubua, a women’s face carved into the highest edge of one of the many mountains. The carving’s origins remains a mystery of how it came to be, as it is impossible to reach on foot. After sightseeing and partaking in a bit of touristy shopping, we got on a train taking us to the gorgeous city of Aguas Calientes, a town burrowed in the heart of the mountains, near Macchu Picchu.

July 9, 2017

After a 5:00 AM wake up call, we took a bus ride, zig zagging up and across the mountain, to reach the sacred ruins of Macchu Picchu. As we made our way through lines filled with dozens of eager tourists from around the world, we finally caught our first breathtaking glimpse of Macchu Picchu. We rounded the corner, elbow to elbow with one another, as we raced to take in all and discover everything that surrounded us. From the grassy terraces that were occupied by a few llamas to the more than 500 year old stone structures that were still intact, we all were stunned by the endless beauty. We split into two groups, lead by both Fabricio, and our new tour guide James, who both lead equally amazing tours of the INCA-credible history that encompassed the area. The views of the valley left our entire group awe-struck listening to the many bugs and birds moving throughout the beautiful mountainous terrain. After exploring the ancient structures of Macchu Picchu we went on an adventure to the sun gate leading to a perfect overlook of the spectacular peaks and valley floor below Macchu Picchu. After reaching the top of the hike and taking in the amazing view from the sun gate, we began our trek down to the back door of the Incan city. We hiked along the ledge of the mountain that Macchu Picchu sits on, walking on a narrow path along the side of the mountain giving a perfect view of the river and valley below, towards the ancient Incan bridge. Once we got to the scary narrow bridge, which is at most a foot wide, we made our final walk back to see the famous ruins once more before we loaded onto the buses back to Aguas Calientes. Once back, we had a delicious, much needed, three course meal followed by an hour of free time to explore the town before we hopped on the train back to Ollataytambo headed to our final destination, Cusco.

Carson, Pia, and Sawyer

July 10, 2017
Our day started with a scavenger hunt in the San Pedro market. We worked in groups of 5 to improve our language and bargaining skills, as well as put together bags of food and useful items to give to people living on the streets of Cusco. We gave out the bags of food on our way to the amazing Incan Museum, owned by the San Matias University, the second oldest university in the world. One of our group leaders, Fabricio, led us through the Incan Museum while telling us about the rich history of the Incas, including mummification and the symbol of life and death. We enjoyed a quick stop for lunch at the places of our choice and then we walked to another market to do a bit of souvenir shopping to buy gifts, like fuzzy alpaca sweaters and Peruvian soccer jerseys, for our friends and families. Next, we enjoyed a spicy session of salsa lessons with Charlie, the dance instructor. The temperature of the room began to rise as our heartbeats sped up to the beat of the music. We worked up quite an appetite, so we walked through town to a cute little restaurant called El Papillon. After dinner we each gave superlative awards to someone else in the group. Our last night in Cusco at Niños Hotel. It was really nice with beds that were by far the best of the trip.
The next morning to conclude the trip we went to Saqsaywaman, an Inca ruin 15 minutes from the center of Cuzco. We all reflected on the trip and the amazing memories we made and people we met before heading to the airport.
Jordan, Abby, Aidan