New Milford High School Peru 2018
April 13, 2018
We arrived in Lima at 6:30 Peru time only to find out that our flight to Cusco was cancelled. This allowed us some bonding time and an opportunity to review our Spanish skills. We eventually were assigned a new plane. Despite all the encountered delays, the first view of Cusco made it all worth it! We took a bus to La Plaza de Armas where we met our welcoming group leaders, received delicious sandwiches and freshly made juice! We jumped back on the bus and began our bus ride to Urubamba. We had no idea what was in store for us! To say that the views are indescribable is an understatement! With every turn the lush landscape had something new to offer. We were constantly in awe staring out the windows and trying to capture its grandeur in photos. Before we drove down the mountain into the valley where Urubamba lies, we stopped to look take photos of what was almost an ariel view of the town. The drive into Urubamba allowed us to view where we would be staying for the next five days and brought us to our destination of the hostel, Samana Wasi, which was close to paradise. It had cows and cats which we all adored and let us not forget la comida! It was delicious! All the travel definitely made us tired and it was not too late before we all said buenas noches!
April 14, 2018
We started the day off with a breakfast filled with fresh orange juice and eggs, followed by an orientation. We were introduced to the Global Works expectations and reviewed the trips itinerary. Afterwards, we were assigned our host families, which included a little role play of possible scenarios we may encounter. Then it was on the bus again heading for Pisac Market. The market offered us a purchases of alpaca products, souvenirs, empanadas, and an opportunity to use our Spanish for bartering. We continued on to an Alpaca farm. We all had a blast feeling the adorable Alpacas and of coarse trying to snap pictures with them. The drive back to Urubamba offered us once again views beyond belief! They were so picturesque it felt as if we had to be viewing a green screen. The mountains and villages are beyond belief! Back in Urubamba we met our host families at the school we will be helping out at. Their greetings were so welcoming as they took as in as their own family immediately. We each went to our host families houses for a Peruvian dinner filled with Spanish conversations to get to know one another.
It was another perfect day in Peru!
– Elena, Emma, and Sophia
April 15, 2018
I’m still speechless. I mean, when I’m speaking it’s in Spanish, but the cultures, the people, and the landscapes are nothing short of a dream.
This country is just so pure. Those with few materials possessions act as if they have everything.
We were granted the opportunity to head miles into the farmlands of Kajllarakay, an indigenous Quechua village full of love and life. Families there presented us with handmade necklaces of string and flowers. I found out later that these pieces took more than 30 minutes to make. Over the course of the day we worked with tilling the land, collecting corn kernels, and weeding in the gardens. Yes the manual labor was rough, but it’s clear that these people deserve the celebrations they indulge in when the crop season has finished. After the work, we walked 15 minutes up a dirt path to the outlook of the entire town. From there we sat to celebrate a sacrifice in which the town leader threw a sacred corn beer to thank the mountains and the earth for the protection they have been granted. The views from this site were unlike nothing I had ever seen before. Miles and miles of snow tipped mountains, farmlands, and roaming sheep. We spent over an hour at this location, and were presented with a picnic of corn, potatoes, and beans for lunch. No one wanted to leave, but it was time to dance. As we strolled down the dirt path, listening to the music, and admiring the view, we joined the families in a playful group dance, and gave thanks in Quechua for their time. Here the people don’t have a word for goodbye, only a term for “see you later” because there is no goodbye. They welcomed us to come back again, and said that their doors will always be open. Family, friends, y amigos, we were one of them.
April 16, 2018
Today was our fourth day in Peru, and we have enjoyed our time so far. This morning our host brothers and sisters walked us to El Sagrado Corazon de Jesus, the school that they attend. Once we arrived there, we received a warm welcome from all of the students. We even went to a few of their classrooms and sang “Hey Soul Sister” and “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” to them after they had sang various songs to us. It was very entertaining. After all of the greetings were complete, we put our work gloves on and started sanding the handrails to repaint them, while others worked on the library and the bathrooms. During recess we played several games with the children who were very excited to see us and we had empanadas and Inca Kola (beware, it turns your tongue yellow, but it is very tasty).
Once it was time for lunch, we navigated our way back to our homestay and enjoyed a nice meal with our family. Then we returned to the school and walked to an Incan Ruin that was once a palace of one of the rulers. Some students decided to “wash their hair” in one of the fountains. We then walked to the Plaza de Armas and everyone enjoyed ice cream as we sat in the center of Urubamba. Following this we made silver rings with a local jeweler and played UNO on his shop floor. It got very intense. And then… it was the moment everyone has been anticipating, fearing, and for the brave, looking forward to. A mysterious scent wafted through the door as we all glanced nervously at each other. Through the door entered a traditional Peruvian dish known as, Cuy. Before we knew it, forkfuls were being passed around and it was time to test our stomachs. The bravest of them all took the heads and legs, while more fearful ones took little pieces. We were all pleasantly surprised that it tastes like chicken. We then concluded our night walking home to our host families and had a nice dinner. We are now eagerly awaiting Machu Picchu and can’t wait to share the memories with our families back home.
¡Hola from Mac, Shea, Leah, and Maggie!
April 17, 2018
Waking up to the mountains surrounding Urubamba seems like a new sight every morning. We started our day with a typical Peruvian breakfast consisting of toast and avocado, alongside the most delicious orange juice known to mankind. After walking down the bustling streets of the city, we met our tour guides to go to the rural town of Calca to work with the Sacred Valley Project. When we arrived, we were enthusiastically greeted by the current supervisor, recent Harvard graduate Itzel. With the help of the two foremen, Carlos and Hector, the eighteen of us moved rocks, bricks, and dirt to improve the girls’s dormitories in the area, while the other group finished up work at Sagrado Corazon school. For women in rural towns, especially Quechua girls, it is difficult to get a quality education. Most do not, for they are wanted in the home and only receive an elementary level education. Instead of having to walk five to eight hours a day to continue schooling, dormitories in Calca have been constructed for them. Although the dorms are almost complete, there are still drastic improvements to be made. For example, a bakery is being opened to fund the Sacred Valley Project, and also to let the girls acquire experience in baking, accounting, or business management.
Our four hours of labor appeared to be consequential, however, since even the smallest tasks make all the difference to the organization. Eighteen hands is better than two.
After a big lunch (South American tradition) and a nap, we returned to the school to reunite with our group. We walked to a nearby park to play soccer and volleyball with the locals and students. The soccer boys proved to be intimidating, but our previous soccer skills shined through. We played through sunset, scoring many goals and having many laughs. Throughout the volleyball games, there were frequent dancing intermissions as we exchanged dance moves with the locals.
While there was a slight language barrier, we were all united in our passion for sports. Sports have a way of connecting us when language can not. Following our intense games, we headed back to our host families to enjoy our last dinner together.
– Amelia and Sophie
April 18, 2018
Waking up on a gorgeous Wednesday morning in a home filled with love is comforting enough, however the real cherry on top of the scene was getting ready to walk with my group to a home for children with special needs to help them and make their lives just a little bit better with love. Not only did we paint colorful rainbows and tend their garden as factors of social work, we also were able to spend time and bond with these children in the most wonderful ways. Memories of this morning were impactful enough, but once our time at the Arco Iris school was up, we had the opportunity to actually plan an English lesson for the children at the grade school we’ve spent so much time with. Standing up in front of dozens of these cheerful, ecstatic young kids singing songs to help them remember their head, shoulders, knees and toes among other parts of the body was the moment that I realized just how much our prescence as teenagers from America had on these learning kids. The experience truly did work both ways in the sense that we have had an indescribably astonishing time in this country, while us being here has proven to have just as much of a positive effect on these peoples lives.
Ultimately, four o’clock eventually came along. Waving, hugging, and promising to keep in touch with our homestay families today was by far the most heartbreaking and heartwarming experience of my life. It’s incredible how much a mere four days of simply eating meals and socializing with a family of a completely different culture and lifestyle leaves a life long impact on the life of a teenager. Taking our last photos, blowing kisses and saying goodbye to the home itself was enough of a disparity, let alone hugging these amazing people who have literally agreed to take you into you their home for five days, feed you with the best food you’ve ever had, and most of all they’ve agreed to love each and every one of us as their own. Personally, hugging my host-brother, Matias, goodbye was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my lifetime. Just in five days, the connection that I had built with Mati, age 11, was unique in every way. We bonded over flipping water bottles to the extremes, Ed Sheeran’s music, not being able to dance or sing, and laughing until our stomachs hurt and tears rolled down our cheeks. However, the thing that really made my heart soar and sink at the same time was seeing tears of sadness roll down Mati’s face as our bus pulled away from the beloved town we were so blessed to have met and lived with such incredible people of a loving neighborhood.
April 19, 2018
Today we got up early in the town of Aquas Calientes- which means “hot springs.” We ate our breakfast quickly, on the top floor, with a view of the city. Then we set out for Machu Picchu. To get to Machu Picchu, we had to take two big buses up a serpentine dirt road. The drivers demonstrated their impressive skills around the winding turns, and we held our breaths on the cliffs. The group didn’t have to wait long to start our tour of the ruins. First, we learned about the symbolic meanings behind the shapes and location of the temples. I enjoyed hearing our new guide, James, tell us the true history of Machu Picchu. The Quechua people were very hard workers, and it’s very unfortunate that there’s still so much that we will never know about their ancient village.
After the walk through the village, we went on a- quite literally- breath taking hike that overlooks the ruins. There were lots of opportunities to talk and take pictures at the top. In the afternoon, we returned to a hotel in Aquas Calientes for a buffet lunch. When we were done eating, we were free to explore the village. There was so much we were able to observe in the busy city, that went unnoticed in the early hours of the morning.
The town is built around a roaring river, with tall bridges that connect the souvenir stores. After over-hearing several different languages being spoken, it didn’t take long to realize that Aquas Calientes is a hub for Peruvian tourism.
For dinner we ate deli sandwiches on our train to Cusco, while everyone laughed and played cards. In Cusco we will be sleeping in a hotel, and getting ready for our last day in this amazing country.
Me encanta Peru.
April 20, 2018
As we wrapped up our final day in Perú, we walked down to the San Pedro market for a scavenger hunt early in the morning to start off the day. Searching for numerous items that aren’t very common such as milk powder as well as random items such as candles, we didn’t know the goodness we were contributing to the city until our time was up to collect, and our tour guide told us the reasoning behind the hunt. We were told that the bags we’d filled with fruits, veggies, sandwiches, and small goods were actually going to be given to homeless people in need, living on the streets. Of course, another heartwarming experience to begin our last day in the beloved country of Perú was accomplished and after that, the positivity from our acts affected our personalities for the rest of the day, and quite possibly for most of us, the rest of our lives. Following our acts of kindness, the grand markets called our names for the last time and we spent an hour and a half desperately trying to spend all of our Peruvian soles before our journey back to America. Finishing with bags of inka cola t-shirts, groovy pants, stuffed llamas, alpaca-fur blankets, sweaters and more, we walked up to the same center of Cusco that also happened to be our very first destination point in Perú. Our adventure had truly come full circle. We explored the main cathedral of Cusco, including the Holy Family and the Triumph Chapel. Knowing Cusco was the original capital city of Perú, the walk through of the whole building was fascinating and quite prodigious, not to mention the quality of the historical preservation since the fifteenth century.
Thank you to Global Works and our amazing tour guides to make this adventure an awesome experience. This journey will stay in our hearts for the rest of our lives and we couldn’t be more grateful for it.
– Skylar, Michaela, & Katie