Peru Hardcore Service Adventure
June 30, 2019
Hola from Peru!
Yesterday began when we arrived in Lima, Peru, where we took a bus to our first hostel. After long day of flying, our phones were taken by our trip leaders and we all headed up to bed. The next morning we woke up for a breakfast of coffee, tea and toast with fresh juice. After some fueling up, we took our belongings back on the bus to return to the airport to fly to Cuzco. After eating lunch in the airport, we were much surprised by the inexpensive costs of the food. On the one hour flight to sunny Cuzco we enjoyed conversing, listening to music and taking in the terrific views of the mountainous landscape.
Upon arriving in Cuzco, we were curiously surprised by “coca leaves” which were offered to help combat altitude sickness. We hopped on another bus to explore the center plaza of Cuzco. The basilica was bustling with interesting music, new foods and breathtaking views of the entire valley. We had some time there to walk around as a group to take pictures and even witnessed the local festivities. While in Cuzco, we were able to see many alpacas, farm animals and street dogs, which we were allowed to pet with the immediate use of hand sanitizer after. As another welcoming gift to the group, our generous leader Annie gifted us all watana, which translates “to tie” (bracelets). We then headed back onto the bus for a 1 hour 45 minute ride into our next home for two days, Samana Wasi. Due to the constant need to hydrate in elevation, we were unable to wait out the bus ride, and were welcomed by a local gas station and allowed to use their restrooms. While waiting for our turns, we were pleasantly surprised to find snow on the peaks of many mountains nearby. We were able to use the rest stop to take some photos with the clouds and sunset before heading back on the road. We arrived to our hostel by sundown and were kindly greeted by the staff to a delicious dinner of tomato soup, chicken, rice, potatoes and to finish it all off, chocolate pudding.
After dinner we all conjoined in the music room, where we played some fun bonding games and went over the basic guidelines for the upcoming two weeks. We are all so excited to see where our adventures take us, and can’t wait to see what Peru has in store for us!
~Rosella and Addy
July 1, 2019
This morning we headed down to breakfast at 8:30 and had a delicious meal of eggs, toast, cereal, and freshly squeezed orange juice. We then had fun and interesting seminar about how to bargain at the market. Then we gathered together and made skits about situations that we could possibly encounter at the market. We must bargain the prices all in Spanish! Then we headed to the Pisac market where we bought necklaces, alpaca blankets and sweaters, and even traditional Peruvian instruments. Many of us were able to bargain and get the prices we wanted for our items! After the market we got some really good empanadas and tried a very sugary drink called “Inca Cola” that tasted like bubble gum.
Then we went to an Alpaca Farm and learned about many different types of species including one type of Alpaca that is only found in the wild. We were able to feed, pet, and take selfies with the Alpacas! Afterwards we learned how the traditional weavers dye alpaca hair. They use plants and their leaves (and even one type of bug!) to extract the color and then dye the fur with it. The fur is then made into yarn and can be sewed into blankets, bracelets, or sweaters!
For dinner we had grain soup, pesto pasta, and chicken. For dessert we had mango pudding which was very different. After dinner we gathered together to prepare for the homestay and upcoming days. We went over the rules and expectations and now are fully prepared. After our gathering we made a fire and roasted s’mores! Talia’s flip-flop actually flew into the fire and we had to fish it out…..but surprisingly the flip-flop is fine! Hasta luego!
-Talia and Donya
July 2, 2019
We woke up in Hotel Samana Wasi and everyone went to breakfast (except for Liam y Dylan who woke up 30 minutes late!). After breakfast and some quick homestay skits, we headed out for a public primary and secondary school in Calca calles Sagrado Corazón de Jesús. We were all very excited when we got there. It was a big, open school with a beautiful mountain close to it. As we went in, the kids pointed at us and said “gringos!” We were briefed by the principal of the school about how a large percentage of the students come from surrounding rural communities, and therefore have long commutes to school every day (sometimes 3 hours each way!).
We then split into three groups to enter into classrooms and give little lessons- basically we told the 1st and 2nd graders about America and how we got to Calca, and then heard their national anthem and school song. They also asked us questions about the USA! We explained how to say the colors in English, we explained what snow was like, we explained how the chickens were in the US. After talking with the kids, we helped dig holes, mix, and pour cement for a new set of monkey bars. All the kids watched us while we worked in anticipation.
We then got on the bus and headed to a little Bienvenida (welcome party) from all of the homestay families! We went to their house to have lunch. We were so tired from a full morning that we took an hour nap after lunch. We got to know the family much better as we had pizza for dinner. We got to bed early, and were frequently reminded of the roosters that live near our house!
-Finn y Liam
July 3, 2019
Today, we started with breakfast in our homestays and then made our way to the plaza to meet with the rest of the group. Then, we walked to a set of dormitories called the Sacred Valley Project where school girls from various distant rural communities can stay during the week to attend high school. This improves their access to education after primary school, which is a time when many girls are asked to just stay home and help with house duties and raising a family. Many of the girls are from indigenous communities in the mountains and have to walk 13 hours each way to get to school. Having these dorms makes it safer and easier to attend school. While at the dorms, we helped dig out the foundation of a greenhouse. We used tools such as pickaxes and shovels to break up dirt, sift it, and move it.
After this we went back to our homestays for almuerzo. Next, we took a short bus ride (after some ice creams!) to the Museo Inkariy. Here we learned about groups of people that lived throughout Peru during Pre-Columbian times. Some of these groups are the Paracas and the Inca. These groups had various ways of spreading their culture such as pottery, war, and road networks. After this we took a hike past some ruins back to our homestays, which lasted about an hour. Once at our homestays we were able to have dinner and socialize with our families. Then, the entire group gathered at the house of Rosa, where two students are living, to watch the Peru vs. Chile semifinal for the Copa America. Peru won 3-0 and will play Sunday in the finals!
~ Samantha and Zoe
July 4, 2019
Happy July 4th to all of you in the United States. Today began with an early start, most of us waking up in our houses between 6 and 6:30. A long bus ride awaited, a trip through the mountains to the old Inca ruins of Moray.
This beautiful demonstration of Inca architecture and agriculture was a sight to behold. We circled the massive structure while hearing about the brilliant strategies used to condition crops for high altitudes. Did you know that terraced farming wasn’t just a means to conserve space and conform to the mountain, but also allowed crops to be moved to a higher elevation each season?
Continuing on our way we left for the small community of Kajillarakay. We were warmly greeted with the families singing and playing the pipes. Splitting up into small groups we assisted the families in daily chores. These included collecting habas (beans), peeling potatoes, and husking and de-kerneling corn. Fun Fact: Andean corn un much smaller than that in America!
After our groups rejoined (Donya and Samantha wearing traditional hats and mantas!) we began our short but surprisingly exhausting journey to a field overlooking a vista of agricultural plots. There were witnesses and participated in a traditional ceremony thanking the Pachamama (Mother Earth) for all she has given us. We contributed by assisting in the burial of coca leaves as an offering. A traditional Huatia (earth oven) picnic followed with potatoes cooked underground, fresh Andean cheese, and a spicy sauce called aji. To bid farewell to us visitors we were invited to dance! Very tired from activities, sun, and high altitude, we boarded our orange and blue bus, most of us napping on the ride home.
Independence Day for Peru was last month, thanks for reading!
July 5, 2019
After having breakfast with our homestays, we all met up at the Plaza to return to the Sacred Valley Project in Calca. We met up with some of the girls who live in the dormitory, and Lane and Carlos (two people that help with building and organizing volunteers) helped us get to work. We started by clearing out more space for the greenhouse by digging out and moving large rocks. The greenhouse will eventually allow for the project to have access to locally grown produce at a much lower price. We then learned how to make adobe bricks for the walls which was a lot of fun. Sand and water are mixed (by foot!) with hay to make a pile of mud. Then mud is transferred into brick molds where it is patted down and formed. They are then left to dry, for sometimes months! From the shoveling of mud to the pressing and transporting of 30 lb. bricks, the experience was truly tiring yet rewarding.
After saying our goodbyes, we headed back home for lunch with our families. At 3:15PM we met up again in the Plaza to do T-Shirt stamping. One of the host moms, Janet, has a niece named Gretel who runs a stamping business. She is a talented artist. We all got to pick out a printed design and sketched them onto our shirts using transfer paper. Then, we painted the drawings with acrylics which were then permanently ironed onto the shirts.
After an eventful day, we all headed our separate ways back home for dinner. So far, we are thoroughly enjoying our experiences learning about Peruvian culture. Through the amazing, or “rica” food and welcoming community of Calca, we feel at home in Peru. We can’t wait for the days ahead and are just trying to enjoy every moment we are here.
~Rosella y Addy
July 6, 2019
This morning we headed back to Kajillarakay to work on construction of a small marketplace for community members and visiting vendors. We mixed a totally of three batches of cement and helped secure the posts that formed the foundation of the overhang. Meanwhile, the majority of the group sanded and varnished the wooden posts (which didn’t smell very good!). Sandwiches were provided by Janet as a snack, and featured delicious French fries. We finished the base of the structure which, once complete, was turned into a makeshift game of tether-ball using the ball of string used for leveling!
Lunch was in Urubamba at a buffet restaurant. There we enjoyed several typical dishes such as ceviche, aji de gallina, and lomo saltado. After catching up with everyone over lunch, we divided into 2 groups to head to ceramics and ring making. Starting with pottery, we learned how to throw and spin clay into household items such as bowls, plates, and mugs. We then got to sketch and paint pre-firmed ceramic coasters with intricate Incan designs. At the jewelry store, we had the opportunity to watch an expert jewelry-maker, Mario, make a metal ring. He then took the time to help each one of us make our own ring to take home. The biggest shock of the afternoon was when, out of nowhere, a cooked cuy (guinea pig) placed delicately on a bed of lettuce was presented to us in the jewelry shop. We all got some photo opportunities with the roasted rodent and had a small taste of the Peruvian delicacy. After an eventful day, we were happily surprised by fireworks, or pirotécnicos, in the plaza of Urubamba. So, in the end, we did get our belated 4th of July fireworks!
Back in Calca, we had a mini birthday celebration for our friend Addy, compete with a song, present, and cupcake! For dinner, many of us met up at a pizzeria to enjoy each other’s’ company and drink the all-time crowd pleaser, Inca Kola! Finally, after a tiresome but exciting day of work, we all headed to bed, eagerly anticipating tomorrow’s free day with our homestay families!
~Lauren y Rosella
July 7, 2019
We woke up in our homestay at 8:25AM, Donya and I had a delicious breakfast of coffee, pancakes, and fresh fruit. We then headed with our host family to their Sunday morning church service, getting to experience our family’s Sunday morning routine. We then went back to our host sister’s house where we got to play with her daughters and eat a delicious lunch. This included drinking lots of Inca Kola! The entire family sat down to watch the Peru vs. Brazil Copa America final match. We wore festive hats and jerseys to support the Peruvian team. Even though Peru lost we were proud of how the team played!
After the game we went home and had an amazing dinner as usual. Throughout the entire day we drank roughly 5 liters of Inca Kola and felt super hyper! We didn’t go to bed until 2AM because of all the excitement and soda! We really enjoyed our family day and felt closer than ever with our family by cracking jokes, comparing our favorite soda flavors, and talking about cockroaches LOL!
~Talia y Donya
July 8, 2019
Both of us were woken up about 5 minutes before our alarm because of a small dog yapping at our door. Then after a short breakfast we met the group at the plaza to set off toward Kajillarakay for our last day of service with their community members. After an hour long bus ride with a quick stop in Urubamba for additional supplies, we made it to our destination. The group began working by carrying bags of concrete to a spot designated for cement mixing. We also split up into various groups who sanded and varnished wooden poles which will eventually hold up the small marketplace. Towards the end of the morning of work, we set up a wire fence around the market through unrolling the material and hammering it into poles (which were previously cemented in place through help of the group and community members).
After another hour-plus bus ride back to Calca, we ate a home-cooked breakfast of soup, rice, and chicken with our host mom, Elisa, and her daughter. When the group met back at the plaza at 3:15 we all walked to a Zumba class near the colegio downtown. The class was led by a very enthusiastic young man from Bolivia (he had serious moves!!). After the short but exhausting Zumba class, we walked to the casa de Beatriz where we split into 4 teams for a round-robin soccer tournament. Each match was 10 minutes, and then the winners stayed on the field to play the next team. Several local kids from the colegio joined us in this tournament, along with a group of girls who live in the Sacred Valley Project dormitories here in Calca! Today was a great day 🙂
~ Tiago y Dylan
July 9, 2019
Today was our first day of service work at the Señor de la Vara school for children with disabilities. After meeting up at our regular spot in the Calca Plazita, the group made its way up the narrow streets of the town to the school. We were greeted by the school director and several of the teachers and therapists who work at the Calca location, along with several other locations throughout the Sacred Valley and the selva. In addition, a few students were escorted by their parents into the small school facility throughout the morning. We learned a bit more about the school and how their few resources are stretched thin. Global Works has already provided two stretchers for physical therapy (before it was carried out on padding on the floor). We learned that, this morning, we would work on beautifying the center space of the school by painting a large wall turquoise, and re-finishing some doors and concrete walls. Throughout the morning, several of the school staff provided their support through helping to mix and apply paint. We learned this morning that many of the schools attendees are unable to come as much as they need due to transportation and financial restraints from their families. In addition, the ten teachers and therapists we met today all work between the four school locations. Students were excited to greet us, and we were able to see first-hand how they interact with their space and understand better the restraints this space has.
For the afternoon, the group had free time with their families as we all prepared for the night’s Despedida. At 6PM, the power went out in town, just in time for us to arrive to Lauren, Zoe, and Samantha’s house for the bonfire and dinner. We shared a delicious meal of oven-baked chicken, potatoes, and aji around the fire. Each of us read a thank-you letter to our host moms, acknowledging their delicious food and warm hospitality. We danced to music from a giant speaker, and shared our last night together. We were sad to say goodnight, knowing that tomorrow we will say our final goodbyes to Calca and our families.
July 10, 2019
Today we went back to Senor de la Vera, the special needs school, and finished our work. We painted and some people helped build a ramp for kids to practice their walking. Also, we helped paste the carpet for the ramp. We got lovely gifts from the kids and the teachers which were handmade scarfs and small table cloths. After, we went back to our home stays for the last time for lunch and we then met up at the plaza and said our farewells. We got on the bus to Ollantaytambo and there was a crazy little kid who we called Chucky. He was crazy and highly energetic but it was all funny. We then got a tour of the town by James and did more market shopping. The town itself has a full first level of Inca walls and streets which was extremely unique. We then took a train ride along the Urubamba River to Machu Picchu Pueblo which was about a two hour ride. Finally, we got to our hotel and went to sleep, excited for another adventurous day ahead!
July 11, 2019
We got up super early o start our day! We ate a buffet breakfast of fruits, eggs, cheese, cereal, and coffee at the hotel. After that it was off to the bus stop. We all miraculously aged 3 years on our bus passes (Most of us were 17). The bus ride was terrifying and beautiful with a view of mountains. Once we reached the top of the mountain, we all gathered ourselves, took a deep breath, and started our Machu Picchu journey with Fabricio and Jame as our guides! We walked through a jungle-y pathway until we reached a clearing, and there it was in all of it’s beauty; The Lost City of the Incas (even though it should be Quechuas, and it wasn’t really lost). We took group photos before heading to a clearing. There we exchanged the silver rings we made earlier in the trip along with acknowledgements. In an attempt to begin a breathing exercise, Donya executed three kart-wheels. We were then yelled at, apparently kart-wheels are forbidden. Our tour began by learning the history of the city and the “discovery” of the “ruins”. We visited temples discovering the truly wonderful architecture, famed for its impressive preservation. We viewed sculptures that represented the importance of duality to Incan culture.
Saying goodbye to the surreal site, we boarded the bus to return to Aguas Calientes. We had some the best food Peru had to offer at a local restaurant. Practicing our Spanish, we participated in a conversational scavenger hunt searching for knowledge regarding the town. The group gathered together again around 3:30, we shared our scavenger hunt stories, and then we boarded the bus back to Ollanta! A two hour van ride brought us back to the beautiful Cusco, where we ate delicious pizzas and lemonade before settling into our beautiful hotel for the night.
~Lauren y Finn