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Peru Hardcore Service Adventure

June 27, 2018
Hey everyone! Welcome to our Peru Blog! We are Arancy and Soph, Global Works trip participants from New York City and Georgia. Here’s an inside look on our first two travel days. Eager and excited, the group arrived and met up in Miami. Many of us were feeling nervous, but we stuck it out and shared introductions, played card games, grabbed some snacks, and later headed onto the plane to Peru. We then took our seats and mentally prepared ourselves for the six-hour flight. After arriving in Lima, we hopped on a bus and traveled to a hotel, where we enjoyed various snacks. We had the chance to get to know each other more in the common area, though, after a long day of travel, we were very excited to hit the sack.

June 28, 2018
The next morning, we enjoyed a very comforting and nice breakfast before exploring the main cultural and beautiful aspects of Peru’s capital. We were all in awe as we took pictures of the cobblestone streets and creative murals after exchanging money at a local bank. At noon, we headed towards Lima’s airport and checked in for our next flight to Cusco! Many of us felt very apprehensive about our next journey; this feeling quickly dissolved as we flew above the snow capped Andes Mountains.

Upon arrival, we enthusiastically set out for the central plaza with our fantastic drivers, trip leaders, and tour guide, Eddie! The area included many jewelry markets, beautiful churches, and statues of historical indigenous figures. We were amazed at the sights, feeling very grateful for the experience and incredibly pumped for our journey ahead! That same night, our group headed to our hostel where we ate an amazing and very delicious dinner and dessert. At this time we also bonded and socialized, having a great time at our first official dinner as a family. Once plates and bowls were handed back and dinner was finished, we received announcements and our room assignments for the next two nights. Here we are! This has been a very eventful opening to our trip; we can’t wait for the friendships and memories that will be made throughout this journey.
By: Arancy L. and Sophie M.

June 29, 2018
Hello! We are Avery and Rob, trip participants from Denver and Chicago. Today we woke up bright and early for a breakfast of bread, butter, eggs, and fresh-squeezed orange juice. We experienced some quality bonding time in a retreat room decked out with paintings dedicated to the gods. The orientation activities we did this morning helped us to learn about each other’s comfort zones, interests, and personalities. During this time we also signed a contract with rules which we had conjured up to set the tone for our Peruvian adventure. Our day finally kick-started when we boarded the bus for Pisac and the awaiting market. The trip leaders taught us how to haggle before setting us free (in groups of 3) to explore the market and make purchases. We bought scarves, gloves, jewelry, and stuffed animals all while using our newfound haggling skills, only breaking our shopping sprees for a delicious lunch of empanadas and Inka Cola.

After the market we boarded the bus full of excitement because we were on the way to an alpaca and llama farm. The views on the ride to the farm filled our eyes with tears of appreciation for being in the Sacred Valley where so many before us have walked. We were lucky enough to feed the alpacas and llamas (some of us even found some that we wanted to adopt — so, Mom or Dad, if you want to surprise me with a gift I found a llama I really love). Two children of the indigenous women that worked there as weavers were incredibly friendly, and Inte (the little boy), taught us how to play “throwing rocks,” which meant throwing rocks at us with the hopes that we caught them. They brought so much sunshine and warmth to the chilly day that our cheeks ache from smiling.

We arrived back to a pitch black hotel (the lights went out briefly), but the constellations that we saw in the sky took our breath away (I almost a walked into a tree). Because there was very little (practically no) light we passed the time until the lights came back on by playing cards and getting to know one another better. We had a fairly western dinner of mashed potatoes and meatballs, followed by s’mores over a campfire — a perfect summer night, even though it’s winter here. Our homestays start tomorrow, so we’re going to try to get a good night’s sleep.
By Avery P. and Rob P.

June 30, 2018

Our day started bright and early with a typical Peruvian breakfast of toast, eggs, jam, and hot beverages. We soon received the news of who we would be sharing our homestay experience, followed by group skits based on various scenarios we might encounter. Then our 20 kid group filed on the bus for an hour and a half commute to an indigenous community located in the Peruvian Andes Mountains at an 12,000ft elevation. As we arrived, we enjoyed a welcoming ceremony, including a traditional song, dance and clothing of the indigenous people.

After being welcomed into the village we got paired off and sent to a household to help to help with harvesting for their for their upcoming meals. We were then given the privilege to enjoy a pastoral ceremony, worshipping the mountain gods and given a lunch consisting of a clay oven baked potatoes with a special sauce and cheese.

We then said our goodbyes in the Quechua language. As we made our way back down to the Sacred Valley and to the town of Urubamba, our homestay families greeted us and welcomed us into their families. We spent the rest of the night eating dinner, socializing, and getting to know our homestay families for the next week.

By Devin D., Snowdon B., & Maddie G.

July 1, 2018

After not saying goodbye but coupa nanchiscama, which is Quechua for “see you later,” to the kind people in the village of Kajilarakay, we arrived at our homestay family’s homes. We were all beyond excited to get settled in our homestays.

The first night of homestays was a whirlpool of information. Our heads were spinning from interpreting and speaking so much Spanish. The first night of our homestay was a blur for everyone, settling in and eating dinner. But as we awoke on Sunday, we all had similar and also different experiences. We spent the entire day with our homestay families, getting to know each other and participating in various activities.

Some of us went on adventures in the mountains and some explored winding paths through the town of Urubamba. We bonded with our homestay families with games of soccer and through sharing meals. By the end of the day, our brains were bursting with the mass amount of Spanish we were speaking.

The first day and night we shared with our homestay families was a beautiful beginning to connections that will last a lifetime. These families opened not only their homes to us, but their hearts, too. Everyone is ready to learn more, experience more, and help as much as we can.

By Jarrah M. & Kurt J.

July 2, 2018

Starting at 8:00AM today, we met at Escuela Sagrado Corazon de Jesus and started our first service project with Sacred Valley. At Sacred Valley, we were introduced to the project and everything they do for girls in the community. Throughout this trip we have learned about the many communities that live in the mountains of Peru.

Today at Sacred Valley, we were continuing the project of building dormitories for girls living in the mountains who want a better education. Throughout the day, we completed tasks including stomping mup to make adobe, digging holes, transporting dirt, peeling bark off logs, and many more tasks that seemed useless in the beginning, but were very helpful. The dirt we dug and transported turned into adobe blocks.

After a few breaks and lots of dirt, we headed back to the bus to have lunch. Every family packed us boxed lunches so we didn’t have to go back to Urubamba. After an hour drive, we returned to an area near Kajilarakay to explore Inca ruins that are now a laboratory for corn. In fact, the organization that works there is trying to grow new species of corn and then use the corn they create to plant in the valley. Fabricio, one of the trip leaders, explained all of this to us.

Then, after that walk, we went back to the bus to drive to the salt mines. They were beautiful and we got to taste the salty water and buy salt that is harvested there. After visiting the salt mines we returned home to have dinner with our families. We’re looking forward to embarking on another service project tomorrow!

By Paul M. & Taylor C.

July 3, 2018

This morning, Wilbert — the Director of Escuela Sagrado Corazon — greeted us bright and early with a warm smile, as we arrived to start a service project. We split into groups, one with the difficult responsibility of teaching songs in English to first and fourth graders. The other group got the easy job: carrying 40 lbs of jungle gym metal parts along down the sidewalk of Urubamba to a local school for special needs children.

About an hour later, we all met back at Sagrado Corazon to tackle our next task, painting and digging holes. Half of us spent the morning sanding old paint off the playground chairs and polishing them with fresh new coat of dark blue paint. We even touched up some of the rustic basketball hoops and the poles of a nearby shade structure that students eat lunch under. The rest of us put our energy into hard labor, digging holes for the new jungle gym. We even got a chance to play a quick game of tag with some of the school kids. However, the best part of the day was celebrating Katie’s birthday (Peru Country Director), with a surprise cake and some Inca Kola! Around 1:00PM, we headed back to our homestays for a traditional Peruvian lunch and bonding time with our homestay brothers and sisters for the week.

Later on, we all met back at the school to begin the creative aspect of the day, ring-making and ceramic workshops! We met up with an old friend, Mario, whose local business has been known for selling and making silver rings for years. He taught each of us his special techniques so we could design our own silver rings. We can’t wait to pick up the finished product tomorrow and wear them home! We’re tired after a long day, but excited for what lies ahead mañana. Thanks for reading!

By Alex S. & Skyler S.

July 4, 2018

We all got up early and got on the bus at 7:30 and went to Kajllarakay for our community service. We broke into 3 groups, one group was making adobe bricks, another was forming a sewage pipe, and the last group was making a sign to hang at the entrance to help welcome visitors. When service work at the community finished we went back to Urubamba to “almorzar” with our families.

After eating lunch we headed over to the school to regroup and refill water. We all walked as a group to the ring shop in order to do laundry where the group split. One went to do ring making and the other, ceramics. In ceramics we used a turntable to help form lumps of clay into vessels while others painted and carved designs and drawings into clay tiles to be fired later. We later walked back to our families in order to eat an amazing homemade dinner and sleep after a long working day.

July 5, 2018
After breakfast with our homestay families, we all met at our usual spot, Sagrado Corazon de Jesus. We split into our groups from Tuesday, switching roles from last time. We went Arco Iris, “Rainbow” in Spanish, a school for special needs children, where the team installed a jungle gym for the kids. Back at Sagrado Corazón de Jesus, the other team repainted old playground equipment.

Once both groups finished we joined our homestay families for lunch and prepared or an afternoon game of soccer with our group leaders and local high school students. The friendly but competitive games made us hungry and ready for bed. Finally we rested in preparation for our work at the girls dormitory in Ollantaytambo.
Maddie G.and Snowden B.

July 6, 2018
We started the day by waking up in our homestays and eating breakfast with our host families. After some yummy breakfast was had (I had bread with avocado and eggs) and some Paw Patrol was watched we headed to the bus to do some work! For the rest of the morning we helped to create a garden in a girl’s dormitory in Ollantaytambo. I’m pretty sure we are all going to come back with lots of muscle and lots of respect for construction workers from all the pickaxing, shoveling, and adobe-brick making! We stopped our service to have an important talk about what service and helping our community meant to us. We then took a bus back to the school and ate lunch with our host families. We met back again up again and took a bus to the base of a huge hill called Tantamarca to do a group hike. It took about an hour and a half to reach the summit, traveling at a pace that worked for everyone. At the top we took pictures at the cross and eventually made our way down to the base and this time walked straight back to our houses since it was quicker than going all the way back to school. Dinner was later with the host families and after that, sleep!
by Luke and Izzy

July 7, 2018
Today was a full day! We all met at Escuela Sagrado Corazón at 7:30am, then boarded the bus to take us back up to Kajillirakay. We did a lot of different service projects in groups and rotated throughout the day. Some of the projects included painting a new wall that we helped build earlier this week. Others helped sand and stain giant poles to hold up a welcome sign that would read “Bienvenidos a Kajillirakay,” to promote tourism and contribute to the local economy. Some of us helped make adobe bricks alongside local families. After a quick snack and water break, we switched projects and got back to work. We liked that we had the opportunity to work on different projects and learn new skills.

After a full morning of service, we loaded the bus to go back to Urubamba. We had the afternoon to share quality time with our host families and prepare for the despedida, where we would share one last feast together. We had our despedida at Quinoa Pizza, and all the families were there. We sat with our families and ordered delicious food and shared rich conversations. We all wrote letters of appreciation for our families, and after Fabricio clicked his glass to signal us, we got up one by one to read them out loud and offer thanks to the community members of Urubamba. Some families cried and others laughed and we all enjoyed our time together at the despedida. We’re sad to leave tomorrow, but excited for adventures at Machu Picchu!
By Baker H. & Zawadi B.

July 8, 2018
Hi Parents!
This morning we hung out with our families before saying a sad goodbye at Escuela Sagrado Corazon, the school that has been our base camp for the past week. We drove on a big private bus to visit the ruins of Ollantaytambo — a temple dedicated to the earth and sun. Interestingly enough, Ollantaytambo is one of the two remaining “Inca Cities”– cities that have buildings built on the foundation that the Inca people constructed buildings on many many years ago.

After our exploration of the Inca ruins of Ollantaytambo, we were given a chance to roam the market and practice our bargaining skills a bit more. We made some purchases and then took a train which would mark the beginning of our journey to Machu Picchu! The train ride was really nice and fun, and we managed to entertain ourselves with conversation and card games. The long train ride came to an end when we arrived at Agua Calientes, which is the jumping off point for Machu Picchu. This was our first glance at the most “Westernized” and developed place in Peru that we’ve been so far. The hotel offered us hot showers and some television to help float us into our slumbers after this long day of travel and transition. Tomorrow, we’re off the Machu Picchu!
by Avery P. & Rob P.

July 9, 2018
Today was the day that a lot of us had been looking forward to the whole trip, the day we were going to Machupicchu.

We woke up bright and early in our hotel in Aguas Calientes and then took a beautiful bus ride up the mountain to entrance of  Machupicchu. We started the day off with an hour hike stopping for some wonderful photo opportunities. As we made our way back down, we split into two groups and for next 4 hours we explored the temples, houses and streets of the this ancient Inka city. Once our tour came to an end we took a bus back to Aguas Calientes and enjoyed a delicious lunch. We were then given time to wander around the town and shop in the market.

Our day came to an end with a fun train and bus ride filled with plenty of cards games and sleep. After a long a action packed day we checked into our hotel in Cusco City and rested for more sightseeing the next day.

July 10, 2018
The first day sleeping in was the last day of our trip. With breakfast at 8:30am, we all were sighing with relief. After eating breakfast, we made our way into the courtyard of our hotel and got into one of our famous circles (or one might call it a jagged oval). Storytelling cards were placed in the center of the circle, and we were told to choose a card that represented a situation we had faced in our homestay experience. As we went around the circle, laughs were shared and tears were shed.

Then we made our way to the largest market in Cusco, San Pedro; what faced us, we didn’t know. We were given one mission, 60 Soles, and 30 minutes to scavenge for 12+ products consisting of fruit, boiled eggs, spices, powdered milk— all in the familiar language of Spanish. After learning the mission of the market, we realized this was only the beginning. Our trip leaders then informed us of the second half of the mission: finding someone in need to hand over the food to. Who knew so many tears would be shed in one day!  Free time has become a foreign concept to us at this point, however, we were so thoughtfully given a couple of hours to have lunch on our own in Cusco today. After lunch, we reunited with our whole group and made our way to another market to spend some more moolah baby.

After our last experience in the Peruvian marketplace, we headed back to Niños to get a full tour of the hotel, which is a social enterprise. On the outside, it looks like a regular hotel, but there is a deeper history behind the place. We were led across the street by our tour guide to get the full scoop.  We found out that the purpose of this hotel is helping kids in need in Cusco. Ñinos Hotel is a non-profit organization that gives kids a safe and comfortable environment where they can eat nutritious meals, read educational books, learn social entrepreneurship skills, and make lifelong friends on a daily basis. At 7:45pm, we made our way to a location in the central plaza. Our hips weren’t lying as we danced the night away in a salsa class at a local restaurant. After our fair share of stepping on each other’s toes and accidentally flipping our hair in each other’s faces, we wiped the sweat from our foreheads and crossed the street for dinner. Ending the night on a beautiful note, we shared dinner and awarded each other with paper plate trophies/superlatives of each of our best tributes to our many new friends. Around 11pm, we closed our eyes and  doors to a jam-packed day.
By: Jarrah M. & Kurt J.

July 11, 2018
Today was our last day in Peru. We had breakfast at the hotel and at 8:30am we hopped on a bus to see the impressive Inca ruins of Sacsaywaman. There we all spread out and wrote letters to our future selves. We took about 30 minutes to reflect on the past two weeks by ourselves. We then took a bus to a museum and saw a bunch of cool artifacts. From there, we ate lunch back at the hotel and participated in a final group reflection. Finally, we headed to the airport in Cusco to fly to Lima. After waiting in the Cusco airport for a few hours because of a delayed flight, we heard the disappointing  announcement that our flight to Lima was cancelled. However, with tremendous help and skills of our professional travelers and group leaders— Alicia, Fabricio, and Victor, — they were not only able to book us a flight out the next morning, but they also booked us a night in a palace— Hotel Palacio Inca! Walking into our 5-star hotel immediately made our stress melt away, knowing we’d be served a 3-course dinner and have robes and slippers awaiting us after a hot shower.

We got to sleep in until 4:30am (ha ha), before heading back to the Cusco airport for more traveling adventures. This time we were able to snag free breakfast and coffee (thanks, airline), AND our flight. Once arriving in Lima, we said goodbyes to some of our friends and went our separate ways home. We waved goodbye to our friends who are headed to the Galapagos on an additional Global Works trip. It was a  bittersweet goodbye, but we’re filled with joy & memories from an amazing learning journey.
By Skyler S. & Alex. S.