Peru Sacred Valley Service & Education 2022
July 19 & 20, 2022
Being the first children chosen to write an entry on this travel blog is a lot of pressure. We feel special, of course, but we also know that we have an immense burden to carry by crafting a story that accurately represents our first days together. That being said, here is how our journey began!
The group, hailing from places all across the USA, started out small, slowly progressing into a forceful coalition united as one, fighting against time to make our flight. The hours we spent in JFK felt infinite, but as we slowly started to get to know each other better, we lost track of time and began to really enjoy each others’ company.
Finally, we got through a slightly hectic boarding experience and we were on our way!!! During the eight-hour nighttime flight, some people were able to access a deep rest, while others were not.
Our arrival in Peru was fairly seamless, and we were able to link up with the rest of the Global Works clan at the airport in Lima. After bussing out of Lima, we were treated to an amazing walkabout and lunch in downtown Cuzco, where we were astonished by sites such as a 500 year old basilica and many llamas and alpacas clopping on the sidewalk. Lastly, we bussed to our current accommodations in Urubamba at a cool eco-lodge. One dinner and group meeting later and we were ready to “escribir” our thoughts in the post!
We hope you have found our summary sufficient and entertaining!
Con amor, Ajax and Illan
July 21, 2022
¡Bienvenidos a Peru!
Today was our first full day in Peru, and surely one to remember. We woke up to an amazing breakfast made by our hosts at the hotel. After, we had a meeting in the morning where we learned some Spanish to help us navigate the “mercado.” Then, we packed into the bus and headed off to our first destination, the alpaca farm. So many kinds of llamas and alpacas, such little time! After feeding and petting the llamas, we learned about how the wool is sheared and colored. We were very impressed that so many colors can come from nature, and of the complex processes required to transfer them. Then, we hopped back on the bus and over to the town of Pisac. We were given an hour to explore the plaza, the restaurants, and shops, and to find something for lunch! After we ate, we met back up and walked over to the Mercado Artesanal de Pisac (artisanal market), where we bought a variety of goods from VERY enthusiastic vendors. Our bargaining techniques were not the most robust, but we walked out with full bags and a great experience.
After the market, we got back on the bus and had dinner at the hotel. And to top off the night, we hung out by a bonfire and made s’mores!! During our end of day meeting, we reflected on the day and went over the expectations for meeting our host families tomorrow. While we are sad to leave our lovely hosts at the hotel, we are very excited to meet the people we will live with for the next week. We were thrilled to hear that everyone has pets and other kids!
Hope this summary has given you some insight into our lives in this new world!
July 22, 2022
Today the group woke up to a beautiful view of mountains in the chilly morning air. After breakfast and packing up we had a group meet regarding our homestays that would start at the end of the day. Post meeting, we all piled into the bus and headed to Urubamba. The plan for the day was ring making at a local jewelry shop, during which a skilled artisan showed us his craft. We split into two groups and one attended the ring making while the other had the opportunity to explore the beautiful city of Urubamba.
During the promenade around the city we entered an indoor marketplace, got delicious Peruvian ice cream, visited an ancient Incan palace, and learned about the impact the Incas left on modern day Peruvian life. During the ring making we saw rings being made, and each of us was able to make our own ring that we will get to take home once it is finished and polished!
Post ring making and exploring we all came together for a delectable and filling Peruvian buffet. We ate Peruvian ceviche, rice and chicken, lomo saltado, salad and veggies, different types of potatoes, as well as a few different desserts. There was so much food!
Afterwards, we got on the bus and we’re on our way to meet our host families. There was a mix of excitement and apprehension before this new experience. But once we got to the “bienvenida” we felt so welcome and were more at ease! We were welcomed with a small party, with snacks and even presents. Everyone received a handmade bag from their host family! We then took one last group photo and were off to our new homes for the week!
Thanks so much for reading. We all had a great day!
Sofie L. and Hannah P.
July 23, 2022
To whom it may concern,
The day has been action packed, filled to the brim, if you will. How to describe it? Intense. Exciteful! Full of laughs! Each group started the morning by enjoying a splendid breakfast with their parents (homestay, not real).
Thereafter, we linked with our group to begin a day full of strenuous labor (at the Sacred Valley Project). We found ourselves in a pile of dust and rocks, creating the foundation for a boarding house for girls seeking secondary education who don’t have nearby access to schools. There were many different jobs, including shoveling, pickaxing and wheelbarrowing. Some buried, some carried, but all ended wearied.
After some of us showered to rid ourselves of the dirt we acquired during our rock carrying endeavors, we gathered for an artsy activity that consisted of paint, shirts, and water (and brushes). The final product turned out to be high in quality and creativity; make your own shirts!! The designs ranged from an outline of Peru to a llama on a skateboard. We took a very detailed photo of the group, which hopefully you will get to see on the website, and then went off to explore the plaza.
The plaza is a square of stores including a cafe where we got something to drink and met locals. Then everyone returned back to their homestays, where we all had scrumptious dinners with our host families and said “buenas noches” to our “parents” to end our first service day. Ciao! So long!
Catalina S. and Lucinda L. (ft. Ajax)
July 24, 2022
After the tough work of the day before, us students were treated with what we needed most — a long night of luscious sleep! Not only were we gifted sleeping in, but we also got to spend time with our host families, who, up until this point, we only spent meals and nights with. Some students went to church with the host families, while others enjoyed a relaxing morning at home. Our family took us out to lunch for ceviche. Us two boys quickly agreed it was the greatest ceviche in the world and the best food we have had in a while! Thank you Calca!! Other families went for tasty empanadas in the square, dined on fresh yogurt, and some kept it simple with homemade (and fully natural) dulce de leche with bread.
Into the afternoon, many students chose to explore more of the beautiful town of Calca. One group of students hiked to a really cool waterfall, called “El Velo de la Novia.” Our family went to the colosseum to watch our host sister’s volleyball game, and then found ourselves in a market with the juiciest fruit and some stylish clothing. Afterwards, we headed with our host parents to a relative’s first birthday party. It was quite the “fiesta!” Laughs were had while we partied it up and danced around with the Peruvian kids. A day of fun and adventuring over, we retired ourselves to our homes, satisfied with a sensational day completed.
-Hugo and Ethan
July 25, 2022
We started our early day today by eating breakfast with our host families and then boarding the bus to head to our first activity. After the hour long bus ride we arrived at the indigenous community of Kajllarakay. It is located high in the mountains at around 12,000ft in elevation.
Our morning work consisted of building and painting a new fence and constructing a water tank for the community. Some people chopped wood, some painted, and some mixed cement for the base of the tank. After a delicious lunch packed by our host families, we celebrated Mia’s 17th birthday with a scrumptious carrot cake! The community also gifted her a beautiful flower necklace made from Peru’s national flower, “qantu.”
After the celebration and cleaning up, we headed out for our second activity, visiting the Incan site of Moray. Our leader, James, described the site as a testing lab for Incan agriculture. It was really interesting and nestled in a beautiful landscape. After taking some time for pictures and site seeing, our tired group headed back to Calca for some downtime and dinner with our homestay families!
By Ellie and Mia
July 26, 2022
Our day started off with a quick breakfast at our individual homestays. We walked from our homestays to congregate at the local plaza, and meeting place for the past week. The group then started off on our short, uphill walk to The Sacred Valley Project. Today’s service work reminded us of our purpose here in Peru–as we sanded walls and dug dirt to create an indoor garden outside the school, we were reminded of those who we came to serve. Pictures lined the walls of girls who stayed at the home while attending school, instilling bravery and inspiration within our group. After completing our work, we headed back to our homestays to eat lunch with our temporary families, sharing stories of our day. We then got ready to go back to- suprise, surprise, our trusty plaza! We boarded the bus to head to a Peruvian culture museum, called “Inkary,” five minutes away. We entered each era through a curtain, being transformed as the stories and culture progressed in front of our eyes. After discussing what we had learned, we headed to a local soccer field, rented for our group. We played for an hour and a half, then headed back to our homestays after saying “buenas noches” to our friends- teammate or opponent. After eating dinner with our homestay family, we went to sleep to get ready for an early morning!
Carissa and Hazel
July 27, 2022
Our last full day at the home stay started with an early breakfast before meeting at the plaza. Then, we quickly transitioned to getting on the bus for an hour and half drive back to the indigenous community of Kajllarakay. There, we helped the community with different tasks around their homes. We were pleasantly greeted with festive outfits, traditional music, as well as necklaces that were handmade with snail shells! We walked into the village as they sang songs and played their various instruments.
Once in the village we split into groups of two or three and greeted our individual families—attempting to use their local language, Quechua. Our families led us to their houses and showed us different tasks that they would do on a daily basis, such as shucking and sorting corn, as well as peeling and sorting lentils and lima beans by size. Once we completed the various tasks, we walked to a small scenic area with a small field. There, they showed us how they plowed a field and let us guide the two bulls so we could also help to plow the field. It’s a lot harder than it looks!
We then walked to a beautiful viewpoint overlooking huge grassy fields and mountains surrounding us. We felt so grateful to be able to be a part of a special ceremony that will bring us good luck to our travels and future days. The ceremony consisted of digging four small holes to represent the four cardinal points, and then placing three coca leaves in each, as if they were speaking to the earth. As they gifted the earth with the coca leaves, they took sips of a local corn based drink named “chicha” to represent sharing generously with the Earth. We each received our own three coca leaves to make wishes with and then bury into the ground. After the ceremony, they brought a lunch that they had been preparing for us at 200 degrees underground. It was a combination of potatoes, cheese, and an ají sauce! So simple, yet so good!
After leaving the indigenous community, we went to a ceramic studio where we attempted to make pots on pottery wheels while others painted already created pots. We shopped and snacked until we had all made our pots. We walked home to our various home stays where we got ready to have our final “goodbye dinner” all together. We met at one of the home stays and enjoyed bbq wings and french fries. We then read letters and reminisced about the last few days and how grateful we are for the generosity of the families that took us in as their own.
Thanks for reading!!
-Ali F. And Oliver G.
July 28, 2022
We started off our day with our host families eating our last breakfast with them. After meeting at the plaza at 9:00 (although some people were late due to very enthusiastic goodbyes involving waking up ten minutes before the meeting time), we headed to a school for children with disabilities, El Señor de la Vara. We toured the school and learned about the difficulties of transportation to and from school, as well as receiving adequate care for their disabilities. Then, we went our separate ways to finish packing and have a final lunch with our host families. Following some sad final goodbyes to our families, as well as some last minute ice cream, we hopped on the bus for an hour and a half towards Ollantaytambo. Despite a lengthy traffic jam, we were able to continue on foot and catch the train to Aguas Calientes. Nobody was bored on the train ride, playing games, looking at the gorgeous views, or just trying to sleep. At our hotel, we drew slips of paper to determine roommates, settled in, then headed out to dinner. With several delicious options including pasta and grilled chicken, we were all happy with dinner and enjoyed some of the live music. Then we headed back to get as much sleep as possible before an early day in Machu Picchu tomorrow!
By Alice and Sam
July 29, 2022
Today was a day circled on many a Global Works kid’s agenda. To prepare for our 6 AM wake up call, we got to bed at a very reasonable hour, though some took advantage of the televisions and (hot) showers in our cushy one-night accommodations. In the morning we ate a light breakfast and then made our way to the bus station, which was overflowing with people similarly hyped up about what we were all about to witness. Twenty minutes later we arrived at our destination, which was even more packed with tourists than the bus station. It was a nightmare for locals like us. All negative thoughts disappeared, however, as we crested our first peak past the ticketing booth and saw with our very own eyes a site of such wonder and beauty it could make a grown man cry: Machu Picchu.
It is difficult to describe in words what it was like being there (I would suggest looking at pictures on the blog), but it was a day none of us are soon to forget. The 600 year-old architecture, only 20% restored, was spectacular, and much unlike anything any of us had seen before. The view of the mountains was impeccable as well, and we were able to see forest for miles around.
James and Fabricio were ace tour guides and told us about everything from how the Incans in Machu Picchu kept time (by watching for the sun to perfectly shine through different windows on the solstices), to their method of transporting water, both above ground and underneath. Also, we took many, many pictures.
After that delightful shindig, we took the bus back to our little town, where we had about an hour and a half to peruse shops before we headed back to the train station and took an hour and a half long train and then another two hours of bus to reach our final stop, Cusco. We finally got to the hotel and the leaders had a pizza party awaiting us! After a chill evening of pizzas, we headed to our rooms to get some much needed shut eye.
Hasta la próxima!
July 30, 2022
Today the group got to wake up at 9 AM, which was a treat considering that on the other days we had a much earlier wake up. The day started with a scavenger hunt in the local market where we split into groups and tried to each buy the most of whatever food we could with 30 soles each. It consisted of a lot of haggling and “cuanto cuesta …”. We met up again as a group and compared our findings. Each group then gave their haul to a very gracious homeless person.
We then moved on to an Incan site, where we learned about how they read the constellations and their gods. The Incas were a very spiritual bunch. After the Incan experience we got some ice cream and then split off into groups to explore Cusco and buy lunch.
After we ate, we went to a chocolate factory and were taught the finer points of chocolate making. We also got to make our own chocolates containing an interesting assortment of toppings on either dark or light chocolate, and a wide range of molds. We got to eventually eat our creations, but that was after the haunted house. Astoundingly, it was the first time any of us had been in a haunted house featuring Peruvian folklore and we all loved it. For the experience we split into two groups and went on wild 15-minute journeys through Incan myth in a warehouse in an alley. After we finished we ate our chocolate and went out to dinner, before retiring for the hotel for a well deserved rest.
July 31, 2022
On the last day of the Sacred Valley Service Adventure, waking up was bittersweet. Some students felt sad to leave our new friends and exciting adventures, and others were feeling ready to head home- some were even feeling a bit of both.
We reunited for one of the last times to eat breakfast as a group at the Ninos Hotel. We enjoyed fruit, eggs and bread and conversation wandered between our favorite memories from past two weeks. We headed out in two vans to a Incan monument, called Saqsaywaman. James showed us around and led us to an outlook where we took pictures and enjoyed the view over Cusco. After a tour of the monument, we walked down to meet the bus yet again- this time, we headed to the Cusco plaza and split into groups. We had independent time to find lunch and spend some more time admiring street life and culture in Cusco. The group then headed to a local indoor market to grab some last minute gifts and, of course, alpaca sweaters!
We went back to Ninos Hotel to prepare for the much anticipated next activity: Salsa Dancing! The topic of excited conversation for the past few days, the whole group was very excited to dive into this lesson. We spent an hour at the studio, switching partners and learning how to dip, step, and swing. After many laughs, the slightly-more-tired group drove back to the hotel- however, the music didn’t stop! We listened and danced in the vans the whole drive back, keeping the energy from our class all the way through the streets of Cusco. We then promptly sat down and enjoyed a delicious dinner at the hotel, reminiscing once more over our memories from the past two weeks. We spent the evening packing, talking, and remembering stories from our once in a life time journey- knowing we will all forever remember every minute.