Vistamar School Peru 2017
March 31- April 1, 2017
We arrived to Lima after an overnight flight from California. On arrival to Lima airport we immediately heard Spanish being spoke everywhere- we were now the minority. Our connecting flight to Cusco was later in the day and delayed but eventually we made it to Cusco and met our Global Works guide, Victor and Katie. We then went to the center of Cusco and walked around a bit with a local guide.
After lunch and some of us trying out new fruit shakes we piled into the van again and headed to Urubamba, a 1.5hr drive where most of us napped. We then checked into Semana Wasi where we would stay for a night then had orientation to Global Works policies by our guides. We had dinner and immediately went to bed exhausted after a full day of traveling. We can´t wait to see what tomorrow offers!
April 2, 2017
¡Hola! Greetings from Peru! We started our morning yesterday enjoying a lovely breakfast altogether eating eggs and bread and our new favorite, dulce de leche spread. Afterwards, we began to prepare for our homestays in Urubamba. Then we took a 20 minute bus ride to the school where we are going to be working at for the next couple of days and there we were introduced to our homestay families. We all received a brand new alpaca fur scarf to keep warm at night. After being introduced to each family we were sent off with our new fathers, mothers, and siblings! They were all so happy to have us stay with them and immediately we felt welcomed. Each family´s home was unique and some contained pets. Each family participated in many different activities, such as exploring the plaza, playing soccer, teaching their family card games, and even going to a local birthday party! Finally after a long and exciting day we all went to sleep with high hopes for the next day working at the school.
April 3, 2017
We all woke up around 7 am and ate a nice breakfast with our families and then regrouped at the school. When we arrived we all got to reflect on our previous night and the experiences we had. We then received a warm welcome from Wilbur, the school director, who talked us about the different grades and how the school was run. Shortly after we were asked to prepare a happy song for some of the younger grades and in return they sang for us. We all taught ¨Isty Bitsy Spider¨ to the classes after singing, using our Spanish skills. After class the kids were let out for recess and we all got to play soccer and play on the monkey bars with the them. The kids returned to class and we began our service work that included painting the building walls and trees as well as sanding the front gate. Working together and helping improve this community has opened our eyes to the beauty and appreciation we have for Urubamba. Later this evening we plan to eat lunch with our families, make silver rings, trying cuy (the lovely guinea pig), and play some sports with the local children.
We all walked home by ourselves to our host homes meeting our host family for lunch. After lunch we all walked back independently and met back at the school we had worked at earlier. We split into two groups, one group walked a couple blocks through the bustling city to a silver making workshop and the other stayed at the school and played volleyball and basketball with Wilbur and other students at the school. In the silver making workshop we sat down with this man who first showed us the intricate process of making silver rings then had each of us make one all by ourselves! In between both exciting activities our groups stopped to enjoy some local ice cream. After our long day we once again all headed back to our separate host families and enjoyed a nice dinner and sleep to prepare for another day of work and adventure in the fascinating city of Urubamba!
Noah W., Mia W., and Becca H.
April 4, 2017
Peruvian adventurers began the day we painted the finishing touches on the walls of the local school: La Escuela Sagrado Corazon De Jesus. Once the murals were on the kiosk, we loaded up the bus and began our long journey to an alpaca farm. On the long bus ride there, we were entranced by gushing waterfalls and the beautiful lands of the Sacred Valley, while we bonded with each other. As we exited the bus, we were all thrilled to feed the alpacas. With handfulls of llama food, we rushed into the farm. A few members of our group fed the lamas with their mouths, and happened to give them kisses! Many funny photos were taken, but our time was cut short when it started to hail. We quickly boarded the bus and headed off to Pisac market. The rain stopped, but we could still hear thunder loud and clear. We had delicious empanadas and exotic fruit smoothies. Next, we rushed into the market and bartered for souvenirs. One student even lowered the price from 60 soles to 30 soles for two!
For our final activity of the day, we visited the girls dormitory that provides shelter and food for those who wouldn´t be able to afford it. We all gathered in a circle to introduce ourselves and get to know the girls. To welcome us, they sang the Cuzco anthem, which we returned with an improv version of “Happy”. We played some ice-breaker games such as human puzzle, and we even learned some local hand games. We all enjoyed meeting the girls before help building the dormitory the next day, seeing the faces of the lives we would change forever. Our bus ride home was filled with smiles and laughter. We finished off the night with a last dinner alone with our homestay families. It was a great end to another amazing day in Peru.
Carson and Olivia
April 5, 2017
April 5th started out with home-cooked breakfast meals with our host families before boarding a bus for the construction site at Calca. After introductions were made with the site manager, Katie, and instructions were given, we began work by hauling rocks – that will become the foundation for the entrance to the new girls´ dormitory – in an assembly line. We eventually split up into groups to alternate shoveling and pickaxing to form three feet deep trenches for the entrance wall. Throughout the day we made friends with two dogs, explored the site, ran photoshoots in the fields, and shared sandwiches, snacks, and fruits on our breaks. After finishing work at 2, we drove home for one last lunch with our host families.
As we headed to our despedida dinner with all 7 host families present in a restaurant, we noticed everyone was more dressed up than usual. Few jeans were worn, some girls wore dresses and most guys wore dress shirts with dress pants. We had pizza with our families then read out loud a page of appreciation we had written to our host families in our homestay pairs, in Spanish. To top it off it was also our teacher´s Oscar´s birthday, the Global Works guides bought him cake, we all sung happy birthday, and a prank by Wilbur the school director, mananged to trick Oscar by getting cake on his face. As we all started to head home we realized this would be our last night with our caring host families, but we know we would keep in contact even after only fpur days of being together.
– Chandler and Kyra
April 6, 2017
On April 6th we woke up and ate our last breakfast with our host families. We started our group activities after by visiting a special needs school to play with the children. When we first arrived they showed us their dancing abilities while one of the teachers played the flute. The kids were so brave going up one by one to show us their talents. After their performances we performed the songs Itsy-bitsy-spider, Happy, and The Hokey Pokey. The director loved us joining the kids in sharing songs, and she expressed her gratitude for us being there. Then we got to do arts and crafts, play sports, and blow bubbles with the children. Some kids learned how to crochet while others drew amazing portraits of us, all the while being serenaded by one of our Global Works guides, Victor.
After we played for a while, we left to eat a late lunch with our families before heading to the school for one last time. The mood at the school was very different from usual, solemn, as everyone knew that it would be the last time we would see our host families. After we departed from the school, we headed for the train station where we hopped on a train headed for Aguas Calientes. The train ride was very fun; some students chose to play cards while others chose to catch up on their sleep. At 9 P.M., we pulled into the station at Aguas Calientes, checked into our hotel rooms, and went to bed in preparation for our early morning at Machu Picchu.
– Grayson and Mason
April 7, 2017
On April 7 we woke up at 5am for a 5:30am breakfast buffet at our hotel Vista Machu Picchu. We then went to a bus stop for a ride on a windy road to the magnificent entrance to the ancient Incan home, Machu Picchu. Our tour guide, James, showed us the terraces, temples, farm land, and houses of the Incan people. James also explained to us that Machu Picchu was one of the last places the Incans lived; it was inhabited by the Incans in the 14thand 15th century. They disappeared soon after without a trace. Nobody, even famous historians, knows what happened to them up to this day. Although, historians did find Machu Picchu and evidence of the Incans in 1911. Wherever you looked, there was always a stunning view.
After walking around the amazing ruins, we went on a hike to the Sun Gate. The aroma of the woods nicely complimented the rich environment that we encountered along the tranquil treck. When we reached the zenith of the mountain, we were rewarded with a view of Aguas Calientes, Machu Picchu, and all the surrounding mountains covered with snow caps. Following our return, we walked to downtown Aguas Calientes and ate an extravagant lunch. For the next hour, we strolled around the main plaza of Aguas Calientes. Then we boarded the reletively small train heading to Ollantaytambo for a two hour scenic ride then a bus to our final destination in Cusco.
– Dash and Yvonne
April 8, 2017
After an exhausting previous day in which we arrived at Cuzco, we were allowed to sleep in until 10 at Niños Hotel. The small hostal resembles an old spanish courtyard with a homely yet thoughtful vibe. We began our first day in Cuzco with a ¨Wayna Breakfast¨; a simple yet very fulfilling meal of eggs, coffee, fruit, bread, and fresh squeezed orange juice. Afterwards, we took a walk to the plaza where we were separated into our original travel groups of five, and given a sheet of paper for a scavenger hunt. We were required to find certain foods in specific quantities ranging from a kilo of potatoes, to the herb that is used when preparing cuy (guinea pig). After a mad scramble of broken Spanish and hand gestures, we proudly returned with a full and heavy duffel bag of fresh food. We continued to walk through the center of the city in search of people in dire need to give our full bags too. The first lady we approached was an elderly woman sitting on the sidewalk leaning against a stone wall. As we got closer, we noticed the fogginess of her eyes and the fact that she did not register our presence. Cataracts had turned her blind, and she was bundled up in robes and blankets, her hat lying on the floor in front of her. After we gave her the bag, she put her hands together, looked to the sky and prayed repeatedly and quietly, ¨Gracias padre¨. She continued to speak in Quechua, the native language of the Andean region. After giving away the other two bags, we were alloted time to explore the city and its markets. While some of us took time to shop and take advantage of the culture, others had delicious meals in nearby cafes and restaurants. Once we regrouped, we headed to ¨Museo Inka¨ where we explored Incan and Pre-Incan artifacts such as art, vessels, medical tools, and even trepaned skulls and mumified bodies, which were wrapped in urns and placed in fetal positions to assist with the rebirth in the next world. After leaving the museum, we headed back to the hotel to learn about their mission. The hotel Niños originally begun with the goal of adopting children who had lived on the streets and did not have regular access to food and health services. We learned that they had six different projects that served as retaurants and hotels open to the public. The revenue they made funded the meals of these children.
-Nico and Rachel
April 9, 2017
Our final morning began with another delicious breakfast of fresh bread, orange juice, eggs, coffee and a fruit cup of bananas, papaya and pineapple. We packed up our belongings, said goodbye to the quaint and comfortable Niños Hostel and were ready for our last few hours in Cuzco. The morning was warm and sunny, which made our walk to the Cathedral pleasant. However, upon our arrival we realized that it was a holiday, Palm Sunday which meant that our tour had to be canceled due to the festivities. Instead we walked to see a famous Incan twelve-sided rock. We walked back to the Plaza de Armas where we separated into groups to compete in a friendly scavenger hunt. We relied on our spanish speaking skills to answer questions about the city’s history and current situations. After we completed the scavenger hunt, we headed to the Artisan Market where we spent an hour and a half purchasing last minute souvenirs. As we were leaving the market it began raining cats and dogs. We trudged through the rain and finally made it to a sandwich shop salvation. After our stomachs were full and our hearts were happy, our leaders presented us with awards for our scavenger hunt, then we headed back to our hotel. From there we gathered in the hotel’s restaurant to have a final trip evaluation. As we sat in a circle of chairs, all nineteen of us discussed how the past 9 days have affected our lives and our futures. We shared our favorite moments, and expressed what we appreciated about each other. After this, we gathered our belongings and lugged them up the street, where our bus was waiting. We headed to the airport, we were sad to say goodbye to the wonderful country of Peru, but felt blessed to have made an impact on the world.
-Natalie & Kaylie