Inspired Words

These are the experiences of our volunteers in Peru.


The Students Last Post: Saying Good-bye to the project and partners.

Posted in Peru on June 15, 2009

A lot has happened in the past couple of days. Work ended last week with little incident; the waterline trench was well on its way to completion, and some tiling had begun. We then moved into one of the best weekends of the trip thus far.

Saturday started at 7:00 am when we were picked up by Nancy and Senor Elies (save three group members who were sick), and began one of the most amazing, most uncomfortable bus rides I have ever experienced. We travelled across the Mantaro River Valley, and then ascended an extremely steep, extremely bumpy gravel mountain road. It crisscrossed across the mountain feet as we slowly climbed over a thousand feet. The road was barely wide enough for our small bus, and 95% of the ride involved one side of the road ending in a drop off to valley floor below. Many times there was barely eight inches between the van and certain death (to be dramatic). As harrowing as it was at times, it was also very exciting, and I never once felt in danger. Half way up the road the bus pulled over, and we all filed out to enjoy the phenomenal view (we could see the entire Mantaro River Valley). We stayed for about 30 minutes, took many photos, enjoyed the breathtaking view, and listened to the silence. After that, it was back to more bus riding, which eventually leveled out.

The rest of the day was incredible. We travelled through the mountains and visited about a half dozen small towns. We had the privilege of seeing where Senor Elies grew up, and each small town presented something new and interesting to us. The little towns were amazing, hidden amongst the hills and mountains; it felt very secluded and peaceful. We visited a colonial town where a Spanish church from the 1600’s still stood, and we stopped at another town for one of the best meals we have had yet. The last major stop of the day was at a local dairy farm where we were able to purchase delicious yogurt, and were given a small tutorial on how cheese was made, and the social program the dairy farm had underway. After the dairy farm, it was time to begin the long journey back to Huancayo. By that time in the day everyone was exhausted, so the drive back down the mountain was not as fun as the drive up. We trudged through the doors of our house around 5:30 pm, tired, sore, but altogether still excited about the wonderful day we all had.

Sunday started even earlier than Saturday for a few of us: 5:30. We took taxis to the bus terminal, met Eric there, and hired cars to take us out to La Merced and the jungle. There were only six of us; the rest of the group wanted to sleep in and spend the day at the Sunday market on Huancavelica Avenue. After another crazy drive through the Peruvian countryside, we arrived at the town of La Merced. Once there, we hired a tour guide to take us to the jungle. This was one of my most favourite days of the trip so far. The tour began with swimming in the river underneath a beautiful waterfall. The water was very warm, and we never wanted to leave; it was too much fun. However, our guide had other ideas. After a brief walk and tour of the jungle there, we filed back into our van and headed out to go and catch a ride on a riverboat.

The riverboat was interesting. We got in, put on ridiculous orange life jackets, laughed a ton about that, and then the boat was off. We travelled across the river, then up a little ways, then back down a little ways, and then we docked. It took all of ten minutes. Amusing as that is, it was still a fun ride, and we took lots of pictures. After docked we were herded back to our van and told we were going to visit an “authentic” native village. Instead of authenticity we got a tourist attraction. Upon our arrival, we were garbed in “traditional” clothing, our faces were painted, and we were sat down for a little speech delivered by an elder with a bow and arrow, a parrot, a drum and a rattle. We all thought it was quite hilarious and enjoyed the little speech (which none of us understood). Due to time constraints, we had to leave before the elder’s performance was over. However, that wasn’t until we got to take some pictures of us holding the parrot. Our way back to Huancayo was another long journey, and we didn’t walk through the doors until 9:30 pm. However, we were all still smiles as told the others about our day. Those who remained home had a wonderful day that began with pancakes, involved lots of market purchases, and lots of relaxation. It was a pretty great Sunday for the entire group, regardless of what each person did.

Monday marked the beginning of the end of our work at the project site. The trench was complete, and rubble clean up began. Tuesday was our last official working day. I spent the majority of the day tiling wit h Kelsey, and the others continued the clean up and making sure everything was in order. Wednesday was our last day on the project site. However, it wasn’t spent working. Instead we helped prepare the pacha manka that were going to enjoy with the Arguedianos members. We visited, had refreshments, and engaged in the whole process of the wonderful traditional meal. While everything was cooking, we walked over to a concrete soccer field where the DWC men played the Arguedianos men in an epic soccer match. The girls sat on the sidelines and cheered on our guys. At the end of the 45 minute game, DWC was victorious with a 3-1 win over Arguedianos. It was a great, good-natured came, and everyone was ready to enjoy the pacha manka by the time it was over. The meal was absolutely delicious (especially the umitas for dessert), and we were all groaning with full stomachs by the time it was over.

At 3:00 pm our ride showed up, and we had to go through the difficult process of saying goodbye to the jobsite, our ever present site dog Snickers, and all the wonderful people we have met and come to love here in Huancayo. It was a bittersweet affair. While we are all excited about our cultural tour, and eventually making it back to Canada, we weren’t all ready to leave the project behind. We have all had such a wonderful experience, and it is astonishing how the time has flown by. With our last farewells to everyone, we piled into our work bus one last time, and went home.

Here we come Machu Picchu.

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