Inspired Words

These are the experiences of our volunteers in Peru.


High school service team builds futures in Peru

Posted in Peru on March 11, 2020

Day 1

Over dinner tonight we realised that we had just finished day 1 in Peru. With the arrival in the wee hours of the morning, and the early start for our tour, it seems we have been here for a few days already, but it has been a lot of fun.

We had a nice breakfast of sandwiches on home made bread for breakfast this morning.

We then visited Chincha and explored the slave tunnels under the hacienda.

The end of the afternoon was spent at the beach and by the pool, and we ended the day at a wonderful restaurant overlooking the ocean in Paracas.

Everyone headed off to bed around 8, spent from a LONG 36 hours with little sleep. Tomorrow is another busy day of touring, but at least we get to “sleep in”… until 7!

 Day 2

We were up early to tour the Ballestas Islands, called the “poor man’s Galapagos.” The islands are literally covered with birds, some that live locally, and others that stop here on migration roots that range from Canada and Australia.

We have one of our two dinners out in Lima tonight. We are going to a recommended local restaurant that offers ceviche and other local delicacies.

We then visited the Nature Sanctuary in Paracas, which is a gorgeous desert reserve. Among the amazing sights was Red Beach, so called because of the high iron deposits from rich iron deposits from volcanic eruptions in it’s distant past.

We then went to Huacachina, an oasis in the desert.

Here the boys participated in a dune buggy ride – more like a small roller coaster – and sand-boarding – which was like tobogganing on the sand dunes. Unfortunately, there were two accidents here. One by broke a tooth because his harness was not attached properly during the buggy ride. We fixed that quickly and made sure everyone was secure after that. The other chipped his tooth during the sandboarding, which he admits could have been avoided if he slowed down. Both boys were checked out by the dentist this morning and parents updated. Both boys think it was totally worth it. We finished at sunset. Then a LONG drive back to Lima, and finally to bed.

Day 3

Today was our first day of work at our project. I was with the boys at the dentist, so I only joined them after lunch, but the morning was not without its own interesting stories. After the clinic visit, we asked to come to the work site, so they were trying to find us some trusted transport to get there (it is, obviously, not in the best part of town). We thought we had an hour to wait for the cab, so we went to grab a quick lunch. 10 minutes later, while we are getting our lunch at the restaurant, we get a call that the cab is at our hostel. We rush back to catch it. We then race across the city in a manner more in keeping with Death Race 2000 than Selwyn Social Justice Trip 2020. Anyway, about 2/3 of the way there, we hear a bang and the engine starts to smoke. Elvira came to meet us and took us in another cab, but it would not go up to the school. It dropped us close by. Rather than walk up the mountain to the school, she suggested we take a tuk-tuk. Great idea, except for our size.

We eventually got there and joined the crew. The job went well and we even had time for a leisurely game of soccer before we came home.

The boys are exhausted, but they are having a good time.

Day 4

We started the day with a visit to the Pachacama archeological site. This site has been important to every major civilisation in the area, and it is here that the Inca built their largest temple to the Sun.

The temple of the Moon was where the priestesses, seers, and future sacrifices were housed (all women).

There are also many pyramids, but the highlight was the Temple of the Sun, which we could climb and walk around.

After our visit we went to work and got ready for the construction.

We started to build the wall (insert your own Donald Trump joke here, we did).

Traffic on the way home was terrible, but we made it with just enough time to shower before dinner at the hotel. Another exhausting day done.

Day 5

Big construction day. We had to make and pour the concrete supports for the walls we made yesterday. Once we had the forms made, some of us went to visit a local family.

Then we had to mix the concrete – by hand, of course, and pour it into the frames. Tough work, but the boys insisted we stay a little late to finish the job today (and not leave it to the local workers).

Really proud of the boys and their work today. They worked like Trojans, and even the local were impressed.

We have one of our 2 dinners out in Lima tonight. We are going to a recommended local restaurant that offers seviche and other local delicacies.

Day 6

I spent the morning at the dentist, making sure our broken tooth got patched. We then went to the store to use the money we raised to get supplies for the school. They have 13 new students starting next week, so we decided to make each student a school kit.

At the job site, the boys worked hard to finish pouring the remaining concrete supports.

Another group got to visit a local family who has benefitted from the school.

They also got to see some of the fruits of their labour when the pillars they poured yesterday were revealed.

There was an unfortunate accident at the work site when a brick fell off a pile and landed on someone’s toe, but it turned out all right. After x-rays and a good ccsco. This has been the trip with the most hospital visits I have ever had. The only good news about that is that all the boys have been well taken care of and all are on the mend and raring to continue.

One more day on the job site to finish our work. Hopefully incident free!

Day 7

Last day for our project, and it worked out well. We were down a few because of stomach problems (and a bad toe), but managed to finish pouring all the pillars. All that remains to finish the classroom is to put on the roof.

We had our final family visit, way up the hillside, and the boys got to meet all 13 students we bought supplies for. Meanwhile Franky was working on the garden, planting trees and vegetables.

At the end of the day, the boys all received a wonderful send off from the school, and lovely handmade tokens of appreciation.

And, of course, we had to play one final game of soccer.

I think it was a great experience all around. I’m very proud of the work the boys did and their attitude throughout has been amazing.

Off to Cusco and Machu Picchu to round out the trip.

Day 8

Late start today. William had to get up at 8:30 to get his toe checked before we head off to Cusco and Machu Picchu (Doctor says he is fine, and may not even lose the nail), but the others could sleep in until 9:30!

Bus to the airport and then a one hour flight to Cusco.

A bus to our hotel and then adjust to the altitude. We are up at about 3500 metres, so the air is a little thin here. Walking was difficult.

We had to finalise plans for our tour tomorrow, so we headed to town (a few minutes walk away – and downhill). We saw a few sights and enjoyed both the chocolate and coffee museums. Then some delicious soup for dinner. Mine was wonderfully spicy.

Good news! The bus to take us to Ollantaytambo is only going to pick us up at 10. We can sleep in again!

We’ll have more time to visit Cusco on Tuesday. Today we need to find our legs, adjust to the altitude and prepare for our trip to Machu Picchu.

Day 9

Today was a relaxed day of travelling. we left Cusco at 10am and headed for Ollantaytambo, making stops along the way to learn about Andean wool and female empowerment from Pamela, and to take photos at some really
spectacular spots.

From Ollantaytambo we took a train to Aguas Calientes, the town at the base of Machu Picchu.

A relaxed day with a nice dinner out.

The menu included llama and M. Bureau was keen to try a local delicacy – cuy. It is known in English as Guinea pig.

Tomorrow is super busy. We are out at 5 to head to Machu Picchu, and we get to hike up Huayna Picchu at 9. Lunch in Aguas Calientes, the train back to Ollantaytambo, and a quick dinner followed by the bus ride back to Cusco.

Day 10

Arguably one of the longest days of the trip. We were up before 5 to take the bus to Machu Picchu, but there was a complication and we had to wait over an hour. The only upside is that we were able to see the sky lighten on this gorgeous day.

Off to Machu Picchu, where we started by touring the ruins a little before heading off to our hike up Huayna Picchu. It was tough going for
some, but M. Bureau and most of the boys did it in 24 minutes (our guide,
Daniel, said his record was 22). The views were breathtaking.

Back down the mountain and into Machu Picchu for our tour. It is a truly beautiful site.

Exhausted as we were at this point, the boys really enjoyed the experience.

Back down to town and some much-needed lunch to replenish our reserves. Exhausted, the boys just moved from the lunch table to the lounge before meeting up later for the train.

We got back to Cusco late after a LONG ride home, but it was a beautiful ride, with a gorgeous near-full moon.

The ride got scary at one point when the driver had to leave the road a few times because of giant rocks in the road. We had just travelled this way the day before. We were a little nervous. Our guide heard our concerns and assured us of two things:

  1. This was not the same road we were on the day before.
  2. The rocks had been there for two weeks and had been put there by crews clearing terraces above the road to prevent exactly this from happening unexpectedly. They just hadn’t finished clearing the road yet.

Phew!

Home and to bed. Absolutely exhausted.

Day 11

This morning was a late start. The boys had breakfast around 9:30 and we hung out at the hotel until noon. We wandered around Cusco, touring markets and museums (like the Choco-Museo and the Coffee Museum). We gathered for lunch at the Coffee Museum and had a great time, our last meal together in Peru (well, I don’t count dinner at the airport).

Our flight from Cusco was delayed by 40 minutes, but we have a long layover in Lima, so not a big deal. We could not book our connection directly, so we had to leave the main terminal, walk down the way a few entrances, and re-enter the airport. We line up for Avianca, the airline we flew with, and we were told we had to wait until some time later when Air Canada would open their kiosk – maybe around 1 or 2 in the morning!

Fortunately, we found a food court and a place to hang out, but my thought that we could check in and nap at the gate was shot. Oh well, we will be very tired when you see us tomorrow. If all goes according to plan, we should be in Toronto by lunch time and home a little after 4.

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