Posted in Peru on November 7, 2022
Day 1 – October 24, 2022
Our first day in Lima started out with a meeting with Elvira, our Elijant contact and Karen, our interpreter for a briefing on our next 2 weeks. Took a free walking tour offered by the tourist info centre- highly recommend it! 3 hours- checked out the Inca Market, chocolate store and learned how chocolate is made, walk along the sea wall and Parque de Amor, Plaza de Armas, Kennedy Park, famous for the hundreds of cats that live there (!) caught a beautiful sunset and finished the tour with a delicious Pisco Sour with our new friends from all over the world!
Easy morning on the worksite, visited several of the classrooms and answered the children’s questions… most often asked was how old are you!
Richard and Joe have taken on Spanish identities- they are now known as Rickardo and Jose.
After a meeting in the principal’s office, we headed to our worksite to meet with our “boss” Miguel. We are preparing a classroom for electricity so with hard hats on our heads we started chiselling and grinding the brick walls to make room for the conduit – very messy, dusty work!
A half-hour later it was time for lunch! Delicious! Rice with vegetables and chicken, potatoes and egg in a cream sauce, papaya juice and paquito bananas for dessert.
Back to work, more chiselling, more dust. Returned to the hotel coated in brick dust!
Dinner was in Kennedy Park, the cat park. the cat people were thrilled, the dog people not so much lol!
The tally to date…2 lost keys, 1 lost jacket, 20 soles, 5 key re-activations and 289 belly laughs!
Day 2 – October 25, 2022
On the worksite at San Jose Obrero school was a perfect mix of work and play. We continued with our chiselling work through the brick and concrete walls to prepare for the electrical work. While the work was tough, there is nothing more satisfying than angling the chisel just right and taking out a chocolate bar-sized piece of brick, or breaking through to the next layer of brick, like Christopher Columbus discovering America.
After a solid work day, we participated in a meeting with a group of students who are organizing tomorrow’s cookie baking extravaganza, followed by an epic game of soccer where Joe and Heidi led their team to victory. The organization and leadership displayed by these kids in both activities was truly admirable.
Our drive back to Miraflores included a roadside stop due to a malfunctioning radiator that required our bottled water to get us back on the road. Who knew it wasn’t just for drinking!
All in all, it was a fantastic day and we were all very happy with the work, and our time with the kids.
Joe’s Blog OCT 26 – Day 3
The Dream Team sprang into action early this morning. We left the hotel with our box breakfast and headed for the school . Our mission was to hand out the breakfast to the kids. In the Covid world each student now brings their own cup and Tupperware container. After the kitchen staff fills them, we would raise the cup and container in the air and say “De Quien Es” ( whose is it). We then delivered that breakfast to the student .
We then ate our breakfast and did some work.
We visited the students doing artwork and also listened to the students speak about rights for speech, standing up against violence and other rights issues.
We did a house visit with Jazmin’s family then back to the school to help the students make pizza.
Played some soccer and called it a day.
Out for dinner and early to bed.
October 29th Machu Picchu weekend
Our first day of leisure after a hard week’s work! After waking up after 6 am, Richard, Cindy, and Penny had a lovely breakfast at the hotel on Cuzco, which included bow tie pasta and liquorice tea… to highlight a few of the unique items.
Attempt #2 was then made to drop off Joe’s laundry, but alas the laundromat was not open 🙁 Richard then walked Cindy over to her cooking class in the local market.
Penny and Richard then hit the bank for some sol and awaited pickup from our Llama Path driver for our bus ride to Ollantaytambo where we pick up the train to Agua Calientes.
The bus ride was beautiful lovely views as we climbed up and out of Cusco, with the highlight being the Sacred Valley.
We arrived in Ollantaytambo just in time to catch our train to Agua Calientes (Machu Picchu train stop). The train ride was an amazing experience. PeruRail has glass domed cars for this route and we could see why – the mountains stretch up and above the train car for a panoramic 180 degree view. Like one of the most spectacular train rides in the world.
We waked to our hotel in Agua Calientes, a very unique and charming place called Gringo Bills (don’t let the name fool you!) We had a few hours to explore the town which, other than a brief but nasty encounter with the Machu Picchu mosquito, was thoroughly enjoyed! We especially loved “La Boulangerie de Paris” – where no one actually spoke French.
For dinner we met up with Joe and Heidi and heard all about their hiking adventures!!
Saturday from CINDY
I have stayed behind in Cusco and signed up for a cooking class. Our group met at the Central Market, very orderly and tidy, maybe because it’s early-9am. There’s a young couple from Ontario, a couple from Tiajuana and a woman from Sacramento. Jesus, our chef, is warm and extremely knowledgeable. We go thru the market learning about fruits (Don’t eat the yellow dragonfruit, its a natural laxative) and vegetables-there are 3000 different potatoes-sampling cheese-there are over 50 varieties and was brought to Peru-and of course, chocolate! Pink salt, coffee flavoured, dark and spicy!
A 15 minute walk to Jesus’s kitchen to begin preparing our meal, starting with Pisco Sours of course! The drink was invented by an American who ran out of whiskey for his whiskey sours and use Pisco instead. Grapes fermented to produce a 42% alcohol, 3 oz in the drink, strain the seeds out of a fresh passion fruit and Salut! It’s 1030 in the morning…
The Piscos were followed by quinoa and cheese tamales, 3 types of ceviche and a potato dish made with creamy yellow potatoes whipped into a saucy consistency with some veggies added. The showstopper was the dessert.
It starts by spreading Lucuma in the bottom of the bowl( a fruit that tastes like caramel), mashing Chirimoya(custard apple) into whipped cream, adding chunks of Prickly Pear and passion fruit-amazing!
I’ve done cooking classes all over the world and the two I have done in Peru are definitely my favourite!
Oct 29 BLOG FROM RICARDO
Special day for us as we plan to go to Cusco and Machu Picchu this weekend.
We got up as usual for breakfast at 7am however there is some power but no lights. We had to wait for full power just in time for breakfast, and on the shuttle we get. We did not check on the flight and we learned it was delayed by quite a bit, so we grabbed a bite to eat as we waited to board. We finally get in the air after paying extra for carry on.
We fly above the clouds for a portion of the flight. It then clears up and we can view a sparsely populated landscape.
Cusco is the 4th most populated city in Peru with a population of 510,000. On our approach we saw more cultivated fields and buildings. The plane was shaking some, so much so that the pilot decided to put on the gas and do a circle to try again. No more success and we went to Ariquipa to refuel and tried again successfully. A 4 hour trip instead of 1. We went to Llama Path for our brief. Supper around the old square by the cathedral. Heidi did not feel well so went back early to rest for the hike the next day. Heidi are Joe needed to leave at 5am to have time for their hike.
We all went to bed early, we were exhausted.
Joe’s Blog OCT 29
After working for the first week, we had the weekend off and I was really excited for the Inca Trail hike to Machu Picchu. The morning started early with a 5am pickup from Hotel Prisma in Cusco. We then drove to another hotel and picked up a couple of young British hikers, Sam and Jemima.
We drove for probably 1 hour 30 minutes to a restaurant and had a really nice buffet breakfast for only 25 soles($9.25)
Back in the van and off to the train station . Rode the train a bit until they dropped us off at the trailhead, 7300 ft. After a bathroom break and lathering up with insect repellent we started the hike. This is what I had been waiting for. I wondered how I would handle the hike.
We started at approximately 9:30. The trail ranges from about 3-6 ft wide with 700 meter drop offs just a short step away. In nay spots we took breaks along the way, at a waterfall and other various spots. It was an incredible experience!
After 5 hours of hiking we arrived at the Sungate, 9 km mark, elevation 9000 ft.
When you walk through the Sungate you see the classic postcard view looking down on Machu Picchu. Truly, it is jaw dropping. We then hiked down to the ruins which are at 7873 ft and looked around for just a bit as we were scheduled to come back the next day by bus to complete the 2 day trip so now, of course, what goes up must come down.
We hiked another 2 1/2 hours , mostly downhill, until we reached the little town of Agua Caliente. We took a well deserved shower and went out for dinner with Gabriel our Llama Path Guide.
We wandered amongst the shops for a while and when my head hit the pillow that night my thoughts were of elation, knowing that I had completed one of the most famous trekking routes in the world, with over 5000 years of history!
Oct 30, for Heidi, Penny, Joe and Richard- written by Richard
Got up at 5 am, breakfast, on the bus at 7 to go up to Machu Picchu. Our guide, Gabriel, had us through the gate quickly and gave us a very detailed tour, 2 hours, on the history of the place.
Back to Agua Caliente around 10:30 am, leaving us enough time to eat and shop.
Agua Caliente is a beautiful little village with hundreds of little shops and a nice little creek running through it.
Back to our hotel to recover our packs. We recharge our phones as well, time to go, am distracted and forget my phone on the armrest! I Will not notice until we have left the train station. 5 am, a fellow hiker that Heidi and Joe met does all he can to call the hotel and find the phone. Two hours later we get confirmation that they found it. Now starts the work of retrieving it. Long story.
Much traffic on the way home. Arrive at the hotel and work on the check in for our return flight tomorrow, only to find out it has been moved up from 8:23 to 7:08.
We were exhausted so skipped dinner and went to bed.
Cindy, having been to Machu Picchu four years ago stayed behind in Cusco and was not feeling well when we got back.
Monday, Oct 31
Busy doesn’t even begin to describe today! We flew back from Cusco to Lima, followed by a solid afternoon of work at the school.
The flight was a little chaotic with Viva Airlines after unannounced schedule changes, but we were back in Lima at our hotel by 11am. After a quick meal we were in the van en route to the school. For some reason the city of Lima chose today to conduct construction on every road leading up the hill to the school, so our driver had to get very creative to try and find a way there. The kids were on a field trip to the zoo so it was very quiet. We all wore Halloween t-shirts and light up necklaces, and Richard sported his beautiful wig, and even got a smile and a chuckle from Miguel 🙂
Our work today focused on moving all of the logs and wood to prepare for the scaffolding, painting in the main room beside us (with a few of the kids who were leading the painting project) and beginning to build the scaffolding supports.
We were very lucky to be able to sit down with Samuel, one of the teenagers in the Prominence program to tell us about his team’s prototype and idea for waste management in the community. His level of engagement in this project was so commendable, and we all hope that his prototype idea will be implemented at the school with great success.
After cleanup, the day ended with a soccer game with the kids followed by a late van ride back to the hotel, a late dinner and exhausted heads on pillows shortly thereafter.
Nov.1st – Day of the dead!
Happy Day of the Dead! Today is All Saints Day, an official holiday in Peru so no work just play! Halloween continues on with people still dressed up in costumes and delivering treats. We were greeted by this friendly face at breakfast with candy! After breakfast we strolled through Kennedy Park, casually known as Kitty Park due to the dozens of cats that reside there. They are looked after by an organization that provides sterilization as well as food.
The park has beautiful gardens, food vendors, crafts, and activities.We walked to the Inca Market to pick up some souvenirs but first detoured through an art museum with a ping pong art display, dry colourful and creative! I titled this “Penny Wise” and “Penny Gumley”
Late lunch at a sidewalk pizza place with a very diplomatic server who made everyone happy when asked if it was thick crust or thin…both, she replied.
On the road at 630, visiting the upper breakfast centre. Our driver can’t get to the building so we have a short walk uphill in the fog. None of the town is visible from up here.
The use of the building was donated by a local in this human settlement of 450 houses and Urban Systems sponsors the program so 34 children can get breakfast every morning. The mothers and students from the high school worked with Ifejant to develop a nutritional, cost effective program which includes a weekly meal of blood pudding or liver to increase the iron levels that were very low.
The students shared information about the project and also about the safety of the buses. There are several non public buses that have accidents and dump children on the side of the road at their whim, leaving them to walk several kms or not picking them up at all since their fare is half that of an adult’s. Safety of these uses are a prime concern.
We were treated to coffee and avocado sandwiches before walking back down the hill and catching one of these illegal buses- a 9 passenger van actually, holding 24 passes hers going downhill on an extremely rough unsafe road. I think this is where the lyrics “the people on the bus go up and down” came from…
On the job site, Joe is hammering supports and Richard is on the roof chiseling concrete from around the rebar. Penny and I had to sort through the logs for a specific size and pile them up for Joe.
Done that job, we help Joe out by waxing the nails to make them easier to drive into the rock hard posts and pulling out any nails in the posts, an extremely difficult task. instructions/Tips from Richard and Joe but still very difficult and we are determined to master the use of the crowbar to pull these out. Our strategizing and experimenting had us laughing and celebrating small successes, pulling out very few nails but was the highlight of the day for Joe working close by, listening to our banter!
Heidi unfortunately is unwell today and has stayed behind to rest.
Lunch is amazing and we are back to work, moving more lumber and rebar until finally it’s time to go home.
Leaving at 330 we make our best time yet, less than an hour!
Shower, dinner, bed, repeat!
We are down two today with both Joe and Heidi staying behind – stomach issues…shouldn’t have shared that pasta with Joe, Heidi! (Is what we think)
We worked on the second floor, first sweeping and shoveling out the floor space which took much longer than we expected!
Richard and I got to work in the kiosk and Penny stayed behind to work with Miguel…although at first fearful, she summed up the courage just like the Lion in the Wizard of Oz!
Richard was happy to cause giggles and stares by once again donning his wig to the delight of the children!
The kiosk is only open during break and is literally swarmed by the 300 kids in the school! It’s extremely well organized with a side window to purchase tickets and the front window used for purchasing treats-candies, gum, yoghurt drinks, tangerines, plantain chips and truffles made by the cooking class!and once the bell rings, it’s like it never happened!
In the afternoon we got to visit Sylvia’s home and family. Sylvia is one of the moms involved int the transport program. We had a wild ride on one of the city buses packed with students and other passengers and travelled up and over the mountainside, where no Dream Team had ever gone before…to a very new human settlement. Sylvia and her husband live there with their 3 boys and young grandson. We gave them our presents and the boys were excited to get ball caps and maze books but mostly the Sour Patch Kids candies!! They were a BIG hit, note to self, next trip…
Sylvia was overwhelmed by our kindness and Penny took this amazing photo that captured the moment, touching all of our hearts.
The other woman in the photo is Jessica and she oversees the transport group. I met her last time I was here and visited her home and family! Her daughter loved looking at the pictures of her dragging the family cat around by the tail
We got to try out one of the “private” buses we had heard about on the way back to school where we did a bit more work before calling it a day.
Joe was feeling better and able to join us for dinner.
Posted in Peru on November 7, 2022