Category: Volunteer Vacations in Peru
Gainsville women bring water and education to Peru with Globe Aware

Evvy Struzynski, writing for The Gainesville Sun, profiled a group of women who traveled to Peru with Globe Aware for one week where they helped dig and build a well and teach children English.

The entire article is here, enjoy:

Water for San Pedro de Casta

Gainesville women ‘vacation’ in Andean town for a cause

Published: Saturday, October 29, 2011 at 6:01 a.m.

The ideal vacation is rarely one where water is a precious commodity. Resort destinations don’t usually advertise vacationers digging a well, educating school children and traveling on a treacherous, one-lane road in the only vehicle in the village. But for some, to sunbathe on a beach just doesn’t cut it.

Three Gainesville women recently returned from a “volunteer vacation” to San Pedro de Casta, Peru, where they worked in rustic conditions for one week helping dig and build a well and teaching children English.

But their work just scratched the surface, and on their return, the women decided to host a fundraiser for the 999 residents of the small village. “Bring Water to San Pedro de Casta” is scheduled from 7 to 10 p.m. Nov. 4 at the United Church of Gainesville.

Beth Karbe, an acupuncturist and herbalist, said she and her friends worked from dawn to dusk and stayed in a hotel with little water and no heat in the Andes Mountains.

“If you could call it a hotel, it was more like a building,” she said. “There were no showers and the toilet only flushed every three or four times.”

San Pedro de Casta, which is at an elevation of 12,000 feet, is only 50 miles east of Lima, Peru’s capital, but it takes 5 ½ hours to get there due to its remote location.

Karbe said she discovered the volunteer vacation after her first trip to Peru, where she traveled on her own to an orphanage that housed 50 young children. On her second trip in August, she traveled through Globe Aware, a U.S. based non-profit organization that arranges supervised volunteer vacations all over the world to “promote cultural awareness and sustainability,” according to its mission statement. This time she traveled with two other Gainesville women, Judy Keathley and Carol Barron.

About 30 percent of San Pedro’s residents are children, and about 80 percent of them are malnourished, according to Karbe. The lack of water means little grass for cows to feed on, which in turn causes the animals to fail to produce milk.

The absence of water creates other difficulties as well, such as sanitation.

Two members on the trip were sick with dysentery, and had to walk a mile to the well to get fresh water, said Barron, the director of construction for Alachua County Habitat for Humanity.

“It was primitive and very intense,” she said. “The people there that were 40 looked 65 because they’re so dehydrated.”

Barron said that for more than 50 percent of their trip there was no running water, and for the other half of the time the water was freezing.

Karbe said the now dry town was previously a lush plateau, but climate change and global warming has resulted in water becoming scarce.

Karbe said the women were unsatisfied with their progress by the end of the week and wanted to help more.

“As hard as we worked, we didn’t really accomplish that much.”

So to compensate, they’ve planned a fundraiser with a goal of raising $22,000 to bring an irrigation and water system to the town.

The “Bring Water to San Pedro” fundraiser includes wine and cheese, a silent auction and live performances of Peruvian music. Tickets cost $35, or for those who are unable to attend the event, a monetary donation can be sent electronically to the Bring Water to San Pedro de Casta Project at the Internet link, and enter “Bring Water to San Pedro” in the field.

The cost of the trip — not including airfare to Peru, which the women paid for themselves — covered food, guides, travel costs within the country, tools and their gift to the area — a water heater for the local school.

Karbe said there are no volunteers scheduled for travel to Peru for the next year, likely due to the rustic living conditions.

“Every time I turn the water on to brush my teeth, I’m grateful,” Karbe said.

Copyright © 2011

Globe Aware volunteer vacations in Peru

My volunteer vacation: Almost live from Peru!

Sept. 14, 2010

Last day en Lima…and Lima is stinky, in many ways:  1)  smog, 2) concrete and cars, 3) smelly people, 4) BOOTY GRABBERS!!  I got goosed.  I swear, have these people NEVER seen a blonde before??  I was so over Lima after wandering for 3 hours that I hopped back into the (expensive) cab and I´m waiting out the rest of my time at the airport.  Take me back to Tequila and Cusco immediately, please!  The air is purer, the cabs are only 3 soles, and the people smile.

As soon as I hopped off the plane this morning a taxi driver quoted me $70 soles to Miraflores.  WHAT?  Heck no.  I may look 12-yrs-old and innocent, but beware: I will rip your head off if you try to take advantage of me.  Old man learned his lesson, I think.  Finally I found a cab, who said `eh` when I asked him about sights for tourists in Lima.  I should have known then instead of wasting my time and money.  Regardless, I got a few pictures, saw the center garden, got goosed, then jumped inside a hotel and asked them to call a safe cab for me.  Not the way I expected my 12 hours in Lima to go, but there you have it.  At least this driver drove me through San Miguel which has a pretty coastline, but I´d never be able to get over the smog and nastiness, regardless of how blue the water looks.  I¨ll give it to Lima for having lots of vet clinics, but that´s all the kudos this city gets from moi.

So, while Lima gets a big poop sandwich, I`m looking through all of my pictures and planning my next trip.  Now that I know friends who live on the West, East, and South of Australia, that sounds like a feasible, free accommodation exploration.  We shall see.  There´s not a Globe Aware project there, but you know what´s nearby-ish….Thailand.  I´m thinking large, more than 2 weeks, exploration.  Don´t ask me to go to dinner, don´t invite me shopping, don`t assume Ill drive if we make plans….all my dimes are going in the travel jar.  “Kate` now equal`s `frugal for travel.`

My last night was a good one, spent with new friends over dinner and drinks, learning more about them, loving them and wanting more time with them, making travel plans, acting silly, and being VERY careful about what I drank.  I nursed a beer for about 2 hours.  Color me `learned` on the altitude and alcohol combo.  I got about 2 hours of sleep and hit the plane around 5am this AM, so I´m off to find a couch and pretend Lima never happened.

Back to boring old Texas.  Until I email journal again (already counting the days until I´m exploring and Globe Awaring again)…

No mas Espanol keyboards –

My volunteer vacation: Almost live from Peru!

Sept. 13, 2010

  • Yesterday morning I headed off to the Port of Puno to boat over to see the floating islands, Uros.  Our tour guide, Anjel, was awesome, and gave us a wealth of knowledge about them, though I´m convinced it is mostly for tourists now and no one actually lives there.  I got to ride around for half an hour in one of their reed boats, which was nice.
  • After that, we headed to Amantani where we met our host families.  I met 2 Canadian girls and bunked up with them, though had a room to myself, which is INSANELY scary with no electricity in the middle of nowhere.  Seriously.  I think I can handle anything now after the way I psyched myself out.
  • Our host family cooked us some lunch, and Heather and Jeannette kept telling me how glad they were that I was there, or thre would be no communication between them and the family.  Apparently my minimal Spanish did us some good.  Our host was Rebecca and her husband (whose name I did not catch), and her kids, Brian, 4, and Brenda, 7 months.  Good grief adorableness.  Heather was throwing a pencil with Brian at one point (yes…the things we do to make it fun out here 🙂 and slung it right in his face.  It was unsharpened, and I´m sure he´s played with worse things before, but BOY OH BOY, the kid pouted like a king.  He would not even look at us during lunch.  Turned his back and faced the wall, in fact.
  • We headed up to the highest elevated mountain on Amantani after lunch (soup, again).I can´t remember the exact height, I´ll have to look it up when I´m home.  Let me just say… I¨ve never been more proud of myself than after this hike.  Quite honestly, I was not expecting  HALF of the hiking we did these past 2 weeks, but the fact that I hacked it in this altitude…well, I have never wanted to pat myself on the back so badly.  Unfortunately, that was tough given the huffing and puffing, so I took some unattractive pictures instead to prove my success.  You know, flared nostrils, red cheeks, frazzled hair.  At least the scene behind me looks good.  Sunset over Lago Titcaca from the top.  Ah-mazin´.
  • We trudged down after the too fast sunset and our host families cooks us dinner, and where I again translated to the Canadians.  I never knew I knew this much Espanol.  Go me.  Rebecca then surprised us and showed us to our clothing for the night.  Hello touristy part of the trip.  We all had to dress up in the native clothing.  Um.  I have never laughed so hard.  We looked like teletubbies!  I can´t wait to show you the native dance.  It basically involves swinging your arms.  Forever and ever.  We finished feista-ing at a reasonable hour and headed to bed, me in my lonely concrete room, and my candle.  I slept in shoes, two pairs of pants, 3 shirts, one fleece jacket, windbreaker, and hat.  It was cold.
  • Woke up this morning to find out that Rebecca tricked us and there was a REAL toilet around the corner and we didn´t have to be using the hole in the field like we had been.  Thanks, Rebecca.
  • Had breakfast and headed over by boat to Tequila.  MY OH BEAUTIFUL.  And hello more hiking.  Seriously, I would be the hottest mama ever if I had to hike this much at home.  Kind of thinking I shouldn´t get behind and go ahead and train for a marathon now that I´m so fit.  Anyway, Tequile is GORGEOUS and we had lunch there, which made my stomach hurt, but it´s cool because Coca tea cures everything.  What will I do without it when I´m home???
  • This tour actually had many more people than I expected and I have made a lot of new travel friends.  There seems to be a sort of pact between solo travelers that come across each other that involves making sure we´re always in contact for future trips.  I think it´s safe to say I´ll always have a friend now who´s up for going somewhere sometime.  3 new Australian buds and 2 Canadians, we´re all set to inform each other of upcoming and desired destinations.
  • Interesting to note: I have been told 3 times now that I don´t have an American accent (what is that??) and that I definitely don´t sound like a Texan.  Who am I, really?!
  • I´m off to dinner with my new friends now, and then Lima tomorrow, then home!

1 more day of Coca tea –

My volunteer vacation: Almost live from Peru!

Sept. 12, 2010

  • I´m finally online for more than 15 minutes.  I cannot tell you how nice it is to actually read my emails and think a little more clearly when sending these updates!
  • My last thought on Globe Aware and my volunteer experience:  amazing.  sign up.  do it.  there´s no better way to explore and learn and feel productive and like you´re making a dent in the world.  the other volunteers and i have promised each other to do this again together sometime in the future.
  • Yesterday morning we woke up bright eyed and bushy tailed after our celebration Friday night.  The bar Rocio took us to had a live band that was SO incredible.  Harmony and windpipes = good time.  Too good of a time for all of us, though the hangovers and dehydration did not stop us from hiking up to Tipon to check out the Incan hydrolics.  Maybe a bad decision considering how thirsty we were and how much water we could not drink.  While Meaghan and Dave chilled out on the lawn (lawn?  large patch of grass in the middle of Incan structures), I went up the hill which turned into a mountain.  By the time I realized how high up I was headed, I had my mind set on making it to the top.  This was an awesomely bad decision.  I didn´t think Meaghan and Dave would follow me, but they showed up about half an hour behind me, cursing me the whole way.  But, a big ÿou´re welcome¨to them because it turns out there was a whole little Incan town at the top of that moutnain that we would have never discovered.
  • Our goodbyes after that were too fast.  Dave and Rocio headed to the airport, so we hugged quickly and peaced out in our taxis.  Meaghan and I headed to our hostel for the night.  I didn´t get to say goodbye to Rocio which makes me want to cry, so later that eveing after lunch at Plaza de Armas, we ehaded back to the albergue to see her.  Estracie opened the door with a huge gasp and it was the sweetest thing on earth.  We got to give Christopher, my favorite little man ever, anotehr big hug goodbye. Rocio was out so I still missed her, but I was able to leave her a note.  Again…everyone should have a Rocio in their life.  sigh sigh.
  • This morning I had a quick breakfast with Meaghan and hopped on my 10hr bus ride to Puno.  We had 5 awesome stops along the way in different cities (many photos to come) and I met a great Italian family and a  super cool Australian couple.  The couple is on a 6 week adventure all over Peru.  6 weeks?  Color me jelly.  I´m trying to figure out a way to come live down here for a good amount of time.  Would.  Be. Perfect.Stopped here in Puno for the night at the most adorable hotel ever.  AND, I have a REAL BATHROOM to MYSELF!  WITH WATER PRESSURE!  I can get my WHOLE head wet tonight, 3 cheers, hip hip hooray, cheerio, pip pip!
  • So, I just got back from wandering around and eating dinner.  I got a few stares…I think my size and hair color throws people off when they see me wandering and eating alone.  But I SAY NO to hagglers.  I¨m a total pro at ¨No dinero, lo siento, gracias.¨
  • I¨m off to take a full on bath and hit the hay early.  No update tomorrow as I¨ll be staying the night with a family on Amantani, eating some delicious home cooked meals (dudes, I have really NEVER eaten so well than this past week).  They´re even having a party for me!  So excited.

hot showers and clean hair –