Category: Volunteer Vacations in Peru
My volunteer vacation: Almost live from Peru!

Sept. 11, 2010

  • it finally happened. after 27 years and 45ish days, i got sick after drinks.
  • i´m blaming the altitude and a drink called the green devil. that little devil. in other news, yesterday was fairly hardcore. we mixed cement and concrete with shovels on the ground. and we shoveled dirt. and planted poles for the greenhouse. we are all awesomely sunburned with farmers tans.
  • Maeghan and i actually took a nap afterward, which is big news for me since i´m not a big sleeper. it was soooo good. i fell asleep with my sunglasses on. kate rocks. we had some free time yesterday to run to the store and get some goodies for Rocio and the kids. all i can say is that Jenga is the greatest gift of all. we´re all headed off today. Marie actually left yesterday, Dave leaves this afternoon, and Meaghan and i are spending the day together before we go off on our own. she´ll be heading to hike the Incan trail to Machupiccu, and i´m off to Puno to see Lake Titicaca for the next week.
  • I´m not sure how many updates i´ll be able to send after this once i´m traveling again, so here are my final thought, Jerry Springer style: there´s no better way to travel than to immerse yourself in the culture. even if it means puking on your friends jeans in the taxi. juuust kidding. i learned this in africa, my only other 3rd orld-ish experience and i don’t know if it´s possible for me to travel any other way. really, this has been amazing.
  • the hard work combined with the sight seeing combined with the culture and the one will understand even if i tried to fully describe it. Meaghan has this philosophy of ¨Live NOW.¨ i started adopting this a few years ago (hey dog business), but she takes to such an inspiring level. she makes every day count and has no excuses for living the way she wants.
  • i´m coming home next week with a new sense of life as an adventure. Dave has a way of absorbing experiences. camera? journal? who needs it when you´re in it? he has a quiet wit and cleverness and a way of showing us how to go with the flow and enjoy the experience for yourself and no one else. i´m not sure he realizes this message he´s sending, which makes him all the more special. the kid´s got a bright future. Marie has so mush enthusiasm and a way of looking at every experience like a child for the first time. her innocence is refreshing and exciting. she made this fun for all of us. And Rocio. it´s such a shame that the whole world doesn´t know her. she´s dedicated to making a difference and living her life for others. she´s a mom, a teacher, and tour guide, a boss, a hard labor worker….and not an ounce of anything she does is to benefit herself. she is making a difference, and if i can be a quarter of the amazing person that she is, i´d be a lucky girl.
  • i cant believe i have to say goodbye to this experience today. it went way too fast and i´ll ever forget. i still have a weeklong adventure on my own, and at this moment it´s hard to imagine experiencing it without these people. the kids have inspired me, the culture and traditions are heartwarming, and i´ll be back. i think Peru deserves a few more weeks and months to explore. off to Tipon for a few hours, adios. we are all lucky people, never forget that.


My volunteer vacation: Almost live from Peru!

Sept. 10, 2010

Machu Picchu yesterday.  I had a moment where I stood on the edge of the world looking at the mountains and I was overwhelmed and in awe.  I was on some seps that I snuck off to, all by myself, off the path the tour was taking.

I hope the power of this moment lasts with me forever.


My volunteer vacation: Almost live from Peru!

Sept. 8, 2010

  • ¨I didn´t know there was such a thing as a perfect day¨ – Dave, the 90´s music fanatic last night. Our day began with rockin out to Ace of Base. And ended rockin´out to Ace of Base. Peru loves the 90´s, as does our little Davey, who has been creating some awesome 90´s nostalgia for all of us this week.
  • we had an unexpected adventure last night! we suggested to Rocia after dinner that we wanted to hit the town. she mentioned a festival going on this week, Festival Natividad. the eve of this festival was last night and there are NO WORDS for what we experienced. 30ft tall bamboo contraptions all over the place with spinning wheels of fireworks, shooting from the top and falling from the sky creating the image of the virgin Mary in the sky, kids hanging out under the fireworks as if it´s normal. we were asked to dance, and my partner yanked my hat off my head and gave me his sombrero. apparently my head is huge or his hat was made for shrunken heads, regardless, it was fun. this was possibly the most dangerous situation we´ve ever been in, but holy hallelujah, it was beautiful and full of culture that we would have never experienced otherwise.
  • sidenote: there really is no other way to see a country like this than with someone like Rocio who can show you the REAL stuff. tourist attractions are amazing, but our our experiences thus far have been amazing beacuse they have been so off the grid. also, i´m so glad she went with us. she hadn´t been since she was a kid, and it was so heart warming to see her giggling and having SO much fun. i´m really going to miss her when we leave.
  • back on track: there was a bit of local ¨danger¨last night, since Meaghan and i stick out like a sore thumb with our yellow hair. Meaghan got flashed, therefore reminding all of us not to respond to ¨hey lady.¨ however, i ventured off to try and get some good shots of these bamboo firework things that no one will ever understand from my descriptions, when Mr Drunky-didjaredoo popped up. there might have been a little tongue on ear action before i spun around to look for Dave. since he´s 22ft tall, he regulates well for us. Dave came over and the guy tried messing with him in a way that can only be described as a wet willy to the belly button. Dave obviously protested and this guys response still has me laughing: ¨oh, not cool?¨ um. no. not ever. anywhere.
  • this morning we headed off to the VERY TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN to a town called Rondocan (i think?). we went to build a stove for a kindergarten. it was a two hour dive, white knuckles on the steering wheel the whole way, as the roads are directly on the edge of the mountain. don´t ever look down! i´ve decided that Peru is not a good place for an animal activist. i´ll be haunted forever by the horses we saw with their front legs tied together. Rocio says they do that so they don´t move outside the land. it basically traumatized me. anyway, we arrived, and the kids are stinkin´ adorable. poor things have little charred cheekies because of living so close to the sun. we spent some time while they sang songs to us and we entertained each other with large gestures and loud talking…ehrr, they speak only Quechua, the highland language, so communication involved a lot of funny noises and faces.
  • stove building = a rockin´good time. R-O-C-K-I-N´. to create the clay, get this: we had to stomp around barefoot in mud and water! like grape stomping, but not at all, and totally awesome. once the general architecture of the stove was finished (ie, sheet rock, etc), we spread the clay around it to fit specific pans, and it set the chimney in place. you won´t believe the before and after pictures. cannot tell you how pumped i am to have ¨stove builder and clay stomper¨on my resume. hollaaaa.
  • we expereinced a slightly terrifying drive back down the mountain. OUR DRIVER FELL ASLEEP. Everyone in the car was asleep except for me and Dave and he notice the Mario´s eyes in the rear-view mirror. um, then i looked and he LITERALLY PASSED OUT. holy hillside. Dave saved the day and struck up some convo, Marie offered her gum, and we cranked up some 90´s music. and survived.
  • we headed back to festival Natividad for a few hours this evening. did i mention that last night was a celebrating BEFORE the festival? so today is the official celebratory day. they celebrate the virgin Mary every September 8th, and today was the parade full of dancers and masked men. and the virgin´s homecoming. had too much fun yelling ¨the virgin is coming, the virgin is here! ¨ erhh, then we realized people were really serious about it and praying and crossing themselves, etc. oops. anyway, fun, lots of bands and costumes, and as always, inappropriate remarks from men. Meaghan and Dave finally grew enough plums to try some pieces of guinea pig. they said it was pretty good, though Dave still seems to be having issues with the fact that he ate it. we had a sweet bevvy as well, and Rocio told us the tradition is to pour your first sip of the drink on the ground to give it to the earth first. how cool is that? Mother Earth is hungry too, kinda forgot.
  • tonight the students had a fiesta for us. they organized dance routines and made us super sweet cards. my favorite little orphan, Christopher, played his recorder for the first time. kids got skills. i had a dream the other night that i adopted him, Angelina Jolie style. i want to put him in my pocket and ship him home with me. he´s such a little Peruvian Dennis the Menace. we got a cake for the fiesta since today is Meaghan´s birthday, and it was muy delicioso. MUY. apparently the routine here is to smash a bit of the cake in the birthday honouree’s face before eating? since we were celebrating Meaghan´s birthday, along with the other September students’ birthdays, this made half the cake awesomely un-eatable.
  • can´t believe tomorrow is Thursday. Macchu Picchu should be exciting. have had such an incredible time here so far. despite the tough time i´m having with all of the stray dogs around here and the horses i saw today. i have a kitten curled up in my lap right now and will probably cry when i have to put it down. erghh. the lesson i am learning is that what i know and what i work hard for at home is a luxury and that the rest of the world is not so lucky. despite the need here, it is a beautiful culture with phenomenal people and the land is beyond describable.
  • forgive the typos, i´m shivering, have to be up to see sunrise at Machhu Picchu tomorrow, and the internet cafe is closing.

warm kittens in the lap fo´evah´-


My volunteer vacation: Almost live from Peru!

Sept. 7, 2010

  • stick a fork in us, we are DONE.  the place looks great and we survived the fumes!  we literally jumped for joy.  next up: greenhouse!
  • more good eatin´and more good laughin´.  and some good tunes, today.  i discovered a 70´s cover album in the cabinet.  hello donna summer en espanol.
  • we had some free time after painting today since a storm rolled in.  Dave and i played 2 on 1 basketball with Cristopher.  he wanted it that way, crazy kid.  he´s got some moves, i tell ya.  a few others joined in and we rocked out on the court.  i learned that the rule is when you´re tired…you just leave.  so our game dwindled and grew a few times, and Dave really bonded with a little future NBA star, Marcello.  they played one on one for quite a while.
  • a clarification from a previous email:  the alpaca sanctuary is called Awanna Kancha.  Confusion beacuse we discovered this crazy awesome ¨popcorn¨called Cancha.  the way it is made is a SCIENCE.  they stop the kernel from popping JUUUUST before it actually turns into a big white puffy piece of popcorn.  so you eat the seeds and inside it´s fluffy.  science, i tell you.  anyway, so we started calling the sanctuary ¨i wanna cancha¨ instead of Awanna Kancha.
  • meaghan and i just came from playing hangman with some of the girls.  it´s a good way for them to practice the alphabet in english.  however, they are little tricksters and were using their crayons when we were doing colors.  sneaky sneaky.
  • tomorrow is Rondocon stove building.  ie, clay, mud, clay and dirtiness.  heck yizzah.

i want a cancha!


My volunteer vacation: Almost live from Peru!

Sept. 6, 2010

  • What´s green and yellow and dusty all over?  this girl.  today we painted.  and painted.  and paaaaainted.  and then we took a lunch break to Plaza de Armas for pizza.  our little Davey (this is funny because he is ´6´7´´) has ben craving a giant pizza since our exhausting adventure yesterday.  he even treated us to it for dragging us out there, though not a single one of us complained.  we grabbed a local drink, called a Pisco Sour, and let me tell you: alcohol and altitude is quite a combo.  we had laughs, and laughs, and laughs.  and then we headed back to paint.  and paint.  and paaaaaaaint.
  • the other volunteers really make this experience.  today would have been miserable without these guys, and we´ve pointd that out to each other a number of times.  lots of ¨thank the Incans that we´re all so cool.¨ we´ve literally laughed every second of our time together.  i´d share the things we think are funny, but that might turn into a lot of ´you had to be there´ comments.  i´ll just leave it at we are a great team and having an amazing time.  well, maybe a story:  yesterday at Moray, in the middle of the sacrificial architecture thingie (like i said, i need to read up a little more on what happened there), we combined our powers and refer to ourselves as earth, wind, fire and water.  ummm…not as funny when i type it, but trust me, we are hilarious.  see?  you had to be there.
  • not a huge update today since we spent 10 hours painting, so i´ll tell you about the other volunteers:  Meghan is from Ottowa and her birthday is on Wednesday.  she´ll be 26.  she´s been here since last week, traveling from Puno, Arequipa, and Lima to Cusco, and next week she´ll hike the Incan trail up to Machu Picchu.  she´s very adventerous and i´m in awe of the kinds of challenges she puts herself up to.  Dave is 20 and starting his junior year in college next week.  he´s a pretty impressive kid, coming down here alone at that age, right before shcool.  he´s a quietly witty and clever guy, and keeps us all laughing, and randomly mentions amazing facts about himself that make us respect him so much more:  his dad wrote BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY!  he was Queen´s manager.  this came up when i mentioned a karaoke bar and that´s my fave song to sing.  whaaaaat?!   he´s also been ballroom dancer and lived in England until he was 6.  Marie is hilarious, SO enthusiastic, and keeps us laughing when she doesn´t mean to.  she´s from NYC and between jobs right now, so this is a really life changing experience for her.  she´s a talker.  i mean,
  • and now for the coolest person here: Rocio.  she´s our project coordinater and she lives here.  she speaks english, spanish, and quechua, the highland language.  her life is these kids and this orphanage, and she works so hard.  she´s in school right now AND is in charge of this whole thing.  she´s been an amazing tour guide and such an inspiration.  i´m quite sad that i only get a week with her.
  • tomorrow we will finish up and begin our work on the greenhouse.  on wednesday we head out to the country to build a stove for a family, and then we have a fiesta with the kiddos!  we are hoping to get a little time with them tonight since most of them had hit the hay last night by the time we got home.  they seem really excited to have us here, even though our time with them has been limited thus far.  regardless, the team and i are happy to be helping in any way, directly and indirectly.
  • i was just told we are about to eat with the kids, so i´m off!

labor day out-