Groton Peru Day 2 June 20, 2012

We met early this morning and headed to Anco Pancha, where we will be working with the community for the next two weeks. When we arrived at Anco Pancha, students came to learn about how the people of Anco Pancha came to inhabit this area above the floodplain of the Urubumba River. And when we arrived, some members of the community were waiting for us, and we took a look at the projects prior Groton crews had completed in years past: the bus station, the speed bumps on the highway, the stairway from the highway down to the village, the school yard, the murals, and the sports court. After seeing all that had been completed in the past, we took a look at the rubble-filled building in which the community center and library were slated to be located, and we got to work cleaning rubble, plastering, digging post holes.

I watched students dig in to this work and was, frankly, amazed because everyone found work to do and stuck to it for the duration of the day. And stepping back from our first day at the worksite, the leaders were stunned to see all that had been accomplished–post holes had been dug in preparation for the installation of a fence; the community center had been cleared of rubble and walls cleaned; the outside of the community center was coated with a fresh layer of plaster over the adobes.

We lingered in Anco Pancha because the community prepared us a wonderful feast of chicken and potatoes, and we enjoyed their hospitality greatly and headed back to Ollantaytambo for a late lunch.

We met late in the day to climb up to the Incan granaries above Ollantaytambo and spent some time reflecting on what we had noticed thus far. We asked students to reflect in particular on the first day with their host families.

Jared, Bobby, and Aron noted that “one of our concerns about this trip was not being able to bond with our host family very well. However, when Pancho and Hillary arrived at the hotel to welcome us to their those, their sincerity and hospitality were evident at first sight. They went out of their way to make us feel at home. Their children–Hilary, Jessica, and Jonathan are already are friends.”

Charlotte noted that “my host family never stops smiling. They are extremely close and spend lots of time together. I have never experienced a family so contented and genuinely happy with their life.”

Henry offered that “I felt welcomed immediately; Rosa (our house mother) and gave us a big hug, as though she had known us forever. She waled with us to her house, reminiscing about the past Groton students that had stayed with her at her home.”

Yowanna reflected that ” our host mother, Rosa, has been very hospitable. She has cooked Henry and me delicious meals and always greets us with a smile and “hola.” The kids in our host family have also been very pleasant and fun to hang out with.”

Deki, Annie, and Morgan reported that “our host family is extremely friendly…They have over forty “cui”–guinea pigs! they are going to make us “cui” at some point this week. The food has been delicious. On the first day, we played volleyball and found that the family is a lot better than us.”

Sofi and Katherine offer that “our host family has a five year old daughter and a six year old son, and both are adorable…we have become very close, bonding through our struggles with all the new experiences.”

The leaders have been so pleased with this group and with the trip thus far. After spending the morning working in Anco Pancha, a number of students have asked to take a run up into the hills above Ollantaytambo, and we will spend some time tomorrow meeting with Sarah Fitzgerald, ’95, who is here working on a community health project right here in Ollantaytambo.

Thank you once again for sharing your children with us for this fun and meaningful time we are having here in the high Andes.


Craig Gemmell

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