The days have gone by as quickly as the crazy cars go on the treacherous Peruvian highway. It has already been seven days, but we feel like we just got here. The majority of our mornings are spent on the worksite helping to build a community center/library. There are a variety of jobs that are necessary for the improvement of the community. The plasterers–Gen, Yowana, Daraja, Aron, Sofi, Morgan, Annie, and Catherine–work diligently but also have fun. Everyone gets down and dirty, and we leave with hundreds of little white dots covering our faces and clothing. The library was in need of a paint job, and, thanks to the plasterers, it is coated in a smooth and clean layer of white.
On the other side of the community, Charlotte, Deki, Analia, Henry, Jared, Will, Anna Maria, Bobby, and our group leader Jason spent their mornings digging holes for the installation of a fence that will provide protection for the children of the community from the nearby railroad. Despite the hard-working attitude we’ve all adopted, there have been many challenging along the way. For example, miscommunication between the community members and volunteers resulted in the relocating of all the holes dug during the previous day. It was frustrating because the volunteers put their hearts into a job, and their labors came to nothing. However, we learned the valuable lesson of flexibility. As Craig said, “you can either be upset about something or not be upset–either way, you’ve got to get the work done.” These wise words reflect the new outlook that we gained, and by the end of the day, we were churning out holes just as fast as the day before.
Overall, the work has been rewarding, has brought members of our group closer together, and has taught us valuable lessons about ourselves we never knew before.
Yesterday, we went on the hike of our lives. It took us eight hours, many bottles of water, lots of sunscreen, and peanut butter sandwiches, but we came out stronger people. The walk up proved challenging for some, but everyone successfully made it to the top, where we got to get up close and personal with real Inca mummies–Jobe even tried to walk out with a leg! Jason’s promise of ice cream at the finish made the descent seem shorter than it actually was.
Back in the town of Ollantytambo, many humorous relationships have been formed between the volunteers and the host families. For example, Deki and Luis have been inseparable from the moment they laid eyes upon each other. Jason has told them to “put the brakes on” their relationship, but the writers believe that the seriousness of their relationship is significantly exaggerated. Deki continues to assert that they are “just friends.” More to come–we’ll keep you updated on this blossoming “friendship.”
The families have taken us in as their own children, constantly amazing us with their cooking and attention to our health and well-being. Katherine and Sofi faced speed bumps with their host family initially, but they swiftly overcame these challenges to bond with their family wonderfully. Their next-door neighbors–Will and Daraja–can now hear them eagerly chatting with the children in Spanish into the wee hours of the morning.
Overall, Peru has been a great experience. So far, everyone has had a great time. More updates to come.
Morgan Pags and Will Groves