Friday, May 6, 2011

26th-30th Day Adventures

Sorry I lost track of blog posts in Peru so I'll sum up the end of my trip. From Ollantaytambo we boarded a train to Aguas Calientes, the city around Machu Picchu. Machu Picchu was breathtaking. We were lucky that the sun came out and the clouds went away so we got to see the whole thing with nothing obstructing our view. We toured it for a few hours and there were so. Many. Stairs. I was dead by the time I left. The rest of our trip after that was spent in Cusco. Cecilia, Katie, and I had our big spa day that was the greatest day ever. I went to my first discoteca and had a great time!
On Saturday, everyone took a plane home but I didn't leave til the next day. All of their flights were around midnight. I was in my hotel, which was at the airport, at around 11 pm when I heard sirens and screaming. I look outside and I see more than 200 people running out of the airport. I was so scared! I tried calling the front desk but that didn't work. I tried calling Juan but that didn't work either. I didn't know Cecilia, Katie or Luke's phone numbers and I had no way of making sure they were ok. I ran down to the front desk to ask what happened. Miley Cyrus arrived...

25th Day Adventures

The grand opening of the library was today. We packed up our stuff and pulled down the tents then made our way over to the school around lunch time. For about 30 minutes we taught the kids English and played games with them. Then, it was time to feast. The villagers prepared us a huge meal of guinea pig, potatoes, vegetables, and chicken in about 7 different dishes. The guinea pig looked gross but I decided to actually give it a chance when I tried it. It tasted nothing at all like chicken and was not good.
After our incredibly long meal, we inaugurated the library. A bunch of different people made speeches in Spanish and then Nisty gave a short speech in English, thanking the villagers for allowing us to be there. The five of us kids then each put our hand on a hammer and together we smashed a clay pot hanging in the doorway. To all of our surprise it was filled with corn beer, chicha, and went all over us.
The beers were then brought and we served one beer to each adult in the village. After everyone had had their fill they started to dance. Shortly after that we had to leave and go to Ollantaytambo. It was sad to say goodbye to everyone and the kids.

24th Day Adventures

Today we finished up the roof to complete the building. I helped carry shingles down the hill to the school and hand them up to the people on the roof. There wasn't much to do except throw mud at the walls and throw clogs of dirt at the ground. It didn't take long til it was totally finished. Nothing else interesting really happened today.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

23rd Day Adventures

Juan and I went on a hike this morning before going to the school. It was basically just a scenic route around the village to the school. Since the structure of the library had been completed, we had to start on the roof today. The truck that brought the roofing materials got stuck, like every other car we've been in on this trip. After we unloaded all the logs, bamboo, and shingles we got to work. At each joint in the bamboo were fibers that needed to be removed. We worked on that til lunchtime. A very tedious activity that took no effort, just a really long time. About 8 little kids helped us and we gave them an apple, granadia, and 2 sublime chocolate bars.
After lunch, everyone was either sleeping or watching a movie so I was the only one to go work on the library. I finished up peeling the bamboo with the help of some kids, then brought it over to the structure. While working, one of the little boys taught me to count in Quechua. After I'd done all I could, I sat and watched the locals make the roof until tea time. At tea time we had fried wontons filled with cheese. The 5 of us sat in the dining tent until dinner. Juan and Alan still hadn't come back so we began without them. Turns out one of the families prepared them a huge meal of cuy. We all got what we wanted for dinner: fettucini Alfredo. It was so delicious. It was another early night for me.

22nd Day Adventures

Good Friday. Our day off. We took a van into Ollantaytambo to have lunch with Alan's family. They prepared a traditional Easter meal, 8 courses! 3 different kinds of soup, corn, potato, and seafood. Then we had rice with seafood, ceviche, and trout. There were 2 desserts: a peach and rice pudding with chicha morado, a purple corn drink. It was all fabulous. Juan and Alan stayed with the family afterwards and we went and walked around the city plaza.
Alan's family also generously let us use 3 room in their hotel for the day to shower and rest. There was also wifi there! When we took the van home, it was already dark. We hiked our way back to our campsite and picked up firewood on the way. After a dinner of soup, chicken curry, and flan, we made a campfire. Finding stick out here was really hard but we managed to roast marshmallows and make s'mores.

Friday, April 22, 2011

21st Day Adventures

We woke up earlier to the drinks and hot tubs of water this morning. Katie and I woke up with the same thing Cecilia had and she was still sick too. Juan made me drink a whole cup of muña. Eew. The three of us stayed at the camp and slept while everyone else went to work. We all woke up at the same time because being in sleeping bags became unbearable. It's shorts and tank top weather during the day but long underwear weather at night. I rested in the tent with the door open after that while Katie and Cecilia fell asleep outside getting their tan on. They woke up to some of the kids from school poking them in the ears with grass. The kids came to beg for food. We gave them some granola bars and they went away. The children here are so malnourished.
After lunch, some of the kids came back. Cecilia and Katie were sleeping again so I went outside to play with them. It was an 11 year old girl with her younger brother and sister. They sang for me and asked me a million questions. I asked about school and the girl said it was good but she had no pencil to write with so I gave her pens. She said she had no shampoo to wash her hair with so I gave her mine. I also gave them some socks and a water bottle full of water and a little more food. They were so happy and grateful. Then, they just wanted to play and take pictures with my camera. The kids here aren't greedy about pictures like kids in high tourism areas, they just want to look at the pictures afterwards and laugh. They don't ask for any money.
They left. We all rested. At dinner, everyone felt at least a little better.

20th Day Adventures

We woke up at 8 to tubs of hot water outside our tents for washing our faces. Then, the chefs came around with tea, hot chocolate and coffee. They then prepared a nice breakfast of fruit salad with apple, papaya, banana, pear and pineapple. We walked to the school around 10 and went into the classroom of the first and second graders. They were so excited to see us! They had prepared a song which they performed. I just wish I knew what they were saying. We then went outside to the side of the school where the library was already in progress. The villagers had laid out the foundation, basically just marked the area with rocks. In the middle was tons and tons of mud. All around the school lay 1,100 adobe bricks. We jumped right in the mud to mix it up. It was to be used for mortar in between the bricks. Cecilia left soon after we started because of stomach problems and she cut her foot on a rock.
I took a break from the mud to help carry adobe bricks. They weighed 30lbs each. So heavy and they hurt your hands to carry. We went on this way, carrying bricks, mixing mud, or putting the mud on the structure so someone could lay the next brick. Around 11, the kids got a break to eat lunch. The government gives them milk and a piece of potato bread. We sat around with our snacks as they ate lunch. They were so curious about us. They kept asking about our parents and pets and commenting on how white we are. It seemed like a lot of the younger ones had never seen white people. They quickly started up a game of soccer when they were finished eating. Nisty and I joined their teams but the game was harder than I expected. The field had knee deep grass and there were rocks scattered around so you had to watch out, especially when barefoot. It ended with the score 1-1.
After the game, it was back to work until our lunch. We had tortillas with bologna, guacamole, cucumbers, and homemade queso (so strong). We all got big surprise when we saw Lucas walking into our campsite. His plane tickets got messed up and he decided to come find us. It's a miracle that he did because we are literally in the middle of nowhere. We rested for a bit after the lunch before walking back to the school. We got back just as the kids were getting out of school. The villagers who were helping us became more talkative. They constantly made fun of the way we spoke Spanish or the way we used a pick axe or shovel. In a loving way, I think. By the end of the day, we successfully completed 8 levels of adobe!
When we got back to the campsite we had tea time. A tub of popcorn and a plate of the most delicious crackers (my new obsession) were waiting for us along with tea, coffee and hot chocolate. We stayed at the table and played cards til dinner.
Just before dinner, a shaman came into our dining tent. He was making an offering to the Andean gods for the success of our building. The offering consisted of llama fat, an alpaca fetus, confetti, animal crackers, a catholic cross, gold and silver, fake money, garbonzo beans, a star fish, shells, sugar, rice, threads, candies, and a treat that the five of us call fagals. He laid everything out in it's proper place and blessed it. He then left us. He and a few others would travel 2 hours to the top of the mountain at midnight to burn the offering. They do it at the top of the mountains because they believe they are closer to the gods. If the fire is big and burns for a long time, Pachamama accepts the offering. If it is a low, quick fire, Pachamama does not accept it. We then had a quick dinner of soup and chicken curry. I was the first to fall asleep.