Arriving in Lima was great. I saw many of the staff from last year and it was fun to catch up. My first group has only 9 students, but I can tell already they are going to be a lot of fun.
Day one (June 22) involves flying to Cusco then driving to Pisac. Right now in Cusco is the biggest festival of the year. We spent an hour watching the parade of saints marched around the Plaza de Armas. It was interesting to watch all the men carrying the heavy statues and marching to different songs. It seemed like there was an endless parade of saints.
One of many saints
Pisac is beautiful as always. Of course there was some festival going on all night, but every time I have ever stayed there that has happened.
The following morning we did not have time to see the Pisac ruins because our village is so remote. So after a little time at the market we headed to Urubamba. We stopped at the mayor’s office to get an official welcome. Our project is even listed in the city tourism guide!! After that, we headed to our village, Huilloc. It is much further into the mountains than any of the villages last year. We drove for 30 minutes, then got out and hiked for an hour straight up. We are at 12,440 feet. The people here still wear traditional dress all the time. Of course they were very welcoming. The first evening was spent playing soccer with all the local children.
Friday morning we were introduced to our families and began our project. Our project is to build a galpone (guinea pig hut) for 5 different families. These serve several purposes. First, they help the families house and breed many more guinea pigs than they already have in their homes. Second, they also give them a space outside of their home to keep them, thus greatly improving sanitation. Finally, the guinea pigs serve as an important source of food and income. I was talking to one man today and that is exactly what he said he uses them for. He sells them to buy things for his children, and they also use them to supplement the endless diet of potatoes and corn.
Alex, Martin, and Alex after a long day. That is a half-finished galpone.
Friday night the students asked about the dorm (Sacred Valley Project). I got fired up and told them all about it. I also showed them the Girl Effect video. I can’t wait for them to meet the girls in a week.