Saturday was a long day of working. Ben and I moved over 70 bricks (30 lbs a piece) at one house, and the two Alex’s and I built many layers that same afternoon. We all continue to be impressed with the work ethic of the local people. They never seem to tire and it is obvious that building these galpones is a big deal.
Many of the students started getting sick as well. This is normal as Peru fights back at every foreigner that visits. But it will pass, and better now than later at Machu Picchu.
Sunday morning we went to a local market. We saw all the local foods and supplies that the people need. We didn’t actually see any bartering, but apparently that is how it often works. Allen (our local guide) told us that the villagers usually only have potatoes to barter with and have to pay higher than usual prices because they have no other choice. Hopefully the guinea pigs can be game changers in this system. I bought a soccer jersey and some ojotas, which are the sandals worn by the indigenous population. They are made out of old tires and held together by nails. We also played a soccer game, gringos vs locals. We lost but not too bad.
Ojotas. Do I look Peruvian yet?
Most of the students rented a horse to ride up the steep mountain to return for the afternoon. Haha, good times. They had to finish all the brick layers of the galpones because Monday we have an off day to go mountain biking and white water rafting. Tuesday when we return we start on the roofs.
We also started telling life stories at tea time and dinner. I shouldn’t be surprised that students who want to volunteer in Peru for two weeks would be so interesting, but they really are. I hope the next generation of young people finds ways to bring justice and peace to the world, and this trip is a small part of that. In addition, Molly (co-guide) and I asked the students to reflect on one thing they have that the local people don’t, and one thing the local people have that they don’t. The responses were insightful and well thought out. The most common answer for the locals was that they have a sense of community that we don’t. They all know each other well and help each other. Many of us in the states barely know our next-door neighbors. For us, they answered that we have opportunity. If we want to go to school, we can. If we want to work hard to achieve something, that it is possible (usually).
Many of the students have commented on my t-shirts. Yes, another chance at a plug for something I support! All the t-shirts I brought are Rosa Loves shirts. (Visit http://www.rosaloves.com) I found these when I commented on a shirt that Jeff was wearing a while back. It is basically a group of artists that want to change the world, one story at a time. They find someone in need from all over the world (US included) and design a killer shirt about it. On the inside of the shirt above your heart is the story of the person you are helping. Once they raise enough money to help the person, they stop making that shirt forever and make a new one. At any given time there are about 8 shirts available. I actually have one for an orphanage in Mexico City that I hope to visit on the way home.
Today (Monday) was a gorgeous mountain bike ride through the Sacred Valley. Wow. Then we rafted on the river Urubamba. It was a great time, and a needed break. But many of the students commented on the high levels of pollution in the river. Tonight night we have a hotel in Ollantaytambo with hot showers and very slow internet. Nice.
My highlight of the day was visiting the dorm!!!! I met Elena who is the dorm director this year. We had a lengthy talk and it looks like I will be a great fit. They had to hire two tutors for writing and reading, but can’t afford one for math. Hmmm, I am free. I just have to really work on my Spanish. I also might help out with the project’s blog and keep everyone informed on what is happening, as well as try giving a few guitar lessons with the Martin backpacker I brought. I did see a few of the girls from last year and they were happy to see me.
Also, after we checked in tonight two guys pulled up on Honda Transalps 650's fully loaded. I chatted with them a little bit with my crappy Spanish, they are from Argentina. But it was very cool to see other motorcyclists. I can’t wait to meet all the travelers who will pass through Ollanta over the next 4 months.
And finally here on Monday night, I got sick. I made it 6 days, one longer than last year. And it isn’t terrible; I don’t see another hospital visit in my near future. I was hoping my stomach had built up some sort of immunity, but not a chance. Peru still hates me.