Cruisin´ around Cusco

Sunday, October 26, 2014
Cusco, Peru

Hey all . Sean here, and I have been duly elected and nominated by the members of the group to write this next entry to the blog. It is not a task I will take lightly, and I intend to be more or less comprehensive concerning the events that have happened during the course of this past week.

Continuing from where my compatriot Craig left off, we had a night to ourselves in Puno and after having dinner, we packed and prepared for the early bus to Cuzco, the former capital of the Incan empire. After a 7 hour bus ride, with several nice views of the Andes Mountains, we arrived at Cuzco and became acquainted with Haylee, our local volunteer coordinator, and the local school, whom we would be volunteering on behalf of for the next week or so.

That evening we became acquainted with our host families. Moira and I have had the pleasure of staying with a wonderful family: the Bringas'. They are all extremely wonderful people . Angela, the mother, not only cooks amazing meals seemingly effortlessly, she also plays volleyball in a league here in Cuzco. Henry, the father is a man truly devoted to his wife and child. He works for the governmental regulatory institute for the coca leaf here in Peru and harbors a secret love for both heavy metal and Spanish puns and bad jokes. Valeria, the daughter is a bright, young girl who is exceedingly mature for her age and while she appears shy at first, if she is challenged to Jenga, she will comment about her own moves and others non-stop.

During our time here, our family has been exceedingly hospitable and courteous,sentiments which we have returned with gusto.

From what I have heard of the others' families, they couldn't be happier with their accommodations.

Onto the work we did in the mornings.......................

Half of the group and I were assigned to paint a mural in latex paint over a water treatment plant, to prevent rain from crumbling the foundation . The work was time-consuming and required much thought about future plans, but with the help of Alicia, Moira, Katy, Craig, and Ismael (our "handler/maestro" for the job), we managed to complete it in 4 days. The results were quite impressive.

The other job involved constructing a tire wall for a soccer field at Club Corazon, a club to which I will introduce you shortly. I am told that it was hard work and good fun, and went along smoothly. I saw the results as well, and they were also very impressive given the amount of time we had to work.

Onto the afternoon work................

We volunteered at 2 different places during the week: Cooperar Peru and Club Corazon.

Cooperar Peru is an organization that runs an after school club in Tancarpata, an impoverished neighborhood slightly outside of the city of Cuzco.

Club Corazon is an after school club/Catholic organization that also provides a place for kids to go after school for supplemental learning .

We had to come up with 2 activities for the kids to perform during our times in each one (2 & 3 days respectively) and to keep them learning and occupied in the time we had them. Activities like story-boarding for a script (Craig and my creation), face painting, dancing, and scavenger hunting were received wonderfully, and we even had a "Field Day" for the kids on our last day there.

A few words about Cuzco and our recent adventures and I must leave you fine people to the rest of your day. Cuzco is a sprawling city, often full of traffic and wonder at the same time. There are two main methods of transportation in Cuzco: bus and taxi. Most of the time, from volunteering and back, we would take a bus, since it was cheaper. Moira and I were on "Correcaminos", a bus which at times seemed to carry the entirety of Cuzco to one place or another. Most of the time we were crowded beyond belief and could barely move, much less take a seat in the bus . Most of the others took a line called "Liebre" which was far more comfortable and less crowded than ours.

At some points, we did need to take taxis which were faster but often overcharged. A haggling game would often begin between you and the driver to attempt to lower the rate to what you thought reasonable. At one point, we were priced at 30 soles to drive to work, which is $10 and not entirely unreasonable in a first world country, but in PerĂº, it was laughable since we had gotten it for 5 soles the other day.

After we had finished work on Saturday we got to leave Cuzco to see the Sacred Valley, where lie many Incan ruins. We toured Pischaq, an agricultural center and Ollyantantambo, a monitoring point for traffic into and out of Cuzco. Both offered breathtaking views of the landscape and great insight into the lives and practices of the Incan people. We were also briefly introduced to how yarn is made and dyed from alpaca wool, which is quite a complicated process. We returned to Cuzco after.

We are preparing today to leave on our trek through the Andes Mountains to Macchu Picchu on Monday.

Another great adventure begins, and another blog post ends. Such is the way of Youth International.

This has been Sean, signing off.