Highlights: The highlight of my trip was working alongside the community members in Chuhuay digging for potatoes and being shown how to create a Watiha (a natural oven, constructed from mud, hay and fire J). It was nice to get back to the simplicity of how we can really live, and use our natural resources to our advantage. It also made me reflect on farming practices now as compared to my Grandfather’s time, and it felt good to get back to a more basic ‘way of life’.
As for the adventure part of the experience, there are too many moments to choose a favourite. Reaching the top of Huayana Picchu and overlooking Machu Picchu was absolutely breathtaking and rewarding. To think people actually carried all of those stones to the top is pretty incredible and a surreal environment to put yourself in!
Morning: Mornings with OG in Peru were always an early rise! Depending on the section of our project we for one week woke every morning to do a half hour session of meditation, guided by a professional, and an hour session of yoga, for which you could go at your own pace. This was very freeing to the mind and I felt it really helped my fitness and mental motivation. After these sessions we would divide an chores or housekeeping duties, switching daily, and then cook a healthy breakfast either together or in a small group. When volunteering in the mountain communities, myself and some of the volunteers woke up a bit early to take in a morning walk or jog before breakfast, as a little bit of down time for ourselves.
Afternoon: After a lunch, usually prepared by a local, we would return to our volunteer site. In this case the school playground. Here we divided our duties amongst each other (painting, sanding logs, building hay roofs, pouring cement, and general clean up duties), usually switching tasks every day or two so that we each had experience in different areas of the project.
Evening: A typical evening as a volunteer in Peru was spent cooking together, or washing dishes, depending on whose turn it was to be chef or dishco! We spent at least an hour each evening as a group reflecting on the activities of the day, what worked, or what could work better. In this time we also participated in a fun educational game or discussion that helped us to better understand the culture, history, or perspectives of the local with whom we were working! There is always down town for reading, reflective writing, taking a nap, or swapping stories with your fellow volunteers!