Hiking around Peru is considered a normal form of transportation from town to town, often seeing Quechuan women herding their sheep along the paths. We were given the chance to hike six hours to Patabamba, a local community almost 13,000ft in elevation in the Sacred Valley. Most of us waked the 25km into the village, while a few of us decided to take a car around. Both methods of arriving at our week long stay in Patabamba were adventurous in their own ways!
When we arrived, we were greeted by Mamerto, the father of the home we were staying in. He and his family graciously welcome up by putting flower petals on our heads and played some music. This week we would be helping teach in the school for two days, build guinea pig pens for a dozen families and help around the property.
Teaching in a small community school in Peru was such a fun experience! We broke up into three groups and learned a lot while teaching a few English lessons in Spanish. We focused our lessons on English greetings, how to introduce yourself, parts of the body, and vocabulary for describing your family tree. Neal, Isa and Logan were with the oldest sixth graders and had a fun time playing games while teaching the students the alphabet. Neal’s ability in Spanish really helped in the success of their classroom. Natalia, Henry and Alli worked with the fourth graders and enjoyed helping out with PE. With Natalia’s experience teaching, they all did a nice job connecting with the students and keeping a flow to their lessons. Lastly, Talisa, Talia and Julia worked with the youngest students, the first and second graders and had a blast with their young energy. At one point after recess they didn’t realize that the students take their cups to get quinoa milk and cookies for snack. The students started acting different and we quickly realized they were hungry! It brought some laughs when we finally figured it out and were learning the flow of their school day. The students also brush their teeth after and the three of them helped run a smooth and fun class for the little ones. We learned a lot about the school culture and were amazed by some of the differences and similarities.
The next three days we worked on building guinea pig pens in the community. We were sawing, hammering and cutting wire and wood to put them together. With the help of some families and a few men in the community, we built almost 50 pens. It was fun labor and everyone enjoyed learning these skills! Some of us though had mixed feelings about guinea pig being a common meal and source of protein.
On Halloween, Talisa and Talia, our leaders of the week did such a nice and fun job making the afternoon silly and full of games. We all dressed up and had a costume contest, played a mummy wrap blind ninja game, dance party and trick or treating. We played mafia also into the evening (a fun storytelling game). It was such a blast!
We were sad to leave this community and family as we really enjoyed being immersed in Peruvian village life. After a week we met with Luis again, our guide, and he walked most of the group out of the town and down into the valley to finish up our adventurous hike that we had initially started when walking to Patabamba.
We are off to Puno next, a large city in the south of Peru off the coast of Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world. We have a seven hour bus ride to see new sites of Peru and are looking forward to getting our first glimpses of the lake!