Here’s to the thirteenth night!

Here’s to the thirteenth night!

Coming off of our incredibly successful inaugural trip, OG Peru Winter Break 2011 has come to a close, but this certainly isn’t the end! In only two weeks we did and saw more than anyone could have imagined and can’t wait to share it all with our friends and family back home.

From the bustling capital, deep into the Colca Canyon, to the earthquake ravaged coastal town of Pisco, we were able to experience the many sides of Peru and truly appreciate the diversity of the land and the people! We began the trip with the realization that, really, the best way to bond is descending 2,000m into a canyon with busted feet, upset stomach, sore muscles and a sense of adventure! We stayed with a family, a high light for many people on the trip, and learned the value of hard work, how to work the land with traditional tools still used today, to live simply, and to appreciate the taste of fruit right off the tree!

In Pisco, we got to see Disaster Relief efforts that continue after the press and international aid had pull out. After the 2007 earthquake most of the houses in the town were destroyed, sending refugees to surrounding areas, and leaving countless people in makeshift homes of tarps and bamboo matting. This cannot change in one year, or even four! Since the disaster, PSF has been working in the community in what we all agree is one of the most innovative volunteer initiatives we’ve ever seen. PSF has at least 10 projects on the go each day, from modular home building to earthbag projects, from mural painting to community development. Everyone has a chance to try their hand at any project they want. PSF also encourages each volunteer to start their own projects. “You don’t have invent the wheel, just fix it.”

We had Scott joining two German volunteers to build a modular home for a family of six. He worked hard all week to finish the house and was proud to invite all of us to the party thrown by the family on the last day! Siqi spent most of her days at Ludoteca, a child development and youth engagement project, and was also active in exploring the National Wawa Wasi program. Emily, Cody and Miruna all dug holes, cleared rocks, tied ropes and cut bamboo to help finish a park project for a community on the beach. We decided to change our plans on the last afternoon to head down to the beach for the inauguration of the park. Swimming in the ocean, playing baseball-ish “Wack – a – Buoy” with volunteers and locals, and breaking the champagne bottle all to celebrate a project of collaboration between PSF and the community that took over a month to accomplish!

After leaving the ceremony we took off to Huacachina, a desert oasis south of Pisco, to surf the sand dunes, race around in a beast of a dune buggey and spend our last night together before flying home.

Two week passed like two days. Now the two days since the OG Peru Winter Break Crew flew home seems like an eternity for the Trip Leaders back in Peru. Though suffering from mega empty nest syndrome, we are incredibly happy knowing what a strong connection we made as a group, as well as with the communities we lived in and visited, the work we were able to accomplish while we were there, and all of the great things that this wonderful group of people will go on to accomplish in the future.

As Cody said in Huacachina, it wasn’t the last one, just our thirteenth night together! So before bidding goodbye (for now), here are the pictures we promised!

  

Our first day into the Canyon! - We had no idea what we were in for!

Hiking down through cactus farms!

Chicas del Cañon!

 

Some of the many locals who helped everyday at the park!

Moving the massive swingset donated by local iron workers!

Las Chicas in the finished park!

Dune buggeying and Sandboarding on our last day!

Working hard on the park at Pisco Playa

In the fields with Donilo, our host!

Our furry friend