First, we went to Paulís friendís house. At about 1:30 am, after we hadnít slept at all, it was time to head to the airport.
Within an hour or two, we were on a flight to Costa Rica. We stopped in San Juan for lunch. After a large, delicious lunch, we went to a museum that used to be an airport and then went for a stroll in the park, where there were about ten soccer games going on right next to each other.
We returned to the airport, and continued our flight to Lima, Peru.
On the plane, during our descent into Lima, none of us could believe that we were actually in Peru.
Weíd been planning this trip for about a year, and now it had become a reality.
Full of excitement, we left the airport and went out into Lima.
It was a city like any other city, full of buildings (though nowhere near as tall as the buildings in the cities of America), traffic, and stores.
Right away we could see American influence. There were Burger Kings, McDonalds, and other American stores.
We spent the night in a nice hotel, though the lobby had an eerie green light and no roof, and the next day we left early to catch the one-hour flight to Cusco.
The high altitude in Cusco caused some of us to get altitude sickness. When we left the airport, we bought bags of some local remedies to help with altitude. Once at the hotel we were given coca tea, which, during the course of the trip, became a common beverage.
For a few days during that first week, Julio Hererras, a Waldorf teacher, came over to our hotel. He has started a project, Projecto Qíewar, to help the indigenous women of the village to support their children and give them hope for the future.
Here is my account of our time in Andahuallilas:
ìOn Tuesday, we all went to Julio Herreraís house, which was in the Village of Andahuaylillas. Julio had a beautiful, large stone house with an amazing view of the mountains and the village.
On the bus ride to his home we passed many poverty-stricken communities, where there were no roofs on some of the houses, which had dirt floors, and the people can barely afford to live there.
Julio has been doing a tremendous amount to help these people. Several of the indigenous women work everyday at his house to make Waldorf dolls to sell in order to make money for their families. We brought back some of the dolls to sell here.
If you are interested in buying a doll to support Julioís work, please contact a Spanish student in the 9th or 10th Grade.
That evening, after working with the doll-making, we were all separated to go to stay with the indigenous families. I went home with a friendly woman called Maria Elena.
Night had fallen when we left, so it was dark and hard to see. The women we were to stay with chattered among themselves in Quechau. None of them spoke English. We walked down dirt and cobblestone roads, past donkeys and other animals.
Maria Elena and I stopped at a small, dirty, rotting door in a falling down wall. She opened it, and I followed her in. Though I canít exactly call it ìinî since we were still outside; there was
To my right was a large blue tarp and it was so dark I could hardly see anything. I stumbled through animal droppings and who knows what else to another door, passed a few pots and stumps on the ground (which, I later found out, was the kitchen) and went inside.
It was a tiny room, with a dirt floor, half-painted walls, and a straw ceiling. There were two ratty beds, an old, broken desk, and a table with a television on it.
Maria Elena bade me sit on one of the beds. Someone was asleep in the other one. Maria Elena was sweet, gentle and kind, but I could tell she was nervous.
In came her two little children. The boy was twelve and the girl was nine. I donít remember their names, but they were adorable. Maria Elena went out to the kitchen to make dinner, and the two children began to talk to me. I had no idea what they were saying.
We played chess, cards, and tops. They always let me win. The entire time they watched the TV. It seemed like the TV was the only thing they had that they could be proud of. The children watched some horrible, bloody, violent death scene, and Maria Elena didnít even try to stop them or turn it off.
I let the kids go through the things in my backpack. Even though Iíd only brought a simple toothbrush, change of clothes, hairbrush, and contact solution, they were fascinated and acted as though it was incredibly glamorous.
They kept touching my sleeping mat because it was shiny, and I wanted to give it to them because I hardly ever use it, but I needed it for Machu Picchu.
The woman in the other bed woke up, and it turned out she was Maria Elenaís mother. She was sweet and quiet, with long braided dark hair. Maria Elenaís sister came over to meet me, too.
They all acted nervous and pampered me as much as they could. Then Maria Elena brought out my meal. First she gave me a cup of pink gloppy stuff with three raisins floating in it, accompanied by bread. After I forced down as much as I could, she brought me another plate with a thick, greasy omelette on top of rice.
I couldnít breathe well while I ate it. I didnít want to be rude, because theyíd spent so long making it for me. The rest of them barely ate anything. I felt terrible eating their food. I was afraid Iíd be sick if I ate anymore, so finally I set down the plate. Then they brought out a cup of tea. After that, I had to go to the bathroom.
Iíve never seen a more miserable, bathroom. I donít think it can be called a bathroom.
The little boy took me back outside to the blue tarp and pulled back a side. It was heavy with darkness, and so at first I thought the boy was joking. But he wasnít.
He left me there, and I realized there was a dip in the grotesque ground. It was disgusting. But it did make me much more thankful for my own bathroom, which I used to think small.
Then it was time for bed. I tried to communicate to them that I had contacts in my eyes, but they didnít understand. So I just asked for clean water and they all crowded around to watch me as I brushed my teeth and took out my contacts. I felt like I was a magician , the way they were staring at me.
I woke up at around 8:00 a.m. They brought me water to wash with and put in my contacts. Unfortunately, Maria Elena made me more eggs on rice. Then she took me back up to Julioís.
I felt so sad that such nice, sweet people were living in such poverty. More than anything Iíd like to help all of them, in some way.î
The next day at Julioís, we made adobe bricks and picked lima beans in a cornfield. After a delicious lunch at Julioís lovely house, we returned to the hotel in Cusco.
We went by taxi, and then it was time to prepare for the climb up Machu Picchu.
From Gabrielle Meyerowitzís journal:
ìThe real physical challenges I experienced were on the second day while climbing Machu Picchu. It was hot and the weather brought no wind. The sun beat down so the air was thick and yellow. I stopped constantly on the trail and eventually fell behind.
Then there was a time when it seemed we were walking through the Amazon jungle. It was beautiful and wide and there was a river far below.
Around me were moss-covered rocks, trees with vines of all differences and flowers ñ giant yellow Cinderella slippers, purple, red, orange.
But I could hardly go on.
Mentally, I was not ready, so I stopped over and over again. That day was the most challenging, but when I got to the top it was exhilarating.î
It was hard for all of us, but we all did finally make it to the top.
In Cusco we took many trips to markets, museums, cathedrals and Incan ruins. It has been said that Peru is like a beggar sitting on a gold bench. At all of the cathedrals in Cusco, we would walk past starving indigenous women, sometimes with children, and into a cathedral coated in pure gold, covered with elaborate designs.
When it was time to return to Lima, all of us were sad and missed Cusco already. We spent one day at Colegio Waldorf de Lima and spent the night with the families.
There was a drastic difference between staying with these people and the people in Andahuallilas. We all stayed with wealthy families.
The girl I stayed with, Jocelyn, knew English almost fluently, and she and her family were hospitable. The next day we spent in classes. The following day, we returned to the US.
All of us had a different experience on this trip. Everyone learned new things, and saw how differently people live in this country.
We saw the drastic contrast between poverty and wealth. Within two weeks, we were immersed in an entire civilization, the Ancient Incan world, we met people whom we will never see again and never forget, we ate food that weíve never eaten in America, and we were all fulfilled in some way or other.
We give countless thanks to Senora Nunez, who was the inspiration behind this entire trip, Yezid Valdez, without whose guidance we could not have survived, all our parents, who gave up hours of their time to help us fundraise, everyone who donated clothes or money, and everyone in Peru who made our trip such an amazing experience.