Universidad San Ignacio de Loyola Review (10)
The hike begins. The first challenge was to cross a small river. We also had our own caballo (horse) with us. In case someone can no longer walk. After a while, this allowed itself a little joke. While we were all taking a leisurely rest and eating our first packed lunch, our emergency horse rolled around on the floor once – of course with our clothes on our back… It was then ready for the washing machine…
When you walked through the small villages, you were greeted from all sides – as if you knew each other. The children we met there also started talking to us and were overjoyed about a small granola bar that I had given them.
Actually, apart from skiing, I’ve never been a big fan of mountains. But since I’ve been in Peru I’ve become a real hiker. It is just a great feeling to walk so high up the slope of a mountain and to feel free as a bird. I can neither put it into words nor can my pictures describe it. You just have to feel it yourself.
In the end it was time to go downhill! It wasn’t as relaxing as I thought. Sometimes it went down so steeply that you could hardly keep yourself on the ground. When we finally reached the bottom, a delicious meal was waiting for us. This was served by a nice family in whose house we all sat together exhausted but happily at the table and ate together.
After a day’s distance of 18 km, some of which consisted of almost inaccessible paths and which I would never have been able to cover without my hiking boots, it was a day that left me with sunburn, sore muscles and stunning impressions.
The next day we went back up into a village to the “Parque de la Papa”, the 1200 hectare potato park. We were greeted with a typical ritual in which the men played drum and flute music and the women doused us with flowers.
There we were told many interesting stories about the potato, the most important product in Peru. After all, there are around 3800 different types of potato in Peru.
There we learned that there are five mother plants of the potato in the world, and in this park alone there are two of them. In October alone, 90-100 different varieties were grown. Here is a small selection of them….
The potato varieties are named after animals, communities, plants, etc. In the past, when there were no pharmacies, even wounds and diseases were healed with the potato. Today it is used to make shampoos, soaps, creams, etc.
There is a funny story about this potato (picture): It is called “Qhachun Waqachi” and you can only marry your lover if you can peel this potato for your future mother-in-law without any problems.
Later they brought us a large blanket of potatoes again, but this time they were boiled. There was also cheese and a salsa de aji (typical spicy sauce in Peru). The snack was so tasty that we didn’t want to go to lunch at all.
Potato cultivation is best between 3400 and 4500 meters in altitude. At this lake, near the park, we had reached our 4500 m.
There is also a great story about this lake. If the fox screams here at night in August, it probably predicts a bad year for the potato harvest… Is that really the case…?
Since there was alpaca meat for lunch, I ran away quickly… The meat was so tough that I preferred to entertain the kids. They jumped around outside and waited until we came out. And there the little eight-year-old Ana actually carries her three-year-old brother Alejandro wrapped in the typical scarf on her shoulders for hours. The kids told me where their school is, where they live, etc. You could make them happy that they were photographed – and then look at the picture directly on the camera.
The next day was at hand. We were really excited. Finally the time has come, we will climb the world wonder Machu Picchu. Of course you have to go there, because when you hear Peru, the famous Inca city is usually associated with it. This mountain is also very special! The Incas created this city there in the 15th century at an altitude of 2360 meters.
The two-hour train ride to Machu Picchu alone was great. Since Machu Picchu already belongs to the rainforest, you could see how the landscape gradually changed from the mountains into a jungle picture.
- Learn more information about Peru and South America on baglib.
You had to climb a few steps to get to the typical postcard spot, but the effort is worth it!
I doubt a little whether the bathroom, the slave’s room or the water supply were actually where the guide showed us. Nevertheless, you have a magnificent view and can spend a wonderful day.
CELES: Give children a smile
The first half of my semester was pretty filled with traveling. For the second half, I had decided to get involved in a social project. I got to know that through a friend of my host mom’s. Together with her husband, she founded a place where children from around 2 to 15 years of age have the opportunity to receive support in various areas. The organization is called CELES (Centro de LecTo-escritura y esparcimiento) and stands for teaching reading and writing, homework support, games and sports. A total of around 300 children come there from Monday to Saturday – so there is always a lot going on. Celes is located in Manchay, a place on the outskirts of Lima. It is only 6 km from my home in La Molina.
Some of the families there live without access to clean water, without electricity and some children do not even have the opportunity to attend school because their parents cannot afford it. The families live in huts, some of which only consist of one room. That’s why the kids find it all the nicer to come into a house that has a roof over their heads and is equipped with all the necessary things.
Since I’ve been there, I’ve been coming to the kids almost three times a week, depending on how the university allows it. The children come before and after school. So there is always something going on in the morning and in the afternoon. My main job is to help with homework supervision – which is also a challenge for me from time to time. In mathematics, for example, a completely different computing system is used that I first had to teach myself. If I am allowed to help with the English tasks, however, it will be easier for me… I have a lot of fun and the girls are running up to me and clinging to me when I just enter the room. Sometimes you don’t even know how to do justice to everyone.
On the very first day, three girls gave me a heart that said “Sarah, we like you. You are awesome!”. Then they gave me back the smile that I could give them too.
Yes, and so I spend almost every free minute in Manchay right now and I am really happy to have this opportunity.