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Horseflies & Good-byes

August 8th
After the following days long and exhausting hike, we were all excited (and relieved) to have the opportunity to relax, and spend the day crafting with women and children in the community. Unfortunately, It wasn’t nearly as relaxing as any of us had anticipated (although It was a whole lot of fun.) We began the day by teaching some of the kids how to spool knit. They caught on much, much faster than anyone in our group had. Before long, all the kids were wearing brightly coloured knitted bangles, and had huge smiles on their faces. The other group was busy creating fuzzy felted animals out of coloured roving. Kids made everything from sheep, to guinea pigs, to whales and butterflies. Before long, many of the little boys got tired of crafting, and instead decided to attack Johnny, Peter, Ashley, Kathleen and Ember with foam balls, cardboard boxes, and basically whatever else they could get their hands on. Kids -we discovered- are exhausting.
When all the wool, roving, needles and spools were all tidied up, we made our way to one of the families houses in the community for lunch. We were served an enormous amount of food. Soup, salad, potatoes with delicious, spicy sauce. Beans, corn, chicken, and even cuy (aka guinea pig.) Here in Perú people drink a sweet beverage made from purple corn and a lot of different spices. (For those of you who drink Chai tea, it almost tastes like a sweeter, chilled version of that.) The drink is called “Chicha Morada,” and is bright purple. I was sitting with a handful of Peruvian kids when I asked one of them if they could please pass the “Chichi Morada” they immediately burst out laughing. In the end i discovered that “Chichi Morada” basically translates into purple nipple. We certainly had a good laugh about that.
The day ended with a delicious curry dinner, (yes, we’ve been eating VERY well) and a bonfire with lots of singing, dancing and scary stories. It was a blast!
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August 9th
Today was a rollercoaster of emotions, as we enjoyed our last day inthe community, and with Rusbel, Jaimie, Jofan, Marta and Yasmy. We had breakfast a little later, and then a few of us trecked off down the hill to flatter ground for a much awaited Canada vs. Peru soccer game. Once we arrived and set up the nets (stringy rope-come! held down with rocks) we realized there was no hope for us, and mixed up the teams a bit for a more productive game where we’d actually be able to touch the ball. It must have been pretty hilarious, watching us sprint for a hundred meters and then double over wheezing as we tried fill our lungs with the thin 3800m air. The Peruvians did not seem to have any trouble, and were super supportive and encouraging, slapping our backs and yelling “muy bien!” Over and over.
Eventually, once we were all good and sweaty (and solidly sunburnt), we grabbed the nets and headed to the centre for a “Pachamunca,” a special Peruvian meal where sweet potatoes and habas (giant beans similar to Edamame) are cooked in an “earth oven” made of rocks, dirt and leaves. It was a really cool feeling, walking up the hill towards the centre, seeing the whole community making there way there, coming together to share such a simple, but meaningful meal together. On these occasions, the community all comes together , the guests are served first buffet style, and at the end, the local’s get to pack the rest of the food home to their families. It was a wonderful afternoon, kids running everywhere, Spanish interspersed with English and quecha, and a lot (a lot) of potato’s. The rest of the afternoon was spent doing some interviews with the 5 Peruvian youth, and then without warning the moment snuck up on us when we had to say goodbye. For some of us, I don’t think the full meaning of the relationships we’d built over the last week and a half really sunk in until this moment, but of others, who’d maybe had a special connection with one person, it was a touching moment of sadness mixed with the joy of the things we’d shared together. There were many tears, and long hugs all around, words whispered in ears and last smiles and handshakes as we watched the 5 youth walk out the door. I think we all had a bit of reflection time after that, in our own way, and for me I was able to think back on the trip, and realize all the ups and downs, and memories I will bring with me when I go back to Canada. It’s amazing to think that not only have we changed the physical reality in some people’s lives in just one week, and but also to realize the impact they have had on our own lives, and how that will effect us and stay with us long into the future. It’s now time to say goodbye for now, Peru, hopefully not for long, and pack our bags for 2 long days of travel, as we make out way back to the northern hemisphere, and the country of hockey, Tim Horton’s and maple syrup. Edmonton here we come!
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Entering the Void (and other hiking struggles) by Marlene and Kristy.

Hola friends! This is Marlene and Kristy’s blog for Day 12 of our Peru Trip! After an amazing few days working with the various families in the community and seeing the stoves that we all worked together to build, our entire group was feeling refreshed.
We woke up bright (and cold) and early in the morning, which involved me (Marlene) waking everyone up. While it was freezing in our room by the time we were conscious, we were still ready for the adventure ahead of us. Today’s agenda was a 15km hike through Huascaran National Park, which was literally an uphill battle, and about as brutal as it sounds.
We started off as one big group trekking forward through the rocky ridge, which was our first taste of battle ahead of us. What started off as a group effort quickly became an individual struggle. Some people, namely our Peruvian friends, completely decimated the ridge with break-neck speed, while others, like ourselves, decided to pace ourselves and enjoy the view. It was when we approached the national park boundary that things became interesting.
The thing is, there’s a main road and a smaller uphill trail that you can choose from when you arrive. Our group (Kristy, Peter, Ashley, Paul and Marlene) thought it only made sense to go on the main trail provided. So there we were, happily walking along the road, thinking about how far we had come, and how many photo opportunities we had. We were taking a break, posing at a rock (see photos attached), when suddenly, a voice came down from above.
“GUYS!”
At first, we thought we were hearing voices in our head, but as it turns out, it was Jeff alerting us that we were on the wrong road. This sucked, terribly. It was horrible, considering there was no other visible path connecting us to Jeff. It was then that Peter pointed at the side of the mountain and told us, “Let’s go this way.”
To reiterate, this was terrible. The steep hillside was riddled with thorns and cow patties, and climbing up the hill without using our hands was incredibly difficult. The altitude was relentless (being at 4000m+ sea level has the tendency to do that), and left many of us breathless with just a few steps. Eventually, we caught up with Jeff for lunch and we were relieved. As we crossed the flatlands and valley, and climbed a few (read: hundreds) of hill, the great white glacier fast approached. The final stretch was probably the hardest: the trail was composed of loose rock and slippery stone on a 90 degree incline. When we finally reached the lake, our final destination, our entire group hollered into the air in triumph. The view was incredible and we felt so accomplished knowing that after 5 hours, we had finally MADE IT. Taking photos with everyone was by far the best part of the day. See attached. You’ll understand why. There were plenty of mixtape covers and “couple” photos taken.
The hike back was 1000000x easier, and after being at altitude for so long, we felt invincible. (Also, it was downhill, so that probably had something to do with it) Everyone had jelly for legs and were definitely exhausted, but you could tell that everyone was energized by the thought of completing such a feat.
Peru has so many things to offer. It was really mind-blowing for us to think that this walk would probably be our only chance to see this type of view, and we feel incredibly blessed to have had the opportunity to be able to go for such a hike. Even with the aching muscles, the view we saw was definitely one of the most beautiful things in our memory, and the moments we got to share with each other, and our Peruvian friends, are priceless. We only have 2 more days in Peru, so we’ll definitely make the most of it! Buenos noches everybody.

The Final Phase by Ashley and Anna-May

Hello again friends! We’ve just finished stove-building, today wa
s the last day of the projectand it passed by much too quickly in my opinion. Throughout these three days I’ve learned so much and met so many incredible people. Señor Romaldo, or team leader was absolutely amazing, he was focused and knew how to include us in the labor; it took awhile for him to war m up to us but when he did, he was so warm and friendly. Not only that but it turns out he has a great sense of humour too!

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Additionally everyone in Señor Tito’s house, was extremely friendly as well! I ended up having so much fun with Yovanna and Yanet, they invited Kathleen and I over to their house and had us put on traditional skirts, “Polleras” while we worked. I was hucking mud at the walls in Señor Tito’s house which was quite the activity!

After finishing stove building we had a pizza party for dinner which then transitioned into a dance party with all the Peruvian youths, Jazmine can really dance! It was so great to be able to see everyone interacting and dancing with each other, just having fun in the main house and I really felt the sense of community that I’ve witnessed over the past few days. This sense of community is something I think that we’ve lost in developed countries, we’re too wrapped up in materialism and consumerism to appreciate the more meaningful things in life.

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I’m so grateful to have been able to have had this opportunity to be apart of building something for people, something that seems so simple to us in Canada, but really does make a difference. We’re not here as a godsend, we’re not giving them these stoves but rather we’re helping them build something which will allow for a stronger foundation to make their own conscious efforts and decisions for themselves and their lives, and that can start with something as “simple” as a stove.

Today was the last day of stove building and probably one of the most rewarding parts of the trip. This is because we got to see the final result of all the work we put into this project. We also got to see how happy the families were with the stove because it will make such a huge positive impact on their health and wellbeing by reducing the intake of smoke in their lungs. When I walked in to the house today
I was happy because they had let us put mud and cement hearts on their wall the day before and they were still there.

I really enjoyed working with the families and everyone else who helped us make the stoves. My favourite part of the day was lunch and that’s because the workers and the family living in the house ate with us. That made me extremely happy because they usually do not eat with us because we are the guests.

I am glad that I was able to be apart of this trip and help give people something that they should already have in order to help them have a better advantage on life. 5

A Game of Survivor

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Hey Everyone!

These last two days have been a bit of a gong-show, filled with hours of stove-building (and in some cases, roof, electrical and house-building), badly translated spanish, and mainly, trying to remain the “last man standing” with this crazy virus that’s going around. At this point there are literally 4 people in our group that are not, or have not been sick, mostly with some sort of stomach bug that leaves you in bed for 24hrs of hell. Everyday our four groups for stove building get moved and switched around, as we lose a few more people to the plague.
Besides the sickness though, construction seems to be going well, and I think we will all be able to successfully complete our stoves by tomorrow!
It’s been a really interesting experience, being able to go right into the local’s houses, rather than working on some community project which is not in anyones personal space. It is super interesting to be able to see how they live here, and be able to interact with them in their home environment!
In my group, we are at the home of Señora Fabiana (hopefully I didn’t butcher that spelling too badly), who has two kids, 15 and 20, (as well as one chicken, one cow, a few guinea pigs and four dogs) and lives in a tiny house made entirely of adobe bricks held together with this mud-like substance. We also have 2 british volunteers in our group, and we work with Rusbel and Climico, two Peruvians who are part of our group while we are here, and who are the master stove builders in our group.
On the first day of construction, Climico and RUsbel did most of the work, wanting to get it done as fast as possible and not really catching on that we would be of any help. It was great to see by day two how they warmed up to us, and began giving us the difficult jobs, and laughing as we misunderstood certain instructions.
We had a ton of fun hucking cement/dirt at the sides of the stove, and then, discovering we had extra, began flinging it at the walls of their house, filling the holes where the dried adobe had crumbled.
At lunchtime, Señora Fabiana provided us with a tasty, typical Peruvian almuerzo which she’d spent all morning cooking. Typically it consisted of some form of potatoes, and a “dessert soup” made of pumpkin or some kind of grain. It was pretty foreign to us, how all the Peruvians refuse to eat until we have eaten, and even then will not eat in the same place, but instead eat outside while we are at a cloth-covered table they’ve prepared for us. It is customary here, but I think tomorrow we will do our best to see if we can all eat together, and enjoy Señora Fabiana’s cooking at the same table.
Overall it has been a super fun experience, with some interesting twists thrown in (including using the squat toilet, on which there is not door, and the cow did not break eye contact the whole time I was in there) and I think we are all looking forward to seeing our stoves completed, as well as the next couple of days here in the beautiful community!
Adios amigos!

Development and Development by Johnny, Paul, and Mahad

The day started eloquently for us as we had a fabulous breakfast at the Lazy Dog Inn. However, there was a serious shift in tone, when Diana and Sarah opened up the group to the ideas of Governance and Freedom of speech and how that all correlates to the distribution of stoves. At the beginning it may have not been all to clear for everyone, but our work here is not an act of charity, but an act of cooperation between many groups, such as: Andian Alliance, Sombrilla, The community of Yurac Yacu and ourselves, the volunteers. The Act of governance was place upon the community of Yurac Yacu when it came to the distribution of stoves, this being a gruelling task. Choosing who would gets the stoves based upon a more evidential set of criteria sounded easy to us, being from a country like Canada where decision are made for us daily, but because we ourselves do not have to directly make those decision that effect our lives and the lives of our neighbours in such a basic manner, we do not have the same sense of accountability and can easily wipe our conscious clean. Being in a small community like Yurac Yacu makes things a heck of a lot more difficult, because they do not have the support of their government. As a result of this, in order for the community to grow and thrive they must become comfortable with being in a position of governance, because if they don’t if they don’t directly make decision, no one will.

And now, with a new understanding of the position of Yurac Yacu, we Find ourselves in the home of the Lovely Senora Rosa. We think it’s safe to say that for the majority of us, Seniora Rosa was one of the most gracious and welcoming individulas we’ve ever met, with her incredible strength and virtue. Not only did she open her doors to such a large number of strangers, she was more then willing to do an impromptu interview about her life after receiving the stoves she work hard for. Being in the presence of seniora Rosa and standing in the home she was so proud of, taught us the difference between empathy and sympathy. There was no sympathy felt towards her, however there was empathy and anger towards the situation she had essentially been forced into by an apathetic government. After seeing how cruel society can be, we headed back to the Yura Yacu Cafe. Here we had our tour of the community centre and saw the various project taking place inside the community. In both instances, at Señora Rosa’s home and the community centre, we aught a glimpse of the indomitable spirit of the Yurac Yacu community and how their cooperation with amazing NGO’s like Adian Alliance and Sombrilla has payed off due to reaction to the needs of the people and not just waiting or giving them what you think they need. This heavily impacted our discussion later in the day when we realized that it is important to have a voice in a community and have the rights to have a say.

The day was also filled with a lot of fun, enjoyment, and memories that we shared with our Peruvian friends within the Yurac Yacu community. We played an excited game of Beaver Tails and found out that fun has no language barrier. Despite communication problems we were also able to teach and be taught the cub song and cards games by our amigos. A large position of the day was also very physical and fun thanks to Mr. Lee. We had an incredible game of “ultimate frisbee” where we were able to do sports dispute being in a very different altitude in comparison to our regular homes. An interesting aspect of the day was when Mr. Lee taught us and our friends dry land exercises. We were able to see our physical conditions in comparision to our Peruvian amigos. Even though the altitude heavily impacted our respiratory system, our ability to do exercise were quite similar. With minor formation and flexibility differences we could pretty much to similar things. Some of the group members got the chance to feed the horses which were being fed their midnight snack of corn. The horses seems to resist being hand fed and started yanking the food out of our hands and swinging it around. The horses were very shy at first but upon getting accustomed to us they allowed us to pet them for seconds at a time. The horses has to be caged out of the living quarters or else they might end up in our rooms. The horses were very beautiful with their thick silky manes and beautiful colour. Getting to feed these horses was a lucky privilege and it was great to interact with the animals. Laundry was… an interesting experience. We as a group now know each other inside and out. It was great to run through fields of ropa interiors only to take down your own before anyone else could see. It was difficult because we could see our ropa interiors majestically blowing the winds. We were grateful to receive clean laundry because water is on its way to being scarce within the community. MUCHO GRACIAS

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Hikes and Bonfires by Kathleen and Anna-May

Hola! Our day today started off with a wonderful home made breakfast at the Lazy Dog Inn. For me personally, I love the Lazy Dog because it makes me feel at home. Our meals are always enjoyable not only because of the amazing food, but also the amazing atmosphere that surrounds it. After breakfast, we met with the youth who were going to be our guides for our adventurous hike. During the hike we split into two groups, one group took the more challenging road up the mountain and the other group went down the mountain. It was a long and hot two and a half hour hike to the ruins. When we arrived the two groups met up to explore the ruins together. It was a nice experience, I think my favourite part was how we bonded a lot with the Peruvian youth. Despite the language barrier, we were able to communicate quite well. We ended up having many jokes with each other, and we could always laugh with one another. We got to know quite a bit about each one of them. It was amazing to see how many things we had in common despite the fact that we lived on opposite sides of the world.

Our guide for the hike was Rusbel. He is one of the oldest in our group of new Peruvian friends. He was going easy on us and sticking to the roads but Sarah wanted us to go on the paths through the fields to have more of an adventure and experience more of the community. My favourite part of the hike was definitely when we were walking back from the ruins together and stopped for a break. It was my favourite part because while we were resting we found a fruit tree. I don’t remember what kind of fruit it was but it was delicious even though it wasn’t ripe. I love interacting with all of the Peruvian kids and playing games because happiness and fun is universal and everyone understands it even if we don’t speak the same language. Overall it was an amazing day.

My favourite part of the day was definitely the bonfire we had with the community. The sun was setting as we gathered around the campfire surrounded with smores and a great communal atmosphere. It was amazing to meet the families of the Peruvian youth we had been spending so much time with. We all shared smores, and the younger children really seemed to like it. There was one little boy that was covered in marshmallows, I think his face was more white than anything else. Everyone was really having a great time. As it got darker, we could see the beautiful starry night. I have never seen so many stars. It was truly breathtaking. As time passed, most of the community members took the children home and we were left with a smaller group. We met some international students who were also staying in the community. We all bonded very quickly, and it was awesome to talk about our differences across the world. We started to sing campfire songs, starting off with the national anthems of each of the countries we were from. (Canada-the english and french version!, American and British). We continued on into the night singing songs we all knew. My favourite was when we sang “The Cup Song”. Paul and our new British friend Addy kept the beat going with the cups, and the rest of us sang along. We sang until we were all tired and figured we should go to sleep. It was a great bonding moment and such an amazing experience. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the week has in store for us.

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Chavin ruins & Alpacas Galore

July 31st – Free day in Huaraz
Our day began in the beautiful city of Huaraz, Perú. After plenty of rest (it was our free day, so naturally we slept in) we sat down in a comfortable café overlooking the city. The food was delicious, the music soothing, and the view spectacular. After a great deal of french toast and hot chocolate, we set out in small groups to explore the bustling city of Huaraz. Interestingly, it was the small differences between here and Edmonton that struck me first. For example, drivers in Huaraz honk. A lot. It’s always busy, and loud. We wove our way through streets and alleyways, and arrived at a large market where people were selling textiles, and toys, and meats. Walking through the meat market was unlike anything I’d ever experienced. In Canada, we never really think about where our food comes from. It was a bit of a shock seeing beheaded featherless chickens hanging upside down at a butchers booth, or the enormous head of a cow just laying on a table.
What was very notable as well as surprising for me personally during the day was as we went out and about doing our shopping and exploring, I happened to notice many citizens pointing or staring at me, I even happened to catch snippets of conversation here and there with the words “Chino” or “China” always surfacing – the spanish words for chinese male and female respectively. Marcia – Emma’s mom, and Sarah, explained that it’s quite rare for east asians to travel to south america and thus with them having little to no contact with us at all, they generally are quite fascinated by us since our physical appearances are so different. It never quite occurred to me that people would find east asians rare since we take up such a big population in the world, I simply assumed that wherever we went we were a common sight or quite well known. I wasn’t really offended by their pointing or staring but rather interested with their fascination with me. Being immersed in a different culture and country has allowed me to keep in mind that different countries have different mannerisms and ways of dealing with people from walks from all over the world.
August 1st – A long bus ride to Chavin Ruins
Our last day in Huaraz had an early start, we had breakfast on the bus and we got to meet the Peruvian youths travelling with us to Yurac Yacu. Meeting them was the highlight of my day especially, while I did struggle with communication I had Anna-May to help me, also i think willingness to understand and patience in both parties was really helpful.  Anna-May seemed to have really taken a liking to  and connected with Martha, and I really enjoyed Jasmine’s outgoing and eager energy. The boys Jaime and Yofan had a great sense of humour and were just extremely energetic and friendly, I was able to hit it off with them instantly. After meeting the Peruvian youths and a long and satisfying nap on the bus we had the chance to go see the Chavin ruins, the second oldest ruins after Caral. While it was a lot smaller, it was much more interactive and scenic, we were able to explore the religious sites of the Chavin ruins and of those who once lived there, the tunnels used for communication as well as the galleries. After the Chavin ruins, we had another long drive back to Huaraz to pick up our luggage for the journey to the Lazy Dog Inn. The drive to get to the Inn was quite the adventure as our bus had a flat tire causing us to get out and walk up to the Lazy Dog Inn, thought tiring the view of the sky and stars was spectacular. (I can’t handle altitude, I’ve come to terms with my body’s inability to cope.) 
Once we finally reached the Lazy Dog Inn we were greeted by a warm fire and cozy environment as well as friendly faces – Diana and Wayne. We had reached home; home for at least for the next few days. I’m extremely excited for what Sombrilla and the Yurac Yacu community has in store for me – and us. 

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