Over the March Break, 10 students and two staff members travelled to Peru for a spirituality and service experience as part of our Global Learning program. We were eager to see what Peru had in store for us, and we were excited to experience a relaxing and restorative adventure.
The trip began in the beautiful capital city of Lima. We were greeted by our knowledgeable and friendly guides at the airport and hit the ground running. We started by exploring the incredible city. We were amazed by the inspiring architecture and local art that covered the building’s walls and was scattered throughout the parks. Lima was a colourful city, full of culture and the friendliest people. We could not have been more impressed with our first meal at a local restaurant. We started by drinking purple corn “chicha” and were surprised by how sweet and refreshing it was. The local seafood was a delicious first meal. We enjoyed the best ceviche, shrimp and scallops before we were able to spend some time by the ocean and enjoying the scenic surroundings of life on the coast. Though Lima was just the start to the trip, it was a beautiful way to discover Peru.
After a relaxing day on the coast, we headed up to the Andes to explore the Sacred Valley. As we drove into the mountains we were all overcome with the beauty of the greenery that surrounded us. It was immediately calming, and truly felt like we were on holidays. We pulled up to the beautiful Eco Finca eco-lodge and were in awe of our home for the next few nights. The view of the mountains, the water and the sky was indescribable. Here, we started our delicious vegetarian diet as we headed into a relaxing spirituality retreat. We started each morning with meditation, practicing yoga, hiking and learning about ceremonies that date back centuries. We were able to spend most of our days outside enjoying the mountains, hammocks, slacklines and trails running through the mountains. Each night we finished with a relaxing yoga practice followed by games and campfires. We were well rested, rejuvenated and excited for our next adventure.
After getting in touch with nature, ourselves and the altitude in the Sacred Valley we headed to a local community where we were able to fully immerse ourselves in the Andean Culture. We stopped at a museum to learn about the inspiring Incan culture and history, we saw various markets and learned about how they make the beautiful natural dyes for their incredible textiles. When arriving in the community we had a challenging 2-hour uphill hike to the village where we were greeted by the community with an unforgettable welcome ceremony, and dressed in traditional clothing. We instantly forgot about the challenges and struggles we had and were grateful for the kindness and generosity of our new families. Adapting to life in a new culture was, at times, challenging but helped open our eyes to the conditions and lifestyles of a culture we knew so little about. We stayed in guest houses with families within the community and were wowed by their hospitality. Though few of the families spoke any English we learned to communicate and share meals with our new host families. We spent our days working alongside the villagers building a new school for the local students, and learning about the lifestyle. The people were gracious, patient and so dedicated to helping one another. Learning from these people was something that will stay with each of us forever.
After a truly life-changing experience, we were able to spend our last few days touring Cusco and taking a trip to see Machu Picchu. After our hard work we had the option to try Incan massages, and enjoy refreshing ice cream as we ventured through the bustling tourist-filled city of Machu Picchu. As our bus pulled up the mountain, we were filled with anticipation and excitement to see the famous views. With an incredible local guide, we spent an entire day exploring the ruins and hiking to the Sun Gate experiencing the view of a lifetime. Once at the top we all silently ate our lunch, in awe of the view and vastness of the incredible ruins built so long ago. It was hard to leave this incredible day, but we were happy to get some rest and have one more day touring Cusco before heading home. On our final day we were able to shop locally, and enjoy the humid weather before heading back to Canada.
This trip really had it all. Relaxation, service, learning and adventure. Two weeks in Peru gave us the opportunity to explore life on the coast, in the mountains, and in the city.