Day 11

On Friday, we were woken up at the truly inhumane hour of 5:30 am, so that we could stumble groggily onto a bus and sleep through six hours of a beautiful scenic drive to Peru’s highlands. Around noon, our bus arrived at the hotel we would be staying in, where we were very excited by the playground, complete with a miniature “zipline” (that all but Henry and John were unable to ride without hitting the ground) and a trampoline, which we may or may not have broken where it was previously only slightly damaged. There were also not one, but two pools, which lots of people swam in--briefly, because the water was freezing--and a water slide which, after sliding down and yelping in pain, Michael and Jack swore was lots of fun and didn’t hurt at all. The best part, however, was the river, which everyone had lots of fun exploring, and Sonja and Grace used as the backdrop for a stunning photo shoot. They got some gorgeous shots, but learned of the hazards of jumping near moving water when Grace’s Birkenstock fell off and landed in the river, necessitating immediate action to rescue it from the shallow rapids.

After a late lunch (and a quick hour-long break so all the girls could change outfits) we headed to a nearby ziplining place, where we all put on harnesses and got to practically fly over the startlingly beautiful river. It was incredible…despite the attempts of Ian, Michael and Jack (who all went first) to psych us out before our own departures. Loa even took her camera and got some nauseating footage of the ride. The scariest part in our opinion, was climbing up the rock face between ziplines, though the zipline employee assured us--while he wasn’t laughing at our nervousness, nor Loa’s flustered attempts to locate the very obvious path to the top of the second launch point--that we were just fine. Despite his words however, one major calamity did occur: the loss of another Birkenstock. This one, belonging to Dana, fell, possibly never to be seen again, as she was nearing the end of the first zipline. Luckily, it landed away from the river, and after all the rest of us had gone past, the zipline employee was able to retrieve it for her.

Once we had all returned safely (with all shoes accounted for) from across the river, we got back on the bus and drove a short way into the nearby town, where we had a chance to peruse more handmade crafts. There was also a piercing booth. Unfortunately, the chaperones deemed it unsafe; we can’t imagine why. The best find at the market, though not as thrilling as cheap body piercings, was some delicious chocolates, which the chaperones purchased and shared with everyone. (Not to say that the students didn’t also buy chocolates, but unlike the chaperones…we weren’t sharing.) Our appetites whetted by sweets, we returned to the hotel for a dinner of beef and mashed potatoes, which, though tasty enough, tragically did not include dessert (except for deplorably overpriced Frio Ricos, that only the most desperate purchased). After dinner, we retreated to our rooms, where some of the girls had a movie night, watching Just Go With It on an iPhone. Really, the picture, size, and quality was unparalleled. Eventually, everyone turned in, excited for the perhaps slightly less exotic activities planned for Saturday: hiking.

- Gwen and Sonja


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Day 10

Last day at the school/Chloe’s birthday! We woke up around 8 to more Peruvian celebratory music along with misty air and a slippery ground, had the usual breakfast of rolls and jam (plus some of the tasty cornbread-like stuff from the night before), and headed up to the school on local transportation. Once at the school, we promptly began to finish up on the lab. There were a few minor networking issues, but they were fixed with a lil crimpin and reworking of some wires. Sadly, we did not have a chance to teach more than a few students how to use the computers, but the computer teacher at the school should be able to help with that. At around 12:30, the lab was complete, and all of us minus John and David walked on to a stage in the play court of the school for a mini ceremony. The ceremony ended up being about 100 students and the principal clapping and chanting each of our names. The girls from the school swoooooned when Henry’s name was announced, and the boys did the same for Jackie ;). After Henry escaped the mob of girls and the rest of us said our final goodbyes, everyone headed back to the convent for a delicious meal of rice, potatoes, chicken with a pea and lentil sauce, and flan for dessert. Most people spent the afternoon watching movies and napping (just me) while the chaperones went out and picked up a lot of snacks for our weekend trip. Dinner was served early, and it was a very homey meal of chicken soup with rice. We “surprised” Chloe with a chocolate cake with candles that spelled out “Feliz Cumpleanos”, and then about half of us went to Mass at the church just behind where we sleep. Those who went were pleasantly surprised with the very kind group of mostly elderly women who welcomed us in the middle of the service, and also by the hipster guitar player. The hymns were lovely, and many of us agreed that it was the most interesting service we’d ever been to. Now, everyone is packing for the weekend trip to the Highlands and Mira Flores once again. It’s sad knowing that today was probably the last chance we’ll have to visit the school (unless we make time on Monday), but it’s great that we accomplished what we came here to do. Adios!


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Day 9

Today we woke up and went to the school hoping that the man with the key had actually remembered to show up.  We trekked through the cold and the rain and Maddie’s white Converse turned brown. The man with the key did show up thankfully and we set to work on the lab. When working on one of the computers Henry got shocked multiple times without anyone believing him, until a few other people started getting shocked as well. We soon realized that the fingerprint scanners were the culprits. We fixed the problem by covering the scanners with electrical tape. Henry, John and Craig worked together to fix the door to a classroom by using a nail removed from the fence and a hammer to drill new holes for the hinges. We came close to finishing, and then headed back home for lunch. We rejoined with Sally who sadly had to stay back because she felt sick, but she gladly got better throughout the day. We had a pleasant surprise waiting for us in the dining room, it was a fine Italian cuisine of spaghetti and meatballs. After lunch we relaxed for a little and then a few of us went to teach some of the orphans how to use the computers. While this was going on an intense game of kickball broke out in the courtyard. Later on we watched a movie and Katherine saved the day multiple times by running up to hit the DVD player whenever the screen froze on the pirated movies. For dinner we had squash soup and this heeellllllaaaaa good corn bread. Henry would like to say Goodnight and love from Lima

- Henry and Maddie

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Day 8

Today half the group went to the school in order to finish the lab. Unfortunately the man with the key failed to show up, and so after two hours of sitting and waiting we decided to go back to the convent. The other half had planned on going up later to teach the kids. While the first group was gone at the school the second group cleaned the bathrooms and tidy up the rooms. They also enjoyed trying out all the black market DVD's that were found at the convent and staying inside away from the misty fog. Later we all went to a large mall about a 30 minute bus ride away. We all got Bembos ice cream and some saw a man getting chased down for shoplifting. However, when we returned to the convent a few of the girls (Sally, Helena, Maddie) weren't feeling too well and went to bed early. Hopefully we can get it to the lab tomorrow!


-Jackie and Olivia

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Day 7

The expectation: every day life starts at 8:00AM. And that is true, if you’re 25 or older. For us, it’s a slow, ever-acclimating process of transitioning from summer living back to habitual existence that usually means lying in bed for 45 minutes extra. After breakfast, we split up into two groups. The first group learned how to take the bus up to the school, while the second group walked the same route as Thursday morning. When we arrived it was straight to business. First was the chaotic process of creating a plan of attack for how to cram 29 laptops onto six tables. After 30 minutes of moving tables like Tetris blocks deciding which fit better where (the desks are different sizes & shapes), we decided to make a T formation in the room in order to optimize the efficiency of our wiring situation. There were 2 outlets in the room and no extension chord so this proved to be harder than expected. After two hours we had all the laptops in the correct position and were ready to install the game-changing feature of this school’s new lab, internet. This lab required lots of wiring to get 29 computers Ethernet cables so we had to stop and go to a not-so-local hardware store to buy more wiring as well as tape, Velcro, and zip ties which will help keep the lab organized after we leave. Knowing that the lab was well on its way to being finished by the schools planned “computer lab inauguration ceremony” on Thursday, and running on empty stomachs, we made our descent from the hillside school and returned to the convent. We were greeted with the best meal thus far by anyone’s measure, which can improve anyone’s day. Being stuffed we then spent the rest of the day at the convent. We solved a computer issue at the convent lab location as well as played with the girls here in the courtyard. Tomorrow we plan to complete the lab at the other school and install the offline Wikipedia page. That will conclude our computer work here in Peru. The rest of the time is reserved for teaching the students how to use the computers and its programs.

-Mike and Ian out.

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Day 6

We (dem bois) woke up today with a very very early not so nice surprise from Mike telling us to get up. Struggling out of bed, we wearily walked to the showers and then after packing our bags stumbled out of our rooms and into the lobby. Due to a parade which was in our the way, we had to walk approximately seventeen blocks to our bus, which turned out not to be a bus, but actually two vans, which were too small so we had to get a cab. It was awesome! Then we went to a super cool fort from the colonial times and got a tour of the whole military base. The tour was quite strict however because there were several places we weren’t allowed to go, due to the fact that it was a semi-active outpost and they wanted to protect their grass because Peru is a desert and things don’t grow without intense irrigation. After looking at tanks and guns and statues and swords and canons and a prison, we walked out and went towards the shore to a world-acclaimed restaurant in which we sampled a variety of authentic Peruvian cuisines. The food was amazing and very fresh. Also the movie wedding crashers (in Spanish) was playing at the restaurant, which was pretty funny. Afterwards we continued along the coast and stopped at quite a peaceful ocean-shore for some rest and relaxation. Then we continued to where we were going to meet the bus that would bring us back to the “convent” in which we had originally arrived. On the way to the bus, a police escorted us through a somewhat shady neighborhood accompanied us; we safely arrived at the bus and slept all the way back “home.” After a quick game of futball with some of the visiting Peruvian school children, we had a delicious culturally accurate dinner provided by the ex-nuns and fell soundly asleep. All together it was quite an exciting and eventful day.


- Dávid ý Jack

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Day 5

On Saturday, we awoke for the first time in Miraflores. The view from the girls hostel room was amazing, with a gorgeous view of the main plaza and the parade preparations. At around 8 we headed to a complimentary breakfast at a nearby café, which John arrived to late, looking a little flustered. We were served different combinations of toast, eggs, and fruit, along with cantaloupe juice, which is definitely an acquired taste. We met up with Coco and were lead to a market, where vendors were extremely eager to capitalize on any slight interest we had in their wares. It gave us an excellent chance to practice our bargaining skills, and purchase an array of woven alpaca items, bracelets, bags, and clothing. Katherine opted out of buying things but did head into an instrument store and tried her hand at a Peruvian flute, which the vendors seemed skeptical about. After the market, we split up and had free time for about six hours, during which Loa and Sally (us) got lost in the cuts of Lima, but retraced our steps back to the hostel. Some visited the water, shopped, or walked around, and Grace finally got the vegetables she had been yearning for. Both lunch and dinner were left to us, and some got more fancy food while others opted for more comforting burger joints. At 6 we met up to go to a dance performance we were incredibly underdressed for, that was loud and slightly lengthy, yet culturally valuable. We enjoyed the dependably warm showers and packed for heading out of Miraflores the following day.

-Sally and Loa

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Day 4

We have just returned from Miraflores where we spent two nights at the Flying Dog Hostel. We headed over on Friday night for a weekend trip, and were astonished by how different the city is from Puente Piedra, where we are staying the majority of our time here. Our timing was superb; as the city was preparing for a parade. There seem to be quite a few celebration days here. After we got situated in our hostel, we visited a gorgeous seaside mall where Michael, Ian, David, and Jack were harassed by some local tweens at a fast food restaurant. We then rushed to keep up with Coco’s fast pace as we went to catch our Mirabus by the main plaza. The Mirabus offered a very extensive tour of local landmarks, which few enjoyed, and Mike continued to make jokes about three days later. We did stop at South America’s biggest fountain park, which was very impressive. Those who ventured into some of the more interactive fountains, Liv and Gwen for example, got quite wet. After this highlight, the tour took a turn for the worse when we stopped by the Sheraton at about 8:00 at night to eat finger sandwiches, coffee, and orange juice for fifteen minutes. As we exited, traditional dancers, including one white man in an extremely short skirt, hopped onstage. After what seemed like many hours more, some found food while others immediately returned to the hostel, seeking sleep.

- Loa and Sally

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Day 3

After a long, restful night of tuning out the sounds of exploding firecrackers, we awoke once again to the sounds of persistent hammering and rooster crowing at 7:45 am. Craig, the chaperone and convent handy man, set to work early on the plumbing in the boy’s bathroom. Then we headed off to breakfast: Peruvian oatmeal, coffee, tea, bread, jam and peanut butter, and plenty of tangerines, this time along with scrambled eggs with mystery meat.

After breakfast, we continued our bonding time with the adorable kindergarteners, most of whom were really excited to see us but very shy when we tried to talk to them. They were especially interested when Katherine offered to show them the pictures she’d taken of them. Unfortunately, they had to go back to class, to watch a movie in Spanish about chickens that Maddie seemed to enjoy very much, peering from the courtyard into their classroom.

Meanwhile, Craig tested out his electrician skills on a 220 volt light socket, quickly abandoning the mission for fear of electrocution.

Once we had gathered everyone together, we walked to the school to see where we would be installing the large lab. We had to walk about half a mile, up a dusty hill, which absolutely no one complained about, passing the usual street animals: some stray dogs, cats, and a very stubborn goat that seemed to have an issue with Ian.

When we got to the school, we were greeted by a crowd of curious, giggling children. Their favorite subject for conversation was Henry, who they called “gringo” and “pelirojo” (the white boy with red hair). Many of them tried to talk to us in Spanish, asking us what our names were, how old we were, and where we were from. They were eager to pose for photos with us, and start up conversations. Some even tried out some English, like “hello,” “come here,”… and “open the window.”

We checked out the space where we would be installing the lab, then went out to the courtyard to join in on the kids’ recess. The girls were really good at volleyball, especially Loa and Anna’s flailing attempts, and the guys won an intense match of Americans vs Peruvians soccer.

We headed back to the convent for a lunch of chicken, chicken noodle soup, rice, and divine mashed potatoes. We got a tour of the convent, through the library, the office, the church, and the girls’ dormitories, which had been painted Barbie colors per their request.

Then, seven of us were assigned to set up the convent lab. We spent a long time moving furniture, plugging in the computers, crimping (and recrimping, in the case of Jackie and Sally), finally getting all of the computers plugged in, networked, and connected to the internet! During this, everyone else played soccer and helped the girls with their homework. Meanwhile, Craig was busy at work sharpening the blade of the lawn mower, and then proceeding to mow the only lawn left in Peru.

We had a great dinner of squash soup with croutons and bread, and some delicious Peruvian cookies.

After dinner, we had some downtime to talk and relax. The night ended with a large guy cuddle puddle in a room covered with Disney princess stickers, watching a children’s movie. I guess the little kids must have rubbed off on them….

Now we’re headed to bed, and we look forward to a fun day tomorrow in Mira Flores!

Grace and Sonja

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Day 2

We all awoke this morning to a lovely cacophony of hammering coming from somewhere with in the convent. We were allowed to sleep in to 11am and then directed to a delicious breakfast Peruvian oatmeal, rolls, butter, jam, and coffee. We all rushed to finish breakfast because to happened to be the kindergartens recess.

After washing our dishes we went to the courtyard and got to know some of the little kids. They were all adorable and so eager to talk to you. One boy in particular was trying to recruit Ian on to his soccer team and wanted to play boys against girls. Unfortunately recess ended after a few minutes and the kids had to head back to their classrooms.

Coco decided that now would be a good time to exchange money so we walked to a bus station and boarded a bus to small market down the road from where we are staying. Half of us went inside to buy water and exchange money and the other half decided to stay outside and watch Ian, David, Jack, and Michael ride ATVs around a small track.

We took taxis back to the convent and Mike, CoCo, John, and Henry had to take a bus back but they ended doing a lot of walking due to a large protest.

When we were all back we ate lunch and some of us napped while others helped tutor the girls in the orphanage. The girls were so sweet and they instantly wanted to get to know us and play with them.

We ate a delicious dinner of beef, noodles, and vegetables and the boys played an intense soccer competition. Later we got to ask CoCo questions about Lima, the Puente Piedra School we’re going to be working at, and any questions we had about the surrounding area.

Tomorrow is going to be a busy day installing computers so we are headed to bed to get our rest. We will post the next blog as soon as we can!

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Day 1

We made it! After weeks of preparation the day finally arrived. The flight to Dallas went smoothly and quickly. Our connecting flight to Lima was delayed 40 min which allowed the group to pick up some snacks before the long 7+ hour flight. Unfortunately the flight was mostly all turbulence and the movie choice was questionable. Finally we touched down in Lima at 1:30 am.

To the relief of all of us Customs and Immigration was went smoothly minus the fruit sniffing security dog that resulted in the confiscation of many apples. The dog jumped on poor Maddie.

Coco met us outside of baggage claim and we soon realized that the bus he brought was not big enough to fit all of our tubs in the compartment underneath. We ended up squeezing everyone and most of the tubs above.

We embarked on the 30 min drive to the convent and were kept awake by the stench of all the fish processing plants we drove by.

We arrived at the convent at 3:30am and got settled in our bunk rooms. The accommodations are quite nice although we are still struggling to remember to throw the toilet paper away instead of flushing it.

Exhausted we attempted to open our tubs with a pair of kid scissors (which Grace broke in half) so we could get our pillows and sleeping bags. Ian saved the day with his large and very sharp knife, getting everyone’s tub opened. We easily fell asleep at 4:30 am, hoping that we would get to sleep in.

It’s been a long day but we are excited for whats to come.

Olivia and Jackie

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