This summer, Ann Savage, along with several other members of the Austin College women's basketball team, will be globe-trotting with stops in Europe, as well as South America and Central America. Periodically this summer, Ann will be providing updates from her whirlwind travel itinerary.
Be sure to check out the first three entries from Ann, and read on to find out what she's been up to in Peru during the last few weeks...
For my GO Fellowship I am doing childcare work in Cusco, Peru. I am two weeks in and loving it. I am working at El Niño Divino in a first grade class. The kids are so sweet and love for me to play and help them with their work. Daily, I walk around and assist the students with their work, as well as copy down the homework and words for their dictation books. At recess we usually play some form of tag, where I am always 'it'. It rotates between freeze tag and vampire or zombie tag where I "infect them" and turn them into the creature. The kids refer to me Senorita or Gringita and frequently ask me how to say different words in English. They also enjoying teaching me some new words in Spanish too.
In my first week I took some Spanish classes with my program to brush up on my language skills. The local program, Maximo Nivel, offers a number of different activities for volunteers including salsa lessons, jewelry making, and cooking classes, all of which I have partaken in. I am staying with a very nice host family. They cook us typical Peruvian breakfasts and dinners that have been tasty. At a festival in Cusco last week I tried alpaca and guinea pig. I found the alpaca to be a little tough and the guinea pig was similar to saltier and gamier chicken. I am glad I tried both but don't think I need to try either again.
My first weekend I traveled to Lake Titicaca, where I visited three different islands and stayed the night with a host family. The islands were very remote and many people experienced a simple way of life. They cooked us traditional meals, as well as had us participate in a dance with their traditional clothing. The views were absolutely beautiful and the lake was so vast that it felt more like an ocean.
Cusco has been a great city. Very easy to get around by walking or bus. I've done a lot of hiking around Cusco as well as a horseback riding trip. I rode an ATV through the sacred valley towns of Moray and Maras, where I saw the salt mines. They have man-made salt mines using water coming from a near by mountain.
This past weekend I was able to check Machu Picchu off of my bucket list. I woke up at 4 o'clock to head to the bus station so I could be in the first few groups up the mountain. I hiked Huayna Picchu at the early time slot, which was incredible because there was hardly anyone else there. I made it up to the top of the mountain and the views were spectacular. We were surrounded by mountains and had a view of the entire city of Machu Picchu. After my hike I headed back down for a tour of the city. It was fascinating to learn the history of the Inca culture.
The people I have met through this experience have been awesome. There have been a ton of solo travelers from all over the United States and the world. This program attracted a lot of people wanting to help, but also experience some amazing sites and culture. Everyone has been so friendly and up for many new experiences. The kids from my school are some of the sweetest I have met. Every day they give me tons of hugs and just want me to play with them. It has been an incredible two weeks so far and am excited for my last week in Cusco.