Good morning good blog-reading folks - sorry for yet another prolonged absence, no excuses...
On the bright side I have many a tale to tell - first and foremost, the amazing visit from Peru Crew VI!
Hard to believe that this much time has passed since then, but almost 3 weeks ago 16 of Broad Street's finest arrived at Jorge Chavez International Airport, right here in not-so-sunny Lima, Peru. Bearing in mind that my dear old Dad and baby sister Anna Banana were among them - needless to say, I was pumped. First family visit/interaction in almost 11 months, can you blame me? It was quite a family reunion in the middle of the reception area!
Through my work at Paz y Esperanza I had the privilege of playing both a team member and leadership role for this years Crew (side note : an enormous thank you to my co-leader Jed Koball of Joining Hands, could not have done it without him). After 4 intense months of preparation we were confident we were all ready for the adventure that awaited us.
We started our 2 weeks together in Lomas, Carabayllo - a large urban district on the outskirts of Lima (similar to San Juan de Lurigancho, my former Lima home) - where we partnered and worked alongside the youth group who call themselves JESHENI. Their goals are many and their members too few, but what a fantastic gathering of young adults working to make a sustainable difference in their community. Among our activities was a successful park clean up and planting of trees (who knew how much landscaping was in our future!).
One of the members of the aforementioned group, Milagros, was given the opportunity to accompany us on leg two of the trip up to Huanuco - we are so blessed that she said yes! Which brings us to the farm and shelter portion of our trip. Both are located just outside of Huanuco which is a beautiful small town situated right between where the mountains and jungle meet - our view from the farm was breathtaking.
Our main task during this time was to work alongside our partners at Paz y Esperanza in what we lovingly titled a "beautification project" for the shelter. I am one among many who will sing the shelters praises out loud. Talk about a group of committed men and women working to care for and rehabilitate victims of domestic and sexual abuse (I have a feeling my dad might throw in the word tenacious around here somewhere and with good reason). We steadfastly worked alongside our 'brother' Francisco (a.k.a. "Panchito") in hauling rocks, clearing gardens, planting "ornamentals", vines, and a variety trees in an effort to create an even more sacred space for these beautiful children and adolescents and those who care for them.
If you ask me it was a success times one hundred! Not only were we able to get a ton, and I mean a ton of work done on the property (thank you to Francisco and my Dad's steadfast leadership) but we were also blessed to share in group activities ranging from countless games of volleyball, friendship bracelet making, a field day, a bonfire, singing, dancing, group lunches, and immeasurable amounts of laughter. What a week, to say the least.
But wait there's more...after saying goodbyes to 3 fantastic members of our team, 14 of us headed up the mountain (this time via plane which we were all grateful for) to Cusco! They were a whirlwind 2.5 days but a great way to unwind a bit, continue reflecting on the past week, and take in some incredible sites. Another big thank you is due right here to Pachatusanktrek tour company, specifically Jessica and her husband Sergio, who were fantastic guides through a part of Peru that is so rich in history and culture.
After some brief luggage debacles and a quick 'tour' of Lima it was time to say goodbye. Goodbyes were tough, enough said. However, I would like to reiterate that my adventure with Peru Crew VI is one for the books and I am truly blessed to have been given the opportunity to share this experience with all of them.
Home in 22 days (unreal) - I am sure there will be a few more tall tales of Peru to share with you all between now and then.
As always, sending lots of love from Lima,
P.S. More photos coming soon!!!