Last week I returned from a 9 day trip to Peru for work. Myself and one of my co-workers and friends took 25 students to Lima and Cusco for a Leadership Center alternative spring break trip.
We met with business leaders and education experts; we learned about Peru’s upcoming Presidential election and their vast income disparity; we saw almost ALL the sites, from the catacombs of Lima to the ancient city of Machu Picchu. It was amazing to experience this vibrant culture through with a Social Change lens, with 25 bright and engaged students, and with a dear friend. Viva Peru!
Friday March 4: Flight from DFW to Lima, non-stop. It was a very bumpy flight and I almost got air sick. Not much sleep was had.
Saturday March 5: We got in around 7am in the morning. The traffic in Lima is crazy- there aren’t real lanes or rules for that matter. We had brunch and then set out to explore the downtown region. We tasted Cacao beans and chocolate and got to see the changing of the guard at the royal palace. We also got to tour the catacombs beneath the city, which were creepy and so cool!
Sunday March 6: We were supposed to take a boat tour of the islands off the coast of Peru but the water was too rough. So we toured a submarine, local historic fort, and went to this incredibly ritzy mall in Miraflores (the neighborhood where we stayed). We also went to the ‘beach’ which was sand free and incredibly pebbly! In the evening we went to the city gardens and saw a beautiful light and water show all while eating churros and drinking Chicha- a purple corn drink that is delicious!
Monday March 7: Finally on to the learning. We went to a local egg production factory and heard from the owner who was incredibly progressive and very informed about sustainable business practices follow. Then we heard from amnesty international about the work they do in Peru, especially in jungles further east. The political history of Peru was incredibly important in understanding the poverty we would see the next day in the ‘southern cone’ of Lima.
Tuesday March 8: We went for a service project to some of the poorest areas just south of Lima, where nearly one third of the cities population lives in shanty towns in the mountainside. Stairs are some of the most important innovations to these neighborhoods because of how steep and dangerous it is to get to their homes. We helped paint a staircase and toured one of the neighborhoods.
Wednesday March 9: Ensena Peru was one of learning stops and basically functions like teach for America in Peru. We further our education on Peruvian education that day by visiting with a former Minister of Education and stopping at a technical college and touring their business incubator lab. We went to a local community kitchen and stopped at the Indian Market before we topped the evening off with a farewell to Lima dinner where we ate a lot of traditional food and got to see performances of various Peruvian dances.
Thursday March 10: About half of our students flew back to DFW and the other half flew with us to Cusco. When we arrived at our hotel in Cusco, which is over 11,000 ft. in elevation, they immediately gave us Coca tea to help with altitude sickness.
Friday March 11: Machu Picchu! We started the day early- it’s about a tour hour car ride to the train station, then a tour hour train trip (all through the Incan sacred valley) followed by a 30 minute bus ride to the ancient city, but was so worth the trip. There aren’t even words to describe what a innovative and almost magical place this is. We were all blown away.
Saturday March 12: We took a tour of Cusco in the morning including another sacred Incan temple that overlooks the city and the local market. Then we had to catch a flight to head back to Lima where we had an 8 hour layover!
Sunday March 13: After an extremely long layover and equally long flight, I made it back to DFW. We dropped the students off on campus and I was able to bring back this Peruvian specialty to Jared!