Helping Hands: Mission Complete!
On Thursday, we gobbled down breakfast before heading off to Helping Hands for our penultimate day of volunteering. There, we continued our English and Art lessons with the four and five-year-olds and continued making new friends with the Peruvian students. We also began to work on our presents for the kindergarteners: hand-crafted dolls! Now, when I say hand-crafted, I truly mean hand-crafted. From the stuffing to the frills to the eyes, our group sewed every single item on each of their dolls. This time-intensive project forced many of our group members to learn to sew – and after their fair share of hitting their thumbs with needles, it’s safe to say that everyone got the hang of it by the end!
After Helping Hands, we travelled to a beautiful yoga studio, where Claire, a seasoned Yoga veteran, led us through a private class. As many of our students have not ever experienced Yoga (myself included) this was an eye-opening journey that reiterated the idea that I am getting old. Not only could I not perform the movements, but I also found myself out of breath more often than I’d care to admit! Fortunately, the students fared much better as many of them were able to perform some poses that I was afraid to attempt! The students loved the experience and found themselves laughing, stretching and Namaste-ing through the class. After Yoga, we journeyed to a sushi restaurant for an eclectic range of Asian cuisine before spending time in the plaza enjoying ice cream and donuts.
The next morning, we travelled to Helping Hands for the final time! We had our photo frames ready, our dolls crafted and Christmas Cards prepared. All that was left to do was spend some time at the local park with our new friends! We walked our kindergarteners down the long road to the park and proceeded to spend time chasing balls, throwing Frisbees, climbing hills and gaining a new appreciation for how perpetually tired parents of young children must be. After messing around for a bit – and becoming exhausted in the process – we walked the young students back to school and bid them adios one final time. With a big embrace and a friendly wave, we said goodbye to Helping Hands, knowing that we made a major contribution to the life of the San Sebastian community through our efforts.
We returned to the hotel, ate a very quick lunch and hopped on a bus to our zip lining excursion. Nestled in the picturesque Sacred Valley, we met our jovial guides and marvelled at the massive mountain from which we would be zip lining from. However, I also noticed that there was no easy path to the top and asked the driver how long the drive up would be. He laughed and pointed to a path that lined the perimeter of the mountain. It seemed that driving to the top would not be an option. We equipped our gear and began our trek up the mountain, ensuring we were always tethered to the steel cables that lined our paths.
It was a long hike that was not always horizontal in nature. Verticality was the name of the game as we found ourselves climbing makeshift ladders, stones and anything else we could use to get to our destination. Finally, after a lengthy hike, we arrived at the first zip line. One by one, students rocketed down the lines. The students were nervous at first but steadily became increasingly comfortable with the mechanics of the process. The views were majestic, the hike was fantastic and the excursion was a success by every definition of the word.
After our long bus ride back to Cusco, students were treated to a Peruvian-Japanese fusion of dinner before retreating to their rooms after the long, fun-filled day.
Tomorrow, we are heading on the first leg of our journey towards Machu Pichu and hitting the hot springs!
Alex and Ryan