Submitted by Robert Angus
From March 13-April 2 the Grade 10 class at The Fernie Academy went on a three-week trip to Peru. We spent the first two weeks at a boy’s home outside of the capital of Peru, Lima, called Centro de Integration de Menores con Amor (CIMA) and our last week was spent in the beautiful Sacred Valley, the center of the ancient Incan civilization.
After over 12 hours of travelling we arrived in Lima, and as we stepped off the plane it felt so much different, mostly due to the heat and humidity. The next morning, after a small rest, we began our journey to CIMA. We drove through Lima, a giant city with over eight million people living there. After about an hour or two we arrived in the valley of Cieneguiella. To get to CIMA we walked across a narrow bridge that was probably 100 metres long over a rushing river, with a water content that showed it had been raining in the mountains the week before. As soon as we arrived to CIMA we were welcomed by some of the boys and introduced to the staff. Within an hour we were settled in and playing soccer with the boys.
During the two weeks of volunteering at CIMA we built a roof and put siding on their sewage treatment plant, helped out on the farm by feeding the guinea pigs (cuy), rabbits and pigs, helped prepare the meals, planted grass, worked in the greenhouse, and my personal favourite – herded goats and a cow named Candy. We also made bracelets, painted and played some music, or tried to at least. It was hard work sometimes, but the time we spent there was fantastic and we definitely made some friends.
One day we went to the slums of Lima and we visited a school. It was incredible seeing what the nuns and the community had built in order to provide an education for so many kids. The slums were sad though, with entire families living in tiny houses smaller than my personal room, and yet they were grateful for what they had and even offered us some of their bottled water, which was undoubtedly expensive for them. It was definitely one of the hardest parts of the trip and it opened my eyes to how hard life is in some places and it also showed me how CIMA is able to help the boys in their care, changing their lives.
Our last week was spent travelling in the Sacred Valley. Cusco was beautiful with its architecture dating back hundreds of years. It was chilly, which was nice after the heat of Lima, but the altitude was very noticeable. Our first day was spent hiking though the Pisac Ruins, which was incredible because you could see how the Incans lived long ago. The next day we travelled to the small mountain village of Patabamba were we spent the night in rooms that were prepared for us by the villagers, and we were welcomed with a beautiful ceremony. The next morning was spent giving out donations of clothing that we brought with us from Canada. The people of the community were so grateful for that, as they went through bag after bag carrying around their new clothes and smiling.
We went to salt mines in Maras and visited Moray, an Incan greenhouse. We also went to the ruins in Ollantaytambo, the last stand of the Incans, which was spectacular. Our second to last day was spent at Machu Picchu and climbing the Mountain behind the ruin, called Wyna Picchu. The hike was difficult and slightly terrifying, but literally wonderful. The time in the Sacred Valley was phenomenal and showed us a totally different culture than we had experienced during our first two weeks.
The trip was amazing and was definitely my favourite. It was hard at times, but it was worth it. We were able to give donations to people in need and it was a humbling and very gratifying experience being able to see the happiness that we were able to bring them with little effort. It was also a great way to improve my soccer skills as well as my Spanish. The trip to Peru was a great experience, seeing the slums of a giant city and a world wonder, seeing houses made out of some 2×4’s and churches and ruins that used to be covered in gold, it changed the way I think about the world and gave me a better awareness of the people around me.