I've been back from South America for a week now, so naturally people are bugging me to see photos. I don't even want to tell you how many photographs I took, and narrowing it down to a succinct representation of the adventure is a pretty huge endeavor.
We left Canada on February 17, 2012. I had to fly to Toronto first to meet my mom and some others from Halifax based organization Chalice, and from there we flew the 8 or so hours directly to Lima, Peru. Chalice sponsors over 45,000 children and elderly in 15 developing countries with 92.5% of spending going directly to programs, and in fact were rated the #1 International Aid Agency by MoneySense magazine 2 years in a row.
We got in late on Friday night/Saturday morning and stayed overnight at a hostel in Lima's Miraflores district. The next morning we got up and had breakfast on the beautiful rooftop terrace and made our plan for the day. (Click on the images in this blog post to enlarge them)
We had tons of luggage to take on to the several sponsor sites we were to visit (Note the bus filled to the windows with luggage - everyone was allowed to bring one extra suitcase full of clothing, school supplies, games and sports equipment to leave behind. Thanks Air Canada!) so we stopped at the Sisters of the Good Shepherd's beautiful retreat in the heart of Lima to store some of our things. We soon headed to a sponsor site called PINIFE, a sort of hillside slum village built into Cero el Pino - Pine Mountain. The Sisters run the sponsor site and focus on education, hygeine and nutrition, as well as providing them a venue for workshops, music and dance.
We hiked up the concrete steps in Cero el Pino to the PINIFE site where we were to spend the day. (I was the only one allowed to take pictures, the Peruvians were a little worried about us getting robbed in the slum.) On the way up we met a family whose sole source of income comes from picking through the garbage and finding useful or valuable items. It is a common occupation in Cero el Pino. Most people build their own houses from brick, concrete and things they find, and roofs and floors are often a luxury in this area.
Once we reached the top, we were acquainted with some of the sponsored families and children (and a confetti cannon). We had the pleasure of sitting in on a small church service, and then had lunch complete with a fancy pudding made by one of the PINIFE youth leaders who is studying to be a chef. Some members of our group even got to meet and dine with the children they sponsor.
After lunch everyone in our group participated in some kind of workshop. I had brought a bunch of acrylic & tempera paints that I don't use anymore to donate, so I was put in charge of a rock painting art activity. I had so much fun with the children despite the language barrier, even learned a lot of Spanish from the kids (well, mostly color names... rojo, amarillo, verde, azul...)
Later that afternoon we were treated to a smorgasbord of traditional foods to sample, and some songs and traditional Peruvian dances from the children. It was hard to leave, but we had to get back to the airport to leave for our flight into Bolivia that evening.
We got into Santa Cruz late in the evening in the midst of Carnivale. Exhausted, we collapsed at Casa Kolping which was a REALLY cool hotel. I snapped some photos in the morning before we left.
(Obligatory cat photo.)
From Santa Cruz we still had to drive the several hours to Yapacani, the next sponsor site and the bulk of our journey. I will be writing about our experiences in Yapacani and posting some photographs as soon as I can!