Hola from Peru! Where to begin after such an incredible first week of our month-long adventure?! Starting off, we landed in beautiful Lima, the capital of Peru. After a traditional Peruvian breakfast we headed out into the city for our guided tour of Lima. We saw the Love Park, a beautiful mosaic-encrusted park inspired by the work of Gaudi, famous for his architectural feats in the Spanish city of Barcelona. Then we headed back to the airport to fly to Iquitos where our next activities awaited us, beginning with some fun, sun and bonding at our hotel pool.
While in Iquitos, we had the opportunity to share an incredibly rewarding experience with each other during our community service project in the Belen neighborhood. We worked with the young children of the village to paint and decorate their schoolhouse. Dozens of young Peruvian children worked with our group to paint the walls, paint book boxes and create decorations. During our evening discussion about the days’ events, our program members shared how much they appreciated the work completed, and seemed genuinely moved by the impact they made on this deserving community.
After leaving our mark on Iquitos, it was time to make our way into the jungle. We boarded speedboats and buzzed our way down the Amazon River, the longest river in the world. We arrived at our eco-lodge, greeted with smiling faces and freshly-squeezed passion fruit juice, made using the fruit from the very trees which surrounded us. During our time in the jungle, we saw new insects, animals and what the rainforest had to offer. We enjoyed nature hikes, caiman, tarantula and sloth sightings, piranha fishing, watched the sunset over the river and even swam with pink dolphins!
Then we boated a bit further down the river to one of the local villages where we built them a community garden from scratch, nailing the wooden planks together, laying soil and seed, and securing the plants to ensure they would flourish in the upcoming spring. Later we were challenged to a spirited game of fútbol by a group of local boys from the village, so we ran and laughed with them, while kicking the ball around with this group of very talented players. The next day, we left the Amazon and made our way back to the city of Iquitos.
Next up, whitewater rafting and Machu Picchu in the hills of Southern Peru… stay tuned!
The Westcoast Blogger
Always wanted to visit the Amazon? Look at our 15-day and 28-day community service opportunities!