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The Westcoast Connection Blog

Life Changing Experiences

Llama, Alpacas & Wool, Oh My! – Peru Community Service

Dear Peru Community Service Parents, Family and Friends,

Have you ever wondered what the difference is between a llama and an alpaca? Well, we have the answer for you!  We learned that the llama is roughly twice the size of the alpaca and the llama has a very coarse outer coat over a softer inner coat – as opposed to the alpaca, which has a very fine, single coat. In addition, the llama produces far less fiber per animal than the alpaca, despite its much larger size.

Not only did we learn these fascinating facts but, we also had the opportunity to make friends with multiple types of llamas and alpacas.  Zach was the first to connect with a baby llama feeding it grass and playing with it throughout the morning.  Afterwards, we had the chance to learn how to take alpaca wool and spin it onto a spool.  It certainly wasn’t as easy as it looks!  We all grew an appreciation for the hard work these locals go through to produce wool products.  As the group struggled, Claudia emerged as our top spinner as she made spooling look like a piece of cake!  We also had the pleasure to learn how to dye the varying types of alpaca wool with natural plants.  It was a very fun, informative, and interactive day.

Later we went to a traditional feast whereby the locals bury food in the earth and cook it over hot stones.  This process is called pachamanca.  We learned that ‘pacha’ means earth.  It was a very holistic experience.  The food was fresh, and we ate delicious cheese, chicken, lamb, sweet potatoes, and beans.  Oh, and the locals also made us some sweet lemonade!

The next day was just as action packed as the first as we took a scenic mountainous drive to our whitewwater rafting destination.  It was all smiles as we rafted down the river.  Lexi and Alison S. were practicing their skills as guides, while Yuri took helm at the front of the boat and enjoyed getting completely soaked!  The group did manage to stop and take in the surroundings.  Our backdrop included; luscious green mountains, exposed rock, and white rapids.  It was a day well spent.   That evening we enjoyed a relaxing movie night which was the perfect ending to our day on the water and a time to rejuvenate before our last day of service at the orphanage.

Maddie and Julia worked hard at finishing the kitchen.  Max and Allison B. got quite the arm workout as they swung the rope around for jump rope.  The girls loved them for it!  Meanwhile, on the other side of the orphanage Lia was helping the girls with their laundry while Michelle spent her time clearing out the debris from the storage unit that we had begun to clean out on our last visit.  Our designated trip photographer, Allison D., has an outstanding eye for photography and she was there every minute catching the day in photographs.

We ended our day with some “warm and fuzzies” as we taped a piece of paper on the back of each trip member’s back and had each person go around the circle and write anonymously what they admire one another for.  It was a very powerful experience!

We sincerely hope you are having as great as a summer as we are!

Talk soon.

 The Westcoast Blogger