Hola from the Amazon rainforest!
It’s been an incredible week of travel and service here in Peru. We made our way down from the mountains into the beautiful city of Arequipa, otherwise known as La Ciudad Blanca, or the White City, for the number of white limestone buildings. Arequipa is an old Spanish colonial city, so it gave us that European city feel.
While in Arequipa, we spent our days doing community service at a home for people with special needs and homeless children. It was an emotional place to be but gave the group a new perspective and appreciation for all that they have in their lives. They were so happy to feel the positive impact they had on the people living there as well.
During our service, we split into groups to clean the facility, prepare lunch for them, sort through donations, and prepare a new garden. Many of the local children even came to help our program members. It was amazing to see kids from such different cultures and backgrounds coming together and working side by side.
Our evenings in Arequipa consisted of different programs such as trivia, movie night, and even a photo scavenger hunt in teams throughout the city.
Next, we boarded a plane and made our way to the Amazonian city of Iquitos. As soon as we stepped off the plane, we felt like we had entered a seemingly different world. The vegetation, animals, food, and climate are all so unique to this region, and the group is loving it.
Our guide, Scarlett is from the jungle region of Peru and has been sharing new words, stories, and legends with us to prepare for our time in the Amazon.
While in Iquitos, we worked in the Belen community which is one of the poorest regions in Peru. We worked at an elementary school, where our program members played with some of the local students. These kids were mostly illiterate, and for many, their entire world is and will always be this one district. For this reason, the teachers emphasized how important it was for us to be there and show them that there is more to the world than Belen.
Although the kids did not speak English, we quickly got over the language barrier and enjoyed playing with the kids, asking them questions in Spanish, and working with them to beautify their school. One of the most moving parts of the experience was when we got to walk the kids home and visit their homes. This was very powerful for many program members as they discovered the living conditions that were these children’s reality. It was very impactful to see how little the people in this community had, yet how joyful they still were.
After our service in the Belen district, we returned to the hotel to relax by the pool and got ready to explore the beautiful boulevard at the banks of the Amazon.
Next we will board a boat and make our way deeper into the rainforest to spend three amazing days at the Muyuna Lodge enjoying the sights and sounds of this unbelievable place.
The Westcoast Blogger