I had a great time here in Cusco, seeing the sights, learning the history, meeting people and learning of their culture, and working with the excited children at the kindergarten. I was rather unlucky however, as I got stress sick and stayed sick for most of the time in country.
1- How was the local ABV Coordinator/staff and the support provided in-country?
Our coordinator was Maria Elena. She was incredibly kind, very caring, and always ready to show us around Cusco and help us out. Whenever we needed anything, she was prepared and happy to help.
2- What was the most surprising thing you experienced?
Program: There was not any particular structure to the kindergarden help experience. It was simply acting as a teacher’s aide.
Country: Everyone was very kind and accepting of us, even though we are obvious foreigners. Most people were willing to speak slowly if we had a hard time understanding their rapid Spanish. As an aside, even the many dogs on the streets were gentle and kind, never aggressive.
3- What was the most challenging thing you experienced?
Country: The altitude. Where I live, we are at sea level, so the major increase in altitude made me rather sick for a while. It takes time to adjust to.
4- Any tips for future volunteers…
1. If you are traveling during Cusco’s winter months, bring plenty of warm clothing for the mornings and evenings, but be prepared to remove layers during the afternoon as it gets hot. Keep in mind that while in the shade you will be cold, when the sun shines you will be very warm or even hot.
2. If you are from an area of a greatly differing altitude and humidity, bring an inhaler and saline nasal spray, as well as packs of tissues.
3. Always carry your passport (or a copy) with you and change. Taxis around town cost about S/ 5 (soles). They are the only easy way to get around town, besides walking, so be sure to carry lots of change.
5.1-Other things volunteers should know before coming here:
a. There are some stray dogs roaming the streets, but do not be afraid. They are very sweet and only want some scraps or some scratches behind the ears from you. Of course, don’t run up to every single dog you come across. Let them come to you, or let them continue to nap on the streets.
b. Do not eat food from street vendors unless it is pre-packaged or has obviously been boiled. Since you are likely not from the area, your body is NOT used to the common bacteria of the area, and there is a good chance you will get sick if you eat the street food.
6- Personal Paragraph about the experience :
I had a great time here in Cusco, seeing the sights, learning the history, meeting people and learning of their culture, and working with the excited children at the kindergarten. I was rather unlucky however, as I got stress sick and stayed sick for most of the time in country. I highly advise any current students to NOT take any summer classes while on this trip, as the mixture of stress and time needed to acclimate to the altitude can and will make you sick. Let this trip be your only focus, and be sure to care for yourself! Drink lots of coca tea and rest when you need it (don’t drink coca tea if you will get drug tested as it shows in your blood). All of the people I came into contact with were kind and patient, excited to see us here to help and interested in who we were and where we were from.
7- How would you describe your accommodation, meals, security, friendliness, quality others:
Our beds were comfortable, the house had two large deadbolt locks as well as a high fence which kept us feeling safe, and the food was delicious. Maria and her household help Sheyla were very kind and encouraging, and always willing to help if we needed it.
8- What was your favorite memory of this trip?:
Program: The children at the program all wanting to play with me and do puzzles together.
Host Family: Maria Valenzuela preparing us coca tea every night for a supper tea time. She was always very kind and understanding, and sat patiently as the other volunteers and myself stumbled over our Spanish. Ella es mi abuela Peruana!
Country: Getting to experience and take part in the local Cuscoian holidays and celebrations, as well as observe Inti Raymi. Machu Picchu and the other ruins were also incredible.
9- How was the ABV USA support prior traveling?
I did not handle many of the emails as my mother and step-father were in charge of this trip, but the few emails I did handle were always easily understood, and any responses I needed were always very fast.
9.1- How did you find Abroaderview website
My step-father and I did a search on Google for good volunteer organizations and services.
10 – Are you willing to speak to other potential ABV volunteers?