Duke of Ed Peru Gold Trip: The Pleasure of the Unexpected

To be honest, I don’t think any of us knew what to expect when we stepped off the plane in Lima on day 1 of our adventure, not even the returning students. No two trips are ever alike, and the Duke of Ed Gold Trip to Peru was probably the most eye opening experience any of us ever had.

What started off as a 4-day community service project in the shantytown of Las Palmas, ended up being the most fulfilling and selfless event any of us ever did. From making cement from scratch to adding it to the first floor of a roof on a small building and everything in between, the 30 hours of service we did created lasting memories and unimaginable experiences.

From there we traveled to the city of Cuzco, the ancient capital of the Incan empire. Guided by Trans Andes co-workers—Alex, Olivier and Greco—our 4 day, 3 night hike proved to be a lot more then just 30 hours of walking over 75 km. The surreal scenery in the midst of a magical mountain range known as the Andes tired us all out, but made real trekkers out of us.

Needless to say only three people didn’t get sick at least once throughout the entire trip, the problem was never missing a bed to get better in, but rather always missing the day’s activities.

If there’s one thing I learned from this trip, poverty does indeed exist and is very real. But even in the saddest of conditions, Peruvians find a way to always smile and work from dawn to dusk to make their lives more accommodating to their community and to ours.

Nighttime was never without lack of activity. From long walks in the cool air through Lima, to dancing Salsa and swimming at Markham College, to playing soccer with locals before bed in a small village during our trek, the diesiocho LCC students and four teachers on this trip were really shown the true bright colours that Peru has to offer.

Folkloric dancing, insane water parks, high altitudes and positive attitudes kept us busy for 14 days, but what kept us going was the encouragement and willingness to aid others. This trip will no doubt stay in the minds of everyone on that trip forever, the only question remains, when will we be back? — Jacob-Ray Falutz ’12

Peru: A New Adventure

Wow, I cannot believe that one month has already passed since I arrived in Lima. This trip has been more amazing than I ever imagined, the friends I’ve made, the places I’ve been to and the things I’ve seen are all unbelievable. Since I DSC_0587arrived, everyone has been very welcoming and so kind. My Spanish is improving, my understanding of the language is great and everyday I learn something new. I still have trouble speaking but I manage to explain myself with all the different words I know.

During my first week in Lima, I saw some familiar faces when I joined the LCC group on the Gold Duke of Ed trip for the afternoon at a service project in Las Palmas. Even though I only stayed for a couple of hours it was great fun helping, getting covered in cement and seeing all of the work LCC has done in the past year or so.

This week I went to Lunahuana on a four day trip as a counselor with 11 year old kids. Getting to know the kids was my favourite part. I had a group of 12 kids and we were three counselors: a French exchange student, a Markham Grade 11 student and myself. The kids all practiced their English with me which I really appreciated. I got very close to them and it was a different experience as before I had always been a camper but never a counselor. It was great to switch roles!

My favourite activity was white water rafting in level 3 rapids. We took part in lots of other activities like horse riding through the Peruvian mountains, zip-lining across a river, repelling and rock climbing and Inca-teering (exploring the old houses of the Incas, the founders of Cusco). Finally, we performed a service activity when we went to a primary school and made a vegetable garden!

Le weekend prochain, j’irai à Cusco et a Macchu Pichu ( une des sept merveilles du monde). Nous partirons pour cinq jours durant le congé de Paques. Je suis tres excitée mais en même temps un peu decue car une fois de retour de ce petit voyage dans les montagnes, il me restera seulement 4 jours à Lima et ensuite c’est le retour vers Montréal. Je suis tellement triste que cette merveilleuse experience se termine mais toute bonne chose doit avoir une fin!–Eloise MacIntosh ’14

Peru Exchange: New is Cool!

Ever since arriving in Peru, things are very different—and it all started with the airport. When I arrived, I got a little lost because I couldn’t really understand the Spanish signs telling me where to go. But the airport is definitely not an interesting thing about Peru; there are much better things.

My first day of school was awesome. I met so many new people and wandered around getting lost looking for the classes. Even though people would tell me where to go, I still got lost. It was kind of scary when we drove up to the school. There are huge fences that have wires on the top with certain entrances with security guards watching. It was kind of scary but after a while I got used to it. The school itself is very different from what I’m used to. Everything is outside; only the classrooms are inside. The lockers are like you see in movies, with the locks built into the lockers and set up outdoors. On my first day for some reason the benches around the school intrigued me. The benches are made out of big pieces of wood with a straw cover on top of them. It looks really cool.

The first weekend, Eloise, Camila (her exchange student), Matias (my exchange student) and I went to a friend’s beach house, which was also like the movies. We drove on a dirt road overlooking a big cliff and then arrived at this garage. We walked down stairs for five minutes and then we got to this amazing house, which was completely built into the rocks and looked awesome! The house had an amazing view of the bay with really awesome boats anchored in the middle with the desert in the background. I didn’t really understand why there was a desert behind but it was just huge mountains of sand. Spending the weekend at this home was a real luxury.

During the first real week at school I learned how to get around and made many friends. The kids are really nice here. The school day is a little different from my usual routine. I wake up at 6:00 am to make it to school by 7:00 am. Classes start at 7:30. We have 40 minutes for lunch and a 25-minute break at 9:30. School ends at 2:40 pm. It makes our daily schedule at LCC look so much better. The one thing I am excited for is to getting back to waking up late, or at least 7:00 am at home.

The fruit here is probably my favourite thing. They have awesome smoothies and I have one or a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice every morning. Sometimes I go to Wong’s, which you can’t compare to any grocery store because it is too awesome. They sell 1 litre of fresh squeezed orange juice for 6.50 solos, which is about $2.30 (CDN). I love just eating fruit, and the mango is awesome! The school sells food too. The price is reasonable and it’s great! Their juice boxes are better than our Tropicana!

The two other weekends that I have been here, I’ve gone to the host family’s beach house. It is also amazing and very relaxing. I tried windsurfing at the beach. One weekend the wind was very strong so I didn’t have much success and the second weekend there was not enough wind. On the way to the beach there is a shop that sells small little breads (I’m not really sure how to describe them). They are very good and cost 2 solos for 10; not even $1 (CDN). They’re made in wood burning pizza ovens and smell amazing. There are long lines for the bread because everyone stops even though it is in the middle of nowhere. The only thing they sell is the bread, Coca Cola, and Inca Kola. In my opinion, Inca Kola really isn’t that good. To me, it tastes a lot like very bad bubble gum.

Yesterday, I went on a community service activity after school to this building that I think Markham owns. They are going to send students there to teach the young kids after school and tutor them. The students are still painting the building. I went yesterday to help out and we ended up tutoring a 9-year-old child. I was with a friend from school and she was teaching him, but because I don’t really speak Spanish well, I couldn’t really talk with him. He was a very fun little kid though who loved playing soccer, or this game where you catch the ball and try to throw it at someone (very silly game).

Tomorrow all of the exchanges and some S5s (grade 11s) and also the P6s (grade 6s) are going to Lunahuana. It is a four-day trip that’s a lot like the LCC grade 7 Nominingue trip. I am going as a counselor, which will be fun. I am very excited to meet the kids. We will be going rafting, Incateering, climbing, horseback riding, and hiking. It should be great.

My Spanish has improved but I still can’t understand everything and can’t speak very well. I know a few important things to make sure I can get home or get food. It’s coming along slowly. Most of the time at the beach everyone speaks Spanish so I try my best to understand but they speak very fast so it’s a challenge.

About a week ago one of my friends from Canada, Kristen, was in Peru visiting friends and family because she used to go to school here. She took me to her old school which was an American international school called Roosevelt. I was surprised to find out that even the social life was in English. It was nice to have a break from all the Spanish and hear some American accents. It is very tough to not understand anything that most people are saying, I remember the first week; by the end of the day I needed a break and wanted to go to bed early because I was looking forward to dreaming in English.

I made some friends from the American school and hopefully before I leave I can get together with them. It was very nice to see Kristen because she gave me a great tour of the city and also took me to some places I never would have seen.

So far Peru has been one of the coolest trips of my life and I’m excited to see what happens next, or what happens at Lunahuana. –Malich Altman ’14

Duke of Ed Gold Trip 2012: Peru Expedition Update

March 8, 2012

Upon my return to Peru, I did not know what to expect. I would soon find out that, although many landmarks were familiar to me, I was seeing everything in a completely new light. I was wiser and the shantytowns of Lima didn’t shock me. Rather they incited me to want to get to work immediately!

We spent four days in Las Palmas completing our community service project, which included a new set of stairs, a new fence, a fresh coat of paint and a new roof. By the fourth day, every student had mixed feelings about leaving Las Palmas. Although we may have been filled with excitement with the prospects of beginning the hike in Cusco, we would be leaving behind a community to which we had grown very close.– Emily Tiberi ’12

Five days ago, eighteen LCC students who would work on the service project in Las Palmas flew into the desert city, Lima. With last years experience doing the service project and the Salkantay Trek, I didn’t feel nervous. I was rather excited to see how things had changed over a year.

Every morning, when driving to Las Palmas, I noticed that the poverty levels hadn’t changed. The chaotic way of life and the number of shantytowns stacked on the desert was the same. It seemed as if I had not left Peru last March. When working at the community, the locals treated us with the same respect and warmth they had shown us in 2011. I remembered their names and faces and so did they. Under the scorching heat, we worked on the concrete roof until the very last minute. Today, we fly to Cusco. We are anxious about the hike, but at the same time, excited to walk the same path where Incas and adventurers explored.– Kenya Shatani (Pre-U ’12)

Peru Exchange – Life Changing

Blog_Peru2011As I sat on the airplane leaving Montreal, I had no idea what to expect. Peru was completely unknown to me. Although, I was extremely nervous, I was ready to embrace the six-week adventure that stood before me. I have been here for about two weeks now and I can honestly say I’m having the time of my life.

Although I have only been in Lima, Peru, for 11 days, I have already made memories that will last me a lifetime. The minute I arrived, I was greeted with the friendliest people. Everyone here is incredibly warm and kind. Even though I don’t speak Spanish, I was amazed that it didn’t stop me from making friends. People are always happy to translate or clue me in on what everyone is talking about. The other day, I woke up and automatically said « Hola ». Peru has inspired me to hopefully be fluent some day.

In only so little time, Peru is already changing me. I cannot wait to continue my stay here. Coming up I will be participating on the rugby team and going to Machu Picchu. –Alexia Miller ’13