In 2012, I spent two months abroad in a continent I haven’t been before. I’ve always wanted to travel and experience a different culture and to spend an extended time in a place where language, way of life, beliefs and altitude are different from what I’ve been used to. It gave me a 180 degree turn with my perspectives in life. Up to this date, my Peruvian experience is still one of the best trips I’ve taken. And it all started in this town: Cusco.
Everything just fell into place. That’s how this trip came through. When I first heard of volunteering abroad, I wanted to do the same. I knew right away where I wanted to go and what kind of volunteer job I wanted to take on. I wanted to go to Peru and see Machu Picchu so I started researching on it. Then it just happened. I was going to hike the Inka Trail Machu Picchu, but was going to volunteer prior to that and will travel around after that. Next thing I knew, my contract job ended earlier than expected and my 3-week volunteer vacation became 2 months.
I took on volunteering with children, something I was very interested in doing. Peru is not as privileged as the US or most European countries. There are many children who are orphans, most living below the poverty line. For my first volunteer assignment, we brought breakfast and toys, toilet papers and coloring books to a precinct where runaways were taken and held for stealing food or clothes. My second assignment was in an orphanage run by nuns, where disabled children didn’t have enough diapers or toothbrushes.
It was heartbreaking to see that that was someone else’s reality. I, for one, know that I can’t give those children everything that they deserve to have. Yet seeing them smile makes me think that I made their minute/hour/day better in some way and that to me is more than rewarding.
This post was planned to show and describe how beautiful Cusco is, but seeing these photos made me more nostalgic of my time spent in that lovely town. I guess it happened again. Everything just fell into place.
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