One Month in Huancayo
Trip Start Jan 31, 2005
45Trip End Mar 30, 2006
Our month in Huancayo was busy but gratifying. Our typical day: wake up at 6:45 (what, is this the real world or something?), breakfast with our host family, and out the door around 7:40. We took a colectivo (basically a shared taxi on a specified route) to the orphanage and taught our first class from about 8:00 to 9:15. Jeff taught a group of older, more advanced students, and Allison taught a group of younger, very basic level students. Allison's group in the morning was pretty challenging - a few memorable days involved kids punching each other and then hiding under tables to escape the minor discipline we attempted (as in, "Go sit with Jeff's class...") Pretty much confirmed that Allison is not destined to work with young children
We lived in the outskirts of Huancayo with a very nice family, which consisted of Abel (the dad), Marisol (the mom) and Romina (their two and half-year-old daughter). They lived in a small house located above several small stores near a big outdoor market
The days and weeks passed unbelievably quickly and despite the occasional challenges we had an excellent experience. There are several talented kids in our orphanage classes who we think of often and hope that they will have the happy and fulfilled lives they deserve. We also made good friends with many of the teachers and support staff at the language institute and are happy to have had the opportunity to have learned much about Peru. We particularly left admiring the two people managing the volunteer program - Natalia and Aldo - they are both very talented and have a lot of vision for a country with many challenges.
In addition to our work at the orphanages and language institute, we had the opportunity to see a lot of the city of Huancayo and the surrounding valley
Our most memorable excursion was during our last two days in the area. We went with Aldo (one of the volunteer coordinators, as well as a mountain guide), two other current volunteers and a former volunteer to a nearby mountain called Huaytapallana. We left on a Saturday morning and took a mini-bus up to the mountain, stopping along the way at a village that was decimated by the Shining Path about 15 years ago (it was a prosperous village with thousands of head of sheep, which were almost all killed, along with several villagers)
From that village we headed up to the start of our hike and were surprised at how cold it was (we started around 4,000 meters (about 13,000 feet)). Hats, gloves and scarves on, we hiked for about 2 hours past mountain streams and llamas to our camping spot, which was located pretty much at the base of the glacier of Huaytapallana at around 5,000 meters (16,500 feet). After setting up camp and eating lunch, we took a walk to a nearby teal-colored mountain lagoon below the glacier and then took a path up a ridge to get even closer to the snow. It was cold, but really beautiful. The night was long, as our sleeping bags were somewhat lacking and our tent was... crowded. Have you ever actually put four people in a four-person tent with backpacks? Not much room to spare. Got up the next morning and took another walk towards the glacier, came back to the campsite, had lunch and then walked back down to meet our bus back. Despite the cold, it was a good trip. For one thing, we were impressed by how acclimatized we have gotten to altitude - no problems hiking even at 5,000 meters. Only took two and a half months to get to this point... After a trip to a sauna/Turkish bath in Huancayo with all of the other people on our hiking trip (popular in highland towns, as many houses don't have hot water), we said our goodbyes and took an overnight bus to Lima.
Huancayo was a wonderful experience. We want to give a big thanks to the people behind Peru For You and all of our friends at the language institute, not to mention all of you back home who generously contributed to their work.