Days 40-49: From Lima Back to Arequipa
Trip Start Oct 15, 2013
34Trip End Ongoing
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We also were excited to go back to Arequipa. It's snowcapped volcanic backdrop is a site one will never get tired of. The city is also known as the "White City" due to the colonial buildings being made of white volcanic stone. Definitely the most beautiful city in Peru (we found). Our first time in Arequipa we were unable to try a lot of local cuisine but after hearing many limeños rave about how great Arequipa's food was we are ready to search and find out this month.
We arrived at our volunteer house in Arequipa on November 24th and were greeted by Mel who is a grad student from England doing a year long internship with TNT. Our volunteer house is located in a district called Cayma which is only a 20 minute stroll to the downtown/historic centre. Mel spent a few hours showing us around the house and Cayma, which we were relieved to see that both were very nice and safe. We met all the other volunteers that day. Funnily enough all spoke english as their first language.
Our first two days were free so we spent time settling in and roaming around Cayma to find a monthly gym membership
On our third day Mel brought us to the orphanage to meet the children, go over our tasks, and also to show us how to get there (40 minute journey through series of walking and a local bus). We are working with 8 kids ages 5 and under plus more older kids who go to school so we would only see them in the afternoons and weekends. The orphanage is run by full time local volunteers (mostly women who the children call "Tia" which is "aunt" in spanish) and they run fully on donations. The government sends them children who were abandoned or from families incapable of looking after them but does not give any funding.
After only an hour with the kids they were already growing on us
The following afternoon we had our first full shift at the orphanage. Mel joined us to help us get our bearings. We spent most of the day getting to learn each kid's personality and also names (names were challenging to remember!). At the end of our first day we were surprised to see our day consisted of playing with the kids. We also felt like we were starting to grow on the children in a very positive way. It was adorable to see how all the boys clung to Matt who they call "Mateo" as male volunteers were not as common.
The next day we learned that our tasks were not all fun and games as I was thrown straight into the nitty gritty duty of changing diapers (only females can change diapers leaving me with a good 6-7 dirty diapers in a row after the lunch time nap)
Throughout the week we spent three more days (morning shifts) at the orphanage. We got more involved with the domestic duties such as feeding the kids, cleaning, dishes, etc. We learned understanding and taking direction from the full time Tia's would be our biggest challenge who didn't speak or understand any English. This can also work to our advantage as it does a lot to help us build on our understanding of the language. We were extremely flattered to be invited to eat breakfast with the Tia's and director each day as we were told they only ask volunteers they liked. Though it was slightly awkward at times sitting there in moments of silence because no one understood the other it was still progress to learning each other's language as we would ask them words in Spanish and vice versa.
We ended off the week with taking the kids to Dinosaur Park with all the volunteers. The trip was covered by two Dutch volunteers who fundraised at home. The younger kids almost seemed overwhelmed as we first stepped into the huge park filled with giant dinosaurs and playgrounds. Within 20 minutes or so they were all loving it. Even though we were only at the park for 3 hours every child was asleep on the 20 minute cab ride home.