Hello students and families!
We (Mónica, Teto and Raquel) are running around Urubamba making sure that everything is ready for your arrival. We are very much looking forward to meeting you in person. For now, we want to share with you our itinerary for our time in Peru:
September 1st-7th – Casita Huarán
Upon arrival at Cusco’s International Airport, the field staff (also known as ‘instructors’) will pick up students at the airport and make our way to a permaculture center in the outskirts of Urubamba situated near the town of Calca. Casita Huarán is a family-run eco-lodge located in Huarán about 30 minutes via transport from Urubamba. It is tucked away in a beautiful spot, with a vibrant agricultural project, excellent home-grown food, and hiking options right outside the back door. Tania, our hostess, will welcome us with open arms and the group will settle into a private space in order to acclimate to the Andean altitude (~2,800 meters) and begin orienting ourselves to our new surroundings.
We begin with carefully facilitated activities to learn about cultural and safety norms, set individual and group goals, and form a supportive and productive group culture. Participants begin survival Spanish language classes, introductory sessions to Andean history and culture, and the first stages of our Learning Service curriculum progression. In between orientation activities and workshops, students have the opportunity to explore the surrounding natural and historical places in the area.
September 7th-10th – Paru Paru, Parque de la Papa
Feeling well acclimated and adjusted after our orientation and exploration of surrounding sites, we travel outside of Pisac to a sustainable community development and conservation project in the community of Paru Paru which is located in Parque de la Papa (Potato Park). Comprised of six indigenous communities and spanning over 9,000 hectares, Parque de la Papa works to maintain traditional agricultural and land management techniques, as well as advocating for the preservation of hundreds of potato species endemic to the region.
During our time in Paru Paru we will dive further into our learning service curriculum and participate in service initiatives in conjunction with the Parque de la Papa community leaders. Depending on specific community-identified needs, learning service practice may include learning about planting potatoes, learning about medicinal plants and their uses, adobe brick-making, and weaving. Daily life in Parque de la Papa is still governed by traditional Andean community leadership concepts, such as the notion of ayni, which is often translated as “reciprocity,” but encompasses much more than a single phrase; individuals and communities still embody a cultural value of helping each other in reciprocal exchange without material compensation, which can stand in surprising contrast to more transactional economic models.
Our hope is that you will leave Parque de la Papa with a stronger understanding of grassroots community leadership models and a firsthand introduction to subsistence agriculture and the pressing issues confronting agrarian communities.
September 11th-November 30th – Urubamba
During our time in Urubamba we will take part in a number of different civic placement sites focused on Environmental Sustainability and Ecotourism; Community and Business Development; or Community Health. During the mornings each student will go to their placement sites and in the afternoon we will have Spanish classes and time for homework. In the evenings you can spend time with your family and at least once a week we will meet as a group. These group activities might include attending talks from local experts in the areas we are doing our learning service, watching a film, or sharing a meal together. During our time in Urubamba we will have plenty of weekends to explore our surroundings. We will plan a number of short outings to places surrounding Urubamba for you all to get a better feel of the beautiful and bountiful valley you are in.
October 4th-6th – Machu Picchu
Over the course of a long weekend, we head to the spectacular site of Machu Picchu. We will stay in the town of Aguas Calientes and at dawn we will ascend the many steps to the gateway of the Lost City of the Inca.
October 25th-28th – Wayqecha Amazon Rainforest
During this long weekend, we travel to southeastern Peru to the Kosñipata Valley. Here we visit a permanent field research station focused on cloud forest ecology and management. There will be opportunities to learn about conservation and biodiversity in Peru as well as explore some of the well-maintained, geo-referenced trails around the research station. This research station is in the cloud forest along the Andes-Amazon corridor on the edge of Manu National Park. Approximately four hours from Urubamba.
November 30th-December 4th – Quillabamba
During our last week in Peru, we will travel to a small community known for its rich coffee production for the final stage of the program which we call ‘Transference’. Overlooking lushly forested hills and waking to the sounds of birds, we will reflect on lessons learned, discuss strategies for integrating the experience into daily life at Tufts, and set goals for the future. These final days are a chance to reflect, synthesize, and celebrate the journey of the past three months.
December 5th – Cusco
On the 5th of December we will fly out of the city of Cusco and say goodbye to the space that has held us for the last three months.