Christian, Evan, Joe and Matthew are completing their service assignments in and around the city of Cusco. The Cusco region is located in the Andes of southeastern Perú. The region’s capital city of Cusco, which sits at just over 11,000 ft., was once the capital of the Inca empire and is a major tourist destination. Incan stonework still be seen throughout the city and outlying areas, blended together with Spanish colonial architecture.
Christian is living in San Jerónimo, on the outskirts of Cusco, and is working in his host family’s carpentry business. Evan and Joe are living in the town of Lucre, about 30 minutes outside of Cusco. Evan is teaching English to primary students at
Escuela 50513 Yanamanchi, and Joe is living and working with the Ayma Clemente family. Matthew is living about 20 minutes further down the road in the town of Andahuaylillas, where he is working with choirs in the town’s chapter of Sinfonía por el Perú.
Christian stands with his host brother, also named Cristian, and his host dad, Rolando. The three work in the carpentry workshop, along with Christian’s host mom Francisca.
Christian stains some pieces for customized shelving that his family is working on.
Hard at work!
Though they specialize in custom furniture pieces, the workshop also fills lots of orders for various types of doors.
Christian shows us a bar top that they had to remove through a third story window. The piece will be resized and given an updated look in the workshop.
Christian points out the spot just up the hill where he will have the opportunity to translate for a local medical campaign of American doctors next week.
Aaron enjoys playing with Christian’s host dog, Body.
Christian’s parents have a small plot where they grow corn, squash, oca (a type of potato) and quinoa. This corn is drying so it will be ready to make cancha — toasted, salted corn which is a common meal accompaniment in Perú.
Rolando and Christian are ready to try out Francisca’s ají de gallina.
Christian poses by the excellent view from his bedroom window.
Christian is surrounded by his host family — mother, Francisca, brother Cristian, and father, Rolando.
Matthew stands on the steps of San Pedro Apóstol de Andahuaylillas. The church is known as the ‘Sistine Chapel of the Andes’ for the beauty of its murals, painted in the early 1600s.
Sinfonía por el Perú was started 7 years ago by world-famous Peruvian tenor, Juan Diego Flórez. After visiting the program El Sistema in Venezuela, Flórez was inspired to bring this program of music for social change to his home country.
Matthew and choir director Milagros rehearse a new song they will teach the youth choir.
Students look at the rhythm they will use in their new piece.
Then they practice it with their claves.
Finally, they are ready to sing it. Matthew accompanies.
Children in the Kinder choir jump from square to square on the beat.
Matthew helps to keep the steady beat going.
The Kinder choir sings their favorite song about a donkey.
The Andahuaylillas chapter also has a strings program.
Matthew stands outside his front door in the town of Andahuaylillas, which has about 6,000 inhabitants.
Matthew’s host mom, Yoni, prepares our lunch..
Willy, Matthew, Rachel, Leah and Aaron enjoy some mote (hominy) before the meal.
Matthew’s host dog, Nena, has figured out how to open the window to his room to let herself in.
Scott and Willy check out the view from Matthew’s roof.
Matthew stands with host mom, Joni, and brothers Mauricio, and Jhino.
Evan stands outside Escuela 50513 Yanamanchi.
Evan teaches English to every class, grades 1-6.
On the day of our visit, students and teachers were celebrating Día del Maestro, Day of the Teacher. Everyone was in the yard making huatia.
Huatia is an oven built of rocks or earth over a fire pit.
Potatoes are loaded inside the oven. Eventually the dome is collapsed and the potatoes are cooked by the hot earth.
Students dig out the cooked potatoes.
The principal gives us a sample of the potatoes that have recently been dug out of the oven.
Evan leads us to his family’s chacra, or field, where they grow their food. All families in town have a piece of land.
The corn has been recently harvested, and Evan had the pleasure of whacking all the corn stalks down afterwards.
In addition to corn, the family grows alfalfa to feed their animals.
Evan poses with his host grandma, and his mom Margarita.
Joe’s extended family owns this trout farm and trout restaurant. There are many trout farms on the outskirts of Lucre which bring hundreds of people from Cusco on the weekends to eat fresh trout.
Joe poses by the laundry station in the backyard.
Joe shares his bathroom with these guinea pigs.
Joe’s host dad, Bethel, shows a yoke he has been working on. It will be used in the next few weeks when they begin planting corn. Joe was able to help with the wheat harvest. Wheat was cut by hand and then trampled by a team of donkeys. Joe got to lead the donkeys.
These ducklings are the smallest animals that Joe’s family cares for. They also have a large herd of cattle currently grazing about a two-hour hike away on a nearby hilltop.
Joe is a much sought after playmate in his neighborhood. This spin is one of his signature moves.
Joe gazes up at the níspero tree in the yard of the trout restaurant. The fruit will be ready to be picked in about two weeks.
Joe stands with his host dad, Bethel, his mother, Erica, and his little sister Victoria.
Leah and Aaron enjoy frolicking by the river in front of the trout restaurant.
Evan and Joe are loving life in Lucre.
The Cusco crew enjoys a night out together in downtown Cusco.