Sunday 10th July bright and early, the orange kit bags began to appear on the concourse at Gatwick Airport, with 28 excited students ready for the journey of a lifetime. All the hard work had been done with 2 years of fundraising, gathering kit and anticipation, luggage checked, parents hugged, we were off to Peru at last.
Arriving in Lima we were met by Miguel and Miguel, who were to be our guides for the trip, we set off for our first b&b just for an overnight before travelling on to Cusco; thankfully we opted to fly - we did meet with other groups who travelled by bus for 22hours!
Three days were spent acclimatising in Cusco, getting used to altitude and drinking in the culture, it was an amazing introduction to Peru.
The second phase started with us splitting into our two groups, quite emotional as the girls would not see each other for the next 10 days. One group did the project phase in the mountains, working in the community, using very primitive plastering techniques to finish a bedroom. This entailed marching in mud while treading in hay to prepare the plaster—great fun1 The second group started off to trek the Salkantay trail (4400m).
On returning to Cusco we prepared for the next phase which was to travel by air to Chulacanas where we had been invited by the Bishop: what a wonderful man and such hospitality; the girls thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Then back to Lima and on to Huccachina for sand surfing and dune buggy riding in the most enormous sand dunes.
The trip came to a close with the celebration of two 18th birthdays in a restaurant called Desert Nights in the dunes and the most delicious barbecue and birthday cakes.
We arrived back to reality at the end of July with a group of students who had had a truly life changing experience.
Peru was such an amazing experience and we both really enjoyed our time there. One of the highlights of our trip was visiting Machu Pichu. We had to wake up at 2.00am if we wanted to get to the coaches first, and we did. The views were beautiful and the historical knowledge that we gained was very beneficial.
The entire team really immersed themselves into the Peruvian culture, trying new foods and buying traditional hand-made clothing. We learnt may things from our experience, including appreciation.
By Roisin Neligan-Ayling and Zara Hill
I would like to thank Sr. Paula, Mrs. Stevens and Mr. Melling for their support not only this year but for ALL the trips that they have been there for, as without them they would not have been possible.