Peru Expedition 2009 Part Five: Ollantaytambo Community Project (*WARNING: LOTS OF DESCRIPTION!*)

7th August 2009 - No Role
Friday was spent sorting Transport - arguments avec Maggie - and accommodation - didn't get far - for Puno and Arequipa.
That night we had our first set menu with a pudding! (Half a banana with dark chocolate sauce on top). The service was brilliant and S/10 with two people free.
Unfortunately Ellen and Libby fell ill and had to be moved to another room. Plus the elder lady went to hospital (illness). The male co-owner of the hostel is really dim. Also we think the turkey is dead as it didn't respond to Jo's warbling.
Packing that night was hectic trying to pack away tents and decide what to leave. We all slept well that night.

8th August 2009 - Risk Assessor.
This morning we were out for 7am and took a 30 minute walk to Cuzco bus station where we got on another coach back to Ollantaytambo.
 At the Ollantaytambo plaza we were sitting amongst our bags when Team 2 arrived in a minibus from their turn at the community project.
They told us about where we were going and what to expect roughly. There was a tale of a feral child and to expect lots of soup.
They left about an hour before we finally set off in two minibuses after I convinced the drivers S/20 less is better than us pulling out of a service with them. S/100 = two minibuses in the end. It was a bumpy ride!
*Note: Peruvian driving is officially more thrilling than any roller coaster.
We arrived at some shelters at the bottom of the village and Marshall, Maggie and I went to look for Juan.
Once we got directed to Juan's house we then went back for everyone else and Juan assigned us our families for our stay.
Kagg and I stayed with a thirty-ish year old woman and two young children (Daniel and a little sweet girl). (At the time I caught up on the diary) we (hadn't) talked much apart from "Hola".
We then ate at the same house as Jo and Ellen: we were quite relieved.
Their kitchen is off the house and very dimly lit. We sat down and suddenly saw - and heard - a group of guinea-pigs scuttling around the floor. There were also two cats.
For lunch we had vegetable soup with potato and then three potatoes and rice for seconds (it was dry). Very filling!
After we met at the leaders house and went on a tour of everyone else's rooms. We finished observing and then went to the football pitch to play frisbee. Three kids then came and joined in. "Heads!" was shouted every time a little boy picked up the harder frisbee...
Fairly soon the children were the only ones playing as our fingers began to solidify from the cold.

Gurthej: Ribs!/LOL/CBA/CBF/CBB/Alpaca.
Andy: It's funny coz...
Moreton: Yeah boi!
Sophie: (insert word here)
Ellen: (insert swear word here)
Kagg and Louise: sorry.

We also then found out Libby was in a lot of pain and had to be taken to a doctors with O'Sully and Beth (her buddy).
A group of us then waited for 7:30pm in Louise and Imogen's room. We didn't get up to much.
At 7pm most of us started heading up to Juan's house just because it was warm. We found the guys there already and other people arrived soon after. We had soup (surprise surprise!) and lentils and rice (soooooo delicious)!!
Juan told us we wouldn't be starting work until Monday (it was Saturday) because Sunday is the Day of Rest. He gave us other alternatives.
We left with full stomachs and heavy eyelids.
*Juan's wife and daughter

9th August 2009 - Security.
We didn't have an alarm but I fortunately woke up at 6am and stayed in bed for an hour. About 7:15am we were called for breakfast. Once again we ate with Jo and Ellen's family. It sounded like we had the best breakfast: one fried egg and homemade chips with tea (no milk).
The four of us then trekked up to Juan's house for 8am where we found Andy, Marshall, Maggie and Paul finishing their breakfast.
Most people arrived fairly soon after. Juan told me that nobody left for the church until 9:30am so he showed me where it was and then left us to wait while he cycled into Ollyantaytambo to get building materials for the next day.
While waiting we laughed at some of Sophie's videos of charades and Gurthej continued to amuse us with his awkward conversation.
Around 9:20am we set off around the back of Juan's house and off to the church. The lady who me and Kagg were staying with let us borrow ponchos! It was awesome!!
[Our lightbulb has just gone out (energy saving) and I have moths flying around my face and head torch. We've just had the whole group in here for two hours. Party games, cards and ramble...]

 Libby turned out to have Salmonella (food poisoning) and was taken to hospital in Cuzco. But is being pumped with antibiotics and should be back in a couple of days time.
The church turned out to be a sort of shed (large/long) but slightly run down.
The group sat outside the church for a good half an hour until we got called in. During that time we took pictures of the surroundings and a couple of cute children playing outside. Kagg and I also shared some limelight once we donned our ponchos! :P
In the church guys had to sit on the left side, girls on the right. We started with "Buenos Dias" and then a prayer knelt - rather awkwardly for us because of the general height difference - on a thin strip of wood, followed by lots of "Gracias, Papa!" and "Gracias señor!"
Followed by a song where we all had to clap in time and the villagers sang in Quechua while two banjo players and out of time harmonica player played in the background. The singing was rather high-pitched and off key but it was lovely to hear them so enthusiastic and so involved together.
They then had a guy reading teachings and possibly explaining it too (it was all in Quechua). The only part I got were the Spanish numbers, Jesucristo (Jesus Christ) and the many Gracias papa-s, Gracias señor-s. We then got handed Spanish Bibles/Santa Biblia - the guys didn't take theirs - but somewhere along the line I got asked to read a couple of lines (17:31 Saint Matthew I think). Although I read the right number of the right Saint, I don't know if it was the right teaching.
However, I was pleased I had followed a little and felt proud I had read some. Maggie thought I was brave... :P The others were shocked I did it. I think the Peruvians were appreciative of the effort.
After the first hour though, we started to get fidgety. Especially when the teachings guy began to say 'rick' at the end of every sentence! Very irritating!! Louise, Han B, Sophie and I began playing peek-a-boo with a small girl in the row in front along with a couple of other Peruvian girls and young women. The baby was adorable and had the biggest eyes and smile. She also made the most hilarious growling noises too which had me in silent fits. The mother and auntie couldn't have been more than our age either.
We left just before the end to go back for lunch. Kagg and I sat in Ellen and Jo's room, walked to Juan's house and then back again for a lunch of more potato soup with sliced potatoes and carrots with rice and more tea. We were told we would get meat tomorrow - so we wondered if it would be the matted carcass hanging from the ceiling or one of the furry things running around our feet.
After lunch, Maggie came to find us to take us to a small market down at the shelters where we were dropped off.
As we came round the corner, we turned to see a mass of red (the men) and pink (women).
 The stalls sold most of the same stuff: biscuits, veg and drinks, throws, skirts and cardigans. I bought a couple of throws as presents :)
 After this we walked around the village through the primary school field where some girls were playing football. Up the hill (agony to the lungs) and we searched - and eventually found - a small shop behind Juan's house that Team 2 had told us about. Although it was cheap there wasn't a lot there, but the others bought 'love lollies' for S/0.10 each. 
By then it was pouring with rain so we found the others and came back to our room for two hours of cards and other crazy games as well as a countdown to 7pm. It was hilarious fun!
Then there was a power cut once the others left so we had to use head torches. You could see your breath woosh out in front of you.
It was also fairly eery walking in the village with no light. Although once again, the many stars in the sky were amazing! I don't think I've ever seen so many stars at once. Apparently you could also see the Milky Way too.
Kagg had a giggle fit across the playground/football field. Note: do not feed Kagg sherbet lemons!!!
We met up with Louise and Imogen and made our way up to Juan's house. We found out his daughter is called Rerica and his wife Estefania.
For dinner we had *drum roll* .......................................... soup!! Quinoa soup (veg, lentils and potato in hot water). Then we had fried egg, rice, tomato and half a fried banana (the last two of which I passed on).
Juan then told me what we would be doing tomorrow and I sleepily translated before we stumbled off to our houses.
We had to use our head torches to see what we were doing: awkward!!

10th August 2009 - Environment.
After a couple of times of waking up I woke up around 6:20am today and updated my diary. I could see my breath coming out in puffs in front of me. Up at this altitude (4000m), it is definitely starting to feel like winter! It apparently is this temperature all year round up here!

*We are officially half way through our expedition! One word: wow!*

The children start school today and we have an 8:30am start... 
We had a small plain roll and a cheesy pancake/omelette possibly with spinach?! And more tea.
The guy offered us more but we turned him down due to full stomachs... :3
We then waited until 8:30am when we met the others to start work.
Three quarters of the group hacked at the side of the hill and moved dirt while four of us plus Maggie stripped logs of their bark. It was satisfying taking the whole long strips of bark off.
The wind was quite strong and chilling.
For lunch we had vegetable soup and then rice, potato and chunks of slightly chewy meat. One of the kids tried blowing up two balloons at the same time, much to our amusement.
Arriving slightly late at the site we continued work. I developed a method of hammering the chisel under the bark to lift it up better.
At 3pm exactly we were told to stop and we trekked to the shop. Kagg bought twenty-two lollies. She claims ten each for two of the girls birthdays in Team 2. I had one and she had the twenty-second.
A group of us then came back to Kagg and my room where we had some bizarre conversations and two hours to kill before dinner.
One of the highlights of work today was definitely when Moreton and Gurthej found some little kids who then decided they wanted to help push the empty wheelbarrows back to the hill. Then the kids got bored so Gurt, Moreton and Paul then started pushing up to three at a time in their wheelbarrows. Paul also tried to teaching 'weeeeeeeeeee' to a couple of them (with not a lot of success I believe).
A little boy about knee height came over to us and started hugging Maggie, Moreton and Paul's legs before we started working too. It was really sweet!
We had dinner much later than usual: soup and then a Peruvian stir fry (potato, carrots, peas and tomatoes with rice).
Marshall, Ellen, Jo, Maggie, Louise and I also played two games of whist/trumps (card games). It was good fun!
I went to bed quite soon after as I didn't feel 100%.

11th August 2009 - No role.
Ok. Basically I have flu today and my writing may be a bit strange as I'm writing this lying down.
I woke up several times in the night until 6am I couldn't get back to sleep from the fact my whole body was aching. I can't stand or sit up without feeling nauseous, although I'm getting better.
Maggie sat in the doorway for a good three hours while I slept. Juan gave me a herbally hot drink for my stomach which helped slightly. He said he worries about me because I am the only one who speaks Spanish - probably trying to make me feel better, bless :P
Paul also came in just before Maggie. He said that if Sophie and I were to lead our own expedition in a years time, we would intimidate the boys and silence them in a corner - which he would love to see: classic Paul.
Kagg came and slept for an hour from exhaustion, apparently she's been sleeping for twelve hours each day between the end of GCSEs and the expedition!
Gurthej came in just before lunch and told us he'd sprained his leg (!) and so Paul had had him stripping logs which he wasn't very pleased about.
Then after lunch Jo, Sophie and Han B came with mint tea and they filled me in on what had been happening. It seemed Andy was suffering from the same thing as me and Ellen and was also in bed feeling ill!
Then who should come by but Maggie with Mr O returned from Cuzco! Funnily enough it was great to see him back! He offered to give me some chocolate - which I politely declined - and to let me listen to his podcast on Charles Darwin (yippee!). Libby was apparently much better although she had decided to stick to packaged food which was probably a good call! Mr O said he had missed us - nawww!
Then everyone left and I ate some of a packaged meal I had, as at least I knew where it had come from... (Juan and Maggie think the bugs could be from the food so he wants the whole group to have every meal at his house until we go).
Maggie's just left. Although she can be rather irritating, I'm glad we have Maggie as our expedition leader because she's been so tolerant and understanding. Thank you Maggie!
Throughout the trip I've had spurs where I've wanted to "quickly pop home to England" so I can tell everyone what I've been doing, and then "pop back" again. I don't think being around families is helping too much either as it's making me miss mine again.
There were three children standing in the door earlier (including Rerica) when Maggie came back, one boy had rotted, yellowing teeth with terrible gaps and a bleeding tooth. I felt so sorry for him, he couldn't have been more than four or five.
They stood there giggling at Maggie before she shepherded them out so we could talk.

Peru is a rather strange place because the sun is gone by 3pm and then it is dark by 6pm. Rather intriguing. Apparently because it is so near the equator, the days don't really change. Twelve hours of sunlight all year round.
It's August so it's winter right now, but it has only seemed like winter since we came to Pacapancha (the community project village). But like we were told, the temperature never really changes here so I guess that makes sense.
Libby returned from hospital with a little bit more than Salmonella but she looked cheerful enough when she and Paul came to visit. I feel this diary does not need to know the contents of the conversation that ensued.
Annoyingly I can't get to sleep because the children outside seem to be beating each other up every five minutes.
According to Libby and Mr O, Team 4's expedition leader is using all the groups budget money to upgrade his hotel rooms and drink whisky, getting some of the boys drunk in the evening (baring in mind we (apart from a couple of girls in Team 3) are all underage. Apparently he's also quite a vicious leader :/
So right now, the Teams are at:
Team 4: irresponsible leader; immature guys in the group.
Team 3: boys and girls didn't get on for the first two weeks.
Team 2: only have two proper leaders as the third keeps flirting with the head leader.
Team 1 (us): nothing wrong but illnesses. So basically, we rock! We have the strongest team! Boo ya!

I think I dreamed about how terrible/unfortunate Team 4 was that night, LOL. And Maggie woke me up :/

12th August 2009 - No role because I'm still ill!
Well I was definitely hoping I wouldn't be in bed again although apparently I look better. I had better be at least 90% tomorrow or I may scream.
[I must have reached quite a state of delirium as this is where I decided to write a poem, yes! A poem!]:

What to do?
Yes it is true
I'm feeling sick
Get better quick!
Children scream
While I try to dream
Team 1 are working
Juan will be lurking
The meat is suspicious 
The tea is delicious.
Two weeks to go.
This trip ain't been slow
What to do?
Yes it is true
I'm feeling stupidly sick.

Juan came in to tell me he's taking the group to the school so they can see their textile work! I wonder  if I will be better by 3pm? D'oh!
Being in this village has definitely been a big eye opener and I am starting to appreciate just how lucky I really am!
Kids here have to work from a very young age and their health is poor here.
I have an amazing education which gives me great advantages and future prospects whereas most schools in Peru are currently closed because of Swine Flu.
I've found the days in Pacapancha long and at times slightly dull. But hey I have books, a laptop and freedom to go wherever I want. Women here have only textiles to entertain themselves with which must get frustratingly repetitive sometimes! Thank you for everything in my life!
 (Kagg and I stayed in the ground level room). "The toilet is a hole in the ground! No sink, no shower!"
 (My side of the room).
That night was very eventful as I was asleep when around 8:45pm, Libby came bursting through the door gasping "Hannah! Get up! One of the team boys is coughing up blood and is having fits! Come on we need you to translate! Grab your jacket!"
So I blindly ran best I could (what with not being able to stand without almost falling). Libby having to grab my hand to get me across the playground to where the leaders were gathered, trying to stable him, Mr O trying to get the satellite phone to work.
Our team plus Juan and his brother Americo were brilliant!!
The other civilians - including the village doctor - were useless! The 'doctor' just kept pointing out the obvious: he's having trouble breathing and he could be seriously injured. Noooooo, really?!
Then the men would be unhelpful too. I'd ask them in Spanish to ask the women in Quechua to leave (because women aren't allowed to learn Spanish). They'd then mutter something and the women wouldn't move! We didn't want an audience!!
We also asked if a taxi was close by. One guy said he had one, but we never saw him again!
The ambulance took 45 minutes!!
It was worrying watching our teammate slip in and out of consciousness for no more than thirty seconds, especially when no one knew what the cause was! Fortunately the blood was just a nose bleed.
After a load more questions and frustration on our part, we tried to get a guy to go and stand at the gate with a torch so the ambulance knew where to come, and again, he wouldn't move! The gate wasn't even ten steps away! If I hadn't been feeling so ill, I would've slapped him! He just stood there continuing to watch!
Our whole team did amazingly!! People running around for blankets and waiting to guide the ambulance in.
Juan then came sprinting over bless his heart to tell us he and Moreton had moved the logs blocking the entrance and the ambulance was just around the corner.
The others who were up came to meet us when the ambulance finally swung in as close as possible to us. They lifted our teammate on to a stretcher and into the ambulance. Maggie and Mr O followed and Paul was left to deal with seven rather stunned teenagers.
After having shouted at our teammate to keep him responding, Paul was still a bit loud and we could all feel the adrenaline. He wanted us to go to the leaders room so we could "calm down".
I stopped so much Paul eventually picked me up and carried me the rest of the way.
Once all were inside Beth and Moreton went back out for Inca Kola and biscuits which were shared out. Paul commended us and said we performed brilliantly and we should be proud. [Do you feel proud guys and gals?! ;) ]
Juan and Americo then came in with hot water and mugs for some tea and coffee that was shared around. In the end it turned out it had just been an asthma attack which was a relief.
That night Libby and I stayed in the leaders beds while Paul tried to keep signal in the Sat phone. Apparently I had a conversation with Paul in my sleep while he was still awake:
Me: (small mumbles).
Paul: (panics) Are you ok? What's wrong?
Me: no no no! It's just I've got so many sleeping bags at home!
He says he was desperate to keep the conversation going, but resisted. I was embarrassed.

13th August 2009 - Accommodation.
Today I could sort of walk properly and could only stomach tea before clearing the leaders room and meeting the others at the minibus in the middle of the playground where kids were playing with two of the remaining boys. They (our guys) were exhausted!
Juan then asked us to gather round while he gave us a farewell speech saying he was grateful for our help and pleased we'd been.
Paul then asked me to translate a similar speech before we all shook hands with several different men.
The bus journey back to Ollantay' was a very bumpy one, I was relieved to get there. Four of us stayed with the bags while the others found some breakfast.
"Hello." Even by his voice, I could tell who it was. I was right when I turned round to see Peter Kay (Team 4's leader) with one of their boys. I don't really remember anything of their conversation but I definitely remember not liking him. Apparently all the girls in their team have a crush on one of the boys in our year.
Around 11:45am we set off on a two hour coach journey back to Cuzco. When we arrived we stopped at the bus station and we walked back to the hostel.
Back at the hostel, everyone collapsed and Libby, Kagg, Soph and I were moved to the "sick people's room".
That nights meal was disastrous! We waited for our food for aaaaaages and we didn't leave until well after 9pm. We went to the same place as our last night in Cuzco the week before. The waiter there is officially a girl's blouse. It was so easy to convince him to let us have drinks and pudding with the set menu instead of picking one!
That night I wasn't in the best of moods... Even though nothing rude was said, I apologise deeply to Soph, Kagg and Libby!

14th August 2009 - Accountant.
Once again, I couldn't get up! So when the other girls in the room left, I had a meltdown from the frustration. I got a sharp pain under my ribs and I think I started hyperventilating again.
After Maggie had calmed me down, Paul then stayed to chat. We had a random three hour conversation about life, the progress of the team and the sixth Harry Potter movie.
The team then went to a restaurant called 'The Muse' on the main plaza and then saw some not so brilliant (apparently) fireworks.

Stay tuned for Part Six: Puno and Lake Titicaca!
Han Meets WorldComment