Chance of a better future

I was sitting in a kind of big classroom, when suddenly a young peruvian girl was coming up to me to give me a hug! I was overwhelmed by this cordially gesture and said to myself that all people on the world should have the same possibilities to develop in life!

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Two weeks ago I visited the German development project „Kinderhilfe Cusco“ in Quiquijana, a small village 70 kilometers in the south of Cusco. I arrived at the „Albergue“ in the evening and received a warm welcome by the volunteers and the nuns. The time was an interesting experience for me. Helping children with their homework, teaching them english, playing soccer with them and get to know their backgrounds moved me and offered me a good variation in my current cycling life.

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I spent three nights at that place to gain an impression about the work of the volunteers and the project as a whole. The project Kinderhilfe Cusco – Peru e.V. started in 1989 by supporting a lunch table in Cusco and from 2001 on a second one in Quiquijana. Cause of a missing infrastructure this involvement led to the construction of a youth center, which was opened in 2008. Besides offering a place to stay for up to 100 children, it’s a place for social and pedagogical education.

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The main goal of the project is to fight the poverty and to help to improve the education and food situation. Over the years further support grew in the area of Cusco.
The children in Quiquijana come from tough family backgrounds, live in poor conditions and some of them wouldn’t even have the possibility to attend school, cause their homes are to far away to go this long way two times a day.
In the „Albergue“ in Quiquijana 6 volunteers work for one year to support one local teacher, a cook and three nuns of the sisterhood „Siervas de Christo Sacerdote“. The 4 girls and 2 boys just finished school and most of them found the project over weltwärts. They had a prepartion seminar as well as six weeks of a spanish language course in advance. Furthermore the local teacher seems to have a lot of experience and a good apprenticeship and therefor can support the young and motivated volunteers. This combination make sure that the children get a good support. Besides the time with the children, the daily schedule includes some hours of work in a nearby farm in the morning.

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In two greenhouses vegetables are grown to supplement the daily meals for the children. A third greenhouse is in construction to plant roses, which will be sold to gain money for the  facility.

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More information you will find on the official page of the german development project.

So, why do I think this project is worth to support? For me some things are important to declare it a helpful and meaningful project:
– collaboration: decisions are taken together, the local people together with the donor
– local support: investments involve local enterprises, so that the money support the economic development of the region
– transparency: the use of the donations is transparent for members and supporters of the projects
– sustainability: to act in a sustainable way, help to self-help

In all of this topics the Kinderhilfe Cusco is doing very well and I was impressed by the effort of the founder Dr. Heinz Gravenkötter and the volunteers.

If you have any further questions about my experiences about this development projects, feel free to ask!
Three of the current volunteers share their experiences on their blogs, which will give you another insight about their work and the project jn general:
sarahserlebnisseinperu.jimdo.de (Blog of Sarah)
einjahrinperu.jimdo.com (Blog of Ronja and Leander)

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La bonita ciuadad de Cusco y las ruinas de Machu Picchu

After 5 days in Cusco, including the trip to Machu Picchu, I spent my last hours hours in the vegan Restaurant „Green Point“ to write. The restaurant does not just provide healthy, ecological and vegan food, but offers an pleasant atmosphere. But the best is the lunch offer for just 12 Soles,  which does include a salad from a buffet, a soup, a main course, a dessert and a frech juice. For the main course there are two options, between you can choose. Currently I’m just having a coffee while listening to the music of Vintage Reggae Café.

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Cusco entered the charts of my top cities in Latino America on number one. Cuenca y Cartagena had a great atmosphere as well, but Cusco had its special charme with numerous culinary and culture offers. The nice market of San Pedro, the neighborhood of San Blas, the narrow streets and the colonial buildings. Additionally there are several treks around to walk in the mountains or to discover the ruins of the Inkas. Cusco in pictures:

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I spent a full day in Cusco, walked around a lot, visited the museum Coricancha, gave away my camera to let it clean, visited the market and bought a new gas cartridge as well as some care products. So I was prepared to go to Machu Picchu the next day. There are several options to visit the city of the Inkas. You can take the service of one of the hundreds tour offices, which is maybe the most expensive possibility. Then you can follow the Inka trail or other treks, which will take several days. Another economical way and that’s what I have done, is the public transport, which I will sum up shortly.

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The map shows how to get from Cusco to Machu Picchu. At first you can take a bus for 15 Soles into direction Qillabamba and leave the bus at Santa Maria. To get there, the bus needs around 6 hours. Arrived in Santa Maria further taxis and small buses will wait for you to go go to Santa Teresa (10 soles, 1 hour) or Hidroeléctrica  (15 Soles,  1 1/2 hour). From Hidroeléctrica there is the possibility to take the train (38 $, 15 minutes) or to walk along the rails (2 hours). In Aqua Calientes there are many hostels in all price categories, so no need to reserve in advance. Also restaurants are numerous. If you want to avoid the touristic prices, go to the small market, which is near the Plaza de armas. There you get a meal for 6 soles. Usually  you stay one night in Aqua Caliente after a one day journey to arrive there. In the next morning you can take the bus (12 $, starts from 5:30) or walk (bridge opens at 5:00) up to the entrance of Machu Picchu pueblo (opens at 6:00). It’s a steep walk, but if you hurry up, you will arrive before the first buses.
For the tickets for Machu Picchu you have three possibilities. Machu Picchu Pueblo (128 soles), Machu Picchu Pueblo + Machu Picchu Mountain  (148 soles) and Machu Picchu Pueblo + Wayna Picchu Mountain. The tickets can be purchased in Cusco or near the Plaza de Armas in Aqua Calientes.

So, back to my experiences: I got up early in Aqua Calientes to walk up and arrive for the big mass of tourists and indeed I did it and after I entered the entrance I got to see the ruins without people while the llamas were running over the green areas inside the village. It was an awesome experience when I catched the first glimpse. It’s impressive that human beings were able to construct these houses and walls during that time, considering that it’s high up in the mountain and the stones are quite big and heavy. After I walked to the Inka bridge and walked around a bit, I went up to the mountain of Machu Picchu. I was still exhausted from the first climb and didn’t expect that another 500 meters steep walk up to the top waited for me. The weather at that morning also wasn’t the best, foggy, cold and during my way up I even went into the clouds. On the top I was surrounded by a big white soup of clouds and it took over an hour before I could look down. But after the torture of the climb and the amazing view over the ruins, which finally appeared, it was totally worth to wait for a while.

Waiting for the bridge to open.

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The view, when I arrived on the top of Machu Picchu.

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A part of the ruins were visible.

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And finally the clouds were gone.

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The street from Aqua Calientes to the entrance of Machu Picchu pueblo.

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Machu Picchu on our way back to Hydroeléctrica

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I left Cusco to Quiquijana, a small village 70 kilometers in the south of the city. There it finally worked, what I tried from time to time during my travel. What it is will be found on my blog in the next few days.