Stephanie: Cusco, Peru (Week 3)
This week several volunteers and I walked the Inca jungle trek to MachuPicchu. The first day we went mountain biking in extremely cold, rainy weather. The view was amazing therefore the cold was not so bad. We then took the bus to Santa Maria and stayed at a hostel for the night. The second day we started at 7:30 A.M. and hiked until about 6 P.M. This was my favorite day because the walk was through partly tropical/rainforest areas. We seen various fruits and vegetables that we could eat. We also had are faces painted with one of the seeds that produces a red/orange color. I wore this as a lipstick and also had my face painted by our tour guide. After the longest hike I had ever been on, up and down hills and rocks we finally reached the hot springs. Here we swam and had a couple of drinks. We stayed at a hostel in Santa Theresa. The third day we woke up bright and early and headed to zip-lining. We zip-lined 6 different lines (one of them I did upside down and another I did superman). This was awesome, but definitely scary. After this we hiked 3 hours to Aguas Calientes where we stayed the night at a nice hostel near MachuPicchu. We explored the town and finally were able to take hot showers! The fourth day we woke up at 3 A.M and hiked to the bridge where we had to wait until 5 A.M. to enter and climb the approximately 1650 stairs to MachuPicchu (we counted the stairs on the way back down). When we reached MachuPicchu it felt absolutley amazing. Walking all the way here was extremely rewarding and I would recommend it to others.
Volunteering at the mental hospital is going great. I was able to finish reading all the patients charts. This was extremely interesting because I was able to see the history of the patients. I was shocked at how young some of the patients were and how old they looked. Most of the patients had been there for 20 years! I did change departments for part of the week and worked with people who were put in the hospital due to drug abuse, sexual abuse, and attempting to commit suicide. I have been working in both departments and was able to talk to some other PhD researchers who were also viewing the hospital. I am becoming close with many of the patients and they all seem to enjoy my company. I did notice that when it is rainy the patients behave worse than when it is sunny. I really am enjoying working in the hospital and be able to enhance my spanish. I did find out that the government does not fund the hospital whatsoever. I was told by the director that a couple of the cemeteries funded the program, but they are in need of more funding. They asked the other volunteer and I to see if organizations in are countries would aid their hospital.
This weekend I am headed to Lake Titicaca for two days. I am looking forward to be on the floating island in Puno!