The next part of my journey was to be completely different to what I had done so far. I headed to a place called Quellomayo, Quechua for yellow river. Quellomayo is located neat to Santa Teresa not far from Aguas Calientes and Machu Picchu. Here I managed to land myself three weeks of volunteer work. I wanted to get off the beaten track and I can tell you what my journey to the farm definitely told me I was going to get exactly that.
My trip started at the Santiago bus terminal in Cusco, definitely a place for locals. I got on the bus cornered in the back seat next to the window (even on the locals buses assigned seating is strictly monitored). Soon I had the pleasurable company of 5 drunken men, please don´t miss my sarcasm! The 5 hour journey to my first stop, Santa Maria, began. First shock on the bus, sex ed, for the first hour of the bus trip I was kept amused by reliving high school Sex ed. Pictures explanations, free condoms and embarrassed locals took over the bus. Soon after the entertainment was over and my now merry fellow travelers were happily drinking
away. At this stage my anger was welling up as I watched them throw their cans out the windows, eat food and throw the plastic out the window. Soon I was the next main interest and decided my best bet was to forget all my Spanish and act dumb otherwise I was going to be drawn into another infuriating conversation with 5 drunken men. Thankfully they soon lost interest and after many unexplained stops, pickups and drop offs we arrived in Santa Maria. From Here I took a taxi to the farm, in the country this consists of every seat full, kids sitting on your lap and parents in the boot sitting on your bag! Soon our path entered into a deep ravine, the road winding on heart stopping cliffs and blind corners. Looking down all that could be seen were plummeting drops into a boulder filled river. Thankfully after about half an hour of a slightly nail biting journey I was dropped in front of the far, house (I hoped).
Soon I was met by Tatiana, the lady of the house. I was glad to know that I had in fact arrived in the right place. She showed
me to my room, a spacious room with two bunks, all to myself. Afterwards I had a tour of the main house, the farm I was informed was further up the mountain. As I arrived in the afternoon Tati offered me the afternoon to settle in and said that the working days were Mon to Sat so tomorrow we would get stuck into it. Almost immediately after arriving I had been engulfed in a black cloud of misery creating mosquitos. At this time little did I know it would be the only relentless challenge I would face here. However at the time I shrugged it off and put on long sleeves. I enjoyed my first afternoon, quickly discovering a table with a mountain of books begging to be read. So I got started on one, and soon was the hours of the afternoon floated away. In the late afternoon Andy and Maya, Tati´s husband and daughter returned from a trip to the local town. Soon enough we were enjoying a delicious dinner cooked by Tati and her father also joined us. By the end of the night I had met the whole family and went to bed happy and ready
for a 630am wake up.
I am not going to detail every moment of the wonderful experience here, but just give you an idea. Soon enough I had settled into somewhat of a routine. There was work that remained a daily routine and some that changed daily. Every day I was responsible for setting the tables at meals, lighting the fogon, preparing the hot water for coffee and boiling the water for drinking. Sometimes I helped prepare meals but mainly in preparation. My first week was a mix; I cleared areas for planting and planted coffee trees, I dug trenches through rock and cement for new pipes, I spent two days sorting good coffee beans from bad. These were all hot days, in the 30 Celsius range. However this could not take away from the beauty of where I was working. Cicadas constantly buzzing I was surrounded by mangoes, bananas, lemons oranges and so many more fruit trees. These were mixed in with the beautiful cloud forest, a mix of ferns, trees and mosses. Sometimes my afternoons solely consisted of looking after Maya, when Tati and Andy had meetings, these were really great afternoons; dancing, singing and playing make
Where we boild water daily, Tyson loved to sleep under there
believe. On the Thursday of the week, the town had a celebration for the installation of water in the town. There was a big cook up, dancing and beer, Other than Andy I was the only foreigner in sight. It was interesting to be a fly on the wall as the night went on. The weekend saw us preparing for the agricultural fair to come the next week. Therefore I happily helped bake cakes and breads. I even learned how to make marmalade. The most delicious I made was star fruit and lemon grass!
So as the new week began I helped promote the business in the local town Santa Teresa. This was a great opportunity to see marches, dances and other business showing what they had to offer in the community. I was even trusted to man the stand for 2 hours alone, Spanish must be improving.
For the remainder of week two and all of week three I fell into a great routine. It was finally time to go to the farm. So the hole digging began. 30cm by 30cm doesn’t sound like much, but when you’re battling, ants, mossies, rocks and roots it makes for
tough work. The days started with breakfast and then a 20min walk up the mountain side to the farm. By 9am it was around 32 degrees on the hot days, which were most. Once at the farm we marked and dug holes until two when we went back for lunch. The afternoons were then mine. During this time another volunteer, Jocelyn joined us and it was really nice to have someone to share my last week with. The days at the farm were hard but rewarding work, with obvious results.
I was lucky enough to have my birthday at the farm, where Tati kindly baked me a cake and we had an early mark for the day. It was hard to say goodbye to this family and experience which I am definitely richer for!
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