Field report

LISA DISCOVERS PERU: ADVENTURES IN THE ANDES
My tip for future participants is: Take the opportunity and make the trip! Even if it requires compromises - the experience is definitely worth it.
October 2022 - December 2022
Participant Lisa with alpacas in the project
Lisa spent three adventurous months in Peru and visited two volunteer projects. After a round trip through the south of Peru, she supported the Wildlife Sanctuary project in Cusco and then worked at the Horse Ranch in the north of the country for a month each. She was able to get to know the many facets of this diverse country and was particularly fascinated by the landscapes of the Andes.

LISAS PROGRAM:

My preparation time

My travel preparations began quite early, more than six months before the start of my trip. One of the reasons for this was that I work full-time and therefore had to coordinate my stay abroad with my employer. It was agreed that I would continue to work 15 hours a week for my employer in Germany during my three-month stay in Peru. As I work in the IT sector, this was possible via a home office. However, when choosing the volunteer projects, I had to make sure that I had a sufficiently stable internet connection and the opportunity to have online meetings early in the morning, for example. WanderWorld also supported me well in this regard and, if necessary, asked the projects or hosts whether, for example, accommodation in a single room would be possible. Once the projects and time periods were clear, I was also able to take care of travel routes, excursions in Peru, required vacation days, etc. in advance. All in all, my time in Peru was therefore very well structured from the outset. As a result, I was well prepared for what to expect and had a lot to look forward to months in advance!

The first days

I flew to Peru 2 weeks before the start of the first project. I was accompanied by my friend, who took part in another WanderWorld project after the two weeks we spent traveling together. During our two weeks together, we went on a round trip through the south of Peru and visited most of the "must-sees". It was a great, intensive time with so many new impressions! We were particularly fascinated by Lima, especially the colorful hustle and bustle of the markets and the sheer size of the city. At first we were a bit afraid of being attacked or robbed, so we were very careful on the road. However, nothing happened, neither in Lima nor anywhere else. On our trip through the south, we came into contact with Peruvians as we often stayed with host families. We were therefore able to test our Spanish skills, which were fortunately good enough to hold simple conversations. When we traveled on to our respective projects after the two weeks, we felt as if we had been in Peru forever thanks to the many impressions from our round trip. I therefore had a smooth start to my first project in Cusco and immediately felt at home in the city.

A day at the Wildlife Sanctuary & Horse Ranch Project

My first project was the Wildlife Shelter in Cusco. I was allowed to work the afternoon shift from 1 pm to 5 pm. Considering the time difference, this was very practical so that I had the morning available to work with my colleagues in Germany. I always left the shared flat at around 12 noon to take the collectivo to the project site, which was about 30 minutes outside Cusco. The first trip on the collectivo was very adventurous, as you had to get off halfway, which was done by calling out to the driver. Quite different from public transport in Germany. With a few exceptions, however, the journey to the project went smoothly and we arrived at the sanctuary on time at 1 pm. The first task was usually to prepare the afternoon food for the many animals. We cut fruit and vegetables and gave the animals hay and grass. When English or German-speaking visitors came to the sanctuary, we gave them guided tours of the grounds and shared background information about the animals. We also cleaned the enclosures, brought the parrots back from the outdoor area to the heated enclosures in the evening or looked for the tortoises that had been free-range in the tall grass during the day. Most of the tasks were done by all 3 - 4 volunteers together, which meant we could chat a lot and plan weekend excursions together. Overall, the work was very varied and always a lot of fun. I thought it was great to be able to work so closely with these exotic animals. My second project was the Horse Ranch in the village of Pacora in northern Peru. As it is very warm there all year round, our working hours were split between the morning and late afternoon, so we had a long lunch break. In the mornings, we usually looked after the foals and practiced hoofing, lunging and ground work with them. As only 1 - 2 volunteers could work with the foals at any one time, the other 2 - 3 took care of cleaning the paddocks. We were also given other tasks, such as bathing the 8 dogs. The other volunteers also accompanied the tourists on their rides from time to time. However, I didn't want to ride myself, which wasn't a problem. At the beginning of the lunch break, we picked up the food in the village and spent the rest of the three-hour lunch break mostly reading, running errands in the village or having a siesta. At 3:30 pm we started feeding the chickens and horses, which took about 2 hours. Sometimes we took advantage of the pleasant temperatures afterwards to go for a short walk with the horses.

My free time in Peru

During my first project in Cusco, I spent many evenings with other volunteers from the project. We went out for dinner together several times a week, as there were many good (sometimes even vegan!) restaurants in Cusco with very reasonable prices. As we also worked in the project on Saturdays, we only had Sundays for longer excursions. I used this for hiking tours, which I spontaneously booked in one of the many travel agencies in the old town. I got to see the Rainbow Mountains, Moray and Laguna Humantay - three well-known tourist destinations. I did the trip to Moray on a quad bike tour with other volunteers, which was great! However, Cusco itself and the surrounding area offer so much that I could have spent months there without getting bored. On the other hand, we used the weekends in the second project for longer excursions. Sometimes we were allowed to take Friday or Monday off to go on a longer weekend excursion. The night bus took us from Chiclayo to many beautiful and scenically very different towns in the north of Peru. Together with 1 - 3 other volunteers, I visited Cajamarca (Andes), Máncora (beach), Tarapoto (jungle) and Chachapoyas (high jungle). All the excursions were very different from the trips in southern Peru, as these areas are much less touristy. Overnight stays and day trips/hiking tours were extremely cheap, but vegetarian restaurants and souvenirs, for example, were much harder to find than in the south. I thought it was great to visit these places too. At the end of my 3 months in Peru, I felt that I had really got to know the country well.

My experience with culture

Although my friend and I had already booked the accommodation with the host families during our round trip in advance and therefore knew pretty much exactly what to expect, we were still surprised by the simple conditions in which our hosts lived. For example, none of the homestays had hot water or heating, even though it was below zero at night. Nevertheless (or perhaps precisely because of this), the hosts were always keen to provide us with the highest possible level of comfort - we were given lots of thick blankets, warm bottles, delicious hot food, and so on. Sometimes we were almost ashamed of our own wealth, which made such a trip possible. Nevertheless, we were always met with a great deal of friendliness, curiosity and hospitality.

My most beautiful moments

I particularly remember some funny moments with the animals at the Wildlife Sanctuary. For example, I had never dealt with parrots before and was amazed at how clever these birds are! For example, they helped themselves to food in the feeding chamber or even stole the food from the volunteers' lunch boxes. This resulted in many funny moments that I look back on with great pleasure! In terms of the landscape, I particularly remember the Andes. The climate in the high mountains was much more extreme than anything I had ever experienced in Europe. Warm and sunny during the day, icy cold and windy at night. This climate makes the Andes so varied: barren plateaus, snow-capped peaks, azure lagoons. I was particularly impressed by the Rainbow Mountains, as I would never have thought it possible for rocks to produce such a variety of colors. I was also impressed by the markets in Lima, Cusco and Máncora. The selection of exotic fruits was incredible. In addition, the prices were reasonable and all the fruit tasted so much more aromatic than in Germany.

My favorite place

Peru is an incredibly large and varied country with many different landscapes and climates. There are high mountains, desert, beaches, jungle - and Lima. Each of these places is a world in itself. This made it feel like you had seen much more than just one country. I am therefore glad that I took 3 months to visit Peru. The distances are great and you also need some time to get used to the climate and altitude.

My accommodation

During my project in Cusco, I lived in a shared flat. Two of my three flatmates lived in the accommodation permanently, so they were very familiar with Cusco and Peru in general. The apartment was well equipped and clean and living together was very harmonious. Thanks to my single room, I was able to work from home and hold meetings with my colleagues in Germany without any problems. I also had a single room in my second project. The other volunteers shared rooms in pairs in the volunteer house, which had its own kitchen. We always met there for meals and often sat together for a long time in the evenings. I felt very comfortable in both accommodations!

How the trip changed me

The projects in Peru have shown me how good it is for me to work with and for animals. That's why I will continue to volunteer in the animal welfare sector from Germany. The simpler living conditions in Peru also made me realize that you don't need so many material things to live happily and contentedly. I have resolved to question my consumer behavior more accordingly and to live and consume as sustainably as possible.

My tips for future participants

I deliberately took my time in Peru as a break from everyday life in Germany. The routine of working life makes it tempting not to leave your comfort zone at some point. Especially when more and more commitments arise, such as a job, an apartment, possibly pets or, at some point, children. Then you hardly have the opportunity to travel for long periods or to faraway countries. I am therefore extremely happy to have made the trip to Peru, even if it involved a few compromises. Especially because I was still working part-time for my employer in Germany during the projects and had to adjust my everyday life, accommodation and leisure activities accordingly. The itinerary and duration of the trip were also not as free and flexible as for most other volunteers. Nevertheless, I had a great time and didn't have the impression that I had missed anything on site. Thanks to my financial situation, I was even able to treat myself to some things that I probably wouldn't have been able to afford straight after leaving school or as a student. So my tip for future participants is: take the opportunity and make the trip! Even if it means making compromises - the experience is definitely worth it.

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