Appreciate the work of a photo enthusiast. Buy a print and decorate your home or office. Make a difference to under privileged kids in Peru.
It’s just that simple to make a difference.
Leading up to the Peru Through the Lens Art Show & Fundraiser on May 25th (and continuing after), I will be posting one or two photos each day from the art show.
The show is on display from May 25 – June 25th (now extended until July 10th). Prints are available for purchase for $30 (cash). If you see a photo you would like to purchase, drop by The Adventure Travel Company to purchase (or order) your copy between May 25th and July 10th.
Net proceeds from the art show are being donated to The Planeterra Foundation and the House of the People of the Sun where we spent a day photographing under privileged youth while in Cuzco, Peru. Your support will help them have a better education, a warm meal each day and learn new skills to work and help support their families.
Five days into the 2013 Peru Through the lens trip and I already know that it has been worth it. Only an hour spent on the Uros Islands and at least two of my passengers have stopped to tell me how happy they are to be here, how wonderful the trip has been so far and what a fabulous day tour this has been. And, it’s only about 9:30am at this point.
Then we arrive at our homestay community of Luquina Chico. After listening to some of the local men play music for us and have a quick introducation to the community, one of the passengers comes to me with tears in her eyes and says ‘This is just so beautiful, Shari’ Needless to say, I welled up too and choked back tears.
Despite not feeling well myself, there hasn’t been a day on the trip that I didn’t step outside and say what a beautiful day, I’m so glad to be here. And it is true. It is beautiful and I’m glad that I have the opportunity to experience Peru for a second time.
I am so glad that I made the choice to bring this group to the community of Luquina Chico. It is such a unique experience here with so much to offer. One passenger’s heartfelt tears was all I needed to know that it was the right decision.
A few people had been concerned about the home stay experience, but it was clear once we arrived that the beauty overwhelmed them more than their concerns.
After a successful 2012 Peru Through the Lens tour, I asked participants to provide me with feedback about the trip so that I could continue to improve it for the 2013 year. Today, as I reviewed that feedback to see what I haven’t yet done, that I need to do, I reminisced while reading through each respondent’s highlights.
Here are participants responses to the question: What were your top five favourite experiences or places of the Peru Through the Lens Photo Tour?
1. Meeting and making new friends
2. Tombs at Sillustani (optional excursion during free time near Puno)
3. Machu Picchu – for the personal physical accomplishment & the view
4. Lake Titicaca – specifically Taquile Island
5. Pisac ruins
2. Home stay at Ccaccaccollo and community of Taray
3. Machu Picchu
4. Hot springs at Aguas Calientes (optional during free afternoon)
5. Markets (Cuzco, Puno, Ollantaytambo, Pisac)
1. The time Shari took to teach me about photographing using manual and using the histogram on the back of my camera
2. Seeing the ruins at Pisac
3. Lake Titicaca – including Taquile Island, the homestay at Luquina Chico, and the floating islands
4. Having the time to see the Ollantaytambo ruins the second day in the morning (optional during free time)
5. Ruins at Machu Picchu early in the morning
6. The sense of community that was established with our tour group early in the trip
1. Machu Picchu
4. Uros Floating Islands
5. The Flat topped island at the Chulpa Tomb ruins in Sillustani (optional tour during free time, near Puno)
1. Homestay at Ccaccaccollo
2. Machu Picchu
3. Uros Islands
4. Luquina Chico Homestay
5. Taray Dance Festival
1. Seeing Machu Picchu at the end of the trip. It was the icing on the cake for this Peruvian adventure.
2. Home stays…both of them – Ccaccaccollo & Luquina Chico. This truly gave me an insight into the Peru culture and gave me a perspective on life that I would not have gained from looking out of a bus window or simply sitting in coffee shops.
3. Visiting the Uros floating islands and meeting the community who live there.
4. The photo project of taking family portraits. It was touching to see how many of these families were so excited to have us take pictures of them. When I showed my “Mami” and “Papi” the pictures I took of their community they both began to weep with joy. It was quite an emotional experience for me.
5. Making new friends with the group that I got to travel with. They were all fun and I learned more about photography from interacting with each and every one of them.
1. Uros floating islands
2. Machu Picchu – It was great getting there early to sit and take in the vast beauty.
3. Taquile Island – tough active day but lunch with the million dollar view made the struggle worth it.
4. Pisac – so much beauty and history
5. Cusco architecture
As for myself, my highlights were:
1. Machu Picchu – Please read blog post Lost City, Found Self and you will understand.
2. Puno – The impromptu carnival street parade some of us saw during our free time and visiting the market to buy vegetables for our home stay families.
3. Luquina Chico Homestay – The parade of welcome music by the local men, dancing with the locals, helping make fried dough, photographing the locals at work (fishing & sorting fish), my little home stay sister Deanna, who cried when I left.
4. Uros floating Islands – The history of these islands fascinates me!
5. Homestay at Ccaccaccollo – challenging to communicate with our families because they speak Quechua, but feeling warmly welcomed. Enjoyed the volunteer family photos & meeting so many people of the community.
6. (I couldn’t just have 5!) Taray Dance Festival – A complete authentic travel experience. It was not a tour, nothing planned, just going about a day the same way that the locals do. Except this particular day was a local dance festival.
Homestays – Luqina Chico & Ccaccaccollo
Lake Titicaca Boat Tour – Lake Titicaca
Rowed a boat made of reeds – Uros Islands
Volunteer Family Photographs – Ccaccaccollo
Incan Ruins – Machu Picchu, Pisac, Ollantaytambo
Hot Springs – Aguas Calientes
Train from Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu & return to Cusco
Ate local delicacy – guinea pig
Old town Warsaw night tour – Warsaw
Packaging and delivering wishes to terminally ill children – Southern Poland
Majdanek Concentration Camp – Majdanek
Berlin Zoo – Berlin
Bradenburg Gate – Berlin
Checkpoint Charlie – Berlin
Train from Berlin to Warsaw
Rapelling & Snorkeling in cenotes – Mayan Riviera
Zip lining – Mayan Riviera
Tulum Ruins – Mayan Riviera
Snorkeling with sea turtles and sting rays – Mayan Riviera
Coco Bongo – Playa del Carmen
Chichen Itza Ruins
Learned to surf – Sayulita (2015)
Bayou swamp tour – New Orleans, LA
St. Pierre & Miquelon
Zodiac boat tour – St. Pierre
Wild horses – Miquelon
Catamaran & snorkeling – Varadero
Swimming with Dolphins – Varadero
Cable car & Rain forest Zip lining – Arenal
Leatherback turtles laying eggs – Tamarindo
Black sand beaches
Masaya (active) Volcano tour – Masaya
Granada Islets boat tour – Granada
Sea do tour & snorkeling – Dockyard
5 day cruise with Norwegian Cruise Lines – Boston to St. Georges
Turkey Hot Air Ballooning over Cappadocia at sunrise
Learning (trying) to make pottery
Horseback riding through Cappadocia at sunset
Visited Troy / Gallipoli and Anzac
Visited Aya Sofia / Blue Mosque / Galata Tower
Belize Swimming with sharks and rays
Listening to spoken word poetry from our local guide in the jungle
Jungle horseback riding
Thailand Snorkeling off Koh Phi Phi Islands
Travel from Malaysia to Thailand overland (train / bus)
The Philippines Learned to dive Visited the chocolate hills
Saw Tarsier monkeys
Learned about sand bubbler crabs
Snorkeling at _______________
Visited El Nido – Island hopping / snorkelling
Tried a bite of crocodile
Argentina Visited Iguazu Falls
Street Art Tour
Chile Felt an earthquake while at dinner
Montenegro Visited the islands with the church / museum
Greece Treno Sto Rouf Dinner Theatre
Street Art Tour
Croatia Hiking through abandoned villages
Vietnam Visited Halong Bay
Learning (trying) to make pottery
Agent orange museum ??
After our festivities and dancing attempts at the community centre, we headed off with our homestay families to settle into our homes, have supper and sleep.
That night Sarah, Kristie and I roomed together. Our Papi led us by flashlight down the hill toward the water, through slimy, muddy, narrow paths of dirt and tall grass. He was sure-footed as he’s done this route a million times, the three of us were a little more off-balance. Luckily no tumbles in the mud in the dark!
When we arrived at our house (about a 10-15 minute walk in the dark), we were shown to our room and were more than pleasantly surprised! A separate room on the house had three beds, was clean, had electricity AND had our very own attached, indoor bathroom with running water. All of a sudden I felt spoiled. I was truly expecting more basic conditions, especially after my adventure with the outhouse in the main square. (blog post called It’s a squatter! coming soon)
I was particularly happy to have a toilet … with a seat … as I hadn’t been feeling very well for the last part of the day. When you aren’t feeling well, the smallest comforts of home are the best.
We settled in and two of the kids came to hang out with us – Thalia and Gerwin. My Spanish is pretty limited, but we sat and talked about the basics of Spanish. She told us numbers and colors, as well as the names of her siblings and their ages.
Then it was time for supper in another room across a small courtyard in the centre of the buildings. We were seated on a bench at a small table. The table is small due to space in the kitchen, but also, generally these people are much smaller in stature than us. Women are only about 5 feet tall and the men are only about 5’6″ or so.
We had homemade quinoa soup, an andean stirfry with potatoes, carrots and fava beans and cinnamon and clove tea for supper. Tea is standard, it really is about the only thing they drink! You never have a glass of water, pop or even juice at meal time … just tea.
At supper time we also gave our family the produce that we had purchased at the market for them, which they were very appreciative of. For about $30 Soles (between three of us) we had purchased two plastic bags stuffed full of fruits and vegetables, plus a chunk of cheese.
After supper it was off to sleep for all of us, after getting cleaned up in our indoor bathroom! (I’m just a little excited about this!)
The next morning, we woke early and I headed out to take a few quick photos in the beautiful early morning sun.
Here is a picture of the home that we stayed in. Our room was toward the left hand side of the photo. The kitchen is the middle door you see on the right of the photo.
We went to the kitchen for breakfast where our Mami had made us potatoes, fried cheese (that we had brought with us), fried dough and tea. I think the eldest daughter helps out some in the kitchen as well, tending to the fire. Mostly though, she helped keep the youngest daughter, Deanna, entertained. There were other kids in the family as well, but for whatever reason we didn’t get to meet them. One of the other daughters peeked her head in for a quick moment, but she seemed shy and disappeared again quickly.
After we finished breakfast, Mami was still making the fried dough, so I asked if I could help. I sat down on the floor and started rolling and flattening the dough, just like she was. It was such a small thing, but I felt like I was making an effort to help and above all, I was really interested in helping. This is the way they do things on a regular basis and I wanted to be part of that.
After a few minutes, I got Sarah and Kristie to join in and help roll and flatten dough as well. All in all, it was a great experience.
After breakfast we packed up our things and walked down to the dock where our boat was. Our Mami and the youngest daughter, Deanna followed along with us to say goodbye.
At the dock we got to see our Papi (Wilbert) at work. There were men and women spread along the shoreline untangling fish from nets.
We also got to see lots of men and women heading out on their boats to do more fishing. The scenery was beautiful with the deep blue of the sky and the water and the low, early morning light.
Once all of our group had arrived, we sat around and chatted amongst ourselves and our families for a bit. I was sitting beside my homestay sister, Deanna when all of a sudden her lip pouted and the tears started to roll silently down her cheeks. I couldn’t imagine what had happened. She couldn’t have gotten hurt, she hadn’t moved even an inch and she was right there beside me. A few mintues later, her Mami calmed her down and the communicated to us that she was sad because we were leaving. Absolutely heartbreaking.
Luckily, Edward had also captured this lovely photo of Deanna and I before she started to cry, so I have both shots to remember her by!
If you know me well, like my best friend Michelle does, you know that I have always had issues with squatting to pee in the woods. I’m from a small town in New Brunswick where there are camps, hunting, fishing, four wheeling, not to mention the adventure of potato picking at harvest time, so peeing in the woods is not a new thing for me.
I think my issue with it started when I was about 5 years old. My Grammy and Grampy Chapman were taking me for the day to my Great Grandmother’s farm. I told Grampy I needed to pee, so he pulled over and Grammy helped me. In the process of helping me, I somehow managed to pee all over her foot. EWWW! I’m sure I don’t actually remember the situation as much as I remember being told the story, but it is something that I will never forget!
Since then, I’ve always had issues going to the bathroom in the woods. Come on ladies, it isn’t a fun task at all and I know you are all uncomfortable just thinking about it. I worry about peeing on my pants, on my foot, falling over … I mean really … squatting to pee just isn’t something I ever want to do.
So far on our Peru adventure I’ve been pretty lucky. Most of the washrooms have been at hotels. I go before I leave the hotel and when I return … I thankfully haven’t been sick, so I haven’t needed to make many stops along the way.
My first experience with a true ‘squatter’ was in Luquina Chico. When we were at the community centre I wasn’t feeling very well and had to find a washroom. Monika and I ventured over to the two outhouses, looked at each other and in we went, separately. Well, here it is .. a ‘potty shaped’ hole in the ground and the smell of … well, I’m sure you know what it smells like. I looked at it … and looked at it …
There are two, foot-shaped cement spots where you are supposed to put your feet. I put my feet on ‘the spots’, pulled down my pants, squatted and held my pants away from me. Now what?
Um … hello? Please come out …. (I’m cracking up right now writing this) … Yes, I squatted and then had to talk my self through actually allowing pee to leave my body. Come on ladies … you’ve done it. Men – I hate you right now for being able to stand up and aim!
Ok, so the first little stream comes out, but I’ve missed the hole! Wait, stop, lean differently … start again … nope, still missing….
Pause, readjust feet to a spot other than where is marked, start again … yup, hit the pot, but I was pretty much done by this point.
Monika and I each left our outhouses, gave a quick high-five for our great achievement, got out our hand sanitizer and headed back to the community centre.
Was I ever glad that my homestay that night had a toilet with running water. Even better, it was right off our room, we didn’t have to go outside. It was pure luxury in comparison to the squatter at the community centre.
After a lovely day spent walking on Taquile Island, our boat then took us to the small community of Luquina Chico. It is on the peninsula, but sits on the edge of Lake Titicaca. We arrived really late in the afternoon and were greeted by some of our homestay Mami’s and a group of men who would serenade us on our walk to the community centre.
There is something really special about being welcomed to a community by local music. It is warm and friendly and eases the anxiety of not being able to communicate through words.
We walked for 10 minutes or so to the community centre in the middle of the town. There was already a soccer game underway between the locals and a group of foreigners. We were invited and encouraged to play, but at high altitude on our second day AND after having hiked for several hours at Taquille Island we were all plum tuckered out! The thought of trying to chase a soccer ball was unimaginable! The other tourists were having a great time though, so we played vicariously through them!
After being introduced to our homestay Mami’s, it started to rain a little, so we all went inside the community centre. I played make shift soccer with one of the little girls who just kind of appeared out of thin air with a ball and started kicking it. I wasn’t feeling my best though, so on top of not having a lot of energy, my tummy was also churning.
After a little while, our homestay Mami’s started arriving back to the community centre with traditional attire for us to get dressed up in. Each of our Mami’s dressed us up and then the locals did a traditional dance for us with live music. Then of course we got to participate! We all paired up with strangers and attempted to keep time to the music while doing dance steps that really weren’t that complicated, all while wearing extra heavy traditional clothes and trying to catch our breath at the altitude! PHEW! It was not an easy task! We had lots of fun though and both groups of foreigners were equally lost with the dance moves, so we had a few good laughs together.
After our ‘so you think you can dance’ party, we went outside for a breath of fresh air and our breath was taken away by the beauty of not one, but two stunning rainbows! And, you could see completely from one side to the other. I didn’t go looking for the pot of gold, but if I had been able to do any more exercise, I’m sure I would have found it!