Category Archives: RSIS: Round Square International Service Project (Peru)

RSIS: return to Quishuarani

On our second trip up to Quishuarani to complete the greenhouse, snow had fallen.  The landscape looked quite different …. (and the roads were slippery —- eeeeeek!!)

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RSIS: Final stage of greenhouse

After a wonderful 3 day break which included a visit to Machu Picchu, we returned to Quishuarani for the second stage of the project.  We completed the greenhouse and had the blessing ceremony.  Then we split into teams to guild smaller greenhouses for individual families. This was also hard work and we were spread throughout the valley.

The blessing of the greenhouse:

Working on the “cold frames” – mini greenhouses for families:

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RSIS: Greenhouse building stage 1

The whole aim of the Round Square International Service Project in Peru 2012 was to construct a greenhouse for the Quishuarani community in order to improve their monotonous, carbohydrate rich diet, by providing a way of growing vegetables in the harsh high altitude climate.  The local people of Quishuarani are known as the “Huayruros” in reference to their bright orange & red ponchos. The project aim included working together with the local people in the construction of the large greenhouse in the school grounds and then later assisting in building smaller “cold frames” for individual families.  All the materials were purchased by Round Square.

It was hard work, especially the first day when all the rocks needed to be carted down the hill to the site. Walking  back up the hill was a battle due to the altitude. However it was pretty cold so the work kept us warm and whenever we stopped for a break, we soon were reminded of the air temperature!

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RSIS: Arriving in Quishuarani

July 22-27th:  First part of the Quishuarani Project…..

How do you cure a phobia of riding in a bus on windy mountain roads?

Well – you just simply do it over and over and get higher and higher on ever narrowing and steeper gravelly roads. Those of you who know me well will appreciate that this was a pretty tough aspect of the trip.  I had not actually anticipated it and was it took me unawares.  However the scenery was so incredibly breathtaking that after some intial annoying mini panic attacks, I soon settled into the experience and did my best to ignore the adrenaline cursing through my veins…..

Quishuarani is in the Lares area and is nestled in a valley at about 4200 metres above sea level. It is a place where time has stood still. The people speak Quechua and only the men speak some Spanish. Houses are made out of adobe (mud bricks), rocks and wood. People have sheep, llamas and alpacas and grow potatoes and corn. The weather was sunny and clear, but cold. At night the temperature dropped down between -5 to -10 degrees.

Please enjoy this slide show of our drive up the mountain to Quishuarani and our arrival and walk to the greenhouse built by Markham College in 2008.  Mr Rafael Solomon, the project leader, was delighted to see the greenhouse still in good use. We were greeted by the ladies of the village selling their handicrafts.  Children always came out to see us, some to stare, some to smile and some in hope of a game of football. Their beautiful faces belied their varying degrees of malnutrition and bellies full of parasites, as pointed out to us by Dr David, our accompanying physician from Cusco.

Please watch in full screen.  Music: Tu Fotografía by Gian Marco……..

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RSIS: The Apulaya Centre for Music & Art

We were very fortunate to visit The Apulaya Art & Music Center in Calca, where we enjoyed workshops with Emerita and Valerio who were inspirational in their passion for Andean art and music.

Emerita is a talented artist and sculptor originally from Switzerland who specialises in pre-Incan and pre-Colombian art.  Our session with her involved first drawing a bean that we selected from a dish.  After completing our own drawing, Emerita introduced us to art pieces that centred on beans and lead us to the conclusion that we were only drawing the bean as it is in its current state and not seeing its potential.  We were then encouraged to expand our drawings to include the “potential” of the bean.  “Not only did the pre-Colombian artists “thematize” the physical appearance of a human, vegetable or divine being, but they also manifested it in its totality, with its full potential in which creation, fertility and development are fundamental” (Emerita). This was a unique insight into the meaning and interpretation of cosmo-vision in the Andean art and work Emerita shared with us.

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RSIS: The Sacred Valley of the Incas

We departed Cusco city on a coach and headed to The Sacred Valley of the Incas, also known as the Urubamba Valley.  After a short stop in Pisco where we enjoyed browsing the markets, we settled into our hotel for the next 3 days while we acclimatised. Qawana Lodge is in a beautiful setting, directly on the Urubamba River, near Calca.

The food was also amazing!

On one of the acclimatising activity days when the students went rock climbing,  I took a day off and went walking along the river. I crossed over the footbridge in the nearest little village then walked along the opposite bank for about an hour before crossing back over at San Jose: another tiny village, nearer to Calca. Along the way a lamb appeared out of nowhere and followed me! In the small village, a couple of children were herding a family of pigs (mum, dad and piglets).  I also passed a very ferocious dog who charged me, snarling and snapping and barking.  I was completely convinced he was going to rip my ankles to shreds, but luckily he was more woof than bite.  I admit to huge sighs of relief as he finally backed off, only to soon realise that I had taken a wrong turn and needed to go back past the damn dog again!  As I retraced my steps I prayed the slavering beast was not habouring rabies!

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RSIS: Day 2+: CUSCO & Lamas & ¡Potatoes!

Thursday July 19th we all flew to Cusco where we had a lunch and heard our first of many versions of the song “Pacha Mama”  (Earth Mother).

After lunch we headed off in the bus and stopped off to learn about llamas…….  (pronounced yamas!)

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