This June, a group of six McDonogh students and two chaperones went on the first ever Peru trip. They spent three weeks exploring the full range of cultural, environmental, and gastronomical diversity that Peru has to offer. Each place offered a new and different type of experience for the group, and all the while they enjoyed delicious cuisine. As chaperone Mr. Mahon remarked, “I didn’t taste a single thing the entire trip that wasn’t delicious.”
The group flew into Lima, the capital of Peru, to begin their eye-opening experience. “Just arriving at the airport in Lima, it was evident we were entering another world,” Brooks L. ’11 remarked.
One especially shocking revelation was that there was very little order to the traffic patterns in Lima, and cars seemed to communicate with each other in their own language of car horn honks. Likewise, pedestrians flung themselves into the chaotic traffic with no qualms.
In Lima, the group had fun learning salsa dancing and Capoeira, a Brazilian mixture of fighting and dancing, and visiting the historic city center and various museums.
The experience also had a more serious aspect. The students visited a shelter for abused girls in Lima whom they helped with English, and who in return helped them with their Spanish.
Following their four days in Lima, the group took an eighteen-hour bus ride to Vichayito, a beach resort area in northern Peru. There they participated in a series of field trips to various ecological areas such as a Mangrove Swamp. They also learned to surf, with every student managing to stand up on a wave.
They then flew to the mountain city of Cusco, nestled in a valley of the Andes mountains, more than twice the elevation of Denver. There, the students took Spanish immersion courses in the morning and hit the streets in the evenings to experience Cusco’s nightlife.
The next leg of the trip landed the group in Umasbamba, in Peru’s Sacred Valley. McDonogh’s group visited a school of impoverished Quechan children, bringing materials for the bathroom the school lacked, paint for their kitchen, and board games to entertain the children. Brooks put the kids’ poverty in perspective, saying, “many of them had runny noses but did not even realize it because they do not even know what a tissue is.” But neither that nor the language barrier stopped them from having fun, and by the end of the visit, McDonogh students were chasing the giggling kids, who warded them off with tickling.
Finally, McDonogh visited many archeological sites, including Peru’s most famous, Machu Pichu. Though the pictures that everyone has seen are incredible, Sra. Tasher contends that it is impossible to comprehend the magnitude of the site’s beauty without seeing it in person.
Brooks and Bridget B. ’11, found this out for themselves. They followed a small trail up to the top of the mountain over a thousand feet above the ruins, technically supposed to be off limits to tourists, and, as the fog lifted, they were awed by the sight. As Bridget tells it, “our breaths were taken, and we were emotionally moved, suppressing tears, overcome by the thrilling sensation of feeling on top of the world. Then, as if out of some natural inclination, alone on the cliff, beholding one of the most astonishing views on the planet, we knelt and prayed.”