MacKenzie Blackwell

Class of 2017

Reaching Across Some Divides


JUNE 2017


Every day on the trip has been unique. Each day equally wild in it’s own wild way. Today was no exception.

On our way to Ninos Del Sol, a normally hour and fifteen minute drive, we ran into a protest march held by the teachers on strike here in Peru. The march was peaceful, but their point was made loud and clear. They want better wages and better conditions. This will be the ninth day of the strike and the end is nowhere in sight.

Once we got through the protest traffic, we continued on to Ninos Del Sol. We made it in one piece but 45 minutes later than planned due to the march. Once we got there, we got to work right away. Myself and a couple of others worked on sanding down the outside walls of the hotel run by the Ninos and giving them a fresh coat of paint so they can be redecorated. The work was a bit tedious but fun nonetheless.

The language barrier was still there, but nothing breaks it down better than some good ol’ fashioned soccer, or futbol as they call it here.

For lunch we headed back to the children’s home where we helped ourselves to a big meal of duck soup, rice, potatoes, fresh salad, and lentil soup. The duck soup I was wary of, knowing that it had been slaughtered just the day before. That awareness that I am not used to made me uncomfortable but it brought a new sense of appreciation for my food, especially my meat. The soup was good, way better than I expected. The food here is delicious, and my cravings for processed food and carbs, my normal diet, are slowly but surely subsiding.

We also celebrated Avishai’s birthday with a delicious homemade chocolate flan cake made by Sol, one of the kids, and a carrot cake we brought him from Cusco. We sang happy birthday in english and then spanish, and then we all dove into the cakes. There’s no cake better than a birthday cake, and it was fun eating with all the kids.

Soccer leaves the American students exhausted.

After our lunch and cake, all of the Royal Oak kids and some of the Ninos piled into the van so we could be shuttled off to a soccer field nearby. We split up into teams and started playing. The language barrier was still there, but nothing breaks it down better than some good ol fashioned soccer, or futbol as they call it here. As you might imagine, the Peruvians were way better than all of us from Royal Oak. I considered myself successful enough because I manage to keep my lunch down as Marco, a boy my age from Ninos Del Sol, dribbled circles around me. I thought soccer back home was tough. Turns out being at 10,000 feet above sea level makes it a lot harder. The whole thing felt like something out of a movie. Playing soccer in the Andes, with kids nearly half my age making me look like I’ve never touched a soccer ball in my life. It was a blast and I would pay big money to see Timko play goalie again.

The game really helped break the ice between us and the other kids, though there is still some between us. I think it helped both sides realize that we’re all just kids, some of us are just better at futbol than others.


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The next two weeks will offer an intermittent set of reflections from our students and chaperones as we encounter Peru.  Find and follow us here and at #InteractinPeru.

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