I’ve been home from my journey in Peru for more than a week now, and it’s an interesting predicament to be in- getting used to being home, here in Detroit, with firetrucks sounding and no gleaming stars above when I look up at the smoggy night sky.

Don’t get me wrong- I’m thrilled to be home- I was homesick like crazy the last week of my month in Peru. Still, the fact that my time in the country is over is extremely bittersweet, which was a realization that came over me as we were driving to the Jorge Chavez International Airport in Callao, just outside of Lima, where we initially landed when we arrived in Peru. As I passed all the billboards for food that had caught my eye the first day in-country, I realized I had eaten many of the products with my homestay family. I felt the way I had when I boarded my luggage into the taxi going to the airport to fly back to Miami as I had when I arrived a month earlier, but wholly different at the same time- excited, full of anticipation, ready to face new experiences head on.

My time in Peru was glorious- whether it was laying on my back in a bull arena gazing at the stars with friends or eating pan al ajo (garlic bread, the best I’ve ever eaten in my life, by the way) at a local cafe in Ollantaytambo. My memories of Peru are filled with sounds of toucans and screeching “HOLA” at the top of their lungs early in the morning at the resort in the Amazon and images of hungry monkeys swiping up fresh bananas from tourists on the Monkey’s Island in El Rio De La Madre. Still, I feel the sticky residue of the Amazonian humidity on my body, the cold night breeze on my balcony in Ollanta, just above freezing, on my face. I fondly remember the soft fur of Alpacas encountered at the summit of Machu Picchu, and alpaca hats encountered everywhere else!

From my host family, I gained a sense of new-found humility in respect to my Spanish skills and just in general. In hotels across the country, I learned to cherish the warmth of a hot shower, and the unexpected comfort an episode of Law & Order: SVU could bring after climbing up mountains all day.

With my group leaders and all the young people involved, I learned how utterly exciting new journeys with no expectations can be- not to mention how close you can become with complete strangers, all united by a deep, abundant curiosity for life. The summer of 2012 will always with me, along with all the people I met, the adventures I had, the ups, the downs, and the food… oh, the food… for years to come, I’m sure. The lessons this experience enlightened me to will never be forgotten, and I am deeply grateful for Walking Tree, The Wandering Scholar, and all those who made this opportunity possible.

Now, I know I will always have a home away from home- Peru will always be a place of awe and inspiration for me, and it’s people, my family. Adios, amigos, adios.

XoXO Jonathan

 

 

 

 

 

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Dear folks back home,

A big “hola” from Cuzco, Peru! All is well here in the ancient Incan capital nestled high in the Andes. Much has changed here in the past 600 years — today this city has become an international destination, offering a wealth of activities to its visitors. Between exploring the tunnels of the mysterious temple ruins of Sacsayhuamán, sifting through piles of hand-woven alpaca wool in sidewalk markets, and sipping local “cafe con leche” in our new hangout, the European-styled Café Perla, the stack of heavy adobe bricks at our village community service project now seems far away.

Cuzco, though, can be a bit overwhelming at times; we often wind down the evenings playing games and tuning into televised Jenga competitions (yes, Jenga, the block-stacking game) in our hotel, Teatro Inca. We are, nonetheless, looking forward to returning tomorrow morning to our new home in Ollantaytambo, beneath the dramatic peaks of the Sacred Valley, where we have now all settled in with our host families. They have made the adjustment easy for us, opening up their homes and giving us a taste of the famous “Ollanta” hospitality. No doubt our younger siblings eagerly await our return, especially to the soccer field the and basketball court!

The new arts-and-crafts house at the local center for the disabled and retired is progressing by leaps and bounds. In the past week, we have laid a cement foundation and built seven feet of adobe walls. In the week to come we hope to complete work on the walls and prepare the beams upon which the roof will eventually sit. Please take a look at the attached pictures to get a better idea of what we’ve been up to. Check back next week for our next blog update too!

Hasta luego,

Jonathan

More about Jonathan ’s trip can be found here: http://www.walkingtree.org/a-big-hola-from-cuzco-peru/ read more →

Jonathan Moore

A week after arriving in Peru, I´m now a resident of the ancient Incan city of Ollantaytambo, and for the next two weeks I´ll be living with mi familia, los Rodrigos. It is absolutely amazing- the roosters waking me up in the morning, the family goat greeting me at the door (I call him Diablo… he´s pretty spooky), and the sun setting behind the mountains that surround the entire city of Ollanta.

I´ve been speaking to my family in Spanish, and although they speak Quechua and I speak English, we´ve been communicating pretty well. I would upload some photos of my journey, but it´ll have to wait until next time, since I have around 9 minutes left of time in this internet cafe I´m sitting at. In short: I am having a glorious time.

Two days ago we began work on a building for adults with special needs to use as a cafeteria and physical therapy/learning room instead of having to be outside when the weather gets bad.The bricks are heavy, but my arms seem to enjoy the pain. It´s very humbling to help the residents of Ollanta, and they have been beyond warm and welcoming to us!

The streets here are cobblestone and the walls date back thousands of years- a great place to write, by any means. I have been writing in a journal but my poetry is moving rather slow. I have a feeling, however, that in a city this quaint and charming, my writer´s block won´t last for long.

Until next time!

Xoxo Jonathan

For some pictures of Jonathan’s trip so far, check out this update on the Walking Tree Travel group blog.

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Today is my fourth full day in Peru, and in the short period of time I have been here, I have been enthralled by the charm and vastness of this beautiful nation.

It took  me a lot to get here, including boarding for the same flight on three planes in Detroit due to mechanical problems. I was so happy when I finally arrived in Miami… tired and sleepy, but wholly prepared for this journey to begin!

Inca Kola Logo

Inca Kola Logo

Since my arrival here in Perù, I’ve wandered around the markets of Puno, seen gorgeous mountains below while flying to Juliaca, taken pictures in front of the Presidential Residence near La Plaza Mayor in Lima, and even eaten Domino’s Pizza, Perú style!

Trucha Peruviana

The food here is amazing, and la trucha (trout) I had yesterday on a mountainside among ancient Incan terraces on the island of Taquile had to be one of the best. Both Taquile and Uros, the islands we toured yesterday, were awe-inspiring and located in Lake Titicaca, the largest navigable lake in the World!

Today we’re set to leave for Cusco, and tomorrow, I meet my host family! So much anticipation is coursing through me right now and I can’t wait to see what’s next! Peru, hasta ahora… es estupendo! read more →

 

Jonathan's Trip

In less than two weeks, I’ll be landing in the South American nation of Peru, set to begin an amazing, four week long journey full of adventure, self-discovery, service and excitement. The sheer magnitude of my expectations, in fact, make it difficult to speculate the best way to capture this momentous trip in my documentation project.

As of now, I am interested in assembling an avant garde photo essay centered around the idea of happiness as a universal medium through which all people can relate, no matter who they are or where they’re from. Dreams will also play a large part in the artistic approach to the documentation project, which will include  poetry and excerpts of  conversations between my subjects and I.

As I think deeply about how I want to capture the awe and appreciation for nature and humanity I will experience while in Peru that I wish to express to others, I’m getting excited about the photos I will take. This will be my first experience with concept photography!

The colors, the sounds, the textures, the gazes, the amazement of Peru… all things I hope my documentation project will capture, not only with my photos, but my poetry as well. I’m experienced, but writing for publication is a bit different, and although I’ve done it before, it takes more time, and more editing. I’m ready for the challenge though!

Besides brainstorming on my photo essay, I’m also experiencing the pre-departure jitters! While I await my flight from Detroit to Miami to Lima, part of me feels that time has never moved so slow. By the time that day comes though, chances are I’ll be sad about leaving my family and friends for nearly a month.

As the days get longer, my journey to Peru gets closer, and my curiosity grows more and more! read more →