Monthly Archives: March 2008

Beauty in Peru

Though doing solo internships during the spring semester, LEAPYEAR students post to a Yahoo group that allows them to share inspirations, and support one another during difficult times:

So I woke up this morning and realized that I am surrounded by beauty. It was especially sunny today but there are always giant fluffy clouds. In the mornings they tickle the tops of the mountains that surround the valley where I am.  Later they clear and I can see
the snowcapped peaks of the Andes from the open wall of one of the dirt floor huts I teach in. The children are adorable and I have surprised myself with how patient I have been in teaching the letter E for two days and counting.  My Spanish is getting better despite
the fact that my teacher keeps flaking.

Last night the English volunteers and I made pancakes which is a tradition in England and ate them with our Peruvian family. The family also just got a tiny orange fluffy kitten that always helps when I feel lonely.

The area I am in reminds me at times of India. All the families washing clothes and bathing in the dirty irrigation canals and living in little clay huts with dirt floors and open windows. Pigs, cows, donkeys, chickens and dogs run wild but there is a sad lack of llamas. Overall I am good for now though I miss you all terribly and I am often quite lonely.  I am worried that I will be really lonely in about two weeks when the other volunteers leave but hopefully more will come soon.

Lonely in Hanoi

At the start of the LEAPYEAR individual internship, it’s not uncommon for students to feel lonely. This student was just starting a 3 month internship working with autistic children in Vietnam:

I’m lonely.

It’s just me, myself and I in this chaotic Asian city. Nobody speaks a word of English and although I’ve made a couple of friends, I still spend the majority of my time solo. I was sitting by the cathedral, drinking cappuccino and writing in my journal and I had this
sudden wave of panic come over me: What if this is it? What if this is what the rest of my life will look like? Days spent in cafes dreaming about adventures and relationships I’ll never experience? Then I brought myself back to the present and realized how completely melodramatic I can be (especially when I have time to wonder). It’s my 5th day out of 3 months… we should all give ourselves a pat on the back. Most of the foreigners I meet here are in their late twenties and traveling with other people.. And here we are, barely 20 and taking on foreign lands all by ourselves… So remember it’s only the beginning.
It’s supposed to feel sticky at times, but “this too shall pass”.
That’s my little self-pep talk for the day.

Thai Boxing in Chiang Mai

A report from a LEAPYEAR student who is studying Thai and Thai Boxing in Thailand:

Today’s training was packed with flying fists, kicks and sweat. It was the most intense day yet for me and it’s just the start. My knuckles are raw and I broke skin a bit on a couple of them. I wasn’t using gloves. I semi-enjoy the pain. But also the communal gloves they have here are nasty, sweaty and caked with grease. I need to buy a personal pair, I should have brought some from home. I don’t know why I didn’t.

This random short Irish guy (I think he was Irish) started showing me pointers while I was punching the bag and I think I understood about 60% percent of what he was saying. I seem to have trouble understanding other people here. It’s like a curse. He was a short fella
and apparently has been boxing for ten years. He showed me his left ear which had the top portion of it cut off. At one point he whipped out his cell phone and showed me some pictures of his last fight that he lost to this huge Thai in Chiang Mai. I made sure to listen to him cause physically he looked like he knew what he was talking about, but I’m not so sure vocally. He lost his words a couple of times and just had to resort to demonstrating. Must have lost a few too many brain cells. He told me to emphasize punch combinations over kicking. He also told me to avoid grappling in a fight and to just push the opponent away. That’s why my knuckles are sore and red. Though my right foot is also tender. I’m getting faster and getting more stamina, which is very satisfying to experience.

The weather has been absolutely perfect and it seems like this is a vacation on these warm dreamy sunny days. Life is easy going here and the people are warm. I could live here. Oh wait, I am!

Man I’m going to be sore in the morning…..

Trekking the Inca Trail

This just in yesterday from a LEAPYEAR student taking a break from her community development internship in rural Peru to hike up the Inca Trail to the famous “Lost City of the Incas,”  Machu Picchu.

So yesterday my friend and I made it through all the tourist traps to the lost city of Machu Picchu.  We have been planning to go together since 7th grade so it was awesome to get to follow through on that.  The way there was a nightmare of overpriced fees and tickets but there really is no describing the sensation of seeing it in person. Everyone has seen the famous picture of the ruins and it is a beautiful picture. It is the mountains surrounding the ruins that give it mystery, however.  It is amazing how you can in one of the most touristy places on earth and somehow still feel as if you have stumbled upon a great unknown.

There is something about that place that makes it run so deep in you.
It is like the atmosphere is to big for a body to absorb and pushes you out of controlling the experience. You pose for the photos but at the same time it feels utterly pointless to make the effort to capture this place in the dimensions of a photograph as the visual component is only the medium for opening the true draw of this place’s energy.
There were condors circling the ruins and endless little miracles of being somewhere so profound.  I still can’t believe I went there but it is one of those things that I know will continue to influence me as it has time to sink in.

Already I feel more connected to how vast a mountain lies below me as I stand on the tip of the evolution of human thought and consciousness. Seeing such vast ruins reminds one of how many ways of thinking have been pushed to extinction to make room for the knowledge of our world today.