Machu Picchu by Keegan Cook

When I learned that we were going to Machu Picchu, I assumed that we would just see the mountain and the ruins surrounding it. But when the day came to finally visit, I never would have imagined all of the other beautiful sights I would see on the way. The hostel we were staying in was nice and in the middle of a very scenic and touristy town called Aguas Calientes.

When we got to Machu Picchu we went on a hike up to one of the peaks called Sun Gate. It was an hour and a half hike. This peak had a great view of the landmark itself which let me see everything.

Machu Picchu was way hotter than what me and my friends thought it would be and we soon became drenched in sweat.

Machu Picchu had the smell of a big forest with lots of trees. The mountains surrounding the landmark were covered in tropical trees that seemed to never end. Machu Picchu was a fun experience and it is nice to say I have finally been there.

Sacred Valley by Micah Schulman

Before we could take the train to Aguas Calientes and from there go to Machu Picchu, we took a bus ride for several hours through the beautiful landscape to Ollantayambo.

The bus arrived at around ten o’clock at our hostel in Cusco. From there we were off. Our tour guide, Gina, explained different facts about where we were driving through, the Sacred Valley. She told us about how the Sacred Valley began thirty-two kilometers northeast of Cusco in the city of Pisac and about how it was a direct extension of the city of Cusco, but you can all just look that up so I will focus on the bus ride itself and the scenery that came with it.

About twenty minutes after our departure from Cusco, thanks to a purchase from Chance Rhodes and Aidan Brown, we had music. For the next few hours we listened to Classic Rock and stared out the window at the never ending mountains. Some of which had snow at the top and all of which were covered by sheets of green. They were more full and rich and incredibly detailed than any of the mountains I had ever seen. For the majority of the bus ride we followed a path that ran parallel to a narrow river called the Celestial River. In the reflexion of the river, we could see the clouds above and the mountains beside. Eventually, we arrived at Urubamba, where we ate our first classically tourist lunch.

Unlike just about everywhere else we had been, we were surrounded by tourists, eating only semi-Peruvian food. I’m not gonna lie, there was something very comfortable and familiar about it that we all enjoyed. However, after all of the far-off, desolate, and completely new places we had seen and worked in, there seemed to be a decent amount of fake, or at least staged qualities in the buffet. Like the herd of llamas in the backyard and the overpriced shops out front. From Urubamba the bus ride was not too long to the train station where we began our journey of Machu Picchu.

The bus ride through the Sacred Valley and the buffet in Urubamba really made it apparent of our switch from workers to tourists. As we saw more Gringos than we remembered existed, it made me wonder (even though I think I know the answer) how many of these other tourists have done the work we have done? Changed the lives that we have changed? And how many have seen and lived in the real, poverty-stricken, beautiful Peru like we have? It is a very special experience all of us have lived through. And we are all very lucky to have walked this road that not many men have walked down.

Finding God in Others by Jack Bennan

Pedro Arrupe S.J. defined men or women for others as, “men and women who will live not for themselves but for God and his Christ”. I had always agreed with this teaching, but was never exactly sure how to truly exemplify it until I came to Peru. I had always felt that I needed to do some extraordinary act of service to justify my want to help others. However, as I worked with people living in extreme poverty in Peru, I began to realize that service is a small part of how we live for God through others. It is in fact the relationships that we foster with others that defines our connection to God and our true character.

When we arrived in Peru, I got off the plane and was instantly shocked by the diversity of the people around us. Save the rest of our group, it appeared as if nobody around us spoke English. I felt as if the 17 of us were alone in a cold, dark Peru. However, I was instantly proved wrong when Señor Cordova began warmly talking to the baggage lady at the airport. While all of us were concerned about getting our bags and getting to the van waiting for us outside, Señor made sure that all of us found it a necessity to say thank you to the lady who helped us getting our luggage. Although it seemed a little odd, I found it interesting how someone who normally receives little acknowledgment seemed to deserve all of the respect in the world from Señor. Although I was seemingly unaware of it at the time, this encounter would foreshadow the month long lesson that I would receive from the people of Peru on the importance of my relationships with others.

I came to Peru hoping that service of the poor through manual labor would help me define the man I hope to become in life. ”Maybe working in “the ditch” will give me an idea of how I can leave my mark on the world with the rest of my life”, I thought to myself as I pulled on my paint stained work pants in Arequipa. But as we arrived to the San Francisco Circa school and saw the smiling faces of the children eager for our arrival, I knew I had been completely wrong. As I saw the face of little Jhon in the classroom, I instantly realized that he was ten times more important that the wall we were building outside. Manual labor comes and goes, but the relationships we form and the knowledge we share lasts forever. I learned right there that we will never be fulfilled by the work that we do, but rather the people that we help and positively impact. Because eventually one day the wall we built will fall, but hopefully, the hope we inspired in those children to do great things remains with them for the rest of their lives.

This ability to do good and connect with others does not come with a barrier of language. To be upfront, nobody on this trip is fluent in Spanish except for Cordova. However, because of the kindness we have been shown, the majority of the guys would say that they have helped people in need regardless, and made relationships that they will treasure forever. Whether this be with Cesar, Grower, Father Eddie or even Maria, the cook at the San José house in Mejia, we all would all say that we could all trust these people 100%. And indeed we have trusted these people, most of the time, with our lives and safety. And in return we have received nothing but love and true kindness. Because at the end of the day, we will not leave Peru with life long memories of the work we have done or the places we have seen, rather, the relationships we have formed and the love we have received. These will be etched into our character forever.

URCOS – Three Communities by Cole Andrews. Additional information provided by Jason Teetsel.

My alarm clock sounded off at 5:15am. My stomach turned in a knot as I knew that I was leaving my host family behind. I felt a pang of sadness but wanted to continue my journey in Peru. As I packed my bags for the airport I knew that this might be the last time I might ever saw them again. We hopped in the car and drove to the airport. Everyone grouped together and said goodbye. As I left for security check My host family mom gave me the biggest hug I had ever received in my life. I said my goodbyes and waved.

During the plane ride I saw all of Peru’s beautiful landscape. The lazy plains turned into scraggly tall mountains. As I was looking out the window I couldn’t stop thinking about Arequipa and what I was leaving behind. A fantastic culture, people, and food. The plane landed with a thud as we arrived in Cusco. Everyone got off and grabbed their bags at baggage claim. We all packed our bags onto one bus and got in another. The bus ride was 45 minutes into Urcos. When we arrived two gates opened into a courtyard with grass and two adjacent buildings. Ours was to the right and everyone brought their bags up. We claimed our beds and headed down for food. We had chicken sandwiches. After lunch we had a church tour. We saw three different churches, each one becoming more ornate. The history and context was amazing to hear. After the third church we went to shop and to tour the town square.

The bus ride back was the perfect opportunity for a nap. So I took it. We came back and had dinner. The Papas Fritas mixed with meat and rice was outstanding. Following dinner was a meeting. We talked about the next two days and where we were going. Ari Anderson read six Pslams coupled with an article from Pope Francis. Curfew was 10:30pm.

I sat bolt upright in my bed to the sound of Mexican music and voices talking. I slowly got up and brushed my teeth. I walked down the stairs to freezing cold air. Breakfast was bread and butter. The breakfast was paired with a hour bus ride through the winding slopes of the mountain. We were headed to Canchanura, a small town which sat at 12,795 feet. The view was mesmerizing. We painted the local community church.

Midway through the day one of the locals brought us potatoes that she had cooked on some hot rocks, she also brought some Ahi sauce. I was a little bit nervous to try them at first but it was cool to see how she brought them up on her back in a blanket. They were actually really good. By the time we were done the white paint looked nicer.  It was our hope that when the community gathered at church again the clean paint would give them hope for the future.

The bus ride back was a peaceful nap. I felt gross from the paint all over my body. I took a freezing cold shower. I layed in bed and wrote in my journal. Everyone and Mrs. DeLozier headed to downtown Urcos. We fueled our bodies with junk food as we walked back. Everyone talked and ate food as we got back. Lights were out at at 10:30 again.

The second day was even more fulfilling then the next. I again woke up to Spanish music. It was my favorite Amigos con Derecho. We drove up to a small village above the city of Urcos called Poblacion. It was over 12,000 feet high. We drove on a one lane dirt road up the side of the mountain where the bus driver honked at every curve.  It showed how remote the community was. It was intense but our bus driver was amazing and very safe. Once we arrived, the view was incredible you could see for miles down the windy dirt road we had taken.  Our job was to repaint a small church perched on the side of a mountain.  After cleaning out the inside, removing benches and religious icons we began to repaint the inside white while another group sanded the inside before applying the paint.  The painting was a little bit slow and tedious and boring at the time but once we finished it was amazing at what we accommplished.

After our work we hit the town of Cusco. It was exuberant watching the people and hearing the music. I bought sunglasses with my friends as we toured the town. We got on the bus and got back late to Urcos. We all went to bed by 10pm.

This was our last day in Urcos. We had to get up at five in the morning. I packed my stuff and brought it down. We got in the bus and had a three-hour bus ride to Pomacanchi. I slept for most of it. We arrived and had breakfast. It was frigid yet again. We all got on the bus and went up a plateu. The green hills hid the Peruvians on their hands and knees picking potatoes and sorting them. No tourist would ever see these people. More Natives were herding alpacas and sheep. When we got to the workplace we had to dig out land covering stairs.

Two hours of hard manual labor was tough. Next we had to paint, but not the normal way. We were given sheep skin, that we dipped in paint and splattered onto the side of the church. Me, Justin, Brad, and Aiden painted. We painted right next to pigs. The pigs would lick the paint and sniff it. As we painted we got drenched in paint and in fecal matter. It wasn’t pleasant in the ditch. But we managed.

After work we had lunch there as we saw the community surround us. We gave them hope by being there. As we finished lunch we handed out books, and notebooks. The kids were beaming with joy. I felt fulfilled yet lost. Why were these kids so impoverished and we weren’t? I contemplated this on the way back. I thought myself to sleep. Three hours had passed. We were back at Urcos. We then loaded another bus with our bags and headed to Cusco. We were finally done with work. The hour bus ride headed into downtown Cusco. Once we arrived at the hostel, we set our stuff down and showered. We watched Captain America Winter Soldier huddled in a room. We finally went to bed at one in the morning.

We were proud to make a difference in these communities. Here is a link for more information on the three communities.

CIRCA San Francisco School by Davis McHenry, Jack Olsen, Jason Teetsel and Chance Rhodes

CIRCA, a Jesuit organization founded by Father Carlos Ponzo, S.J., is a large network of 48 schools, eight orphanages, two clinics and 23 parishes. the CIRCA schools together have more than 17,000 students.

Father Ponzo’s family immigrated to Peru from Italy when he was 18-years-old. For ten years he worked selling used items. When his business failed he decided to take on a new life as a Jesuit priest. After initially rejecting the religious life, Ponzo came back and dedicated himself to the poor people. He began building schools in poor communities, working alongside others to create what is now the CIRCA organization. (CIRCA information provided by Deacon Joe Stickney).

When we first arrived at the school, getting off the vans we were greeted with Peruvian and American flags. Both countries represented in unity between the sea of excited and smiling faces. Upon entering the gates there were three students with small white plastic pipes, holding them up against their shoulders like guards with their swords, guarding the gate as we entered it. The principal immediately came up to us and, in Spanish, began thanking us for the past work Brophy has contributed into the making of their school. We were quickly seated into the back of the outdoor soccer/basketball court, the small stands in front of us full of green and white uniforms. Beginning with a prayer, the different grades then gave presentations varying from dances, to marches, and speeches. However, not all grades got to go. The final dance being cancelled due to technological issues. We felt very honored and appreciated by the community but most of us were just itching to get to work.

We were tasked with continuing the work of Broncos who came before us. This task was to continue extending the perimeter wall in order to protect the school and officially claim the land for the school. We were told that if there wasn’t a wall around a property, someone could just come in and claim it as their own.

We were divided up into groups. About half of the group was shovelling sand and rocks into buckets to make cement. It was hard work to keep the dirt contained into the pile. However the hardest job of all was carrying and dumping the buckets of dirt and rock into the cement mixer. They were so heavy that most people could not even lift them. The next step of the process was to hold wheelbarrows and take the cement from the mixer into the ̈Ditch ̈ (Cordova). The Ditch consisted of a dug out area full of wet cement and rebar, where the foundation of the wall was being laid. This work taught us what it means to truly serve others. Despite being dirty and tired taught, we were able to find a sense of satisfaction and purpose in our tough labor. After hours of backbreaking work, the schools generosity was apparent when they provided us lunch, where Brophy students ate alongside proven architects and workers. Finally, the students of St. Fransancisco Javier treated us to the dance we had missed at the very beginning of the day.

The next day, most students went straight to construction. We were all very anxious to get to work and put our hands in the dirt. However, one group was tasked with entertaining the forty or so children in the classroom. This presented a different kind of challenge, as none of the children or the teachers were able to speak English. So we decided to try and play some games. We first, unsuccessfully, introduced and explained ̈heads up seven up, ̈ which soon descended into the kids running around and trying not to get picked. Once we got the class back under control, we were able to play ̈Simon Says ̈ and ̈Hangman ̈ in Spanish. We had a lot of fun playing with the kids but we were excited to get to work with the rest of the group.

The work that we did consisted of poring cement, digging a trench, making roads, repairing paths, and pushing heavy wheel barrels of rocks up a hill. After the first day, many of us were very sore, but we were determined to finish our work to the best of our ability. One of the most important lessons we learned as a group was to work together through the pain. Like Señor Cordova said, “Nothing in life that is easy is worth while.”

BEFORE

AFTER

Vamos a la playa – Justin An and Keegan Cook

This past weekend, the Brophy Peru team went to the Mejia Beach Jesuit Retreat House. It was around a three hour bus ride from the San Jose school. There, we had fun at the beach, reflected on our experiences in Peru so far, played games, ate, and more.

When we arrived to the Mejia Retreat House, we immediately went to the beach. The waves were massive and were up to 30 feet tall, so we couldn’t go too deep into the ocean. Micah Schulman said, “These waves are crazy.” At the beach, we bodysurfed, had sand competitions such as long jump, relaxed, and took pictures. We went back to the beach house for lunch. We had a breaded chicken and rice, which were amazing thanks to our amazing cooks: Maria Jose, Nancy and Bernardo.

The beach was so fun that all of us went back after lunch. Back at the beach, the waves eroded the sand into a mini cliff that would break if anyone stepped onto the edge. We also stood shoulder to shoulder in game of endurance. The goal was to stay standing still for as long as possible while waves crashed into us. For first game we stood facing the waves, for the second, we had our eyes closed, the for the third game, we stood facing away from the waves. We also saw a small stray dog on the beach. The dog was very friendly and enjoyed playing fetch with us.

At sunset, the way the sun hit the mountains in the distance while reflecting on the beach was beautiful. All together, we had a great time bonding at the beach with one another. For dinner, we had another great meal of fried fish and yuka potato fries.

After dinner came the reflection. It was really powerful. Some questions from Cordova that stuck were:

-WHY ARE WE HERE IN PERU?

-WHO ARE THE POOR IN PERU?

-HOW ARE WE GOING TO ANSWER GOD’S CALL BACK IN ARIZONA?

To answer the, “Who are the poor in Peru?” question, the first obvious answer was the kids that were at the Circa school, the people living in the mountains without water or electricity, etc. However, we all felt that this question went deeper. Most of us said that actually, we were the poor in Peru. The poor people we met were one of the happiest people we ́ve ever encountered. They were happiest with the least. I thought that we were poor because we lacked the happiness and humbleness the kids and adults had, even with little luxuries.

After reflection, most of us played Werewolves of Miller’s Hallow where the ́townspeople´ had to guess who was killing off everyone in the group. It was really fun and we stayed up until midnight playing it.

The place we stayed at was nice. It had a basketball court where we played hoops. The bunkbeds were comfy but it was difficult trying to get onto the top bunk.

The next day, we had a one last time at the beach relaxing, and then we were on our way back to our Arequipa host families. It was the first time in a while that we had time to relax. Overall, we all grew closer and became more like family.

 

Cerro Verde Mine Tour – Michael Gliss and Jason Teetsel

Cerro Verde, a mine located 30 kilometers away from the center of Arequipa, Peru is owned and operated by Freeport-McMoRan, a Phoenix company. Cerro Verde, with its 6,000 workers from Arequipa, is one of the largest mines in the world with two concentrators.

At first glance, the three open pits of Cerro Verde, which span a total of 3 kilometers, instill a great feeling of awe. The pictures of the mine don’t do its scale justice. The vast emptiness of the open pit really makes you feel small in this massive world we live in. Upon seeing the vast pit Jason Teetsel stated, “Wow, that’s a pretty big hole.”  The tour guide at Cerro Verde explained to us that the mine is fully self sustainable and that they re-filter the wastewater of Arequipa and re-release the water back to the Chili River.

We were surprised about the very small yield of product for the large amount of material processed. Throughout the tour of the mine, the sun was always beating down on us. Even through the bus windows, it felt like Arizona in the summertime. It was interesting to see how long and complex the whole process of mining and refining copper ore was. The copper goes through multiple separation phases, including going through a water tank with lime juice. Even though it is an American owned mining company, Cerro Verde still helps the Arequipa by providing jobs, protecting its surrounding environment, and recycling water.

 

Arequipa(n) Rocking- Jack Bennan

We left La Inmaculada the morning of June 1st. Leaving Lima and La Inmaculada was difficult for me because it was leaving the sense of community and acceptance that our entire group had tried so hard to foster. La Inmaculada for me represented safety, because it was so different from the slums from which we had just come from working the day before. Leaving our homes and loving families, La Inmaculada was a smooth transition into Peruvian life with each of our own rooms, and 24/7 guards protecting us from the outside world.

After arriving to the airport, Señor Cordova gave us free time to get food in the airport. Most people got Papa Johns or McDonalds and decided to sit outside the food court. Everyone was enjoying their lunch until a family of Peruvians approached us and asked if we were Americans. After saying yes, the family asked us if we could take a picture with them. I thought this was odd at first, but we all got up and took the photo, however awkward it was. As I was thinking about it later, I began to recognize that we were probably the first Americans they had ever seen. I don’t think any of us really thought about this before the fact, as in America it is extremely easy to see a diversity of people.

When we arrived to Arequipa, all of us were amazed by the difference in terrain from Lima. Lima never had any sun and was constantly cloudy, Arequipa was already hot even at 5 o’clock at night. Arequipa also has the tallest mountains I have ever laid my eyes on. I felt like I was looking at Mount Everest.

When we got into the single carousel airport, we immediately saw the families waiting for us outside. They were so excited, it sounded like the crowd of a football game. When I met Gabriel’s mom and Grandma, I was caught off guard with their Spanish. It was embarrassing to tell Gabriel that I couldn’t talk to his mom clearly because I didn’t know enough Spanish.

That night I was introduced to my room in my family’s two story penthouse. With no TV or electronics as always, I know I will finish my book on Steve Jobs. That night, I went to dinner with some other Brophy students at a Chinese-Peruvian restaurant. It was surprisingly good. When I went home that night, I fell asleep instantly, even with the dogs barking because of the fireworks going off. Apparently setting off fireworks for no reason on a weekend is an acceptable thing to do in Peru. I am thrilled at the idea of serving the community here.

 

Reflection on our time in Lima – PEBAL La Immaculada by Ari, Adian and Spencer

Written by Ari Anderson, Aidan Brown, and Spencer Pozun.

Señor Cordova gave us this prompt for our journals for our first day working in PEBAL: “Where did you see God today?”  Like every other Bronco on this trip, we wrote the words down in our notebooks and disregarded it. However, the knowledge and wisdom that the prompt has given us is enough to fill more pages than this blog allows.

We began our first day of work with PEBAL La Immaculata on an exhilarating bus ride. On the bus we met Emilio, the operations manager of PEBAL, Liz, and Sister Sylvia, a nun from Italy who has worked at PEBAL for the last three years. PEBAL was founded in 1978 by the Jesuits. The mission of PEBAL is “to improve personal abilities through education, health and social commitment so that the nearby communities are enduring.  PEBAL is summarized in one word:  Transformation.”  PEBAL offers services for health, classes to learn a trade, and school for the children of the community.

The traffic in Lima is incomparable to anywhere else. Speed laws? Non-existent. Right of way? Nowhere to be seen. Police moderating the streets? A funny afterthought.  And, the traffic is constant. Constant as the grey clouds that loom over Lima. It would become something that we came to both enjoy and dread. It’s both exhilarating and terrifying when you see a cab driver turn a two-lane freeway into a three-lane freeway with merging cars on all sides.

After about a twenty-minute bus ride, we arrived at the base of operations for PEBAL. We were greeted by two small kiosks, each selling similar wares of gum, candy and soda. We barely had time to purchase gum before we were ushered back onto the bus. The bus ride over to San Juan de Miraflores was something that will always be with us. As the bus climbed the mountain, our preconceptions of poverty were shattered. The old buildings surround the base of PEBAL seemed bad until we saw the actual neighborhood of San Juan. The brick turned to corrugated steel, and the asphalt of the streets turned to dirt. Our previously gregarious bus went almost silent as we traversed the slippery, muddy streets of San Juan de Miraflores.

We worked on PEBAL’s casitas; safe places for children to go after their school day is over. We broke up into groups and were sent off to do specific jobs. These casitas were all on the side of the mountain, and muddy roads were the only way to get to there. In one casita, we repaired, repainted and reinforced the doors, walls, and furniture.  Another group painted the walls, both inside and out, and sanded and painted chairs for the children. The last group swept, cleaned and organized. The work was monotonous but fulfilling, and we left the casitas feeling accomplished at what we had done.

For lunch, we went back to PEBAL La Immaculata to eat. There we were able to play some games in the courtyard and bought snacks from the vendors. Once it was time to get back to work we were assigned the task of sanding down 200 rusted chairs to get them ready to be repainted.

The next day we went back and continued our work.  However, during the night it had rained.  The entire mountain was covered in a misty cloud. We finished the work from the previous day and were getting ready to leave for lunch and continue our afternoon work back at PEBAL. As one group was leaving their casita for the last time, a man named Fernando approached them. He began conversing with Señor Cordova and we learned about the neighborhood we were in.

The hills that we stood on were previously the land of pig farmers, but at the city of Lima expanding, it became a dumping ground for the garbage of the city. The residents of the neighborhood of San Juan de Miraflores remained in their homes, despite the increasing levels of waste. The pig farmers also remained, and the pigs began to eat the garbage that was discarded there. The residents ate those pigs and got sick. According to Fernando, their skin began to peel, and when they realized that the pork was the source of the sickness, it was too late. The pig farmers are gone now, and heaps of trash take their place on the mountain. San Juan de Miraflores does not have any running water or plumbing, and will probably never have either. Water trucks bring fresh water to the houses where large blue barrels are filled for the weekly water supply. Word cannot describe our feelings, but the opportunity to assist and give hope to this community will always stay with us.

After lunch the second day, we cleaned abandoned shacks that used to be greenhouses  off the roof of one of PEBAL‘s buildings. We moved pallets, enamel buckets, and wooden beams. We also worked on the future plans for the complex which will include adding an additional story to the building.

At the end of the day, Ari had the opportunity to talk with Emilio who is also an alum of El Colegio De La Inmaculada where we lived during our stay in Lima. Through “Spanglish”, they discussed many different topics but arrived at this conclusion: Our job is not to be saviors, nor teachers or prophets. Our job is work and live WITH the people of Peru. As much as we do for them, they do for us.

A.M.D.G.

Ari, Aidan and Spencer