Cuzco Trip: The Casa Hogar
On the same day that we visited the small farming community in the mountains, we continued on to a casa hogar (girls’ shelter) run by some nuns in a town at an even higher altitude (~14k feet?). On the bus, we had prepared three songs to sing as a group to the girls, and the girls had prepared about 20 minutes of dance numbers to perform for us. It was a grand affair with juice and popcorn, and after the performances were done, we put on music and everyone danced. Dancing at high altitude was extremely tiring for the gringos, and although some were able to continue dancing for the rest of the night, I had to quit after about 30 minutes, I went outside to join a game of volleyball.
We played for a while, but when it started to rain and we had to wrap up the game, we went back to the main building and I found a guitar somewhere and I friend of mine pulled his harmonica out of his backpack and we started to jam. All of the girls wanted to try guitar and harmonica, or sing along with whatever lyrics popped into their heads, sometimes in Spanish, and sometimes in Quechua, the native language for many people who live in the Andes.
It was really fun, and the girls were super friendly, fun-loving and enthusiastic, excited that we were there and sad to see us go, but eventually we all piled back into the bus and drove away. The stars driving back to Cuzco were some of the best that I’ve ever seen.
One incident I heard about that’s worth noting:
One of the girls in our program, Carlie, had just finished a week of volunteering at the casa hogar the day before our trip. A few times, she said, girls had come up to her and compared her skin color to theirs and said hers (white skin) was pretty and theirs (darker skin) was ugly. It was really sad to hear about this kind of thing, as everyone there had dark skin. They watch the same three movies and no other TV, so its amazing how far reaching the effects of racism can stretch even in a place with so little outside interaction.
^ Obligatory alpaca selfie.