Linda Masterson - Incan & Wari Archaeology in Peru
After 38 years, I retired from teaching in July 2012. As a widow with no children, I was looking for something different to fill my time. I had been to Peru before, once on a Charity Trek to Machu Picchu for a local hospice and once on an escorted touring holiday. I really liked the country and the Inca project looked very interesting so I decided to spend May and June 2013 volunteering on this project.
I did wonder about the age gap, as I expected a lot of young people and I wondered how they would view a 60-year-old volunteer (albeit a young at heart one!). However, I had no need to worry because all of the volunteers at the community house, El Establo, were friendly and welcoming and we became quite close, so much so that I am in touch with several of them now and hope to meet up with them again! Most of the volunteers were between the ages of 18 and 25, coming from European countries and Canada and the USA. There were some older people - as we liked to call ourselves - Ladies over the age of 30!
Volunteering in Peru
The archaeological work on the Inca project was interesting. We met and talked to the two archaeologists on the project and we measured, mapped and excavated the site. Unfortunately we only found a few pieces of ceramic pottery, however as we dug deeper they got much bigger!
The community work was good fun too. On the site at Establo, we, amongst other things, cleared the banana tree plantation with machetes, cleared drainage ditches, picked fruit and coffee beans and put soil in bags in preparation for coffee plants for the local people.
We went to the local library in Huyro once a week and told stories in English and Spanish to the little children, as well as playing games with them - they loved the English Bingo! We also helped paint murals on the wall of the new nursery school.
Free time in Peru
Over the weekends, we made the most of our time in Peru by visiting different places, staying in reasonable hostels and watching local festivals. Having visited several of the tourist sites previously – the Pisac and Ollantaytambo – I chose to go to other places, like Urubamba, Quillabamba and the hot springs at Santa Theresa. I still went back to Machu Picchu (my fourth visit), however, but his time I walked along the train track and arrived there to see the sunrise!
I also went to Cusco several times as it is such a vibrant city with plenty to do! The highlight of my trip, however, was watching the annual Inti Raymi Festival, which is a re-enactment of and Inca Ceremonial to the Sun - absolutely stunning!
I thoroughly enjoyed volunteering at Establo, even though I had a serious accident on my first day. I slipped off a ladder I was climbing on and hit my forehead, which led to 50 stitches. I must say the care I received from Projects Abroad was excellent and enabled me to stay in Peru and complete my two months! I now have a permanent souvenir of my time in Peru!