Written by Emma Beaumont. It should actually be read before the expedition update, but we just post them when we receive them…
As a short disclaimer, this update is incredibly late due to a number of reasons, that are definitely not my fault, I assure you.
Waking up with the towering spectacle of Jesus watching over us is a pleasant way to start any day, especially if it comes after a restless night on the roof, trying to avoid the ants that find us so attractive. After descending from your roof-bed the next logical step would perhaps be to take a shower. Alas the queues and the temperature make remaining dirty much more appealing. However today is different as it is our final morning in Villa Maria. Indeed there is an incredibly emotional tinge to standard proceedings such as breakfast… “this is the last time I have to empty the dirty water bucket” and other such phrases echo around the school we have come to view as home.
We have continued to work with different communities in Villa Maria and have formed strong bonds with many of the kids, who actually refer to us by our names now, rather than simply Gringo. A marked improvement! As well as providing afternoon entertainment for the children, always armed with skipping ropes and hula’ hoops, last week we embarked on an epic voyage to the zoo. This was quite a mission as we squeezed 70 children on a coach surely made for half that number. The added element of balloons to entertain the kids didn´t aid our situation. However it was incredible to see some of the kids’ faces light up as we drove through Lima, wildly gesturing at roundabouts and bridges. We later found out this excitement was due to the fact that many had never left Villa Maria at all, which gave the trip added significance.
Another feature of life in Villa Maria we have grown very accustomed too is family Sundays, where the weekly struggle to find our inner rhythm has led us to create some extremely interesting dance routines. Perhaps the highlights were an amusing interpretation of Lady GaGa´s Alejandro and a frankly disturbing portrayal of Beyonce´s single ladies. However masterful these routines appeared they were always topped by the sight of us dressed in our Disney costumes, although Vicky´s Hulk outfit did terrify some children it has to be said.
As we often have free time in the evenings, the group has found inventive ways to keep ourselves entertained. For example our quizzes brought out the competitive sides in some of the more docile members of the clan, but it has to be mentioned that the union Romy and I dominated, even knowing the colours of all the mighty power rangers; however Rachel and Sarah (the quizmeisters) have yet to deliver on their promise of a prize.
As we leave for the final stage of our adventure, on behalf of our whole group I would like to thank the Peruvians who worked with us in the communities as they made us feel so welcome, even whilst they played elaborate practical jokes on us. A particular favorite was when the ladder up to our roof palace mysteriously disappeared in the dark of night rendering us stuck for a good few hours. Luckily Tom, Vicky, Romy and I (a motley crew if there ever was one) exacted our revenge by filling Alejandro´s bedroom with balloons. Ultimately every member of our group has taken something from Villa Maria which will no doubt stay with us for a long time to come and without exception we all feel slightly tearful watching the hilarious videos Lucho created for us which capture perfectly our month in Villa Maria.
To conclude we are also delighted at the return of Conspicuous J.O.E. who has recovered from his collection of illnesses and come back in great spirits. Now it is on to expedition with our new leader Rob, who has already created a bit of a hysteria that we have dubbed Robsession amongst certain members of our troupe.