Munaychay, Peru – Dragging stones and potato pasta

Joerg picks, hoes, and chisels. I shovel, drag small rocks and roll the bigger ones as long as my power permits. From stones dug up and grass sod we build a ramp for Arminius. That’s our first task in children’s village Munaychay. There is a piece of unused meadow with a perfect view to the snow-covered peaks of Cordillera Urubamba on one side and to the green Cordillera Vilcabamba on the other. That’s where we want to settle down for the next four weeks.

Unfortunately a sort of modern rural Inca wall with heavy weight blocks bar our way, but nobody has got something against us removing a part of the embankment to create an access. There are suspiciously few watchers during our works. Fortunately nobody is bothered by women lugging rocks in Peru. As we finished few hours later they come nodding around the corners: “Well done! Good work!”

We committed ourselves to volunteer in the children’s village Munaychay for some weeks. The village is located close to Cusco, in a side valley from Urubamba, and belongs to the private humanitarian project It attends mainly to education of children, developing of workplaces to dam migration to the cities, and self-supply. Potatoes and vegetables are grown on fields in the open air and in greenhouses; vegetables, chickens and eggs are sometimes even sold on the market.

During our journey we realized that we are extremely privileged. I don’t mean only us world travellers; I talk about most people in Central Europe and in North America. As far as we are concerned we want to dedicate a part of our vacation time and work capacity for a good cause and chose this small unbureaucratic project. Like usual we’ll look behind the scenes with an amused and a critical eye. At the same time we aren’t too angry to pass rainy season in the mountains this way and to get through the waiting time for our new tyres, which aren’t even on the way, since we didn’t overcome Peru’s bureaucratic import obstacles yet.

At 1 p.m. our stomachs rumble from hard work in 3,400 m elevation, and I go with my pot into the kitchen. The cook is sceptical. “You want to eat???” she asks. What else shall I want in the kitchen? Tissues, shampoo, flea powder? “Yes, lunch for two, please.” She still doubts and lifts the pot’s lid: „But we only have this.“ She points at pasta mixed with whole potatoes. I don’t think I look like something better with my worker look: dirty jeans, muddy boots, and tousled hair. “That’s fine” I ensure her whereupon I receive a portion good for a family of four. The pasta-potato mix isn’t bad in terms of taste, and it even contains trace elements of onions, peas, carrots, meat, and substantial oil to be filling.

In the evening the kids can’t resist any more. The horde chose one of the older girls to be the speaker, and she asks politely if they may enter. I guess we can’t prevent that permanently, so yes. The children go into raptures over our cabin, and they have clear priorities: Where is the bed? Kitchen? Stove, clear, oven, whoa, and look, a refrigerator! That has to be investigated. A sink, and see, there comes even water. Bathroom? Here. Shower also? Whoa. And where are the clothes? The closet has to be checked. Where are the shoes? At the door. The kids are satisfied, although very curious and a bit invasive. Some of them are really bright, they think about things even adults usually don’t think of. “Do you have electricity? Where does the water come from? And where does the water of the shower go?” Respect, girls. One of the boys wants to know: “Do you have a TV as well?“ “No, we have books. For reading.” “Oh…”

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