Peru with a Purpose

Peru with a Purpose
Featured Writer: Cheryl 

In February, 2010 a group of fellow post-grad classmates and I decided to spend our Spring Break doing something a little less cliché than Miami Beach and wet t-shirt contests; so we flew over 3,800 miles south to Peru to embark on a South American adventure. Not only did I have the burning desire to see Machu Picchu up close and personal, but this trip would provide the ultimate privilege of working with a small community that had been devastated by an earthquake three years prior.

Few things are more pleasant to a Canadian escaping winter than stepping off a plane and basking in the heat of a warm, tropical night. Lima was bright, busy, and fantastically loud.  We arrived at our lodgings for the night and were happy to see we wouldn’t have to go far to enjoy our first night in Peru; the hostel was brimming with travelers, music and cervezas. 

We had just one day to explore Peru’s capital before heading out and beginning our volunteer work. After negotiating cab rates before hopping in, we travelled to the downtown square to take in the presidential building, flea markets, and everything in between. One of the highlights of Lima is the coastline and sipping Pisco sours on restaurant balconies at the infamous Larcomar mall was in my opinion, the best way to appreciate the Pacific Ocean coast.

Interestingly, the city for which Peru’s favorite drink was named after was exactly where we were headed to begin our volunteer work. The lingering impact of the earthquake in Pisco was apparent. Rubble, damaged building, craters and cracks made travelling by rickshaw exceptionally bumpy and confusing.

For a week, we worked on a community greenhouse to set up walls, build shade structures, install a water-tank, pour concrete, and plant seedlings arranged through the local agency Awaiting Angels. Did I mention I had picked up a hammer twice before this? Besides the construction, every day we looked forward to hanging out with the local children, playing soccer, playing pranks, and exchanging language. Our lives our different, but not as much as people seem to think.

After a farewell dinner hosted by the Pisco community, our group headed out for the final “touristy” leg of trip. Sand-boarding anyone?  In the middle of a desert, you can find the Huacachina Oasis where the biggest attraction is roller coaster-like dune-buggy rides complete with sand-boarding down the hills. Surprisingly, you do not end up with a mouthful of sand even when going down belly first!

A short flight later, we were in the heart of ancient Incan civilization, Cuzco, gateway to Machu Picchu. Unfortunately, for the first time in ten years (as luck would have it) a major mudslide had shut down the world heritage UNESCO site for a period of three weeks. (Insert groan of despair here). But when the Incan gods close a door they open a window; that window happened to be a series of less famous, but equally impressive ancient ruin sites collectively known as the Sacred Valley.

Sacsayhuaman (pronounced “sex-say woman”), Ollantaytambo, and Pisaq were just some of the inspiring locations we were able to glimpse into the life and intelligence of the ancient Incan peoples.  Nothing made us feel more Peruvian than enjoying all these sights with the company of a few choice alpacas. On our final night, we were able to enjoy alpaca in an entirely different way at the Cicciolina restaurant.  I don’t know how many people can say they have eaten cow tongue, alpaca meat, and cuy (guinea pig) all in one sitting, but I’m proudly one of them.

Like all good things, the Peruvian adventure had to come to an end, but not without new friends, cherished memories, and an affinity for Pisco sours. Next time, I’ll go when mudslide season is over.

Submissions to

With 500,00 hits and 13,000 followers in less than 6 months, I’ve decided to start outsourcing some of my posts and I’m accepting submissions!

Submit your travel posts and bucket list adventures along with photography to Bucket List Publications at [email protected]. All authors/photographers whose articles are chosen for publication will receive publication at, a link to their blog, and a link on my Facebook page Lesley Carter – has an average of 200,000 views a month, 13,000 followers, and around 10,000 readers a day!

Please submit articles on the following subjects:

Top Ten
Extreme Adventures

Articles should include at least 3 pictures and up to 10. Pictures should be sent as jpeg attachments rather than embedded in a word file. Maximum size per email is 10mb so if you’re sending many large photos you can use multiple emails.

Your submissions do not need to be original posts. You can submit already published works as long as they are your own content. I do ask that all submissions are in Microsoft Word format and all photos are sent as jpeg attachmentsPlease title your submissions with one of the above listed categories. 

Remember to include your name and a link to your blog at the top of the text. 

Send submissions to [email protected].

I’ll start posting submissions on Friday, January 20th, 2012 and post regularly on the weekends.

Thank you and I look forward to reading your Bucket List Publications!

95 thoughts on “Peru with a Purpose

  1. Now this is a place I would love to go. Machu Picchu. The spiritual beauty of the place just mystifies and enchants me. Again, thanks for the vicarious pleasure!


  2. Love Peru, been to Macchu Picchu twice, but never made it to Huacachina Oasis. Someday maybe. Plan to spend time in Peru regularly now that my son is moving there permanently. If anyone knows a hotel owner in Lima that would let a solo artist sing for his room and board, please let me know!


  3. Pingback: Featured on Lesley Carter’s blog! | Life as Modern Wife

  4. Definitely a winner here, Leslie! Sharing and caring mixed with culuture explorations and native livestock interactions! Peru has fascinated me since geography class in the fifth grade back in the 50s.


  5. Nice pictures and nice gesture out of your group to help those in needs. That is one of my goals to accomplish yet. Go on vacation and help others in need while having fun. Great job to all of you. God bless.


  6. I so envy your adventures. I’ve wanted to travel all my life, but haven’t made it further than Mexico yet…and it’s getting late to start! Thank you for giving me glimpses of the places I’ve always wanted to go. 🙂


  7. Wow, it’s always great to hear when people put their holidays to a good use like you did when you decided to work with those people affected by the earthquake. I have a friend who was born and raised in Peru and I’ve seen some of the pictures she took recently when visiting her extended family – it’s like you said: the lives of the people over there are different in some ways and the same in other ways as ours.


  8. My husband and I just returned from Peru & Bolivia in October. I can’t wait to go back. It was a life changing experience and so exuisitely beautiful and special. This post brought back so many memories! Thanks for sharing!


  9. Hi Leslie,
    I am so totally interested in this program. I’ve always wanted to see Peru and this offers a legit way to do so while making a difference. Can I ask how many weeks you stayed in the program?



    • Hi Caitlin,

      I was the featured writer on this one and I can tell you a bit more about the trip:
      We volunteered through a North American organization called Students Offering Support who liaisons with local agencies. In Peru, this local agency was Awaiting Angels – and we were impressed! When we were in Cuzco, it was actually at the rep’s home that we stayed in! Even after our volunteer part was over. Links to both these organizations are found on my blog:

      We were there for just under two weeks. Trips can be customized for your own needs.

      Best regards.


  10. Pingback: Sleeping in a Wheelbarrow « Kweschn!

  11. Hi! Thanks for stopping by my blog 🙂 You’ve got some neat posts on here. I can’t imagine rock climbing on my wedding day. Sounds like you have alot of fun 🙂 I’ll have to keep up and live vicariously through you lol. God bless & have an inspirational week! ~Amber D.


  12. Loved this post! I enjoyed Pisco sours in Chile many years ago and still remember them fondly. Stopped only briefly at the airport in Lima on the way home and bought a rug. Love the volunteer aspect of your trip and your respect for the culture. You make me want to replicate your trip!


  13. I love it that you and your group went off and did something that helped others. It’s amazing how the giver always receives more than the receiver. At some point in our lives each one of us will have to be the recipient of help. God bless you!


  14. Hey Cheryl, great post! Peru is an amazing place to visit and very versatile. I really hope you can make it Lake Titicaca next time, it’s always a great time, soroche included!


    • That’s probably my favourite shot of the trip. He had an older brother and cousin who really babied and looked out for him. When he dozed off, they put a blanket in the wheelbarrow and placed him in it while their fathers helped us with the construction project.


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