A week in the life of an Awamaki volunteer

By Caitlin Lally, Marketing and Communications intern

Thursday, Nov. 1, 2018

I returned from the three-day weaving immersion in Patacancha today. After learning how to weave a headband yesterday from Sábina, this morning we headed to a local family’s chakra (farm). This is where more than 300 alpacas live. I participated in a ceremonial practice the family performs when it is time to shear the alpaca. From blessing the animals with a sacred spirit, to dancing and celebrating Pachamama (mother earth), it was certainly a special day. Afterward, we enjoyed the traditional Pachamanca almuerzo (lunch) prepared in an Earth oven. Tonight the plan is to rest up and prepare for my next weekend excursion to La Montaña de Siete Colores (Rainbow Mountain).

Awamaki artisan teaches Awamaki volunteer how to weave in Patacancha, Peru

Friday, Nov. 2, 2018

Typically Friday is a day off for volunteers, so I slept in and took my time making desayuno (breakfast). I passed the rest of the morning by relaxing in a hammock until it was time to prepare for my next adventure. A few volunteers and myself made plans to travel to Cusco and hike Rainbow Mountain on Saturday. We headed out after lunch and made it to our hostel in a little more than two hours. After booking our trip for the following day, we explored the Plaza de Armas a bit until settling down with some Chifa (Chinese-Peruvian food) and churros before turning in early for the night.

Saturday, Nov. 3, 2018

Today was an exhausting but rewarding day. Waking at 4 a.m. for our adventure at La Montaña de Siete Colores (Rainbow Mountain), I boarded a bus that took us to desayuno (breakfast) and then the mountain. We hiked in the cold wind and snow for about an hour and a half until reaching the vista (view) of the colorful landscape. While difficult, it was so worth it. After descending, we were bussed to a buffet lunch on our way back to Cusco. Back at the hostel, the crew regrouped before heading out for a celebratory bebida (drink) at Fallen Angel. The night ended around 2 a.m. after hitting up InkaTeam to salsa dance to our hearts’ content.

Awamaki volunteers at Rainbow Mountain

Sunday, Nov. 4, 2018

With decent Wi-Fi available at the hostel, I took the opportunity to video chat with my partner back home over a cup of coffee. After the rest of the girls woke, we welcomed the sunshine of the morning by exploring Cusco and heading to El Templo del Mono (The Monkey’s Temple). By the time our hike was over, it was time for almuerzo (lunch) at Green Pointe Vegan Restaurant. A four-course meal for 18 soles was certainly a must-do during our weekend stay in the ciudad (city). Afternoon storms put a damper on the rest of our plans to go to the market and do some shopping, so we headed back to the hostel to relax before returning to Ollantaytambo in the evening.

Awamaki volunteer in Cusco, Peru

Monday, Nov. 5, 2018

Today I was back in the office working on various projects for the marketing and communications side of Awamaki. I finished producing the annual video de gracias (Thank You video) after receiving edits from my supervisors. In the afternoon, I gave a new volunteer a tour of the town, explaining my favorite places to eat and use Wi-Fi. It’s always exciting meeting new volunteers and hearing their stories of where they’re from and how they found Awamaki. In the evening, I chatted with the other volunteers at the house over dinner before laying down to rest for the next day’s adventure.

Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018

Another day in the office, I worked on a profile of one of the women artisans from the community of Patacancha. I had the opportunity to interview a couple of them and took their portraits while I was there. I also worked on editing my photos from the weaving immersion — I ended up with nearly 100 great shots. While those tasks did not require Wi-Fi, I was able to complete them without interruption. Then, I had a meeting with the marketing coordinator in the afternoon to discuss projects and ideas. After work, I took some time to chat with my family back home.  

Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018

After practicing yoga on the roof of the casa de voluntarios (volunteer house), I headed to the office to work on more projects. It’s been about a month since Awamaki moved offices and acquired a beautiful garden space. I sat outside in the garden with my laptop taking in the sun’s warmth while my fingers rapidly typed out another artisan profile. Work ended promptly at 4 p.m. as we had a welcome party for Awamaki’s two newest volunteers. We bonded over dessert at the Choco Museo (Chocolate Museum), which is just a few doors down from the Awamaki store front. I confessed my love for karaoke to everyone, which prompted plans for a night on the town in the near future.

Awamaki volunteer practices yoga with mountains in the background

As a volunteer, an average week in my life is really not so average after all. From exploring the Sacred Valley to hiking Rainbow Mountain, each week brings about new opportunities for adventure. See what a week in your life would be like as an Awamaki volunteer. For more information, email volunteer@awamaki.org.