I think it is safe to say my fellow volunteers here in Peru are a brave bunch.
Not for moving 6,000 miles away and leaving loved ones behind, mind you. Not for enduring the punishing Andean heat or breaking down language barriers to teach English either. But for letting me loose on the karaoke machine not once, but twice during our first weekend in Villa El Salvador!
We arrived in Villa, a charming desert district in the southwest of Lima, last week to a warm welcome from our host family, the Palominos, who have done everything in their power to make us feel right at home.
On Saturday, the Palomino boys, Luis Antonio and Cristian, took us to Parque Zonal for a game of football, which is sure to have left Allianza Lima scouts on alert. Their father, Tony, arranged a trip to the ancient Pachacamac ruins on Sunday, where we sampled some of the rich heritage and diverse landscape of this beautiful country. Throw in a white-knuckle ride from a local minibus driver, a run-in with the law, a nun taking her vows and a trip to San Pedro beach and it was quite the eventful weekend.
This week, we are getting stuck into our work placements, which will see us teach English to the local children for eight weeks. Our placements began last Friday and for most of us, it was our first taste of teaching and for many, a realisation of just how challenging but ultimately rewarding the next two months will be.
But we have been well-prepared and supported by the in-country staff, Cesar and Marianela, who hosted our orientation period in Barranco, which included Spanish lessons and a tour of Lima´s historical centre by the charismatic Maria-Isabel, a teacher with a burning passion for dance and red wine.
From the moment we stepped off the plane on that mild Saturday evening almost three weeks ago now, we have just been swept away by everything Peru and the city of Lima has to offer and I can sense the excitement amongst the group at what wonderful times the next two months will bring.
For more sights and sounds of Peru, visit the other volunteers' blogs:
ICS volunteer Jourdan writes about his first 3 weeks in Peru. Photo of Villa El Salvador by ICS volunteer Lana Jade Johnson. See more of Lana's photos on her blog.