Andes Travel Journal
By Luiz Felipe and Henrique Gonçalves
The Andes Trip is an experience offered to DP1 by the school. If you're chosen to go, you will spend 1 week with other students from Argentina, Uruguay, Peru and other schools from Brazil, doing various activities with them and camping.
In the first day of the trip, after we arrived, we ate lunch, then did chores. On that first day, we befriended another Brazilian girl from Rio de Janeiro, and one of the things we talked about was the differences between São Paulo and Rio - food, accent, slangs, etc. After we finished our chores, we got to know the other students better through classic introduction games, and we also met other Brazilians (who had just arrived) from St. Nicholas. Later in the day, we went in a small hike to know the area better. We found an open area that overlooked the other side of the mountain range and there we sat down and reflected upon questions that the guides gave us. One of the questions was "What are we?" and its impact was that we learned more about ourselves as we thought about it. As we were coming back down, we were asked to pick up garbage that we found along the way, because it was the right thing to do and since we have to help out cleaning places full of litter in the best ways we can. The day ended after we ate dinner, and did our chores.
On the second day, people with down syndrome from the ages of 10-25 from the foundation CpueD visited our camp. We planned some activities for them such as dancing, relay races, etc. This was a very wholesome day because we could see from the reaction of the people that they were having a great time. There was one man who was named Rodrigo that we became good friends with. We talked to him a lot about music. This day was insightful for is as earned more about Down Syndrome and got a new perspective on life. At the end of the afternoon, after the people from CpueD left, we hiked to a point where we could see a beautiful sunset.
On the third day of the trip, we had a group discussion on something we called the main Topic and we had some interesting activities. The Main Topic was "How do we see ourselves and the world when we are 50?" At first, we didn't like this topic because our goals can change during life, so there's no definitive response, and we didn't think it could fit the Leadership Challenge. However, we eventually reached the conclusion that this topic was important because the point of the discussion was that we had to take control of our lives and make sure our goals happened. We are also the ones that will have to be the change we want to see in the world, which really fits the Leadership Challenge. The first activity we had was learning how to make a tent, to prepare us for camping. The second activity was on learning how to make bread, which wasn't very relevant, but it ended up being very fun because we spent the time talking to each other and getting closer. Our last activity was also the most impactful, we had to follow a rope without using our eyes, which is a very common activity, but afterwards, we sat down to talk about it and the guides asked very interesting questions, for example: “If you had to give one of your senses to a family member that had none, which one would you give?”
Day 4,5, and 6
These were the days that we spent hiking and camping. They were extremely fun because we got to see amazing views and we became closer to our peers from other countries. The hours spent hiking allowed me to get to know the Andes better; during the hikes, we talked to the new friends we made during the trip. When we were camping, we were completely independent; we made our own tent, cooked our own food, etc. During these days, we shared our tents with a Peruvian called Paul. We learned more about his culture and taught him about Brazilian culture, even teaching how to say some words in Portuguese.
When we came back to the Refugio, we had a churrasco and a mini party. We took pictures and talked for a long time. It was a very bittersweet moment because the party was fun, but at the same time sad since that was our last night together..
The last day was just saying our goodbyes and packing up. It was sad to leave the Refugio, the place where we made so many new friends and memories.