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    [post_content] => Hello! Just a quick post for now to say that I'm looking forward to going back to Guatemala and the communities we were in as well as seeing the people again! Mitch,  looking forward to partnering with you again and Brian, looking forward to meeting you in person :)

Hope you all have a great day and we'll be in touch soon!

Take care,
Lesley
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PARTNERSHIP: Appleby College Guatemala

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Hello!

Lesley Buckmaster,PARTNERSHIP: Appleby College Guatemala

Description

Hello! Just a quick post for now to say that I’m looking forward to going back to Guatemala and the communities we were in as well as seeing the people again! Mitch,  looking forward to partnering with you again and Brian, looking forward to meeting you in person Hope you all have a great day […]

Posted On

02/27/17

Author

Lesley Buckmaster

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    [post_content] => Hi!

My name is Jack. I am 16 years old and I live in Guelph, Ontario, Canada. I am currently in Grade 11 at Appleby College and I love it here. I have been at Appleby since Grade 7. I am really sporty and will play just about any sport. My favourite sports are soccer and hockey. I am the goalie on my soccer team. I also love history and it is my favourite subject at school. I have been to Bali, Indonesia 3 times and I am looking forward to returning to that part of the world. I really enjoy the simplicity of Bali and I hope that Cambodia brings the same sort of atmosphere. I am really excited about the trip to Cambodia and to learn about the culture of Cambodia. I am looking forward to the prospect of trying new foods in Cambodia.

I look forward to it!

Jack
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PARTNERSHIP: Appleby College Cambodia

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Hi from Jack

Jack Barron-Sluga,PARTNERSHIP: Appleby College Cambodia

Description

Hi! My name is Jack. I am 16 years old and I live in Guelph, Ontario, Canada. I am currently in Grade 11 at Appleby College and I love it here. I have been at Appleby since Grade 7. I am really sporty and will play just about any sport. My favourite sports are soccer […]

Posted On

02/27/17

Author

Jack Barron-Sluga

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Hi everyone - Cate and Elley here! We've compiled this packing list for you to prepare for our trip. Please don't hesitate to ask either of us or Mr. Emmott any questions you might have.

Jordan Packing List

THINK LIGHT! You will have to put whatever you bring on our adventure onto the tops of buses, in the back of taxis and in addition you may have to carry your bag for long distances. Here’s a list of all that you will need to stay cool, dry, and comfy. When packing, do your best to stay away from heavy cotton because the fabric takes a long time to dry. Consider bringing clothing that won’t easily show dirt as locals will expect us to be presentable and we will have fewer opportunities to do laundry than in the U.S.  We recommend that you bring what’s listed here, and not much more. The lighter you pack, the happier you (and the rest of the group) will be.

GEAR – The most important point here is that you should be comfortable with your gear. Be sure you know how to pack and adjust your backpack, and that you can carry it comfortably when it is full!

PASSPORT

BACKPACK:  We recommend something no less than 2135 cubic inches (35 liters).  Usually 35 to 45 liters is fine.   You’ll be happiest if you can fit all your belongings in just one backpack. Your small daypack will be used for carrying around essential items, not for extra storage of clothes. Please bring an internal frame pack, as an external frame pack may break. If you are going to purchase a new backpack, ask the salesperson to fit you with a pack and make adjustments with the pack weighted. Keep in mind that many outdoor stores rent backpacks for extended trips as well.

STUFF SACK/DUFFEL BAG:  You may need an extra bag to keep items that are left behind during hikes and short trips, and to possibly bring souvenirs back in.  This bag doesn’t have to be too fancy – something nylon, and lightweight, preferably one that has a zipper that locks.  If you can’t find something that works, don’t worry – you can get a great simple bag in-country for a fraction of what you would pay in the U.S. You may also want to consider packing your pack in a duffel bag for the plane trip – so that straps don’t get pulled and damaged while the bag is loaded onto the plane.  When you arrive at the airport, your duffle should be empty, and everything else should be packed in your backpack. Past students have found that backpack rain covers with a fully closing zipper work well. These can function to protect your bag on the plane, keep it dry when hiking or on a bus, and to be locked up to store extra gear while on a brief excursion.

DAY PACK  Small, light, nylon bag with straps – a small school book-bag or a fair sized butt-pack. This is what you’ll take with you on day excursions. It should be big enough to hold a water bottle, a headlamp or flashlight, some food, a camera and a book or journal. Try out your daypack to see if it is large enough for all your essentials but not too bulky that it would be uncomfortable when hiking. Be sure to look for a daypack that can collapse well and pack into your bag.

STUFF SACKS  You’ll never regret bringing too many of these: light-weight and compact, using stuff sacks to separate clothes, food, toiletries, and everything else will bring order to your pack, and make your life simpler. Heavy duty garbage bags or plastic zip lock freezer bags can work. We like to bring a few stuff sacks to separate clean and dirty clothes – old beat-up pillowcases are ideal. It’s also nice to have some smaller bags to hold toiletries, batteries, etc.

WATER BOTTLES 2, 1 quart, plastic water bottles. Nalgene bottles, Kleen Kanteens, or other sturdy bottles are great, and can be picked up at any backpacking store.

SUNGLASSES Bring one pair that offers GOOD UV protection. The sun is bright in Jordan and you will want excellent eye protection.

TOILETRIES It is best to bring a two-week supply of the bare necessities you need for grooming yourself. Products such as shampoo, toilet paper (necessary to have on hand for local bathrooms, where toilet paper is not provided) and soap are available throughout the country, so packing light and restocking is often a good way to reduce the amount of toiletries you carry. We ask you to leave behind large quantities of toiletries, hair care products, makeup, etc. Girls, please bring enough tampons/pads for the entire course. A menstrual cup (DivaCup or MoonCup, for example) can be very useful while on course.

SECURITY WALLET / BELT You’ll want to keep your passport, cash, ATM card and other valuables in a secure wallet or belt that’s well attached to your body. We prefer the cloth ones to nylon because they are cooler against the skin in humid weather. Generally waist belts offer more security than the sort that goes around the neck. Eagle Creek makes good products.

JOURNAL/NOTEBOOK You must bring something that you can write in. Should be compact, but have room enough to record your daily thoughts.

TOWEL Preferably quick-dry and compact, i.e. MSR PackTowel. Towels are available for purchase in most urban areas, but are often bulky and take a long time to dry.

HAT The sun is strong, so a brimmed hat will be ESSENTIAL.

FLASHLIGHT/HEADLAMP We recommend headlamps, as they provide an extra modicum of safety should we find ourselves hiking at night. Bring extra batteries!

CAMERA (with extra battery). See Note on Electronics below. In addition to your camera, bring a good case as just a small amount of desert sand can jam your camera.

SUNSCREEN  – SPF 30+ (water/sweat proof). Again, the sun is intense and faces, necks, and toes can burn easily!

LIP BALM with SUNSCREEN

PURELL (hand-sanitizing gel) 2 small bottles, or anti-bacterial hand wipes. In addition we recommend bringing a bar of hand soap and a small carrying container or zip-lock bag.

MEDICATIONS Any personal prescription medications that you regularly take (and printed information on side effects and contraindications) and a cycle of Ciprofloxacin or other broad-based antibiotic. Keep all prescriptions in original bottles. Consult with a travel doctor for recommendations and a prescription.

GLASSES & CONTACTS Please bring an extra pair of glasses.  If you wear contacts, it is a good idea to bring one extra pair of glasses and extra contacts. Saline solution is difficult to find, so if you choose to bring contacts bring an adequate supply of solution. Also, it is helpful to have a compact mirror for taking your contacts in and out in rural areas. Note: Jordan is extremely dusty countries, and contacts may be uncomfortable to wear. If your eyes are sensitive, consider wearing glasses.

ALARM CLOCK Small travel clock with an alarm, or a watch with an alarm. We recommend testing your alarm to make sure it can wake you up independently.  This is an essential piece of gear.

ZIPLOCK BAGS of small and large size

GIFTS a few simple things to present to people who help make our course special. Picture books of home and inflatable globes are great.  Other gift ideas: perfumes, hard candy, key chains, postcards with landscapes from home, nice perfume or soap for your host mother.

GUIDEBOOK, PROGRAM READER (on your USB drive), and ANY OTHER BOOKS SENT BY THE DRAGONS OFFICE.  Don’t forget these!!

SWEATSHIRT/LIGHT JACKET Evenings and nights in the hills may get chilly so you will be happy to have one warm layer.

SOCKS – 4 pairs. Depending on how often you will wear sandals vs. tennis shoes bring a couple of pairs. Bring at least one pair of synthetic socks (like Smartwool) for walking - this helps to prevent blisters.

UNDERWEAR -6 pairs

WALKING SHOES We will be doing quite a bit of walking on the trip. Whatever shoes you bring should be comfortable, supportive, and broken in.

TEVAS/FLIP FLOPS: 1 good walking pair, 1 cheap pair. You will want sandals with buckles and straps (preferably with a back strap across your heel) which are comfortable to walk long distances, whether in wilderness or rural areas. These can be great for everyday and day hikes.  Flip-flops are readily available everywhere, but will not be as comfortable as the American kind.  Please note that students on past courses felt that flip flops were necessary given frequent shoe removal going in and out of homestay homes. Arab families tend to wear cheap flip flops around the house, acting almost like slippers. We suggest bringing one pair of these (Old Navy or another cheap brand will do).

2 PASSPORT COPIES

*Note on ELECTRONICS: Anything electronic or requiring electricity should be battery operated (expect NOT to have access to electricity at several points on the course). If you are bringing a digital camera with a rechargeable battery, know that when we do have access to electricity, the European (two small round prongs) 220Vplugs are used throughout Jordan.

CLOTHING– Ideal clothing for the Jordan Program does not show dirt, is lightweight, and dries easily as we may have to wash clothes by hand as we go. Remember that whatever you bring will get a lot of use, so bring things you don’t mind beating up. In Jordan, there is a lot of emphasis put on dressing well if you have the means to, and some of our hosts may find it strange to see foreigners wearing dirty or torn clothing. The group may have the chance to buy local clothing, but it is important to arrive with presentable and appropriate clothes.

The weather in Jordan in March is fairly warm but chilly at night - highs in the high 60’s and lows in the 40’s and 50’s. Pack some warm clothing just to be safe, for example a fleece or pullover as well as a light jacket to layer over.

Dressing in a way that is culturally appropriate will go a long way in gaining the respect of our hosts and opening doors for you. In consideration for the traditions of local culture, we require that all students bring clothing that covers arms to the wrists, legs to the ankles and chests up to the neck. It is also worth thinking about whether or not your clothes reveal your back or torso when you sit, bend down, or move; it is best to keep your back and torso securely covered.  Though in some urban areas you will see locals dressed in  a variety of fashions and throughout the country you will see foreigners dressed in revealing clothing, we will always err on the conservative side in order to show respect to our hosts. Because local temperatures are quite high, covering your skin may seem somewhat hard at first. But we guarantee the benefits of showing respect to our hosts will outweigh the deficits! Students, both male and female, MUST bring appropriate clothing. Students who arrive without culturally sensitive clothing will be asked to buy additional clothes at their own cost.

CLOTHING FOR SHABAAB (Guys):

COLLARED SHIRT (1)

T-SHIRTS (4)—Should not be too light in color (gets dirty too easily) and in fair shape. Though long-sleeved shirts are more appropriate, guys will be allowed to wear t-shirts in most places. These should be shirts that can be worn in the city as well.

LONG SLEEVED LIGHTWEIGHT SHIRTS (1) Something long-sleeved that will keep you warm and will dry quickly (either of synthetic materials, or light-weave cotton).  You don’t have to get something fancy at an outdoor clothing store -- The key is to have something you can wash out at night and have dry by the next day.

CASUAL PANTS (2)Your pants should be durable and lightweight, and, if possible, dark in color to reduce the amount of dirt that shows. Again, something that fits loosely will keep you cooler. Don’t bring wide-leg pants that might drag on the ground, as these are a disaster on local streets. One pair of these should be pants that can double as city pants as well. Styles in Amman are quite trendy, so one pair of jeans would be great while you’re in the city. We don’t recommend bringing more than one pair of jeans, however, as they take a long time to dry and can be heavy in the extreme heat.

TREKKING PANTS 1 pair. Quick-dry, lightweight nylon pants

SWIM TRUNKS (1) Something that will dry quickly. Please note that you may also be asked to keep your t-shirt on while swimming depending on the area we are in.

SLEEPWEAR Bring something such as pajama pants and a t-shirt to sleep in. We will often stay in guesthouses and local homes, and it will be appropriate to sleep with both a top and bottom on.

CLOTHING FOR BINAT (Girls):

The general rule is to be covered with loose clothing from your wrists to your ankles. Wearing appropriate clothing is more constraining for girls, but also more essential! Dressing conservatively will help make many members of our host culture feel more comfortable interacting with you, cut down on harassment, and moderate your body temperature in both hot and cold weather. Note: we ask you to err on the conservative side when choosing clothing, and if you have questions please don’t hesitate to contact an instructor with specific questions.

LONG-SLEEVED LIGHTWEIGHT SHIRTS (4) We recommend something that is long-sleeved (preferably to your wrists) that will keep you cool and will dry quickly (either of synthetic materials, light-weave cotton or linen). You don’t have to get something fancy at an outdoor clothing store – even a lightweight button-down shirt will do.  All of your shirts should be loose, have no V-necks or scoop necks, and cover your stomach and lower back (if you raise your arms and skin shows, this is too short). DO NOT BRING: shirts that are low cut, short-sleeved, tight, transparent, or show your stomach.  Keep in mind what your clothing will do if you bend down or are seated. It is important to keep midriff and back covered at all times. A lightweight camisole tucked into your pants can help with this. Check the transparency of your shirt BEFORE leaving home!   Ammani women tend to dress very well. Students can bring fashionable, nice shirts for our time in Amman (recommended 2 max, so they don’t take up too much space) as long as they are still relatively loose and not revealing. For Amman, they can be 3/4 sleeve or to the elbow. Blouses and peasant shirts can be good for this. There are some photos in this post to give you an idea.

T-SHIRTS (1-2)—Should be neither too light in color (gets dirty easily and can be transparent) and in fair shape. Looser fitting shirts will be more comfortable in the heat. Though long-sleeved shirts are more appropriate, girls will be allowed to wear t-shirts in some places.

PANTS (2)Your pants should be durable, lightweight, loose, and, if possible, dark in color to avoid showing dirt. Your pants should reach your ankles. Again, something that fits loosely will keep you cooler and may also be worn under a skirt. Don’t bring capris, skinny jeans or any tight pants, shorts, or wide-leg pants that might drag on the ground, as these are a disaster on local streets. Girls can wear jeans in Amman as long as they are not too tight or revealing.

HOUSE CLOTHES: When you’re with your host families, especially in single-gendered spaces, you may want to have light capris, or a tank top to wear.  The distinction between public and private dress is an important one, especially for comfort.  Bring something comfortable (and revealing, if you want)  that you’ll wear in private, and follow your host family’s lead about when to wear it!

LONG SKIRT (1) Skirts can be a great cool and comfortable choice.  Skirts, like pants, should come to your ankles (no calf-length), be loose, and not transparent. Be careful they don’t ride too far up your leg when you sit.

LEGGINGS (1 - optional) Leggings can be worn under skirts in more conservative areas and will add versatility to your wardrobe.

SWIMWEAR (1) Students may be asked to swim in shorts and a t-shirt. You may bring a one piece swimsuit to wear under your outerwear for when we swim in the Dead Sea.

SLEEPWEAR Bring something to sleep in such as pajama pants and a long-sleeved top. We will often stay in guesthouses and local homes, and it will not be appropriate to wear tank tops or shorts to sleep in.

SCARVES/BANDANA (1-2) You will need a headscarf (hijaab) on hand throughout our time in Jordan, though you will not need to wear it all the time. We suggest that students cover their hair (if they are comfortable doing so) while we are in the village homestay, which is 3-4 days.  Any sort of scarf can be useful to keep dust out of hair in desert areas of the country.

OPTIONAL – WE INCLUDE THESE ITEMS TO GIVE YOU AN IDEA OF SOME EXTRAS THAT MIGHT COME IN HANDY; HOWEVER, THEY TRULY ARE OPTIONAL. ALL ITEMS THAT WE BELIEVE ARE NECESSARY FOR THIS COURSE HAVE BEEN INCLUDED ABOVE. IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS REGARDING THE NECESSITY OF A PARTICULAR ITEM PLEASE CONTACT US.

BANDANA 1+  These can serve multiple purposes while traveling.

EXTRA PASSPORT PHOTOS not a bad idea to have a few extra pictures with you..

LEATHERMAN UTILITY TOOL

GOOD BOOK(S) – Bring one to trade!

EXTRA STUFF SACKS

PLAYING CARDS / DICE / TRAVEL GAMES

EXTRA MEMORY CARDS -If you are carrying a digital camera, it is a good idea to have extra batteries, so you can have a back up if we are without electricity for a long time. Downloading photos can be time consuming, so bring enough memory cards to cover your needs without downloading. But do also bring your USB cord so that we can put a few photos on the Yak Yak while traveling!

DUCT TAPE Wrap some around your water bottle, and pull it off as you need it.

OVER THE COUNTER MEDICATIONS Bring a small supply of whatever you use at home, along with some vitamins and Echinacea, and some Pepto-Bismol tablets for bellyaches.  We stock our med-kit with just about everything, but if you are especially prone to motion sickness, headaches, or menstrual cramps, it’s still a good idea to bring some of your own. Also some multi-vitamins or Emergen-C can be helpful. Instructors will collect and review all medications at the start of the course.

EAR PLUGS These can often come in extremely handy to secure a good night sleep!

IODINE TABLETS can be used to purify water in a pinch. Your instructors will have some, but you may want to carry your own personal stash as well.

INSECT REPELLANT The most effective ones contain some percentage of DEET. Please be aware of the reported side effects of DEET before using it. Note that one of the best deterrents for pests is long-sleeved shirts and pants. Most of the bugs we will encounter are flies and creepy-crawlies, so insect repellant is not required as these insects don’t react to repellent.

THINGS TO LEAVE AT HOME

* SLEEVELESS SHIRTS, BOOTY SHORTS, CROPPED TOPS AND MINI SKIRTS

* IPODS or other MP3 players, CD PLAYERS, CELL PHONES, DVD PLAYERS, ELECTRONIC GAMES

* ITEMS WHICH HAVE LARGE MONETARY OR SENTIMENTAL VALUE

One final thing that is essential equipment: A HEALTHY BODY!!  Your experience will be so much more enjoyable if you come with a body that is fully prepared for the journey. We recommend an exercise regimen that gets your heart rate above 120 beats per minute, for thirty minutes at a stretch, four times a week. If you can’t do this much, do what you can – the more the better! There will be a few opportunities on the trip to head out into the hills or go for long walks in the desert. The better your condition, the greater the number of opportunities you’ll be able to seize.

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PARTNERSHIP: Milton Jordan

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The moment you’ve been waiting for: PACKING LIST!

Elley Cannon,PARTNERSHIP: Milton Jordan

Description

Hi everyone – Cate and Elley here! We’ve compiled this packing list for you to prepare for our trip. Please don’t hesitate to ask either of us or Mr. Emmott any questions you might have. Jordan Packing List THINK LIGHT! You will have to put whatever you bring on our adventure onto the tops of […]

Posted On

02/27/17

Author

Elley Cannon

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Jordan 2017 - Trip Itinerary

Friday, March 10, 2017
Arrive in Amman, at 3:30pm
Meet Instructors at the airport and travel to hotel to check-in
Welcome Dinner at Jaffra

Saturday, March 11, 2017
Themes: Orientation, Introduction to Migration and NGOs in Jordan
8am: Breakfast
9am: Meet for Opening & Orientation
12pm: Lunch
1pm: Arabic Lesson 1 & Group Activity in Jabal Luweibdeh
6pm: Dinner with Paul Fean, Youth Project Manager at the Norwegian Refugee Council

Sunday, March 12, 2017
Themes: Identity, Arts & Culture
8am: Breakfast & Group Check-in
9am: Arabic Lesson 2
11am: Meet with Timothy Loh, Programs Manager at The Collateral Repair Project
1pm: Lunch with Khaloud, Veteran host mother
2pm: Visit with Emily Goldman and Studio8
(5-7pm Optional visit for girls to Reclaim Childhood in Zarqa)
6pm: Dinner

Monday, March 13, 2017
Themes: Water & the Environment
8am: Breakfast & Group Check-in
9am: Arabic Lesson 3 & Group Excursion
1pm: Lunch
2:30pm: Meeting with Abdel Rahman Sultan and Friends of the Earth Middle East
4pm: Depart for Madaba
5:30pm: Check in to Moab Land Hotel
6pm: Dinner
8pm: Evening activity

Tuesday, March 14, 2017
Themes: Water & the Environment, Bedouin Culture
8am: Depart for Dead Sea
Morning: Visit the Dead Sea
Afternoon: Travel to Desa
6pm: Dinner Banquet
Sleep under the stars at Salah’s camp

Wednesday, March 15, 2017
9am: Morning Check-in & Arabic Lesson 4
10:30am: Home-stay Briefing
12pm: Lunch with your home-stay family
Afternoon OFF

Dinner with your home-stay family
A Dragons Instructor will come by your home for a 1:1 check-in this evening

Thursday, March 16, 2017
9am: Morning Check-in & Arabic Lesson 5
10:30am: Visit with Village Leader
1pm: Lunch with your home-stay family
Afternoon: Visit to Desa Women’s Center
Present ISP projects

Friday, March 17, 2017
9am: Group Activity - Identity & Transference
1pm: Lunch w/home-stay family
4pm: Depart for Wadi Rum Expedition
7pm: Dinner and Final ceremony

Saturday, March 18, 2017
9am: Meet at Salah’s Camp and depart for Amman
1pm: Arrive at airport and check-in for flight home
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Instructor

Cate Brown,PARTNERSHIP: Milton Jordan

Description

Milton Academy Jordan 2017 – Trip Itinerary Friday, March 10, 2017 Arrive in Amman, at 3:30pm Meet Instructors at the airport and travel to hotel to check-in Welcome Dinner at Jaffra Saturday, March 11, 2017 Themes: Orientation, Introduction to Migration and NGOs in Jordan 8am: Breakfast 9am: Meet for Opening & Orientation 12pm: Lunch 1pm: […]

Posted On

02/27/17

Author

Cate Brown

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    [post_date] => 2017-02-27 08:52:16
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    [post_content] => The last days of Carnival flood Cusco with people, energy, and celebration.  In the main city square, morning dancing and parades gave way to hours (and hours, and hours) of revelry as strangers and friends douse each other with buckets of water, launch water balloons from behind bushes, and fill the air with spray "snow" foam.  Cleverly disguised as gentle grandmas sitting on the sidelines, inner children come out to play, and especially to gleefully blast passing tourists with fluff.

From the sunny rooftop terrace of Hostal Rezbalosa, overlooking the frothing party in the square, los Dragones organize gear and pack food supplies for our upcoming mini trek to Machu Picchu.  With telltale foam stains behind their ears, students count meals, roll tents, count toilet paper, and prep to take on new leadership roles as we hike to the most famous Inca site in the world.

We´ll be out of touch from Monday, Feb 27, until afternoon on March 1.  Look for photos and updates when we return!
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To Machu Picchu!

Nikki Jones,SPRING: ANDES & AMAZON

Description

The last days of Carnival flood Cusco with people, energy, and celebration.  In the main city square, morning dancing and parades gave way to hours (and hours, and hours) of revelry as strangers and friends douse each other with buckets of water, launch water balloons from behind bushes, and fill the air with spray “snow” […]

Posted On

02/27/17

Author

Nikki Jones

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    [post_content] => Hello from Cuzco, Peru,

I am enjoying the chance to relax and enjoy the city after returning from the groups six day trek around the mountain Ausangate. The fresh mangos and amazing churros are life changing, especially since they only cost one soles which is about thirthy cents. It is fun to say sole instead of soles so that you kind of sound like Davey Jones from Pirates of the Carribean when you ask how many soles something costs. The trek took the group into a breataking lanscape of high passes and moutain lakes that sat just below melting glaciers. We were lucky to enjoy the company of Fabian, a local who acted as our guide, who led us in meditative ceremonies and told us about the spirits of the Apu and the Pachamama. Trekking is an opportunity for the group to remove distactions to learn and bond in the clarity of the trekking experience. Although the trek had difficulties with the size of the group and battling the harshness of the altitude and elements, ultimately the trip was beautiful and peaceful for all.

Personally the trek did not present the hardest physical challenge or the most awe-inspiring moments. It did however mark a very positive shift in my mental attitude towards working in a group and expedition experience. This was one of the first times were I was able to keep a positive and collected attitude throughout the experience to focus on the enjoyable and important parts of the trek rather than dwell on issues that angered me. I was able to let go of things that would have shifted my emotions toward annoyance or resentment such as walking speed, organization, food, or weather.  The beauty of the landscape, enjoyment of the group, or appreciation for the meditative nature of trekking held my focus rather than negative issues. This exeperience marked a celebration in a learning moment that I hope to take home and to other parts of my life to have more control over my attitude and a view that is more centered on Joy. Ausangate was an incredible experience for my maturity and thus I am thankful to the mountain and everyone involved in the trek.

I am looking forward to the upcoming trip to Machu  Picchu and the other adventures to come for my group.
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View post

Ausangate Trek

Tim Frawley,SPRING: ANDES & AMAZON

Description

Hello from Cuzco, Peru, I am enjoying the chance to relax and enjoy the city after returning from the groups six day trek around the mountain Ausangate. The fresh mangos and amazing churros are life changing, especially since they only cost one soles which is about thirthy cents. It is fun to say sole instead […]

Posted On

02/26/17

Author

Tim Frawley

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    [post_date] => 2017-02-26 11:11:26
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Before the blue sky poked her soft head through the rolling, pattering, grey clouds and winked at me today, I am not sure that I ever knew a gratitude so euphoric. Last night, after standing in a circle and focusing hard, eyes downcast so that water would run from raincoat to the ground without making any stops in between, on the favorite quotes of a group of 14 people I think I am beginning to know, Jhasmany looked up and my gaze, following, stumbled upon a single star, glowing and professing a magnitude of glory, I could feel the breaths held in the lungs beside me and it seemed, for a moment, that even the glacier above us quieted her rumbling to observe a night sky that we had nearly forgotten after many days of lighted cities and puffy skies. I am so thankful for this mountain that, after freezing and soaking and tugging until spirits could fall little lower, allowed the sky to part, for a few moments, and a group to ascend, from marshy campsite, up grassy, hummocked hills, below boulders and vicunas, above blue lagunas, filled with a rainbow of shapely rocks, and birds, mistaken by a few (only me) as alpacas from a ridge above.

Caroline has covered her sleeping pad in trash bags and duct tape. Last night I wore 7 layers to bed. The tent hasn't had yet a chance to dry and this morning we all put wet socks into wet shoes. But when I unzipped the tent the sun was shining through and a yellow bird rose from a puddle and flew away into the rocks. Today my legs pushed me and I pulled my lungs and we made it, slowly, surely, and far behind the Condori brothers who lead the horses and far behind Rubendario, who would run far ahead, climb the side of the mountain and try, hard as he might, to roll a snowball down onto the trail. The mountains are red here. And green and black and white and sometimes, if the sun glints in just the perfect way, blue. Each day as we walk we pass alpacas, chewing and running and existing hundreds of feet above where I can remember the correct way to beath. We see people. sitting in sandals made of old tires beneath a clear plastic tarp watching, still, as their alpacas roam for the day, as we shiver past, moving quickly to keep our blood flowing beneath our quick dry rain jackets, wool socks, and synthetic layers.

Ausangate has taken from me the warmth in my toes. He has taken from me the hope of sleeping without a cold breeze blustering above me head, he has taken the comfort in touching my toes and twisting my neck, in straightening my back. He has taken from me many hours spent staring at the ground before my feet, searching beneath the poncho and hiking boots in front of me for the safest, driest, grippiest route. He has taken from me the enjoyment of many meals as my stomach clenches at the elevation. But this Apu is a giving mountain and for every hour of pushing forward, an ache between my shoulders and a heavy pack urging me back the way I came, he has given us a waterfall, coursing quickly on the rocks, running between harsh sides and falling, reaching, grasping for the soft grassy valley where it calms and runs, fluidly and clearly into a small creek. carving between silt and mud and forming twists and oxbows and curlicues that we jump over, landing with a bounce of the knee and a smile, facing up at the white water, of childish joy. For every burn in our thighs and tug in out ligaments the mountain gives us a peak, some are red dirt, bursting into clumps of sharp greenery . Some are black, dark, stiff and imposing, fierce in their concentration of composure, some are striped, a strip of dark rock, a strip of snow, and some are smothered, covered in a glacier so blue and bright that even a glance can be intimidating, the sound of an avalanche terrifying and exhilarating and so lovely.

This Apu is present and he has watched us as we hiked from the first day. I told myself on the second day of hard snow that this was a shy mountain, a jealous one that would push us back because it gave him glee to see the disappointed backs of foreign travelers flee. But I am trying to listen, trying to hear the Apu, not as an excuse for my frustration but to understand. The Apu is tired. Tired of pushing back the clouds, tired of tucking his glaciers into the right pockets above the right laguna. Tired of sucking in the damp puddles and ponds on the skin of his valleys. This Apu is tired of being the glorious and fantastic and phenomenal and spiritual and benevolent mountain that we dream of him to be and maybe I can try to hear as much as I can and thank the Apu for his storms. It is only in the snow that you can slowly lose the bearings of what is around you and live upon your feet and towards the backpack in front of you. It is only with rain that you will tuck yourself beneath a rock and notice the striations from a tired glacier, dragging his feet for a moment in his long journey. It is only beneath a cloudy sky that you will look up for long enough to find an alpaca in the clouds.

This Apu has given us many of the cold, the hard, the soggy and wet and damp and sodden and liquid and saturated, he has given us a chest without air as we walk down from the top of a pass, he has given us a grin as we look up to see a spot of blue between the clouds, He has given us a finger tip run across brilliantly green lichen, given us the strange call of a distressed sheep. Ausangate has given us shivers and muddy shoes and sunburnt cheeks and a back that will accept a pack for another day with only the most excessive coercion, but he has also given us a reason to cherish the time between the views.

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Ausangate

Pixie Freeman,SPRING: ANDES & AMAZON, Trekking and Wilderness Exploration, Best Notes From The Field

Description

Before the blue sky poked her soft head through the rolling, pattering, grey clouds and winked at me today, I am not sure that I ever knew a gratitude so euphoric. Last night, after standing in a circle and focusing hard, eyes downcast so that water would run from raincoat to the ground without making […]

Posted On

02/26/17

Author

Pixie Freeman

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As I write, I am surrounded by Alpacas, sheep, and horses as they graze. The herders sit on nearby boulders and watch over, dressed in traditional clothes of colorful hand-woven wool ponchos and skirts. We were at camp after hiking for six hours and reaching an altitude of over 1600 ft on the high pass. As I think back to the day, I am amazed and proud of myself and what I accomplished. This was the longest, highest, wettest (rain, snow, and hail), coldest (I am from GA), and most fun trek that I have ever done.

Ausangate is a sacred mountain to the people here and it was an honor to walk around it accompanied by Fabian, his wife Patricia, and their son Rubendario. The mountains are alive and each one has an Apu, or lord/spirit, that is the energy and life giving spirit to the people here. Before we began trek we did a ceremony so that the Apu would know us and let us pass on the trek. And it happened, despite the snow and hail, we were able to cross the high pass and circumnavigate Ausangate.

About 20 minutes before the top of the pass, Fabian stopped the ground and reached for a rock. He held it in his left hand and told us that this rock symbolizes the weight that each of us carries. I picked up my rock, a black heart shaped rock with white stripes, and thought about the weight that I carry. Is it the worry over registering for classes and rooming next semester? The distress of my friend group at school growing further apart? The uncertainty and sadness of my parents moving away from the community I grew up in? These thoughts and more moved up with me as I walked to the top of the pass.

We circled up around a large rock pile on top of the pass and Fabian took off his hat and lifted his rock into the air. We all followed suit. Quecha words to thank the Pacha-Mama and Inti-Tayta (Mother and Father of the world) for all their gifts were repeated by us all. One by one we tossed the rocks onto the pile, Apu would now take these worries for us and give us strength to continue on.

For the next part of the ceremony, Patricia gave us all three coca leaves. Speaking again in Quecha, Fabian lifted his leaves high to thank the Condor, out in front to thank the Puma, and down low to thank the Serpent for the gifts of life and protection. At this point we all scattered to do some silent meditation. I sat looking at the snow-capped mountains and feeling the wind on my face. The worries that I walked up with came to me and I knew that I would not be here without those worries. They are a part of me and my journey to this spot, how could I want anything else than this? Despite these fears and worries, I knew that everything would be alright. Tears were rolling down my cheeks, but my heart was at peace. At that same moment the wind stopped blowing and a calmness filled the air as I breathed anew, free of the burdens and worries that I had carried with me.

This is why Dragons treks. To find that inner peace that cannot be found without understanding the mountains, the Apus, and people who live here.  In every single way, these mountains give life to the people here and ultimately to me. Each morning has begun with Fabian playing the flute to wake us from our slumber. Before we begin each hike we breathe in Florida water and chew coca leaves to honor the Apu. As I share my water bottle with Patricia, she thanks the Apu for this life giving stream. Without this trek I would not have known or been a part of these ancient traditions and I would not have the peace that is in my heart right now.

Apu Ausangate, urpillay sonqillay, thank you from my heart.

Written on Feb. 23. Transcribed the 25 in Cusco.

 

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Apu Ausangate

Emily Smith,Trekking and Wilderness Exploration, SPRING: ANDES & AMAZON, Best Notes From The Field

Description

As I write, I am surrounded by Alpacas, sheep, and horses as they graze. The herders sit on nearby boulders and watch over, dressed in traditional clothes of colorful hand-woven wool ponchos and skirts. We were at camp after hiking for six hours and reaching an altitude of over 1600 ft on the high pass. […]

Posted On

02/26/17

Author

Emily Smith

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    [post_content] => We have just returned from our first trek where we hiked around the base of Apu Ausangate! Ausangate made us work hard, hiking amazing passes in every form of weather imaginable but, every part of it was worth it, especially the moment we reached our highest pass. Leading up to the pass, Ausangate had been testing us and a few times we almost had to consider turning back due to weather, but we kept going and the Apu let us reach the pass. We were accompanied by our local guide, Fabian, who performed some ceremonies for the Apu with us, in order to grant us safe passage and show our respect for the mighty Ausangate. Before we reached the top of the pass, Fabian stopped us and asked us all to pick up a rock, this rock was to represent our grief, our pain, our stresses, and any other entity weighing on our bodies, minds, or hearts. When we reached the top, we cast our rocks into an already strong and tall tower of rocks that held all of the weight of those who had come before us. When we released our rocks we released our pain to Apu Ausangate as an offering for allowing us to make it to this point, together, as a team and to present ourselves and our strength to the Apu.

When I shed my rock, I felt something shift in myself and in the wind, I could, for a moment, feel the immense power of the Apu. Fabian also told us before we released our rocks that Ausangate would give us a message and I heard my message. My message was to, like the rock, release the pressure and expectation that I hold myself to, and allow those around me to hold me to. I need to release the necessity to be the thing that everyone wants me to be when they look at me and allow my genuine self to shine through, always. I could almost feel the Apu releasing me from an old, stale breath and telling me to fill my lungs with brand new air and a brand new perspective. I cannot wait to take this feeling and this power with me into the rest of my life. Be genuine. Be reflective. Be thankful. Urpichay sonqoy Apu Ausangate.
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Trekking and Wilderness Exploration, SPRING: ANDES & AMAZON

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The Mountains That Move You

Caroline Turner,Trekking and Wilderness Exploration, SPRING: ANDES & AMAZON

Description

We have just returned from our first trek where we hiked around the base of Apu Ausangate! Ausangate made us work hard, hiking amazing passes in every form of weather imaginable but, every part of it was worth it, especially the moment we reached our highest pass. Leading up to the pass, Ausangate had been […]

Posted On

02/26/17

Author

Caroline Turner

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Snow clouds passed overhead as we trudged up the trail towards the high pass on our fourth day of trekking. We walked quietly up the muddy, snowy trail as Favian played El Condor Pasa on his wooden flute. Twenty yards from the 5,000m+ (nearly 17,000ft.) pass, Favian instructed each of us to choose a stone to hold in our left hand as we finished the ascent.

“Mediten en las cosas negativas en tu vida,” he said.

Could this sacred mountain really keep my negative energy?

Would it be able to shore up all of the negative energy, hardship and suffering of our group of 15 travelers?

Upon arriving to the pass, the view in all directions opened. Towering blue glaciers, green valleys, dark clouds, distant waterfalls, starkness and color blended in immensity.

Patricia handed out three coca leaves to each of us, known in Quechua as the quinto. In Andean spirituality coca contains many sacred properties for healing and renewal.

As our group silently circled up on top of the windy, snowy pass, the desire to heal, transform and renew was palpable. We each threw our rocks on a pile left by previous travelers to this magical spot. Thus, our negative energies were collectively offered to the mountain, one of the mightiest, holiest mountains in the world.

We were instructed by Favian to sit in silent meditation for 5 minutes. We were to each offer our quinto to Apu Ausangate by placing the three leaves delicately below a stone. Some of us sat facing the mountains from where we had come and some sat facing the mountains we were yet to walk through.

I looked towards the mountains of the past. I thought of my grandparents, of grief, of loss. My eyes filled with tears as the snowy, stoic mountains stood in grounded observance.

Favian told us that Apu Ausangate would send us each a message. Sitting in silence with my eyes closed, I heard very clearly that I would return to that spot. The mountain would favorably allow me to pass again.

We all carry burdens and sufferings. And no, we did not walk over that pass and free ourselves from those sufferings. The mountain showed us that by embracing and welcoming all of our feelings, negative and positive, the present moment will always keep us.

After I left my quinto for my grandparents, I felt grateful to be alive. I am so much more than my internal fears, doubts and negative energies. I am my grandparents. I am the snowy mountain glaciers and the blue-gray skies of Ausangate.

Hope you enjoy these photos of our time in the mountains! We are in Cusco now, preparing for our next adventure to Machu Picchu.
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Apu Ausangate

Matt Lynn,SPRING: ANDES & AMAZON, Trekking and Wilderness Exploration

Description

Snow clouds passed overhead as we trudged up the trail towards the high pass on our fourth day of trekking. We walked quietly up the muddy, snowy trail as Favian played El Condor Pasa on his wooden flute. Twenty yards from the 5,000m+ (nearly 17,000ft.) pass, Favian instructed each of us to choose a stone […]

Posted On

02/26/17

Author

Matt Lynn

Where There Be Dragons on Instagram

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