We had a wonderful experience coming from Piura to Rangrayo. The old saying, “It’s the journey, not the destination” totally applied for today. The first 2 hours on the bus were full of twists and turns, but manageable. The stop in Frias where we had lunch and met some of the locals was memorable. But the icing on the cake was the 3-hour ride from Frias to Rangrayo. It was full of surprised with the steep climb up, the Biblical animals, and the virtual “Garden of Eden.” Stunning views (including the 3 bathers we saw as we were coming into our finalWe had a wonderful experience coming from Piura to Rangrayo. The old saying, “It’s the journey, not the destination” totally applied for today. The first 2 hours on the bus were full of twists and turns, but manageable. The stop in Frias where we had lunch and met some of the locals was memorable. But the icing on the cake was the 3-hour ride from Frias to Rangrayo. It was full of surprised with the steep climb up, the Biblical animals, and the virtual “Garden of Eden.” Stunning views (including the 3 bathers we saw as we were coming into our finaldestination!) Finally, our warm reception into the village and getting to dance with the local people culminated our experience. - Joanne Tsaga
Good breakfast. Bus ride to Frias and had good views of the countryside. Then had a delicious lunch. Everything seemed on par. Took a walk to an awesome square with an Inca fertility god in it. Hopped in trucks and were excited for an open drive. Then…the truck stalled and the driver started backing up! Lots of yelling from Leah and the driver backed up into the mountain. We all hopped out, more yelling at the driver and Carlos happened upon us. Unloaded all supplied and squeezed into Carlos’ truck. It was very cozy. Sights along the way, including a horny horse, black sheep, beautiful countryside, pigs, and cows. Made it into the village, greeted with colorful lights***? Heard some nice speeches by the community and then a dance party. We enjoyed a sunset together. -Emily Wood
Best lesson in being and remaining flexible. Looking at positives, humr, and trying new things. The journey from Frias to Rangrayo had its share of horses, cows, llamas, pigs, and chickens. The landscape included dead brush, trees with cotton bulbs, and blackberry bushes. The higher we climbed, the greener it got. Mango trees with giant cactus alongside the “palm”-looking trees. Then finally ferns and evergreens with Aloe vera. Gorgeous green fields with sheep. A horse was attempting and failing to mate alongside a younger horse and then the occasional black sheep among white was unique. We changed trucks for various, previously-mentioned reasons, which was hilarious, terror-filled, and amusing at times. --Ramea Bowler
Today we had an interesting time heading up the road. We were stopped, switched cars, and almost went off a cliff and into the abyss. Today has been eye-opening. Never in my life would I have come here, nor met these amazing people. Within 24 hours our group feels connected, and the people were very welcoming. I danced with the Elder woman and we were declared “Homecoming King and Queen” by Jordan. --Brooks (El Grande Blanco)
First day of building stoves—completed 1 ¾. Team Matt, Trisha, Emily, Jordan, and Fiorillino—Rocks. On to the after work activities—I started throwing a football around with a couple of boys while the soccer game was being played. They were having a lot of fun. Jordan had the bright idea to play some ultimate football. He went over the rules and we had 6-7 Choice expeditioners and around 10-12 kids. Divided the teams up and just had some fun. All kids were involved in the epic battle and eventually, winners were awarded bragging rights. I happened to be on both winning teams—Flying Chickens and later Cows. Lots of fun and smiles all around. - Emily Wood
October 19, 2016
Day 3: I’m in my zone! Dental clinic began and I got to see patients. Though it felt like a labor of love at times, today reinforced why I do what I do—TO HELP OTHERS. It is really gratifying to have a career that I can do anytime, anywhere. It was really cool to see so many other expeditioners with no dental background or experience jump in willing, ready and able. It is such a gift to be able to share this journey with others having a common goal that is based in altruism. All of the patients today were such “super troopers” that it made the aching back and hunched shoulders all worth it. I can’t wait to see the babies tomorrow!! - Tiffany
Wow, I really wasn’t expecting such a big send off! Sitting at the bonfire hearing all of the elders speak was special itself, but when they said they had gifts for us, tears came to my eyes. This whole experience has been so memorable and humbling, having this plaque is a treasure I will always keep. -Tiffany Nightingale
I have to say, I finally slept!!! So I was very refreshed and ready to go! Our day at the dental clinic was amazing. I got to do a couple fillings, but mostly extractions. We had a lot of children, and I had a four-year-old who sat like a trooper for 2 shots and extractions. Amazing!! I truly hope I made even a tiny little difference for the better. The cherry on the top was our final goodbye with the community. We had a large bonfire, several speeches, and a plaque presented to each of us from the mission. It was so emotional, and yes, I cried…a lot. other than that, I will always remember this experience and I feel that, not only have I grown a lot from the mission, but I feel as though I got more from this mission and the villagers than we gave them. -Joanne Tsagas
The wives are in the home with the children. The men are farming in the mountains and fields all day. The older children leave for 2 weeks at a time to go to school. The younger children and older children go to different schools but some are 2-3 hours away vs. 6-7 hours. Only kindergartners are local to Rangrayo.
After lunch we bonded with all the girls in the community center with nail polish and pictures. We then did the education pamphlet for menstruation and the Days for Girls kits. It was a hit and everyone took one. Even the older community leaders. The best part was everyone got a polaroid picture with their mom, sister, or child.
Finished off the night with a movie on a projection screen. “Up” in Spanish. It was cold. Fun surprise was popcorn for the kids.
Leah, the CEO of Choice really talked a lot about educating these girls.
Choice’s approach is wonderful—sustainable resources. Not handouts.
Bedtime was funny—repairing air mattresses and having fun with the snoring members of our group.
Missing my kiddos so much. I want them to have this experience some day. My heart is sad and missing my family and happy in all the difference we are making.
This experience has been so amazing to me; I am sad that it is our last day in the village. It was so neat to come in the first day and see all the different animals and plants and “surf” in the truck while taking pictures. In the village, it was a new experience to dance with locals and greet everyone. The next days were interesting as I meandered around with different groups, helping where I could with gardens and stoves, and fixing ears. The dental clinic was great! I felt in my element, strangely enough, being around patients and gauze and blood. It was great to learn more about the profession and get to help so much. The last day was a bit emotional, and tears completely took me by surprise with the combination of getting a beautiful blanket made by another “Olga,” receiving an amazing personalized plaque from the village, and being given a unique poncho from a man whom we were practicing English with. This is an experience I’ll never forget. -Olga
Last full day in the village. Was able to talk to my mom and dad today. They sounded happy and well. My cute dad wanted to lookup where I was. “FRIAS” was the closest and still 2-3 hours away. Miss them and thought about how much my mom would have enjoyed.
Day 2 of the dental clinic was exciting, new, sad, and hard. The little kids were varied in their needs. Some of their teeth were wonderful. Same of what you would see in America. Crowding, cavities, and their tooth decay. These brave little kids held our hands through the pain. We wiped tears and gently stroked their foreheads. Mid-morning, Olga was busy tending to a boy who passed out. He was fine but that gave me an opportunity to assist one of the dentists, Tiffany Nightengale. Beautiful, gentle, and caring. She talked with each child explaining the tools and asking about them. She called them beautiful, brave, and tough. She was positive and upbeat. I loved helping her. I learned about the tools and usage, more about hygiene and the importance of taking care of your teeth.
After lunch I called Vaughn, texted Suzie for the kids (since they are out of school) and talked to my parents. We then went to the market in town. There were beautiful blankets, jackets (ponchos), purses, saddle bags, and rugs. The villagers noticed our interest and went home to get some of their personal things to sell. This money will go directly to them and make it easy to buy.
We finished the dental clinic. When the evening came, we ran out of gloves, and daylight. Some (few) patients did not get seen but we worked hard. Headlamps lit the way for the last patient. Wrapped up the dental supplies and tools. Finally, I’m going to do my best to wrap up the farewell meeting in the courtyard. The community leaders lit a fire. The villagers all came out to spend time with us.
They thanked us in their own little speeches. They were grateful for the stoves, gardens, and humble and unclear of why they deserved it (this is when I cried.) Toward the end of the comments and speeches, they surprised each of us with a unique hand painted piece of the sapote tree.
A personalized thank you for our work. They called us friends, they invited us back, they mentioned that this would be the beginning of a better life for many of them. We then got into a line and all the villagers hugged each of us. Some faster than others. Some very deep and long. I felt appreciated. I felt loved. I felt like we made a real difference for them and showed them a way to sustain the growth and sustain how to build and maintain the gardens.
When I received my “thank-you” gift, I asked Jordan to translate for me. A lot of things were already said.
I will never forget the people or this experience and I will be grateful for my whole life for the experience. They will be with me my whole life in some way and that is wonderful.
As the bonfire drew to a close, all the stars were out. It was a clear, mountain night. I wish I could have captured it.
Tomorrow we leave Rangrayo and both the expeditioners and the villagers are better because we spent 5 days together.