Getting to Lima was surprisingly smooth. The view out the window of the sun setting over Panama was something I will never forget. I was terrified of the thought of having to catch three planes halfway across the world alone, but it turns out there was zilch to worry about! 24 hours of travelling later I met up with some of the girls on my tour in customs. I collected my bag (it made it, yes!) and then we proceeded to meet our tour leader in Arrivals. We then got a taxi into Lima, driving along the chaotic streets until we reached the coastline. Half an hour later we arrived at our hostel, a small and quaint place with bright yellow walls and unusual decorations.
Then we were up at 7am this morning to catch the bus into the local shanty town, Villa Maria, where the company I am with at the moment run their charity organisation Quest4Change. After a hazardous bus ride we got off in Villa Maria, a huge sprawling town. Rows upon rows of boxlike houses reached high up the hillsides. As we walked stray dogs came up and sniffed us. Some growled but most of the dogs were friendly and docile. After a little walk we reached Quest´s project, a little school where children of primary school age come to learn and play and keep out of trouble. The children were lovely, although a little overwhelming at first. Upon seeing us they flung themselves at us, hugging and smiling. We later took a walk up to the top of the hillside, where the shanty down literally disappeared into the fog.
Heading back down we began constructing walls for a new house. Initially I felt a little useless. The biggest thing I´ve ever built was a couple of podiums for my university degree show. But soon it became apparent that I had a knack with a hammer and I got into the swing of hammering away at the wooden planks. It was pretty rewarding at the end of the afternoon seeing what we´d managed in those couple of hours.
After our visit to Villa Maria we caught a bus into the centre of the city, where we wandered along the streets. Some of us decided to head towards the coastline, which turned out to be a great decision as the view was stunning. The waves lapped against the beachfront and the streetlights glowed. A beautiful way to end a great first day in Peru!