I ended up spending the lockdown on a campsite in Cusco from March 5 to July 4. At the beginning of the Quarantine, we were camping with 19 campers! As the months flew by, more and more people left the campsite to take a repatriation flight back to their country. After 4 months we were still with 4 campers left.
The first few days that I heard about the Quarantine I was a bit disappointed that I wouldn’t be able to do much with my project for the time being, but I soon realized that it is extremely selfish to be disappointed because everyone had to adjust their plans. Not only me and my project were victims of the virus and when I realized this I could quickly see that in reality I had been so lucky that I had just bought my van and had a nice place to sleep during the quarantine. I was also extremely lucky that I had arrived in Cusco just in time at a campsite where the owners cared very much about us and did everything to help us with anything and everything!
It was interesting to spend these months at the campsite! It really felt a bit like a community. And we spent different phases together! I could tell so much about this beautiful time, but I keep it short. It was inspiring to live together with so many different people on 1 campsite, to hear their stories, to see how contacts get deeper over time and what happens in 4 months at a campsite. From a cat who gets pregnant and got little kittens, to celebrating many birthdays. But also sad moments, such as the death of the father of the camping owner.
We shared a lot of moments with each other and I also spent a lot of time working on my van with the materials that were available. In short, I haven’t been bored for one moment and even though I could not do much with my project, I gave a presentation and a workshop at the campsite and that turned out to have great results on the plastic use on the camping and it made people think about alternatives. I also screened the documentary ‘ The story of plastic’ that was a big eye-opener for lots of them!
Of course it was not free to be on a campsite and because I had no income, I wanted to try volunteering somewhere nearby to save the money for Eco Bus America. I posted on my Facebook and there were a lot of reactions from people! One of those people is the family I live with now. I already knew them more or less because at some point I almost bought their van, which at the end didn’t worked out. They told me that they are working on a lot of fun projects and that I was more than welcome in their family. When I told this to the people at the campsite, there was one family who reacted sad rather than happy and decided to sponsor my camping and living expenses so that I would stay at the campsite until the end of the quarantine! Incredibly sweet of them and of course I accepted their offer!
When the Quarantine was almost over on July 1, I went to the family in Pisa, where I am now. It is a German family with 3 tvery sweet children and as they told me they have great projects. The first project is a sustainable clothing brand that they have recently started. They make sweaters / hats and scarves with naturally dyed Alpaca wool. The brand is called “Pacabamba” and they asked me to make the stories on Instagram, among other things. It is very interesting to visit all the people they work with. The idea behind this brand is to make 100% naturally dyed wool and to provide the local people with work and use their age-old knowledge about weaving and of course dyeing wool in a natural way.
A second project they are working on is the realization of a campsite with Tipis and Yurts where tourists can stay as a kind of “Glamping”. They want to make the campsite as sustainable and zero waste as possible and that is why my help comes in handy! My role is to think about zero waste solutions! Very nice! They do this project together with a Dutch / Peruvian couple who also have a super interesting project called Pachachaca. They adopted 11 children and luckily despite the lockdown I was allowed to give a presentation for them!
A final project that the family I am staying with has is 5 horses, 1 of which is a just born foal! Me and Tina, the mother of the family, go to the horses every morning at 6:30 AM and every afternoon to feed them and walk around with them. Tina has a heart for animals and all the animals she has are rescued animals that would not have made it otherwise. Slowly the horses are feeling more and more comfortable and they have improved a lot since they came here at the end of June. Recently several children from the neighbourhood have riding lessons and this week I will also be riding for the first time!
And then they have 3 children who get online lessons every morning and I also help them with that. At the school of these children they learn to knit, but also the native language Quechua so enough for me to learn too!
I see this time as a pause in my project, because I can’t do much right now. An occasional presentation and maybe I want to start a podcast. Driving around in my van is also not easy and the borders and schools are all closed and that will continue until the end of the year anyway. I am now oke with it, because as long as I can fill the time with very interesting volunteering work from which I can learn a lot and which also has to do with my interest, I think it is okay to be patient. I also started with some translation work online so that I am not completely without income and can save some for when I can get back on the road. I think it is important that the people who sponsored my project know that the money for ‘Eco Bus America’ has all been saved and will remain for the moment I can actually get back to work with my project again.
For now I wish everyone, despite the crazy times, a lot of inspiration and creativity because that is what we all need in this time when plans sometimes do not go as we planned ..
Lots of love!
ps: If you would like to follow a bit about what the clothing brand Pacabamba contains of, you can follow them on instagram where I recently made the stories for them.