“Ain’t no party like a skate ramp party”
So, it’s been barely 24 hours since I arrived in Huanchaco; a seemingly quiet seaside town in Northern Peru. I’ve been introduced to my host family and my roommate and have just been getting over the daze of travelling and being on the other side of the world. A quick morning stroll around the town followed by a walking tour from Amy and my head is reeling with information and excitement about the months ahead. My roommate informs me today is the opening of the new and improved skate ramp and invites me to join her and all the other volunteers in the festivities.
So, completely unaware of what to expect I climb for the first time into one of the local Mototaxis (a form of transport which is definitely cheap and efficient but couldn’t exactly be called relaxing) and head up the hill to the skate ramp in one of the surrounding shanty towns “Cerrito de la Virgen”.
When I enter the ramp it seems like everything is happening at once! There are children of all ages (and a few volunteers) flying back and forth both with and without skate boards. The colors are unimaginable, beautiful Murals on the walls of the ramp massively contrast with the dusty dirt roads and squat dwellings we’ve passed on the way here, children and mothers and brothers and sisters line every wall and take up every possible place to sit. The sound is amazing; the air is full of laughter, shouts of the kids and chatting of the mums. The local go-to DJ Jose is blasting out music and games are being played by kids, adults and volunteers alike.
Despite being the newest volunteer and despite my Spanish not yet being quite up to scratch I am welcomed as if I have been here all along. The kids hang off me, want me to play and ask me questions and don’t even mind when I don’t have the answer. I’m given jobs to do and food to hand out and just generally made to feel like one of the team.
After all the dancing, playing, eating and general madness is over; we all gather for a photo on the biggest ramp and there I am, in the middle with the biggest (if slightly shell shocked) grin on my face. I’m here and I’m happy and I can’t wait for all the amazing experiences to carry on. Amy called it an ‘induction by fire’, I call it perfect!
Charlotte volunteered in Huanchaco August 2015 – December 2015 working at HELP Youth: Skate Ramp and HELP English