I spent a month volunteering on a farm in the north of Peru. It was an experience I will never forget. I arrived on the farm and was greeted by Seioñra Piscuala and her donkey and taken for an hour steep uphill walk to a small isolated farm village. I stayed with Piscuala and her family, who all the volunteers in the past seem to have stayed with (they call their house the gringo house). The village atmosphere is lovely and it is custom to say hello to everyone you walk past. There is a couple of small shops but they only sell very basic supplies.
Being a women I was to accompany Piscuala in her daily chores and not really working in the sugar mill or harvesting coffee. Me and Piscuala cooked, cleaned and looked after the animals. The main reason for me being there seemed to be to keep her company, as life for women without daughters around can be lonely on the farm. The men all like to drink a lot of beer (even at work) but the women don’t get so much of an opportunity to socialize. I loved spending time with Piscuala and even though my Spanish is incredibly basic she still chatted all day to me. I didn’t understand much but we had a laugh and I think she just enjoyed talking. They were all very caring, interested in me and the different culture I came from. For example I enjoyed telling Piscuala about different religions and customs in England because she found them all so interesting as they have little access to the media accept the radio. The only music that was played was Cumbia, which was played nearly all of the time. The food was nice but mainly carbohydrates like rice. We eat rice most meals (including breakfast) and everything is cooked in Piscuala’s homemade oven which was awesome.
It can be a little lonely on the farm but I was lucky to have a friend come out and visit me so I could speak English for a couple of days. I also went about once a week to the nearest village use the computers and read a lot of books. One of my main and favorite jobs was to look after the “pablitos” (I am not sure what their name is in English), they are like baby birds. We kept them in the cemetery and I had to bring them into the house for the night time, I was also in charge of feeding them. They were super sweet and you call them over saying “tititititi” and they will all come running over to you. I also liked looking after the cows and playing with the cat.
Over all, although it was very isolated with basic living conditions, I really started to feel at home and am planning on going back once I have improved my Spanish. I would recommend volunteering on the farm but would suggest doing it with a friend might make it a little easier.