In Peru, it seems like the sport that the culture centralizes is ‘futbol’ or soccer. During our stay in Cusco and even during some of the bus rides we have seen many soccer fields with lots of athletes, families, and kids playing. I think sports can provide hope for a lot of young people. It brings people together, gives people purpose, builds character, and community. This I speak from experience, and as a result has become a large and important part of my life.
One of the questions I had for myself for going on this “eco mission” trip was how I was going to hold myself accountable to staying fit. Coaches at college have always stressed the importance of doing right both in, and out of the gym, eating healthy and getting rest too. When I am at my best with this, I can do better work.
Being here has reminded me of how lucky we are to have the facilities and support that student athletes have. Having access to gyms, cafeterias, soccer fields, tracks, and other types of support is a special thing. It has been great that there has been both time and environment to accomplish workouts. There is always running, and for strength there are pushups, sit ups, and squatting. We have learned that at higher altitude, each breath you take has a lower concentration of air particles, making it difficult to breathe. And so the amount of hiking we have been doing has been a workout, too. When we arrived at the Anaconda lodge in Puerto Maldonado, there was even a pool to swim laps in! Getting up early for workouts out in nature has been motivating. Every workout counts and I know that many out here my age could be working out in the mines all day to earn a living.
The food here is different in some aspects and healthy. At meal times there have been bread biscuits, fresh fruits, fruit spread, and coffee. Overall there is more emphasis on natural food with fewer preservatives. Practicing eating locally and eating fresh plant-based food helps limit some of the cost and environmental effects of logistics. Often there is juice from mangoes, pineapples, papayas, and other tropical fruits. It is funny to think that much of the fruit that we can have in the states could be coming from where we are, now. Without a doubt it is a different life.
I wonder if what we learn out here with the effects of plant based foods, and its effect on their environment could support McDaniel Colleges “20% by 2020” project. I also wonder if there is infrastructure or support for young athletes to continue their path. Many of us have been able gain firsthand experience at the difference between western life and the life out here. It keeps us honest, and appreciative.