Over the course of the past three months, the girls at Casa Mantay have on a number of occasions reminisced about their favorite activity from the preceding year — their rock climbing trip with Liya and Megan. This week, the owners of Andexplora and SkyHighAndes welcomed the young mothers of Casa Mantay back for another climbing expedition.
The instructors surprised us with a fantastic new location for the girls’ second climbing trip. This time we visited a natural climbing wall situated outside of Cusco — very close, in fact, to our rural school of Pacca. Upon arriving, we discovered a massive stone wall nestled in the foothills overlooking farms and fields. The girls, who live in a crowed corner of the city, found it a wonderful change to be out in the countryside, surrounded by nature and a beautiful view far away from their usual environment.
Since the girls of Casa Mantay already had one rock climbing experience under their belts, they approached this trip with none of the timidity they exhibited last year. The girls jumped for the opportunity to get started, scrambling into shoes, helmets, and harnesses with an eagerness that blew us away. And when they easily scaled the first path, our instructors decided to set up two additional, and more difficult, courses for the girls to tackle. These two proved to be a challenge, and when the girls finally reached the top we saw triumph written on each face.
Meanwhile, in the shade of the climbing wall sat a half a dozen babies watching their mothers climb towards the sky. The girls took turns taking care of the group of children as their friends scaled the cliff, but we were also glad to have the help of two volunteers from another organization — Latin American Foundation for the Future. LAFF similarly seeks to empower women in Latin America and they work with Casa Mantay in a different capacity. With the two LAFF volunteers lending their time, we were able to guard the blanket of babies for much of the trip and give the mothers a needed break from their constant responsibilities.
After more than three hours of climbing, it was back to Casa Mantay for a Saturday afternoon of class and chores. As we dropped off the girls and watched them return to their busy work schedule, it was rewarding to know that we were able to provide a morning of challenge and excitement to girls who are constantly giving of themselves.