Reaching New Heights with Escalando Esperanzas

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A few Saturdays ago we had the pleasure of taking our Santoni girls on a paseo to go rock climbing!

GSW has worked with the organization Escalando Esperanzas (an organization based in Cusco that takes groups of kids out to climb real rocks) in the past so Caroline and I were excited when we met Cole and Nadher at a fundraising event. We were eager to get another group of Chicas Dinámicas climbing!

As this was a special, all-day Saturday field trip, we handed permission slips out a few weeks early to give the girls plenty of time to talk to their parents, and in some cases, convince their parents. Two girls were very disappointed and upset when they told us they couldn’t come because their padre wouldn’t let them for whatever reason. However, our chicas aren’t only strong and athletic, but also intelligent and charming. We were very excited to see them on the morning of the field trip with signed permission slips in hand and their padres’ blessings.

On the day of the paseo we arrived at our meeting place to find all our girls eager, ready, and on time–definitely a rare feat with our girls! The van and driver we hired was also on time (!) so we were off with plenty of time to enjoy our day outside of the city.

When we got to our stop, the Escalando Esperanzas volunteers were cheerfully waiting for us, ready to take us to their rock. Chalex (the guy who started the organization) literally bought a giant rock in the Cusqueñian countryside so he would have a safe and private place to take kids to overcome challenges through climbing. However, it was to everybody’s surprise when we arrived and there were over 80 Peruvians at the rock with camping and climbing equipment. It turns out they were students learning about adventure tourism. Their instructor heard that Chalex was out of town and assumed he could get away with teaching a workshop and camping with all of his 80 students at the private rock, free of charge.

Just another unexpected hurdle to jump over in Cusco.

After a quick snack, a game, a lesson in climbing gear and some negotiation, our rock was reclaimed, and we were ready to climb!

Everybody was really excited to try it out, but a little nervous. I really didn’t realize how scary it was until I get up there! Where I’m from, indoor rock climbing is a popular activity for birthday parties or field trips. There was even a rock wall in the barn at my middle school, so I grew up with the occasional rock climbing experience. None of our girls on the field trip had ever been climbing before, but they killed it! Every girl went at least three times. There were three different climbing routes and of course everybody wanted to challenge themselves to trying each one. Even when somebody got scared and was ready to come down, she was eager to try again, after a little break on some solid ground.

When we were gearing up to leave, we were told how impressed everybody was with our girls. Their enthusiasm was contagious and they were always encouraging each other on and off the ground. We are very proud profes!

A big thank you to Escalando Esperanzas and all their volunteers for making it an AWESOME Saturday and final field trip for the semester. We are excited to continue the partnership!

Until the next time,

Larkin

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