Staff Retreat at Lares (This Is Why We Love Our Job!)

This past weekend, Sacred Valley Health’s Peru-based staff enjoyed our first official staff retreat! In the last month, we welcomed several new volunteers and agreed on the importance taking a trip together that would be not only fun, but that would also promote group bonding. With many beautiful destinations within a few hours of Ollantaytambo, the team finally chose Lares, which boasts beautiful scenery as well as a fabulous and well-maintained hot spring and ample camping space (even real bathrooms! What luxury!).

Just a fraction of the lovely drive to Lares!
Just a fraction of the lovely drive to Lares!

Saturday morning we piled into a combi with our camping gear. The group included the Sacred Valley Health/ Ayni Wasi volunteers, nurse Leticia Huanca and her adorable son David, driver and chef extraordinaire Ruben Rozas, and community coordinator Escolastica (a member of our first group of community health workers who is now a community coordinator). As our combi scaled the rocky, winding roads, conversation faded away as we appreciated the beauty of the mist-covered mountains, greenery, and cascading waterfalls that surrounded us.

The Lares hot springs and campground. A gorgeous setting for team building!
The Lares hot springs and campground. A gorgeous setting for team building!
Media/IT Coordinator Darragh and intern Daniel enjoying a bird’s eye view of the springs and campground below.
Media/IT Coordinator Darragh and intern Daniel enjoying a bird’s eye view of the springs and campground below.

After driving through grey and dreary weather on the final stretch through the mountains, we arrived to a bright and sunny afternoon at Lares. The team helped each other set up tents (for some it was their first time camping!), made a quick healthy lunch, and then headed straight for the hot springs. International and Peruvian staff alike let out “ahhh”s of satisfaction in the hotter pools and played volleyball in the tepid ones, all while feeling stress melt away.

Monitoring and Evaluation Coordinator Ayo and Community Coordinator Lucy hard at work preparing delicious chichi morada.
Monitoring and Evaluation Coordinator Ayo and Community Coordinator Lucy hard at work preparing delicious chichi morada.

After drying off, some participants went for a walk in the nearby mountains while others made a delicious dinner of hot quinoa soup and fresh chicha morada, a traditional Peruvian drink made from purple corn. When it began to sprinkle a little, everyone pitched in to find dry kindling and build a campfire to warm our hands. Then we all participated in team-building activities. My personal favorite involved describing a 30-second moment in time in which we felt the happiest. We learned what is important to each of our fellow staff members and shared fond memories, and this put everyone in a really great mood!

Slightly soggy but thoroughly invigorated!
Slightly soggy but thoroughly invigorated!

The next morning, we arose rested and refreshed and cooked a hearty breakfast before packing up the combi and heading back home to Ollantaytambo. Overall, the first staff retreat was a great success and we all feel rejuvenated to go out and do good work with our communities. Stay tuned for more adventures!

– Written by Lucy Paine

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