In this week’s blog Misha Zala from the UK gives us an inside look at an average school day for HOOPsters staying at the volunteer hostel.
Like most HOOPsters, I’m staying at Home Sweet Home, a relaxed hostel in the centre of Arequipa. A ‘typical’ day at Home Sweet Home
goes like this:
Breakfast is on the roof terrace from 7.30am to 9.30am… guess what time most of us aim for! It’s great here: pancakes, fresh juice and a fried or scrambled egg… probably the best breakfast we’ve had in a Peruvian hostel! Then we fight over the showers before getting ready for the day.
Interns head to the office to start work at 10am. Teachers (like me!), can hang out together at the hostel and plan our lessons – or we head to the office (a 10 minute walk) to print things – but mainly just to distract everyone at HOOP HQ with questions!
On the way, we stop for a chat with one of my favourite people in Arequipa, or maybe the world… the ‘Pare Man’ on Calle Santa Catalina. He’s part of the tourist police and he stops the cars so we can cross. The journey isn’t the same without a high five or quick song from this guy!
Next, it’s time to grab lunch at a local restaurant or nip back to the hostel. Here, restaurants offer a really good value set menu for lunch! Honourable mentions to the fabled ‘Six Fifty Place’ on Puente Bolognesi (loved by our volunteer Philipp for the lomo saltado and well… it only costs 6 soles 50). The great thing about staying here for a while is that we get to discover all the best secret food places.
After lunch, it’s time to gather the troops to catch the combi bus to school. Always an interesting experience – the first rule of the combi is that… there are no rules! It’s got as many people as they can squeeze on.
We get to school around 2.30pm and set everything up. At 3.15pm, we greet the children, who play and do warm up exercises together. Class begins at 3.30pm where we engage the children in English lessons. Our aim is to show our kids how fun learning can be, through play, games and crafts. The hour usually flies by!
Then the older kids stay back at the school to get help understanding their homework from their morning school. For everyone else, it’s Cancha time at a local playground where we play games and sports. At 5.45, we pack up, marvel at the gorgeous sunset and get back on the combi. We always hope it’s the route that stops near the ‘Churro lady’ on Puente Grau, so we can
pick up our favourite snack for one sole!
For dinner, there are tons of great choices like ‘The Chifa Place’ or ‘El Misti grill’ which fellow HOOPster Tom thinks is the best restaurant in Arequipa. But if we’re cooking at Home Sweet Home, that’s when the best comedy moments occur. There’s a kitchen, but with so many volunteers it can get chaotic. I’ve got a Facebook photo-series called ‘Cooking with HOOP’
(Rule no. 1: always use a bread knife to chop onions). Sometimes local volunteer Evaldo likes to cook for us and we love trying local specialities!
In the evening, we might watch a movie in the living room, hang out on the roof or go out for a drink together. The hostel is always happy to let us have guests over if we want a little fiesta on the roof terrace. By the end of the day, everyone is pretty exhausted and heads to bed. For me and my roommate, Amina, that usually involves playing silly games or telling late night stories!
I’m really happy living at Home Sweet Home, and definitely recommend it to future volunteers!
Curious to find out more? Check out our ‘Day in the Life of a Volunteer’ video.