Our volunteering stint at La Senda Verde had left a real good taste in our mouths and we wanted more. But we also wanted something just a bit different and unusual. Lindsay had found an unique opportunity just a couple hours north of Lima. We said, “Let’s Go!!”
There wasn’t a tremendous amount of information online outside of their (very well done) website. From what we could gather this was a laid back beach-side community that practiced Hari Krishna, only ate vegan food, did yoga minimally one time a day, didn’t smoke or drink alcohol and the volunteers would work 4hrs per day with the rest of the time spent doing what they pleased. (i.e. yoga). The work that we could do varied from gardening, to helping prep lunch and dinner to participating in plays that were put on for the local kids. It sounded like the exact right mix of things we like (beaches, cooking), things we kind of like and say we should do more of (gardening, yoga, eating better) and things that we have absolutely no clue about (acting in plays, Hari Krishna).
The icing on the cake was this place is super cheap for volunteers. Combined $15-$20/day for room, board and all the yoga that our mind & bodies could possibly handle. After tearing it up in Lima we needed this one-week budget readjustment to get us back on track.
I am not exactly sure how to say this. I mean, Eco Truly Yoga Park just wasn’t for us. Not our style. After three uncomfortable (sleeping) nights and a few very, very, very laid-back uneventful days gardening (pulling weeds) we decided to pack up and head back to Lima. There just wasn’t much happening at this place.
Turns out the the community is in fact built right on the beach – but the beach isn’t swimmable do to the 2-3 meter crashing waves and under current, so we were limited to long walks.
And because it was slow season in this beach town of Chacra y Mar there were no vendors and no vendors meant no one there to clean up trash and no one there to clean up trash meant you were walking along a ghost-town beach filled with garbage and foul smells.
And because it was slow season there apparently were not a lot of full-time residents in the community (and no tourists) and as such there was no need for there to be yoga instructors here and the result was we had one 30-minute class the entire 3 days we were here. I shouldn’t say just one, we actually had another that was taught (and beautifully so) by another volunteer.
The Hari Krishna part of it all, which I was most curious about, was also kind of a let down. I didn’t learn anything. ***Disclaimer*** The only language spoken on the grounds was Spanish – and this was likely the reason I didn’t learn anything.
No one in the community really participated in the prayers & meetings. Lindsay and I attended a “class” on Ayur Veda medicine and were the only ones in attendance until (thankfully, to translate for us!) another volunteer sat down with us.
I left not knowing if the rules of the community (no alcohol, no meat, no smoking, no gambling, no illicit sex acts) were a product of the founders own beliefs or were part of the Hari Krishna religion.
The Room & Board
I just wasn’t really feeling the food. It was fine. Nothing particularly special. We were served on stainless steel trays. At first it was interesting and perhaps even “cool” but after a few days of eating off these trays, sleeping in a concrete cell in separate beds on mattresses that were paper thin I began to feel like I was in prison.
This is our shared night stand and window. Not much of a breeze coming through here made for some sticky nights. We had a single light and no additional outlets. The toilets were plastic 5-gallon buckets with an attached toilet seat. You would pour sawdust over your dukey after you finished. No flushing.
That’s me Candy Crushing it on my bed. My head is basically against the wall and you can’t see it, but so are my feet. Not the most comfortable of arrangements.
I think that the less-than-ideal living conditions would have been perfectly acceptable if we felt we were contributing to the community via our volunteer work. However, that wasn’t the case.
Besides an hour and a half of chopping veggies in the kitchen Lindsay and I spent the rest of time in the aloe vera gardens weeding. That’s it. Pulling weeds for hours in the sun.
I wish that we had some before and after photos because we really did a killer job on these gardens. Unfortunately it felt like they were giving us busy work because they didn’t have anything else for us to do.
The Community Pets
The community had something like 12 dogs, 8 cats and some other random animals. A few of the dogs (like this one pictured) were adorable and a few of the others were annoying barking throughout the night and keeping you up.
The community was also watching a baby monkey named Hanuman after a god in the Hari Krishna religion. This little guy was pure entertainment and can be seen here making Lindsay very uncomfortable.
We were interviewed in Lima!!
So yeah, we decided to leave the community early – good decision for us. This was simply not our cup of tea. We only had a few nights before our flight from Lima to Quito. We wanted a comfy bed and a hot shower in the worse way. The only place we knew in Lima was the neighborhood of Miraflores. Naturally we went back there.
That meant that we spent 10 nights in Lima and really never left the neighborhood of Miraflores which is sad and funny in its own right.
Lindsay and I were interviewed by a local Lima reporter after finding out that we spent 10 nights in Lima – which is much much more than the average 2-3 night stay most tourists do on their way to a different part of Peru.