Before we decided to head to Peru, friends told us about a place in Cusco called South American Explorers. They are a non-profit travel organization based in several cities in - you guessed it - South America. We all fell in love with the concept of SAE, as well as the people who work and volunteer there.
Here's how they describe themselves:
The vision of South American Explorers is to improve the social, economic and environmental conditions within South America by fostering the diffusion of information and positive cross-cultural interaction.
The mission of South American Explorers is to support and promote a deeper understanding of South American history and culture through programs, lectures, accurate information, and in-country clubhouses.
Mary, Mark, Doris, & Miguel have created a home-away-from-home in Cusco, and our kids felt it the moment they walked through the door. Ella immediately got herself involved: in helping prep for events, making signs, and grooming the guinea pigs. She even got to help name the newborn Guinea Pigs (NOT the ones for eating!) Owen loved being invited to board game nights and raiding the English book exchange. Brenna and I didn't mind at all going out on the Charity Pub Crawl either. Drinking for a good cause -- that's a win-win.
So now it's our turn to pass on the good advice that our British friends gave to us... If you happen to be headed anywhere in South America where SAE has a clubhouse, join. It's a great home base for your travels, you'll learn more than you would any other way, and you'll likely meet some interesting people, hang out, and trade travel stories.
Here's the promo video we shot for the Cusco Clubhouse website. It was a pleasure.