A Snowy Day at the Academy

By Yannick Wende, Program Director

This last week had started off with some peculiarly odd weather for winter time here in the Andes. It is common to see the skies in winter here filled with sunshine and not a cloud in the sky. This winter however has had some really frequent cloudy days and not only that, but in June and July I found myself driving up to communities with some hail and rain on the way up.

All of this was not so scary until this week, SENAMI (the national weather reporting agency here in Peru) reported that there was a cold front coming in and that this cold front was the last one of this year and it was going to be the one that was going to “end the winter time”.

It was Wednesday and it was time to head up to Patabamba, to see how our Pre-University academy was going. In the morning time, the sky’s were gray and there was a cold wind running through the city of Cusco. But at the end of lunch time, it was pouring rain , something very, very unusual for winter time in the Andes.  Suddenly this weather felt like February ( rainy season here in the Andes) but much much colder. On the way up I was hearing over the radio of the “colectivo” (collective transportation) that a lot of departments in Peru were in a state of emergency due this snowy cold  front, and that there were apparently 1200 animals reported dead due to this cold and approximately 500 families affected. It was not good news.


It wasn’t until I got the community of Patabamba with snow flakes on my windshield to find that the kids were already waiting in the classroom for the their Academy. It was  great seeing that even with this bad weather, the kids were keen to learn and not only that but the academy was functioning in these “extreme” Andean conditions. The afternoon went on and by the time it was 5:30pm and the Academy was over the children were impressed and so was I and the teachers to see all the white mountains coming out through the rising fog.