It is a strange situation to be accused of illegal work in Perou while working for accommodation in a hostel.
Imagine 30 cops invading litterally your hostel on a friday – party night – checking out rooms, alcohol, and yourself. What are you doing here, we know you are working, where is your passeport, how long have you been working there, can you come at the police station monday to explain yourself, you know you are here on a tourist visa ???
All these questions striked me because I did not know : Peru has no law that regulate the « volunteering » concept. So, even if you are not paid to work, if you have some kind of retribution, like accomodation – food, this is recognized as illegal work. And you could be deported!
And that’s how, and surely why, we chose to lie to the peruvian authorities inventing some kind of story : of course the bar manager is your best mate (you have known him for months), of course the bar was crowded and he needed help, of course it is part of the hostel policy to initiate people to the peruvian culture and teach them how to do the famous local cocktail the « pisco Sour »!
That is pretty interesting to see corruption at all those levels, from the lawyer that knows everyone – yeah, the captain of the police is the best friend of a friend – all those uniforms pretending to respect laws when we all know that nothing will happen because the police captain has called the guy in charge and told him to let go. Still they ask us all the registers from the hostel, proof that we were guest and not working. We have to assist to this masquerade 2 times.
At then, we got our passeports back. After 3 days.
Even if all the people involved in that situation realize that it was a case of absolute-lack-of-luck, I thought it was important to spread the word, so you guys know what to do if that happens, without freaking out like we did for the longest week-end of our lifes ( well, almost !!)
So while you volunteer in Perou, be careful. Because it can be working in a hostel, Woofing, Work Away, or even volunteer within an NGO, this gap in the law is the same for all.