Friday, June, 16th
We had a very early wake up so that we could pack everything up. Breakfast was bread, jam, tea and smoothies. It was very good. I had a strawberry yogurt smoothie. After breakfast Oleana Dutch braided my hair. We started to play cards, but could not finish because it was time to go. We walked to the town square and stray dogs started barking and growling at us. An officer showed up to scare them away. We then got our teams for the Chasque Challenge. Cassidy, Thea, Maia, Carter, and Alex M. were in my group. Our first task was dancing at Adela’s house. It was fun and everyone was included. We got three rubber bands which was the best we could have gotten. Next was pealing corn at Cassidy’s homestay. It was easy and fun. We got three rubber bands. Our next task was at the ruins. We climbed up and I did not feel very good. When we found the paper, and then we had to ask someone to translate it from Quechua into Spanish, and then into English. Next we went to the Full Moon Lodge for Chris’s station. The task was to put down wood planks and walk across them until we reached the other side of the rope. If a wood plank was not being touched it would get taken away. My group had a hard time figuring it out, but we all worked together and figured it out. After everyone finished the challenges we got on the bus for a while and headed to a really nice lunch buffet. Then we stopped at a weaving COOP center and made our own bracelets. We went to the Sacsayhuaman ruins once we arrived in Cusco. When we got to the hotel I found out that I was with Thea and Devin. For dinner, we went to a place with burgers, but there were no buns. At the hotel, we had our last A.N.C.H.O.R. Devin, Avery, and I did our leadership stories. Overall Peru was one of the best experiences of my life and I hope to come back soon.
Ava K (Lala S & Stella M.)
Day 12: Thursday June 15th
Over the past week I have been going in and out of a kindergarten classroom. Ava K., Devin, Addie and I have been teaching them English and singing songs with them. On our last day at the Manco Inca school, I walked into the classroom to play with my new friends one last time. I opened the door and I heard my name being called. I looked around and a little girl was waving for me to go over to her table. I got there and she gave me a hug. I loved that a girl I had only spent a few hours with had remembered my name. She showed me a drawing of her family standing in a house. In the corner of her paper was a bright yellow smiling sun. Over her house she drew the lush, green mountains. She also drew a garden that was full of colorful flowers. Her mom, dad, and she were all smiling in her drawing. It made me think how my new friend, Briana, notices all the beauty around her. A wave of gratitude flowed through because Briana reminded me to keep noticing the beauty and happiness I wake up to each morning.
This whole trip has been a whirlwind of experiences and unforgettable memories! My personal favorite memory being when we all went to Machu Picchu today. We started out the day by waking up at 5:15 am and hopping on the train at 6:10. The train ride was super fun (even though it was so early). Some people played cards, other slept, and many people just talked. The train took about an 1.5 hrs and brought us right into the town of Aguas Calientes. We got on a big tour bus up to the last point where the buses can take us. The bus was crowded and uncomfortable. After we got off the bus we all got our passports stamped and split into two large groups to tour around the ruins. We all learned that Machu Picchu means “Old Mountain” and that the Incas built Machu Picchu! The guides were so fascinating and factual that they actually made the tour 10 times better. After both groups had finished each of their tours, we all sat down and had a nice lunch before getting back on the bus, to the train, and back to Ollantaytambo. The bus back down was extremely bumpy but not as bad as the way up. After we got off the bus we had about an hour before the train left for Ollantaytambo so we went shopping in a market next to the train station. The train back to Ollantaytambo was so much fun. Ella and I played an hour and half long game of Egyptian cat slap (a card game). It was very long but so extremely fun. We go off the bus and soon had an amazing last dinner. The whole time, I just thought, what and incredible experience these whole two weeks have been.
Day 11: Wednesday June, 14th
Today we said goodbye to our homestay families with a celebratory earth oven lunch, Pachamanca. This is where voluntary professionals dig a hole and fill it with hot rocks, root vegetables, veggies, and meats. They then bury it and let it cook for a few hours. While the meal was cooking, the whole class participated in a soccer game with the locals who were incredible. At the lunch, every family brought a traditional dish of their choosing. We hope that we can stay in touch with our amazing homestay families.
Max S., Cadan O., and Alex M.
Day 10: Tuesday June, 13th
I woke up pretty early today when we came down stairs, Juana gave us a special drink. It was orange but it tasted like bananas. After breakfast, we headed to the school, some of us painted. I worked in a classroom. I helped them read an article. They were so happy and it made me happy. Lunch was French fries, meat, and potatoes. I tried to organize my stuff after lunch since this will be our last night with our homestay families. At 2:00 pm, we came back to the school. The kids were gone so we worked on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. I worked with Spencer to draw an image to represent water and sanitation.
Today we went to the school. Alexis, Ava K, Devin and I went into the kindergarten classroom. We taught them head, shoulders, knees and toes in both Spanish and English. It was confusing but fun. After that, the kids asked us questions about how to say things in English. Lastly, we sat and listened to the kids talk about the letters they wrote to a neighborhood boy who got hurt and couldn’t come to school. It was an amazing experience and I learned a lot about the culture here in Ollantaytambo.
The group will be waking up super early Thursday morning to catch the train to Machu Picchu. We will be exploring the ruins all day and telling more leadership stories at the sacred site. We will return to Ollantaytambo late in the evening. Stay tuned for Wednesday and Thursday’s entries on Friday.
Day 9: Monday, 6-12-2017
Hola from Peru! Today was a very fun and exciting day to start off the week. When Ella and I went downstairs to eat breakfast, we were greeted with bread, eggs, papaya smoothies and hot chocolate. After eating, we made our way upstairs again to pack for the day. Then we said goodbye to our family and made our way to the school. On the path, Ella and I ran into Spencer and Alexis. We decided to walk and talk with them. We arrived at the school 20 minutes early and greeted our classmates as they showed up. We then formed a circle in the field for AMP (Analyze, Manage, Prepare) as led by the day’s leaders, Khaki, Ethan, and Brenon. They led us through exercises and everyone admired the amazing view around them. Then Chris told the class his inspiring leadership story. Later, Ms. Annie split the class into two groups, basket weaving and moving wood.* Ella was placed into wood and I was in basket weaving in the morning. The baskets were surprisingly difficult to weave. At our homestay, Ella and I had soup, bread, and a type of veggie mix. Once again we said goodbye to our families and went our separate ways. This time, I was moving wood and Ella went to basket weaving. The wood group finished so early that we could see more ancient Incan ruins. Both groups met to have our final A.N.C.H.O.R. (Appreciation, News, Concerns, Hopes, Obscurities, Readings) of the night only this time, Thea, Noelle, and I shared our leadership stories. I went first and I deeply explained how we should all be thankful for what we have. Our curses are others’ blessings. Near the end of the day, Ella and I found our way back home to play frisbee with our homestay child, Sebastian, and we ate dinner. Tip: Never put too much salt in your soup. Otherwise you won’t be able to eat it! Along with my overly-salty soup, we had spaghetti. To finish off the day, we put our P.J.s on, brushed our teeth and got into bed. Thanks for listening! Until next time!
Cassidy C. & Ella S.
* The students were moving wood to a neat stack near the kitchen. Many children hike in from neighboring villages and are fed both breakfast and lunch at the school to ensure proper nutrition. All food is cooked in a small room on an open wood burning stove by a solitary chef who is trained by the government in healthy eating. For many, school is where the most nutritious meals are consumed.
Day 8: Sunday, 6-11-2017
Today students were put with their homestay families all day long to experience their culture and daily routines. Some people went to church to celebrate the Peruvian culture. There was also a big bull fight in town. A local person had to go to the hospital because he got flipped by a bull! Hopefully everyone had a fun day with their family and got to experience a day in the life of a local Peruvian.
Carter S. & Khaki W.
We all woke up to the sound of the wind so we could pack up our tents and eat a delicious breakfast. Once the campsite was all packed up, we headed down the steep and rocky mountain. At first, it almost looked as if we were in a rainforest and then the views were just amazing. After a fun hour and a half of descending down to civilization, we reached a small flat area with a temple shaped like a puma. Here, we learned what type of leaders we are, and what it means to be a that type of leader. Shortly after, we descended even further until we reached an awesome lunch. After that, we walked until we arrived at a small road. We danced and hiked along that rod until we reached Ollantaytambo and walked through the warm and comforting doors of our homestay families.
Annie C. & Morgan D.
Once we arrived at Pumamaki we all got three colorful cards. Each card was a different color with different words. Each color signified a different temperament but we didn’t know which card meant what. We all switched our cards around until we had 3 words that defined you best. We then chose on and split into groups depending on the color that your card was.
Today we hiked a mountain. They said it was going to be flat but it was very uphill. There were mules that carried our gear. When we arrived at the campsite there were a bunch of tents and each homestay got one. We had a two-course meal and are very excited for dinner.
Oleana J. Noelle S-T.
As the group slowly paced across the sun glazed mountains we all took in the beauty. Our hopes were high and our altitude seemed low. We took many breaths as the air thinned. We longed for a meal and a rest. We suddenly came to a halt and took a surplus of phots and ate as much as we could. As soon as we could, we started to descend. All but one were joyous and looked beneath them. Finally, the group arrived at the campsite full of glee. Lastly we sat around the campfire and sung all the classics.