Machu Picchu and the final days

March 10-13

After the hike we had the rest of the day to relax, shower, and hang out. A few of us met up in the main plaza and did some shopping and eating. We went to a café that had some American food and we ordered banana pancakes which were probably some of the best I have ever had. The day of relaxation was much-needed and was a lot of fun. Unfortunately, after a day out Amelia and I went back to the house to hear the baby was even more sick and the whole family was making the trip to Cusco. Amelia and I were very worried and felt really helpless throughout the whole situation. Eventually they came back to the house and told us the baby was doing better! The situation involving the baby was really scary and gave me a new appreciation for our easy access to medicine and hospitals.

Continue reading “Machu Picchu and the final days”

Amazing race, more service, and the hike

March 7-9


March the 7th was a whirlwind of emotions and activities. Amelia and I woke up early, got ready for the day, and went down for our usual breakfast with the family. At breakfast we were told that the baby was sick with a fever, throat issues, and stomach pains. The town of Ollataytambo is amazing and filled with cute shops and great people but the only medical care there is consists of a little clinic. To say the least the medical care is not the best, which prompted Amelia and I to be very worried about the baby. After saying our goodbyes and wishing better health, we head to the school and worked until 1. The service that day consisted of finishing to move the cinderblocks and moving dirt. Though I did enjoy the service at times I did feel unproductive and wish we could have done something more interactive. After that day our service was complete and we all did a little victory dance for all of our hard work. 


After the service we headed back to the house to find out the baby was even more sick. They were thinking about driving 2 hours to Cusco to get the baby better help. We ate a quick lunch only to head out for an activity similar to the Amazing Race. For the race we split up into groups, I was in a group with 5 other girls, Maddie, Amelia, Steph, Katie, and Mary Beth. The point of the activity was to complete 5 different challenges around the town and to get as many points as possible. To receive points you need to complete the challenges as best as possible, and as a group. At each activity you could receive up to three points (given with rubber bands). The activities consisted of a cooking challenge, a mini despacho ceremony, a dancing challenge, a spiritual ceremony, and an obstacle course. Each activity we did was more fun than the last and the whole time my group was giggling uncontrollably and had a great time. The “amazing race” was one of my favorite parts of the trip. Though super fun the race was super tiring and took up almost 4 hours. When Amelia and I finally did get home, we showered, and found that Anita and the baby had gone off to Cusco. Celestino (the dad) cooked us fried eggplant with cheese and rice. After eating I did not feel well but knew I needed to rest up for the big hike we had the next day. 


Unfortunately, the cheese that I ate that night made me sick. Amelia, being an incredible friend and roommate stayed up with me all night We didn’t get much sleep and had our overnight hike the next day. The next day we explained to our group leaders and teachers about my sickness and lack of sleep but I decided to go on with the hike. The hike consisted of going up one of the surrounding mountains, and staying overnight. I did not feel well for most of the hike, but my classmates were really the ones who helped me through. Their support was what got me up that mountain. Alo took my backpack, Nic and Jordan stayed to talk with me the whole hike, and at different times the rest of the group asked me how I was and what they could do to help me. That hike was when I truly realized what community was, people who will carry your weight and do as many unselfish tasks as it takes to support someone else. I will never forget that feeling and hope I can find that in the rest of my life. 


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After many laughs and cries, I had finally made it up the mountain and was greeted with a beautiful scene. We enjoyed our time with games, talking, and just looking at the amazing scenery that surrounded us. The hike was one of my favorite parts of the trip and something that I will never forget. 


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Homestays, the Weaving Community, and Service

March 4-6

Everyday comes with its new share of adventures, experiences, and ways of stretching myself out of my comfort zone. On the morning of the 4th we anxiously met after breakfast to go through a question and answer session about moving in with our host families. Each of us was paired with either one or two people to live with local families for the week. Living with these families meant eating each meal with them, helping them around the house, and learning about their way of living. After our quick Q+A, we finally were able to meet our family. I was living with Amelia, who did not speak Spanish. I am in level 4 and traveled to Spain last year with Westtown so my Spanish is pretty good but can always be improved. We were greeted with a kind looking women holding a little baby: Anita the mother and Luisiana the daughter,  and an older girl around our age named Shura. They both greeted us with kisses on the cheek and immediately helped us in lugging our huge suitcases to their house, 10 minutes down the road. On the way to the house we made small talk, with the conversation a little awkward at first but eventually we found common ground in topics like siblings, music, food, and everything in between. The house, which consisted of a little court yard and scattered rooms, was adorable and sat on a well-known street named La Calle de Cien Ventanas (the street of one hundred windows). Continue reading “Homestays, the Weaving Community, and Service”

Llamas, Mountains, Home Stays, Hiking, and Everything in Between

I cannot believe that my journey in Peru is already over. It seems like just yesterday that the 21 of us stepped outside of the Cusco airport to the crisp air and the endless view of mountains. Over the last two weeks, I experienced a whirlwind of new experiences, friends, and memories. Since I did not have Internet over the past two weeks, I will be blogging “backwards” recounting the countless events that made up our wonderful trip.

March 1-3

After over 24 hours of traveling, I stepped outside to a sight that literally took my breath away (probably because of the altitude). We drove around 2 hours to the town of Ollantaytambo, our home for most of the trip. The first few nights we stayed in a beautiful bed and breakfast on the edge of the town, while we tried to become accustomed to our new home. Our first night, we went through our norms, expectations, and concerns with Randall and Javier. Both of them served as our leaders for the trip, teaching and reassuring us the whole time. We all talked about some of our concerns which consisted of the language barrier, the food, sickness, and getting to attached to Peru. Some of our expectations of course had to do with seeing a llama, getting to know the locals, and cultural immersion. Those would all be met (thankfully!). We also learned about a nightly ritual that we would do every night of the trip called ANCHOR. Two different people would lead it every night, and would go through Appreciations, News, Concerns, Hopes, Obscurities, and Reading (ANCHOR).

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(our view from the hotel)

The second day of the trip would end up being one of the most interesting. We all participated in a scavenger hunt that would take us all around the town. After breaking off into randomized groups, the competition began and my group did not want to lose. We set out needing to fulfill all different types of tasks, and had a blast running around the city,probably looking like idiots. The craziest part of the hunt was the fact that the carnival festivities were in progress. Carnival is a month-long festival that involves lots of water and soap throwing. To this day, nobody seems 100% sure why Carnival happens but we all do know it is a great source of entertainment and a ton of fun. While we were trying to find the answers to our clues, kids and adults (mostly teenagers) threw soap and water on us. We would walk down a street and try to sprint away from the endless water attacks, laughing the entire time. Though we didn’t win the scavenger hunt, we had a great time.

One big lesson we learned from the trip is the HUGE importance of sunscreen. They told us from day one that the sun in Peru was not the type that would make you tan, but instead it was relentlessly burn you to a crisp. I learned that very quickly, becoming super sun burnt on the second day and which would last almost the entire trip.

On the third day of the trip we headed to the Inca Sun Temple ruins which were located in the heart of Ollantaytambo. Walking up the endless stairs was a huge struggle due to the lack of oxygen that seemed to kick everyone’s butt. Despite the issues with the altitude, the ruins were beautiful and we were given a really great tour throughout them.

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That night we also went to a Despacho ceremony. We all gathered at a place called “The Full Moon Lodge” around an elderly shaman who did a long spiritual ceremony with us. A message that I will definitely take away with me from the ceremony is how important it is to treat the Earth with the respect it deserves. The ceremony was really interesting and something that I will never forget.

Almost there!

Oh my goodness. I can’t believe that in just over a week I will be flying to Peru with 20 of my classmates. It all feels so surreal. I remember earlier this year, wracking my brain trying to figure out the perfect Senior Project. After one failed independent proposal, I reconsidered my options and felt Peru was the best fit for what I was looking for. Cultural immersion, service, hiking, adventure, opportunities for leadership, and teaching are just some of the many aspects that will be involved in the trip.

Though I have traveled to many countries, South America still sits on my list of places untraveled. Every time I imagine myself surrounded by lush green scenery and ongoing mountain tops, chills run down my spine. An aspect that I am really looking forward to will be going to Machu Picchu, one of the wonders of the world that every person dreams of seeing.

When in Peru, we will be staying with host families and attempting to speak and understand as much Spanish as possible. Currently, I am in my fourth year of Spanish but half of the group going does not know much past, “Hola” and “Me llamo ____”. My roommate on my home stay, Amelia, barely knows any so it should be very interesting to test out our pantomiming and charade skills.

Though I am super excited, I am also anxious about many aspects of the trip. One being the cultural differences, especially when it comes to language and mannerisms. Another, though silly, is food and water. Many people have exclaimed that they get sick in Peru from the water and food. Being sick and having any part of the trip cut short would be a total disappointment.

During the trip, we have all decided to take part in the “Un-plugged challenge”. This means no technology. No iPods, computers, phones, etc. I know this might be hard, but I am super excited about the challenge. No technology also means to distractions. We will all be able to enjoy each other’s company and Peru without having our heads in the virtual world. Unfortunately, the one big down side of the un-plugged challenge means that I will not be able to continue blogging until I get home. So please, stay tuned!

Thanks for reading, and I hope you will follow me on my journey to Peru!!!