This lovely day, July the 4th began early, with the #squad meeting at 8:00am to board a train to the legendary Machu Picchu. Shoutout to America for turning 243 years old, wish we could be there to celebrate with you. Anyways, the train was quite leisurely and enjoyable. We passed the school where we had worked first, and our first homestays. When we finally arrived, we....(drumroll) boarded another bus!! Yay! We waited for a long time but it was fine because we passed the time looking at the beautiful landscape of forested mountains and a bustling creek below. The bus ride was short, yet perilous. We rode close to the edge of the mountain but the drivers were quite skilled and we all survived. When we actually arrived, it was spectacular. We glimpsed one of the 7 wonders of the world, and took a quick hike up to get an even better view.
Then, the real work began. We went straight up the gnarled stone path with hundreds of stairs. For being short, the ancient people left quite large steps for us to climb. Some would say the hike was brutal, but when we finally reached the very top, it was worth it. We could see all of Machu Picchu and the surrounding mountains. We took about a gazillion pictures and ate our delicious sack lunches consisting of two sandwiches: chicken salad and cheese, an orange, a pastry thing, and a chocolate muffin. We were grateful for the food after our expedition. The hike down was much more relaxing, but the stones were a bit slippery and we had to be careful not to fall. We took a break to observe some random people who had apparently been running a marathon since 4 in the morning. We even got to celebrate Todd as he crossed the finish line. We finished our hike down without any trouble, and there our tour began.
Our tour guide's name was Jesus, and he was quite the beast. He was an expert in the Incan traditions about Machu Picchu. He explained how the Incan strategy of stacking stone cannot be replicated. We also saw the place where the Incans used to have festivals, and shouted a lot to hear the echo off the other side. We even saw a chinchilla from afar. After exploring Machu Picchu in depth, we hopped back on a bus and rode to the town by the train station. We stopped at an Italian diner called something in French. Our good friend Johan was kind enough to pay for us each to get a treat. There was ice cream, pastries, cakes, and more. It was the perfect and well-deserved snack. We were set free after around the small marketplace to shop. Bargains were made and souvenirs were bought, and everyone was in good spirits as we rejoined to board our train. We almost missed it though, because our dinner was running a bit late. As we made the fantastic sprint to get on, we knew it was worth it because our dinner was what we had all been craving: PIZZA. We were each given an 8 inch personal pizza, which we scarfed down. Currently, we are almost home, but having quite a bumpy ride. No matter, everyone is in jovial spirits, and I'm sure the other passengers are annoyed with us. Overall, a lovely day indeed, one to remember for years to come. Bye Machu Picchu, see you soon Nashville.
Today we finished up work at our chosen volunteer locations in the morning. The Kuska group put the finishing touches on the Ensworth/Nashville sign and did some more recycling work, varnished a table, and mixed cement. The Awamaki group completed their inventory work and we all returned to our homestays for lunch and met for coffee in the plaza at 2. Then we played a game called the Chaski challenge where we had to go to 5 locations around town and complete tasks including herding guinea pigs, making homemade chocolates and learning about the chocolate making process, washing clothes in the traditional way, learning Peruvian dances, and peeling corn. Those who did the task perfectly received 3 rubber bands, mediocre performances received two, and bad received only one. After the game we ate a quick dinner at our homestays and bundled up to go back out to see arch rivals Peru and Chile face off in the semifinals of the Copa America. We all gathered for the public screening in the plaza and shared in the culture and excitement of the Peruvian victory.
By Kat and Maeve
Today we worked with the Kuska school and an NGO called Awamaki. Half of the group went to the school where we used recycled paper to create paper mache baskets and bins. We also began work on a sign representing Ensworth and Nashville that the school is going to display along with the signs of other schools they have worked with. The other half worked at the Awamaki store taking inventory and painting a new sign for them. The Awamaki group went back to their homestays for lunch and the Kuska group ate at the school. After work ended, we stopped for a coffee at a second story cafe and wrapped up our group time there. Then each group returned to their homestays for dinner, family time, and sleep.
This morning we woke up in our tents at 7:00am. We packed all of our overnight stuff up. We then had breakfast in a tent set up with a table and chairs. We had banana pancakes and guacamole with bread. At 8:45, we started our 2 hour hike back down to Ollantaytambo. It was a pretty walk and we saw a condor up in the sky. It's Peru's biggest bird. We then visited a school which Maeve, Brooks, Sofia, Genevieve, and Spencer are volunteering the next 2 days. We then walked to get ice cream! After ice cream, we had some free time. We ate lunch at 1:00, we ate burritos with chicken, guacamole, beans, tomatoes, and cheese. We then met our homestays at set up our rooms. We shopped for a little and met at the plaza at 3:00. Then we visited the second NGO and listened to a presentation about their mission. Kate, Carla, Ellis, and Katherine are working here for the next 2 days. This organization helps women spread the word about their businesses. We went back to our homestays and ate dinner at 7:30. Carla and I had pasta with chicken and tomatoes. We are excited for our work tomorrow! We love and miss you mom and dad! Anchor down!
- Carla and Kate
Today, after breakfasting at our homes for the last time, our families and we rode out to Ollantaytambo. We were taking part in our "Walking Together" activity, spending the day in the city with our homestay families. After checking into our hotel to deposit our bags, we walked through the city, stopping to buy from an indoor market covered floor to floor in vibrant fabrics and various fruits. We headed to the city's Inca ruins to watch a ceremony which told the story of Ollantay and his lover, the Inca's daughter, who he was forbidden to see. Over 400 dancers, musicians, and actors brought the story to life atop the ancient terraces in 2 three-hour performances. As it was entirely in Quechua, we couldn't understand a word. We met afterwards with a relative of our host families who had acted in the ceremony, then lunched by the musicians in a nearby playing field. It was time at last for our hosts to depart, and we assured them of their hospitality once more before parting ways for good. After this we were free to accustom ourselves to the hotel and explore the city in groups. We tried our hands at bargaining in the open market and got our soles' worth of goods. Reconvening at the plaza, we travelled together for a healthy supper and returned at last, satisfied, to our hotel rooms.
Hello Parents, today, we had to say goodbyes to the lovely children at the school. Before that, we helped de-weed some more gardens. After the painful process of cleaning the garden was finished, the kids helped us repaint the rocks that surrounded the gardens. When it was time for learning, the kids sprinted to their classrooms and we followed. Here, we helped teach the kids English with songs, such as heads-shoulders-knees-and-toes, the abc's, and a few counting songs. When we transferred to the "big kids" room, a new type of teaching had to be used with a nice competitive game, the students had fun and learned at the same time. After the painful choice of who the winner was going to be, we had to say goodbye. Then, we shed a few tears and rested before a small hike to one of the Incan sites. We sat and looked at the view as we took 1,000s of pictures. Finally, we played a team building game where we had to stand up while back to back and had locked arms with another partner. After finally standing up with the whole group, we received the best gift that a person could ask for, ICE CREAM! Even though we still haven't gotten this sweet treat, this trip has been fun, inspiring, and overall amazing.
With the sun rays beaming on the mountain tops, we all woke up bright and early to enjoy breakfast with our new familia! All of the Ensworthians then joined together at the assigned meeting spot at 8:00 to begin the trek to the school we are helping. While at the school, we moved debris, sanded plus painted some tables, and weeded their gardens. As we worked away at the tasks, the Ensworth students conversed (in Spanish) and had fun with the children. Basket weaving came next after we wiped our hands clean from the dirt in the garden. Our arts and crafts session was a success thanks to the master weaver who showed us the ropes and assisted us the entire time. Once those were complete, everyone played soccer together in a huge field. We all returned back to our homes for dinner at 6:00. Then, with full bellies, we showered and rested our heads on our pillows to end off yet another incredible day. We can't wait to see what tomorrow has in store for us But until tomorrow...buenas noches y hasta mañana!
Hola padres! Earlier today we woke up and were served pancakes with bananas and homemade syrup. It was fluffy and delicious! Shortly after, we finished our packing, hopped on the bus, and were taken to our homestays in a small farming village in the Sacred Valley. Once we settled into our homestays, we visited the nearby school that Ensworth has served before. We were all pleasantly surprised and impressed with how welcoming the children and instructors were. We carried in dirt for the school's garden and while we were doing so, conversed with the students who were excited and cheerful. Following their lunch (almuerzo), we played volleyball and soccer with them. After visiting the school, we walked back to our homestays; most of us enjoyed warm vegetable soup with some sort of meat like chicken or guinea pig. Later in the day, we all met up again to be shown each other's homestays and get our bearings. I am writing this as Sofia, Genevieve, and I are about to eat what smells like a scrumptious dinner (cena). Today was another great day in the books! We can't wait for tomorrow and are in awe of the beauty that the Sacred Valley contains. Hasta Luego!
P.S. Parents comment please!