By Tatum Nadherny
Allllrriiggghhty then we got a lot to cover, so get comfy folks (and excuse the excessive use of parenthesis, there were a lot of plot holes that needed more details).
And here. we. go.
After our week in the Amazon, we headed back to where it all started in the city of Quito….and promptly splurged on all available snacks and chocolate. It did not take long for people to discover the ´Republica De Cacao´, only 2 blocks away from our hostel (Shoutout to Kaela for booking a bomb hostel for our couple nights in Quito). The brownies there were a veritable spiritual awakening and allowed us to transcend to a higher plane of existence. Many people also treated themselves to their first American food (Hamburgers, Fries, Chicken Fingers, etc) in over a month. We also took full advantage of the city´s resources to do laundry, call home, or restock on books to read. As a group, we reflected on the past month and our personal growth. After of short day of rest in Quito, we headed to the airport on Halloween to begin our adventure to Peru.
Halloween also marked the beginning of ´Peanuts´, a game introduced by Daphne (sorry I can´t find the accent on this keyboard) similar to secret Santa. We each were anonymously assigned another group member to uplift and surprise with gifts throughout the week.
We arrived in our Cuzco Hostal (shoutout to Liza, this hostel was dope) late in the evening, hungry and tired. Daphne (again, imagine there’s an accent on that é´) and Sarah were the brave souls who ventured out in search of Pizza. They returned hours later to feed the impatient and famished horde.
From Cuzco, we traveled by bus to the rural mountain village of Quenco. We found ourselves at the highest elevation, the most remote location, and the coldest temperatures of the trip. After our sweaty days in the Amazon, the brisk mountain air was a momentary shock to the system and many of us struggled to adjust to the altitude. As we worked to adapt, our Peanuts encouraged us and helped us power through (mostly in the form of much-needed snacks and treats), at which point we were able to appreciate the majestic mountain views all around, and more importantly the spectacular phenomenon that is a Llama´s facial expressions.
During our stay, we herded llamas and sheep up the mountains, taught local children English, tilled fields, and played soccer in the rain (all at unspecified and hardly consistent hours). On our last night, our hosts threw a bonfire sendoff where they dressed us in their traditional clothing and played music for dancing. To reciprocate in this cultural exchange, the group performed the “Cupid Shuffle” (oh look I finally found actual quotation marks on this keyboard). We also danced the Macarena (to Miley Cirus´ “Party in the USA) and sang the legendary anthem that is Queen´s “Bohemian Rhapsody” (yes we did that thing acapella….and yes it was mildly to severely awkward for our small audience of Quechua speaking locals).
The next morning we embarked to Ollataytambo (which is where the next blog post will pick up)
That’s all folks.