We can’t believe we only have two days left in Ollantaytambo. The trip has gone by quicker than any of us ever imagined. The past two days we went on an overnight hike “en las montanas.” Everyone found this hike much easier than the previous one. This is probably due to our overall better mindsets and acclimation to the altitude. Having seven porters and horses carrying our bags and stopping to make us food didn’t hurt either.
Upon arriving at the campsite we encountered a surprise: grazing cows and their calves. Jerry, a stray dog that followed us on our hike immediately began to bark and chase the grazing calves and their mothers. Adolfo came to the rescue, herding the cows out of the field, or at least momentarily. After gathering dry firewood for a bonfire later in the night, we all set up camp, many of us putting together a tent for the first time. Hours later and our stomachs full ,we all gathered around a fire to roast marshmallows and warm up. As Bobby warned us prior to the hike, it was freezing. All of us looked ridiculous, wearing multiple layers of warm clothing and headlamps over our heavy winter hats. Adela and Mr. Das stayed late with the kids, imparting wise words and advice about life to us.
When the fire died down, we all retreated to our separate tents. Yowana, Will, Deki, Gen, Katherine, Charlotte, and Sofi, unable to sleep, left their warm sleeping bags and ventured outside later in the night. The cows had returned. Luckily, they proved friendly, and humans and cows coexisted nicely for the evening. All students agreed that the stars “were the most beautiful thing they’d ever seen.” Stars in Peru are different than at home. They actually twinkle. Charlotte saw nine shooting stars and the group spent an hour in the frigid air to appreciate the natural beauty.
Though the next morning all were tired, having stayed up late the previous night, everyone was eager to return to their host families. Henry, who had skipped out on the hike because he was feeling a bit under the weather, surprised everyone at Puma Marca, pre- Incan ruins where we stopped on our way home. All were excited to see Henry and had missed him the previous day. Though the hike had been fun, it was draining. When we returned home many of us opted to take a nap rather than go out to the plaza for shopping.
Today is our second to last day at Anncopacha and though the workday was optional, all showed up. Henry, Yowana, Bobby, Daraja, and Jared are scrubbing tables clean with their bare hands and Katherine, Morgan, Annie, Charlotte, Mr. Das, and Jobe are finishing up the paint inside. The mural Bobby, Yowana, Gen, and Daraja painted looks amazing and is ready for glazing. Everything is really coming together and the community center is just about ready to be used. Spirits are high today, as can be seen through Henry and Yowana’s singing and dancing and the wide smiles on everyone’s faces. This is probably due to the festival later on in the afternoon today, Ollantayrami.
Many of our host mothers, sisters, brothers, and fathers are participating in the holiday today. Daraja and Will’s mom, Silvia, will be dancing along with Katherine and Sofi’s sister. All will head over the festival after work today to see a play at the Sun Temple and watch the dancing with their families.
Though we only have a couple days left here in Ollantay, we aren’t slowing down. Tomorrow everyone will wake up bright and early to head to Machu Picchu and Sunday will be spent bonding with our host families. Many would agree with Katherine , who said, “I’m not ready to go home.” All will be sad to leave behind their families here and will miss them very much. Our time in Peru has been nothing less than amazing.
Sofi and Aron