Last Friday through this past Tuesday, I completed a 5-day trek to Machu Picchu. I did this hike, called the Salkantay Trek, through a tour company with some other volunteers I met here in Cusco. An indigenous chef came with us on the hike and prepared all of our meals along the route, and this has by far been my most memorable food experience so far. Traditional breakfast consisted of coca tea, bread, jam, eggs, cheese, and fruit. Lunches and dinners were always preceded by a soup, and the main course included a meat, potatoes, and another side dish such as lentils, vegetables, or rice. Here is a photo of a lunch one day (safe to say we gained back all of the calories we burned from the hike each day) and another of me at Machu Picchu.
When I returned from my hike, I was amazed at how the students in my kindergarten class reacted. I had only been there one week prior to leaving for the hike, but they were so excited when I came back and all ran up and hugged me when I walked in Wednesday morning. However, this also brought up an obstacle. The children wanted me to promise that I would never miss days of class again, which of course is a promise I cannot make. As with any volunteering project with children, it is always hard to tell them you cannot stay forever, but I feel that I have been able to explain it to them in an appropriate way. By explaining how special they are to me and how much I have enjoyed working with them already, it lets them know that I truly do care even though I will only be with them for a few short weeks. But, for now I will continue to enjoy the time I have left with them!
Here are two students enjoying some papaya.