Written by Lily, Jackson, and Tristan
Buenas noches from Cusco!
We´ve arrived safely in the beautiful city of Cusco after spending around 2 and a half weeks with our homestay families in Muñapata.
Before departing from our newfound families, we spent a warm, Sunday afternoon exploring the electric Pisac market as well as the ruins located not far up the mountain side. We all got to practice our bargaining skills and left the assortment of artisans with our wallets significantly lighter. We returned to Muñapata refreshed and ready to get back to work on the salon comunal, determined to finish as much as possible in spite of the pesky rain that originally set us back. Thanks to our dedicated experts on the site, Mario, Wilson, Paulino and Saúl, the walls had been erected. It was our job to level the floor, cart the dirt out to make the “barro” that would hold the adobe bricks together, and scout out suitable lumber for the “techo”.
By Thursday, a salon comunal stood on a hill off a road into Muñapata where once stood only a small gap in a mountain and some shrubbery. The homey building needs some windows and doors, yes, but the whole community was able to celebrate with a Despedida (goodbye celebration) nonetheless later that night. After a half day at the worksite, the group returned looking a little more dapper than usual (i.e a Global Routes t-shirt and a pair of pants only worn once or twice) to a growing fiesta. A group of community members made an impromptu oven out of stones and collapsed dirt to keep in the heat, in which an assortment of meat (lamb, venison, chicken, guinea pig) potatoes, and vegetables marinated was baked. Everyone served themselves buffet style and more than few people had to unbutton their pants before the day was out.
After stuffing ourselves, we received a special surprise. A representative of the mayor of Ollantaytambo joined us in order to award each one of us a certificate of community service. But the real treat was the dance party that ensued and the plethora of dance styles that emerged. With our trusty red boombox blasting an assortment of music, there was salsa-ing, berie-ing and swing dancing.
The Despedida ended earlier than everyone wanted but we did get to return to a final dinner with our respective familes. Many exchanged gifts: soccer balls, pumps, baby shoes, jump ropes, bubbles… one pair of students even received a word book to practice Quechua.
The time to board the bus and leave Muñapata for Cusco came all too soon. Email addresses were exchanged along with hugs and Ts and promises to return. And then we were gone.
We arrived in Cusco after a pleassant two-hour bus ride. After a short siesta (or for some an overdue shower), we went to Saquesaywoman to get in some quality sightseeeing before closing time.
And finally for today: we spent a beautiful day wandering around the city´s winding streets, perusing el mercado artisanal, and absorbing the cultural knowledge of the Museo Inka and the Weavers Museum. While it´s a shame we had such little time to explore this culturally rich city, we´re all excited for the kayaking, beach hikes, and bonfires that await us by Lake Titicaca.
We´re sad that the number of days we have left here is dwindling, but excited to reunite with family and friends that await us in the states ( and France). Until August 4th, Hasta Luego!