Saludos desde Peru!
We arrived into Cuzco a few days ago and were immediately whisked off to the beautiful farm of the Azcue family where we stayed the next few nights. Nancy, the woman who cooked for us, took us on a tour of the farm. We were impressed with her enthusiasm for the place. The group couldn’t imagine themselves being that excited to share their own home or neighborhood! We saw chickens, pigs, pretty flowers, and an herb garden where they cut peppermint and chamomile for our daily tea.
It is raining a lot and isn’t exactly warm. But we are enjoying sitting by the fire with each other and eating warm soups. We are also pretty fascinated by the “purple drink,” or chicha morada made with purple corn….definitely a very healthy and interesting beverage. We are anxious to try “cui” the Peruvian specialty of guinea pig but haven’t spotted any so far!
The upside to the rain is that when it stops there are magnificent views of the surrounding Andes mountains covered in snow at the higher altitudes. Yesterday we headed up into the mountains on a hike to the Incan fortress Pumamarca. It was a 5-hour hike up 1,000 steps through Incan farm terraces to the summit! The students handled it like champions.
We had a 1½ hour Quechua lesson from one of the Azcue family members, and the first thing the students wanted to learn was how to say “I’m cold!” Once they mastered that, the rest came as a challenge. It’s a tough language but the group had a chance to practice when we visited a local school in Pallata. The students loved playing with the children! One student plays the ukulele so she accompanied the group doing a mashup of 3 different children’s songs. Another student brought the book Where the Wild Things Are in Spanish and led story time. We also played a few games like “pato pato ganso” (duck duck goose) and amoeba tag. We got very attached to the kids in a very short time, and it was tough to say goodbye.
We leave tomorrow morning for the trek through the Lares Valley, and the group is psyched for the physical challenge, beautiful views, and arrival into Machu Picchu, the ancient Incan city!