Our first full day in Peru…

…was amazing! “This is my favourite place of the semester.” “The mountains are so beautiful.” “My chest feels tight and it’s a bit hard to breathe but it’s worth it!” All comments made by GHS students as we settle into the final leg of this journey.

Our guide, and new friend, Luis, met us at the airport and then shepherded us to our overnight hotel and on to our next flight and bus ride to the Sacred Valley. What a trip! The windy roads, the scenery, the elevation changes as we drove up through snow-capped mountains and back down into the valley. We checked into our hotel, sat down to dinner and marvelled at the sights we had seen. Some of us started counting the number of countries we have visited and flights we have taken but, honestly, it’s just too many to keep track of. One of our group commented that “sometimes when I wake up I have to think about what country I am actually in”. This year has been an adventure.

church in Cusco

And it isn’t over yet! Urubamba, the little town we are in, is located in the heart of the Sacred Valley and on the doorstep to Machu Picchu. We are so excited for our two-day adventure tour and hike but that is the subject for another Travel Journal. Today was about classes and exploring this quaint little town. Urubamba felt a little like Europe except that the people wearing traditional clothing were much shorter and the markets were more like the markets we experienced in Asia. Fresh fruit and vegetables were in abundance, the smells were pungent and the sights were colourful.

vegetables in a market in Cusco

Students are working hard in class as the end is in sight. Leadership delved into the art and science of fitness testing. Today was about testing students’ own fitness levels in preparation for the mentoring project which is just around the corner. Students measured one another, warmed up, then ran the agility course and conducted the “beep test” on themselves. This was not an easy undertaking as everyone is feeling some effects from the high altitude. Nevertheless, students did their very best, set solid benchmarks and were cheered on by the local soccer team. We were using their soccer pitch and the local children were happy to not only share their field but also to try out the agility course we had set up.

students running together

Tomorrow we are off to explore various archeological sites and handicraft markets. Luis has promised us an opportunity to try the traditional meal of guinea pig. I have made the students promise not to include me in the sampling of that particular delicacy. However, the markets do beckon and I suspect that we may purchase another souvenir (or two). We are busily calculating how much more room (and weight) we have in our suitcases!

Then it’s off to Machu Picchu…the adventure continues!

Kathy