Our first Sunday (and first rest day from running) started off with a van ride to Cusco! When we arrived we were greeted with festivities all around the Plaza de Armas, where floats and dancers paraded around the square to celebrate “Cusco Day”. We spent the first two hours of our time in Cusco doing a free walking tour, where we saw ancient Inca architecture, alpacas (that we got some great photos with), and cute shops. Near the end of the tour we were tasked with walking up 124 steps to a beautiful spot that overlooked the city… but 124 steps at 11000 feet left us all gasping for air. In order to reach the San Pedro market for lunch, we had to wade our way through the masses of people celebrating alongside the streets (where we only partially got lost) and passed by the street side stands filled with churros, galletas (cookies), empanadas, and even coconuts. After lunch, we found our way to the Museo de chocolate, where we got a free tour with a large number of chocolate samples. The guide gave us raw cocoa pods to suck on (which tasted like sweet mango on the outside), but Clem ended up biting into the pod and had the unlucky realization that raw cocoa does not, in fact, taste good. After our tour, we went to the next room of the chocolate museum… where we got yet another set of the same samples (which we weren’t about to refuse). By the end of our time there, we had tried over twenty flavors of chocolate, chocolate tea, chocolate jam, and even chocolate axe spray. We were living and breathing chocolate and we were quite happy. The day concluded with a trip to the soccer field where we watched Cusco’s team (Cienciano) crush the Caimanes (5-0) and got to experience some awesome cheers and take part in a mostly-successful wave across the stadium. When we finally arrived home in Pisac, we were exhausted from the day but very fulfilled from our eventful weekend.
Beginning week two here in Pisac, we delved into service learning. After our morning workout, Scott, Matt, and Sarah began our discussion on Monday providing us with the curriculum necessary to engage in good, meaningful, service with actual long-term benefits. We have also focused a great deal on different methods and types of leadership that surrounds our culture and community. One activity included guiding our blindfolded partner to stack a pyramid of cups, which proved to be more difficult than we thought! Sharing our past experiences with service and discussing the things that may or may not have gone well with our previous projects has taught us the importance of learning about the service we hope to engage in here. These discussions have us hoping to engage in service LEARNING here in Peru rather than “voluntourism”. Tuesday, after our morning run, we focused more on the ways we can improve our methods of service and project plan with the intention of sustainable development. We have discussed going in with an open mind, ready to learn and ask what is needed in the facilities we engage with. We finished off the night with a delicious meal of rice, lentils, garlic toast, and veggies by the staff followed by circle, each sharing our “Monos”, “Moscas”, and “Mariposas” for the week. We spent Wednesday learning about the objectification and representation of cultures, the ethicality of teamwork, and how certain teams are successful. We also took an empathy test by looking at pictures of eyes and selecting the emotion (out of four) that best described each one. Our day ended in another delicious meal, this time with savory French toast and trout.