I chose the right weekend to arrive in Peru which was spent in the beautiful Cusco, thriving with the ´Day of Cusco´. The plaza was alive with dancing, locals and tourists alike crowded to watch the spectacle, a perfect introduction to the colour and vibrancy of Peru. We then went for dinner at Cusqueñita, a restaurant with a stage and traditional dancing while you eat. There were queues at the entrance, but it was really worth the wait, the food was excellent and it was my first encounter of chicha morada!
Despite not being a regular hiker at home, I am so glad that I was persuaded me to do the Rainbow Mountain Trek one weekend. It was excellent as preparation for the Salkantay trek. The struggle of the challenge along the way diminished once I made it to the top. I can honestly say it was the most breath-taking views I have ever come across. Not only were the colours astounding, the peaks from snow-capped mountains in the distance completed the panorama. The closest I will ever come to walking on Mars! The sense of achievement for making it through the early morning, altitude sickness and temptation to hire a horse was something I´ll never forget and I will have it down as one of my highlights of my Peruvian experience. The 3.30 am start was made bearable by the breakfast we were greeted with high up in the mountains. A breakfast of scrambled eggs and fried banana with toast and of course, plenty of coffee! We were then driven to the start of the trek at seven where there was an enclosure of llamas. The trek was approximately a nine hour round trip and we arrived back for lunch at four o´clock where we started. Our group was small but friendly and it felt like we were all close friends by the end of the day.
Teaching the kids in Santa Rosa and Huayllabamba has not only been a privilege and a challenge but a rewarding experience for myself and I hope for the kids. It feels amazing to know that I have introduced them to a part of my culture while feeling completely immersed in theirs. They truly gave me a welcoming like no other with posters, dances and plenty of hugs. I feel as if I have achieved something when they greet me with something I have taught them in English, also as if I have made a difference and reached a goal. I will definitely miss them most and their warm greetings on a day to day basis. The teaching is certainly challenge, mainly due to the language barrier. However, the kids really understand this and take a large amount of pride in teaching me new words in Spanish, it has been a learning experience for all of us. I have learnt that as long as you are confident, enthusiastic and adaptable, you can keep them interested and engaged. These are skills that I can put in to any situation in the future and I am so grateful to be able to take from this experience. One particularly enjoyable lesson was an English treasure hunt. We placed clues on objects dotted around the school for them to follow, this was evidently a very exciting prospect for them as they appeared keen and energised, learning words as they went!
I am now coming towards the end of my time in Peru. The sadness that comes with this is mixed with the excitement for my trek to Machu Picchu! A four-day long hike will be a huge challenge for me but I have been told, and I can definitely imagine that it will be an incredible experience. I feel lucky and privileged to have this opportunity, I know that I will be telling stories of my experience for many years to come. I´m sure I will return home a more confident, assertive and ´grown-up´ individual and I´m sure this will not be the last time I spend in this amazing country. I can now truly understand what people meant when they told me there was something magical about Peru.