20 students and three chaperones have headed to Peru during Thanksgiving Break to learn about the culture and work on service projects in some of the communities. Throughout the trip we will hear from students as they share about their experiences abroad.
Today's update is from senior Abby Burris:
This morning we woke up at our hotel in Ollantaytambo, ate breakfast, and enjoyed an hour of time to relax. Before I knew it, it was time to load the bus and we were off to Cusco! This time instead of driving through valleys we drove on top of the mountains, and it was breathtaking. The snow capped mountain tops mixed in with the lush green lower peaks was amazing. We stopped at a handmade textile station along the way and learned how the textiles were made, starting from cleaning the alpaca wool all the way to weaving the designs. I was able to try my hand at weaving, meet Diego the baby llama (SO CUTE), and ate guinea pigs!!! I got to try the head and brains, which is the most valuable part. While I didn’t care too much for the brain, the rest was delicious!!
After this stop we drove for another hour before arriving at our hotel in Cusco. Once we got situated we went to an artisanal market a good walk away from our hotel. While I did not buy a hammock like I did in the Dominican Republic 😂, I did enjoy shopping and got Christmas presents and souvenirs. After dropping our purchases back off at the hotel we went to dinner to enjoy one more quick feast of pizza from a great place up the street from the hotel.
Saturday was amazing. Despite the hours in the bus, I really enjoyed myself and felt like I learned a lot and saw so much of everything. As we walked in Cusco tonight, the view of the mountains lit up with houses absolutely took my breath away. It reminded me of light’s importance (both literal and emotional) in our lives. While it’s hard to believe this trip is almost over, I am ready to share my experiences with others and return home
Well, Sunday marked our last day in Peru. We woke up in the morning and went on a walk around the town, stopping at a local food market. This was SO cool, and I was able to find so many different foods that I didn’t even know existed (frog juice for example, which I didn’t try). After that we went to a chocolate museum and did a two-hour chocolate making class. This was one of my favorite things we did, and it was so cool to learn how chocolate was made step by step from the fruit to the chocolate bar! We got to try our hand at making chocolate and all had a bag of chocolates to take home, but I’m pretty sure we’ve eaten it all by now! For lunch we went to a restaurant and had burgers and fries (I had an alpaca burger because alpaca meat is absolutely delicious), then trudged back to the hotel. Here we ended the program by sharing our challenges and valuable moments from the trip and doing rustic ties, where everyone ties a bracelet onto the person beside them and says a little bit about that person. Since then we’ve been in airports and on planes nonstop, and I think we are all ready to get home to Darlington!
This trip has taught me a lot, more than I expected it to! First off, I realized the power of laughter. A simple smile, nudge of the shoulder, or even stomach-clutching laughter can make someone’s day. I’m sure there’s a chemical process that happens when you laugh and smile (I think it sets off endorphins?) but all I know is that it makes me feel so light. What a gift it is to laugh on the bus, at the table, in the market, at the hotel, and really all the time! Being present and connected with others, no matter how different they are from you, is something that can open doors to some of the best moments of your life. For me personally, I know that being on this trip, laughing ALL DAY with my crazy mix of friends has made me happier than I’ve been in a while- and isn’t that something beautiful? there is so much love in laughter, and it always seems to break down our walls and build up our friendships. Secondly, I realized the importance of the little things. I was able to speak Spanish to all of the girls in the dormitory and tell them an official goodbye and thank you from our group, and that was pretty awesome!! While we were sanding the posts, we figured out that we could sand to the beat of the music we were playing and jammed out! I found a giant spider with an egg sac, played fetch with the dog, and learned how to write my name in Chinese. These little moments are what I’m most grateful for and what I so often overlook at home. My ability to be present and connected has allowed me to not only have so many of these “strawberry moments” (moments that have just a little burst of sweetness, but are the small things), but realize their importance. Lastly, I realized that just because it’s out of my comfort zone or a first, it’s not always a bad thing. From playing ”what are the odds” with the Chinese girls at dinner to learning how to hit a soccer ball with my head to trying a hot stone massage to eating traditional Peruvian street dessert, this trip was filled with everything I’m thankful for. The common denominator between all of these experiences is this: amistad, paz, sonrisas, familia, y risa. So, in English? Friendship, peace, smiles, family, + laughter. That’s what I’m thankful for this year, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
As someone who went to the Dominican Republic last year and Peru this year, I really value the opportunity to take these trips with Darlington. I am exposed to people I never would have interacted with otherwise and they oftentimes become my good friends. Both trips taught me a lot about thankfulness, friendship, and what it means to be a community, and to me this is what Darlington is really all about.