Location: Urubamba

Word of the day: tasty. Today’s Huerto Paraiso tour in Urubamba included Peruvian honey, chocolate, and coffee. Muy sabrosa.

We rose early to beat a planned protest to the streets of Ollantaytambo. A group of Peruvian citizens would block transportation around the city to protest rising gas prices. This meant meeting for breakfast at 5:20 AM and leaving by 6:00 AM. We were a bit sleepy, but luckily for us, today’s activity schedule promised lots of yummy energy-boosters.

We began with the day’s only non-edible good: pottery. We each took a turn spinning the wheel to shape a bowl (many of us accidentally crafted “abstract” bowls). We also each carved and painted our clay disks. Mine features a sun surrounded by Peruvian patterns, inspired by the beautiful jars, plates, and bowls in the studio’s gallery. I’ll hang this disk in my room at home and replay memories of this trip in my head each time I pass it.

Next was honey. Eager to taste the final product and a bit nervous to face the bees, we helped the guide carve out slices of a honeycomb. We chewed the slices like gum and swallowed the naturally-sweet honey. A few of us even let him dump handfuls of bees onto our palms.

A wonderful three-course meal was served at the same location as the honey. We dug into quinoa soup, chicken with rice and vegetables, and a banana dessert while our counselor Bridget told some of her travel adventure stories.

Still hungry, we continued to the chocolate studio. We learned about the different beans and took turns grinding cocoa beans, peanuts and sugar into one bowl of mouth-wateringly delicious chocolate paste. After tasting the result, most of us decided to purchase our chocolate bars. As if the taste weren’t enough persuasion, it was cool to know that the bars consisted of only three simple ingredients.

Finally, we visited the coffee studio. The entire group was buzzing with sugar-induced energy by this point. We learned about the process, helped roast the beans, and drank a cup if we were still hungry.

We returned to our hotel in Ollantaytambo with extra time before dinner to pack for Machu Picchu, which we leave for TOMORROW!!! Some spent this time bargaining at the market to add to their already ridiculously large collections of alpaca sweaters.

Even after such a fantastic food-filled day, dinner did not disappoint. We dined at a restaurant in the plaza by our hotel. A few of us challenged each other with a riddle called Black Magic. I won’t spoil the game’s secret here in case I decide to challenge any of you readers at home. One of the day’s highlights was our guide Santiago’s excitement when he finally figured out the trick.

Today was a much-needed recovery day after the grueling hiking trip in Lares. We climbed into our beds early with full stomachs and dreams of majestic Incan ruins.