Location: Ollantaytambo

Our day started early as usual, with us waking up around 7 am for breakfast at 7:30. In my room, however, Natalie and I lay in bed and complain about getting up until 7:25 while Rachel tries to coax us out of bed. Already five minutes late, Natalie and I go to breakfast in our pajamas as usual. Breakfast is usually the same every day, except today I was able to snag not one, but two pancakes, which seemed almost miraculous.

After breakfast, we got on our bus to go to the rustic ceramics studio. On one side of the little studio, there was a long wooden table with mismatched benches, chairs, and stools. Towards the other side of the room, there was a large wheel for throwing clay. After Ronald finished translating the process of making the clay, we split into two groups. My group started at the table. We were given small, orange clay circles about the size of my palm to paint and engrave. When we finished our clay circles, we could get online to try throwing the clay. By the time it was my turn, I was excited to try it. Wilbur, one of the people working at the studio, showed us how to mold the clay into a bowl. He made it look almost effortless, which it was not. Kicking the wheel to make it turn while trying to mold a mound of clay into a recognizable shape was much more difficult than it looked. Once people started finishing up their work, we started talking about who everyone would be in the Hunger Games. We had a Cato, Foxface, Johanna, Glimmer, Mags, Katniss and many more. It was decided that I was Rue, which was mildly upsetting due to her unfortunate and painful death.

After ceramics, we all got back on the bus to learn about the process of making coffee. We watched a short presentation on the different types of coffee and how the beans were harvested and then moved into a small room where they roasted the beans. There was an Incan wood fire stove with a bowl of coffee beans on top. We all took turns stirring the beans for around 25 minutes until they were ready to be ground. When the beans were ready, we all tried the delicious coffee that we helped to make.

Casa de chocolate was quaint but cute. It was very similar to the coffee place. We all gathered around to watch a man explain how to make chocolate with pictures and the occasional bowl of cocoa beans. Once the process was explained, we moved into the next room to make some chocolate. He mixed cocoa beans, sugar and peanuts to make a chocolate paste slightly thicker than icing. We all took turns mixing, and all tried the finished product. It was delicious, and most of us ended up buying some for ourselves.

For lunch, we went to a restaurant that seemed to almost be someone’s house with a large dining room. We were served a usual meal of quinoa soup, chicken and rice. Once we finished eating, we got siesta time. Surrounding the house were rows of flowering trees, some of which had fruit. There were also rows of comfortable chairs and even a hammock to relax on. When Siesta time was over, we walked through the rows of trees to get to the honeycombs to see the production of honey. The beekeeper was an older man who didn’t even wear a bee suit. Armed with only smoke, he walked right over to the bees and just picked up a whole section of the hive without even wearing gloves. We all took turns holding the section of the hive that was covered in bees to take a picture with it and passed it around nervously. The bees were surprisingly calm, and not a single person got stung. After dousing the honeycombs in smoke, the beekeeper shook all of the bees of in one quick motion and carried the honeycombs away from the rest of the hive. With help from the group, the beekeeper cut out sections of honeycomb for us to try.

Most of us finished up our days by calling our families and bargaining for last minute gifts in the market. I think it’s safe to say that we have all bought our fair share of llama key chains. It’s hard to believe that we have only four days left until we have to go home.