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Location: Ollantaytambo

Author: Julia Location: Ollantaytambo Today was a fun and laid-back day for the group to relax and learn about several traditional Peruvian trades. Our day began with a trip to a ceramics workshop. Skilled craftsmen and women demonstrated the techniques to turn a clump of solid rock into a wad of cool, soft clay and finally into a unique bowl or cup. Everyone in the group was able to try their hand at sculpting bowls on a pottery wheel, ending in widely varied results. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how the bowl turned out) we were unable to take these home. However, we were also allowed to paint small ceramic bowls, and many of us kept our finished bowls. Our next stop was a coffee workshop, where a worker explained the production process of Peruvian coffee. We were given samples of the coffee, which was very strong, and some of us chose to purchase small bags of coffee beans. The next workshop we visited demonstrated the process of creating chocolate. The woman working there passed out a cacao fruit and then showed us how to use a grinder to combine cacao paste, sugar, and peanuts to create chocolate. The chocolate was very bitter and strong and people seemed to either love it or hate it. Some opted to purchase a bar of the chocolate. Our last stop was a honey farm, where a beekeeper taught us about using smoke to calm the bees, allowed us to take pictures with a sheet of honeycomb and (tranquil) bees, then passed out samples of fresh honey. Most of us agreed that it was the best honey we’d ever had. At the honey farm we had lunch and then had some free time to relax. The honey farm was our last demonstration of the day so when our break was over we took a bus back to the hostel. It was evening when we arrived, so before dinner we were given time to explore a small marketplace in Ollantaytambo, where we practiced our bargaining skills and our Spanish. The small-group exploration was a fun conclusion to a busy yet relaxing day.