Location: Machu Picchu

I’ve been to Machu Picchu, and I haven’t even graduated high school yet. How many people do I know who can say that? Along with the rest of this group, we were able to say it before lunchtime. It was a long day though, beginning around 4 am to catch the sun rising through the peaks of the mountains of Putu Cusi, just outside the ruins of Machu Picchu.

The finite number of pixels in the pictures we took, and the ink smudge now making our passports a little more meaningful, will never capture the true beauty we all witnessed together. As more time goes by, we find ourselves less and less filling the quiet spaces with memories from home, and more and more reminiscing about the days we have all spent together. But we all took pieces of home with us, to guide us through this adventure. I think we all agree in one way or another.

I took my dad in every moment I was afraid or tired, for never losing sight of the strength I sometimes couldn’t see in myself. I took my mom with me, in every moment I felt insecure, for teaching me self respect, adventure, and confidence. I took my stepdad with me when I felt conditional; he taught me love beyond the boundaries of the relationship of a daughter through only blood. I took the rest of my brothers and sisters with me when I felt lonely, knowing I always have a lot…A LOT of shoulders to rely on. I also took my best friends Roxana and Savannah with me when I felt sad, for teaching me humor and simple joy in every circumstance. With these lessons and so many more from the people I love, it has helped make this trip as amazing as it could be.

Wrapping up the day with a train ride back to Ollantaytambo conversations about our favorite books and intense card games fill cart F, we are all dripping with sweat and satisfaction. Only to come to a stop as one of the crew members in the train dressed in the traditional rainbow colors of the Cusco flag wearing a mask of a bear and purring at the same time (oddly enough) to dance. Then some did some of the other crew members did a fashion show so we could see traditional Peruvian clothes. Even some of the girls and guys from the Lifeworks group were invited to get up and dance and show off some clothes. We all laughed and cheered for our friends as Jayda called out to remind us that we’re all “fierce” or “fabu.” Wrapping up the train ride with the frames of the beautiful peaks of snowy Veronica out one window, and the rapids of Urubamba out the other is not something we will soon forget.

After dinner we all settle happily into bed after a very long day, dreaming of white water rafting and any other adventures tomorrow holds. We could not be more satisfied with how today played out, nor more thankful to Lifeworks and our group leaders for making it all happen.