Location: Ollantaytambo

Waking up at 8 for breakfast was nice, especially in our new hotel which is comfortable. Although I think I can speak for everyone when I say Max’s wake-up call could not possibly have been louder. Breakfast consisted of bread, tea, yogurt and fruit, which everyone thoroughly enjoyed before we left at 8:50 for our first day of volunteering with MySmallHelp. Unfortunately, some kids did not feel well and had to stay back, but the 11 of us who went were ready to go.

We piled onto the bus while saying Buenos días (good morning) to the ever-present, ever smiling Willie (our bus driver), and met with Meca, one of the many amazing staff members of MySmallHelp, who was assisting us today. We arrived at a school, and after getting all the tools we needed from the shed, we began our work. Our task was to dig a ditch so that during the rainy season the water wouldn’t flood the landscaping they were going to put in later. The five boys and Anna, who was their star worker, took one patch of grass and the six girls took the other, which may I say was three times longer than the boys’ ditch. The girls had a system down, with Natalie and I were killing it with the pickax, Louise shoveling and Avery B. bringing the dug up dirt to the wheelbarrow, which our amazing tour guide, Ronald, wheeled to the dumping site (Dan will try to take credit for this, but don’t be fooled). Meanwhile, Steph and Sophia were tackling the incredibly difficult job of getting all the roots out. It was back-breaking work, and we were all relieved when it was time for lunch.

We had lunch in a homey little place in Cachiccata, Ronald’s village, with the best dessert I’ve had on the trip. Both Steph and I asked for another one, which was only allowed because of the people missing. Then we had our first siesta of the trip, and it was fantastic. We all found a spot in this grassy field outside the restaurant, admiring the view, or napping, and enjoying the DJ skills of Louise. It was very relaxing, so when Ronald, Dan, Anna, and Mecca said it was time to go back, it took all of us a while to muster up the energy to leave our little sanctuary and load the bus once more.

We returned to the school to finish the long ditch and together (both boys and girls) we completed the longest ditch of all on the other side of the sidewalk. By the time we were done, it was 5 o’clock so we took a picture of what we had accomplished that day, then dirty, tired, and satisfied with our work, we returned to our lovely hotel. Dinner was at a place called La Esquina, and it was in fact on a corner. During our nightly meeting, we talked about what “frames” us. Everyone shared the things that they think shape how they see the world, and I think we all learned more about one another which made us even closer than we have become in this short amount of time. It is reassuring to know that this is a safe space and we can all be ourselves, without fear of ridicule. All in all, today was a great day, and I think everyone is excited about the rest of the adventures that we will be experiencing, and hoping that no one else gets sick.