Location: Cuzco

Our day started with an enthusiastic bus ride to Casa Mantay full of singing a mix of old English classics and new Spanish tunes. Casa Mantay is a home for teen moms, and it provides an opportunity to regain strong relationships while also prepping them for the outside world. Upon arrival, we were greeted by the staff and residents of the home. We were all able to make connections with the girls, as we were all similar ages. After fun icebreakers and a quick orientation, we got to work in order to sand down the railing so that it could be painted later. Once we finished our task, we were provided a delicious traditional homemade lunch courtesy of the talented residents. Despite most of us not speaking the same language, we were able to interact with the children and mothers by playing games (some more competitive than others) and getting “creative” with facepaint. Some more “macho” members of our group surprised us by being absolute sweethearts with the kids and making them laugh more than the rest of us. We left feeling satisfied with the service we completed and even more fulfilled by the joy the kids provided us with.

After a pit stop at the hotel, where had a much-needed rest and reflection time, we headed out for a shopping trip to a local market. Mariana came with us and ensured that we would get “insider prices.” We splurged on the wide variety of local crafts and clothes (Look forward to gifts coming home with us!) After finishing our shopping, the owner dressed us in colorful Peruvian garb and we danced outside on the streets with friendly passerby.

Mariana then brought us to a delicious Chinese restaurant where we shared multiple plates of a variety of foods. On the way back home, we ran into an old friend from last night, a friendly street dog that Jacob, a member of our group, dubbed Carlitos. It came home with us and even came back on its own accord after we dragged ourselves away from him. He was even right with us while I was writing this blog!

Today only gave us more reason to be excited for the rest of the trip, as well as the other new friendships that will surely come with it!