Location: Puray Lake - Peru

The day began with a loud knock on our door from Sam, who has been waking us up for the past few days. Usually, I stay in bed for half an hour before I get up, but today I got up right away and knocked on everyone’s doors. This was a pretty exhausting task at 6:30 in the morning, but I knew the reward would ultimately be an awesome breakfast. I finally got downstairs to eat breakfast and filled my plate with pancakes and honeydew, which filled me up for our eventful day.

After breakfast, I went upstairs to get the things I would need for the day, which was a bathing suit, towel and a ton of sunscreen. Mckinley came down in the most patriotic attire of all, and she was very excited that it was the Fourth of July. At around 8:30, we left our hostel in Ollantaytambo to go to a lake in the town of Chinchero. We were thrilled to be reunited without legendary bus driver Willy who saved our lives the day before.

Everyone’s numbers (rating how we feel on a scale of 1 to 10) were very high, most likely because the majority of us were high on pride because of the Fourth of July as well as excited for out activity for the day; stand up paddle boarding. On our drive to Chinchero, Devon let us stop at a gas station to get snacks, which boosted our morale even higher. I bought pretzels, chocolate, and these fantastic Peruvian vanilla cookies, which would all be eaten by the end of the day. As we got closer, some of us became nervous about paddle boarding because the lake would be very cold.

As we arrived at the place where we would paddleboard, we became much more comfortable. It was beautiful and relaxing, almost resembling a resort. The man who ran the place gave us wetsuits, making most of us less nervous about the temperature of the water. He also gave us the option to either kayak or paddleboard, which attracted many people. We put on our wetsuits and headed to the water.

It didn’t take long for one of us to fall into the lake. Steven was the first, and then it became a domino effect, and by the end, everyone had gotten into the water. I took the opportunity while floating in the lake to take a short nap but made sure to distance myself from the group so no one would flip me over. I later switched with Antonio and went on a kayak with Emma. Emma and I quickly got bored of the kayak and paddled all the way back to the shore to get a paddleboard which we shared. At this point, neither of us had jumped in yet, and by the end of the paddle back to the group from the shore, we were pretty tired. Though I was hesitant, I jumped in, and Emma did shortly after. Even with the wetsuit, it was pretty cold but refreshing.

We then returned to shore and had a delicious lunch of chicken, chocla, quinoa salad, stuffed peppers, avocados and a variety of potatoes. It was very filling after two hours of paddling around a lake. After lunch, Emma, Ellie, Valentin, Harry, Gillian and I played the card game president, which occupied a decent amount of time before we had to leave. The last thing we did before we left, was take a picture with Devon’s drone with both the American flag and the Go Beyond flag. Once again, Mckinley reminded us how much she loves America, which kept many of us festive on our nation’s independence day.

From the paddle-boarding place, we visited a textile factory where we got to see how Peruvian yarn us made. We were given Andean mint tea and got to see a demonstration of how they Peruvian women used a pesticide from a cactus to make red yarn. Afterward, we got to shop and got souvenirs such as slippers, jewelry, and even animal skins! The indigenous women who ran the factory and market sang us a song and thanked us for our business, and then we headed back to the bus.

By the time we got on the bus, the song “Despacito” was played one too many times, but it didn’t stop some of us (Valentin) from jamming out to it. We stopped once again to see a lookout point where we took pictures of the view and with alpacas. Once again, we piled into the bus and embarked on the one-hour drive back to the hotel.

Once we got back, we had around thirty minutes to get ready for dinner. We were all shocked when Sam, Antonio, Valentin, and Steven came downstairs in button-down shirts and the slippers they bought at the textile factory. We were also shocked when Devon let us go out to dinner in small groups. Mckinley, Emily, Ellie, Emma, Gillian, Katie, Harry, Makayla, and I went to a restaurant in the plaza where we could get a variety of food that everyone would like. I got a hamburger because it was most similar to what I’d be eating at home on this special day.

Since we had time after dinner, we stopped at Kwik-E-Mart to get even more snacks, and then headed back to the hotel before curfew. Back at the hotel, Ellie, Emma, Valentin, Harry, Gillian and I played more card games such as President, Tongues and Egyptian Rat Screw. I then took a shower and came back downstairs to see the fireplace on and people making S’mores, which was a delightful surprise. To top off this wonderful day, we ended it in the most American way possible – “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” before going to bed.