Location: Phyri school

Having yet another early morning wasn’t so sweet, but hearing that we would be going back to Phyri school today was. Knowing that we had done some hard work and heavy lifting with logs and trees the day before, Devin started our morning with this punny haiku:

 “lumber on the ground

 is not tired or lazy,

 it’s just board.”

After a short bus ride through the Sacred Valley, we arrived and were feeling ready for some warm sun and rewarding service work. We started in front of the main school building, loosening up dirt to prepare the area for some new planting to be done there. As the team leader, I had to divide the team into two groups: those who would use pickaxes and shovels to move dirt, and those who would get down and dirty to help weed these areas. Despite our collective group motivation, the heat made the hard work much more difficult, so our tour guide, William, and I made sure everybody was taking breaks and hydrating themselves. After we finished there, we moved over to the greenhouse area, where we created assembly lines to help move some big stones. These stones were originally used to create borders between different plants; however, the school administration found that the way the stones were placed was not going to work for how they planned to recreate the greenhouse floor. We helped to remove then replace these stones, as well as dig small trenches to place them in so they would be secure. After creating two long columns of stones along the sides of the greenhouse and continuing to weed in there, it was time for us to take a well-deserved break. Excited at the prospect of playing soccer with the kids, the group scrambled to find a ball and divide into teams, while a portion of the group went inside for some R&R. Even though getting our hands dirty in the greenhouse felt pretty rewarding after seeing the outcome of our hard work, playing soccer with the kids was arguably more satisfying because it made them so happy, and has us completely worn out. Despite the tiresome game of soccer in which William and our bus driver, Willie dominated the field, we were ready to get back to work. We went back to the greenhouse to finish up some weeding and stone placement, and then decided it was time for lunch. Around 1:00, we loaded back in the bus and headed for Orishis, the same restaurant we ate at yesterday. It was perfect weather to lounge outside on the lawn overlooking the river while we waited to go inside. As we poured inside, our stomachs all rumbled with hunger after a morning full of hard work. We anxiously waited to see what delicious meal would be brought out to us. Per usual, we started with a quinoa soup with veggies, which was served in a green chicken and veggie broth. After devouring our soups, the room was buzzing with talk about what would be served for lunch. After a few minutes of waiting, our dishes had arrived. In front of us was a seared trout with a side of quinoa and veggies, and well as a cooked potato and a slice of cheese. Even though many of us had never been served a whole trout with the head and tail, we excitedly dove into our meal, learning how to cut and eat it as we went. Not only did the meal taste awesome, but it was also a great learning experience. Feeling stuffed, we all questioned whether or not we would be able to eat dessert, however, as soon as it came out of the kitchen, we all knew we had to! It was a warm, soft, cooked apple in a bowl of warm apple juice and small chunks of pineapple, with a cherry on top. It was such a unique and healthy dessert option, and we all enjoyed it very much. After stuffing ourselves to the brim, we went back outside to lay down and sunbathe. After lunch, we hurried back to the bus, ecstatic to get back to work at Phyri school. We created another assembly line to create rectangles where new plants would be planted. We discovered that the more people we have working together, the faster we can get the work done! After finishing those, all we had left to do was fill the boxes with new plants and then irrigate the area. We worked together with volunteers from My Small Help to plant beets, onions, lettuce, and celery in the greenhouse, then created another assembly line to pass buckets of water down to water the new plants. After finishing all this, the group was overjoyed to hear that we would have free time to roam around and explore the city of Ollantaytambo. After splitting up into groups of three and hanging out around the city, we reconvened at our hostel, then headed out for a delicious dinner, complete with an ice cream run after! Today was a beautiful day full of teamwork, new experiences, and gratifying community service.