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Saludos desde Ocongate

Saludos desde Ocongate!

Our orientation days in Urubamba have been too full of adventures and learning to give a thorough summary, so I’ll just share a few memories that stand out.

The Miami Airport was very stressful. My flight arrived an hour and a half late due to lightening, and the baggage arrived after another hour and a half—I stumbled upon the correct baggage claim accidentally, after getting off the airport train to a random stop. I was beyond releived to meet the group.

We drove through Cusco to reach the town of Urubamba deep in the mountains, located in the “Sacred Valley” (so called for its significance as a center of Inca agriculture). Cusco is an urban jungle, with mud huts and modern buildings mixed together. The mud houses looked like a natural extension of the ground. They seemed to be built on top of one another and they climbed high up on the hillsides that surround Cusco. I’m excited to stay there after our big trek.

In Urubamba, in the Valley, you can see steep mountains in whatever direction you look. From several spots in town, you can see snow caps and glaciers.

Two days ago, we hiked to the Sutoc Paqha ruins, pretty much just mud brick walls now, three thousand feet above Urubamba. The ruins lie in a canyon with a cold, clear creek. Most of us got in the water. Kayla convinced me to dunk my head. I didn’t want to, but I gave in and it was one of the most refreshing things I’ve experienced. Looking up the canyon, we saw jagged mountains, basically monstrous snow-covered boulders sticking 4 thousand feet into the sky (see pictures). We met a several locals walking on the trail who lived in a village even higher in the mountains.

The parts of Peru I’ve seen so far have a very improvisational, fluid feeling. The people seem relaxed and ready to role with the punches. This energy works well for me, and luckily the course reflects this facet of Peru. e.g. Today, the instructors gave me (the temporary Contador) 300 soles and let us figure out how to get transport to Ocongate. We made it…barely. The people are very engaged with the many political parties, and party symbols are often written on the walls of houses and stores.

We trek tomorrow.

I hope everything is good at home. I love you. All good here

-Asher 7/3