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Two Dragons welcome the sunrise with an improvised dance atop the Andes. Photo by Ryan Gasper.

The magic of Sondondo

Dear friends and families,

We are in our second of three days in Ayacucho. We have been trekking in the valley of Sondondo for the past six days. The experiences in this part of Peru have been totally breathtaking. We saw so many beautiful landscapes, but most importantly we learned so much about Peruvian history. The presence of the Wari in this part of Peru has been a constant during our time in Sondondo. We visited some ruins that had not been explored by archeologists and only the community works to maintain them. We also visited the house of one of the most important chroniclers of this part of the world, Guaman Poma de Ayala. This was such a grounding experience. I have learned for so long about Guaman Poma and being in his house just made me feel much more connected to my history.

Personally, the most powerful experience came from an interaction with two people. While we walked the route, we encountered many people. One lady that we crossed on the road, offered me a liter of milk for free just out of the desire to make us feel welcome. I was touched by this act, but it was that same night that I had an even stronger interaction. My co-instructor Sandy and I went to the store to buy a couple of things. I was waiting for Sandy, when an old lady came to the store. Her name was Isabel and after a short conversation about our reason for visiting the area, and her giving us a welcome talk to the region, I listened to her interaction with the owner of the store. Dona Isabel wanted to buy one Sole (Peruvian currency) of bread and one Sole chocolate powder. The owner of the store told her that she didn’t have any chocolate, and only had coffee, the coffee was one sole and fifty cents. Dona Isabel told her that she didn’t have enough money. She left saying goodbye with a big smile. Minutes after, she came back with a big piece of cheese that she offered me for free. When I insisted to pay her, she just said that it was her cariño (love for me), even though we had not talked for more than 10 minutes.

I left the store very touched. I actually started to tear up. I started to question my own values, the reasons for my actions and the things that I am focusing in my life. I felt so cared for and embraced by this person and I started to think about my own grandparents, and about the things that I am teaching to my students and questioned their validity. I think that these are the types of experiences that Dragons is about. Situations that make you reflect on your own life.

I am so happy that we came to this part of Peru. We decided to dedicate three days to Ayacucho and learn about the historic importance of this city, not only for Peru, but for all the continent. It is here where the last battle of the independence of South America was fought.

Tomorrow we will be starting our expedition phase of the course and students will take us to our new adventure. We will leave on the 17th for our trek in the national park Choquequirao, where we will trek for six days and have an extra day of homestay experience. From there we will head to Cusco on the 24th and spend two days ther. After those two days we will travel to our transference site on Titicaca Lake. It is still incredible to me to see that we only have a little over two weeks of this experience.

Thanks for all your support with this journey!

Incredibly thankful,