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A young arriero leads a mule across fresh snow in the Peruvian Andes. Photo by Benjamin Swift (2016 Fall Semester Photo Contest Finalist), South America Semester.

Guac and Grind

HEYYYY FAMS!!! Sophie A. Iglar here:) So as I’m sure most of you know from messages from your students, the itinerary, and various other yak posts, my fellow Dragons and I just did a 6-day trek in the Cordillera Real, overlooking the mountain of Llampu. What you may not know yet is during this 6-day trek, we had some pretty challenging days– challenging beyond the many miles of hiking, sleeping in tents, and early morning wake-up calls you would expect from a trek. And what you definitely do not know, unless you are my family (hey Ellie, Maggie, Mom, Dad, and everyone else!!), is I, Sophie A. Iglar, am an avid fan of both eating and making guacamole. And so, here is a quick yak update on both the obstacles of creating guac and trekking with the elements in the mountains. Enjoy:)

1. Garlic. Pepper. Salt. Love me some spice. Can’t get enough.
-1. Sunshine. Mountains. Friends. Love me some joy. Can’t get enough.
2. A very limited amount of skin-splitting, funky-smelling, possibly partly-rotten (?) tomatoes.
-2. A very limited amount of rather-refreshing, still-some-peeking-sunshine, sprinkling showers.
3. Honey-covered, way-too-sticky plain yogurt.
-3. Cloud-covered, way-too-ominous foggy skies.
4. An excess amount of dirt-covered, tear-inducing onions.
-4. An excess amount of clothes-drenching, bone-chilling, (maybe even) tear- inducing rain.
5. Teeny, tiny, way-too-hard-to-squeeze-the-bit-of-juice-out limes.
-5. Teeny, tiny, way-to-small-to-be-as-painful-as-they-were pieces of hail.
6. Absolutely crushed, extremely messy, nearly freezing, and slightly old avocados.
-6. An absolutely daunting, extremely steep, nearly endless, and slightly dangerous caminata (hiking path).
7. Grab your Dragons pals, get your 3 knives and 5 cutting boards, attempt to revive your completely numb fingers, and begin chopping, cutting, scooping, mashing, mixing and tasting your ingredients for as long as it takes.
-7. Grab your Dragons pals, get your very limited rain- and cold-weather gear (or steal Max’s!!), attempt to revive every part of your oh-so-numb body, and begin walking, climbing, slipping, crying, cursing, and pushing your way up the mountain and to the overpass for as long as it takes.

8. Realize that against all odds, with every element and less-than-perfect ingredient fighting you each step of the way, you and your Dragons squad made it up the mountain, through the overpass, to the summit, down the other side, AND enjoyed some delicious Guac together at the campsite to finish off an oh-so-trying, utterly-surreal, I-still-don’t-know-how-we-survived-or-threw-together-that-guacamole day in the Cordillera Real.