Another day in paradise!

After waking early for breakfast, Luis arrived at our hotel to chauffeur us to our volunteer placement at Helping Hands Cusco, our local community school. There, we had an opportunity to build upon some of our lessons from yesterday with our young pupils as we worked with them to explore additional English words and colour associations. After tiring English and Art lessons from our crew of aspiring educators, we moved upstairs to continue crafting Christmas cards and special presents for the students. We channelled our inner Van Gogh as we designed and painted picture frames to give to the students as a parting gift on Friday. The competition was fierce around the table as students tried to outdo one another with increasingly intricate designs.

student with local children

After our visit to Helping Hands, we set out for our hotel for a quick lunch before mountain biking. Students indulged in a wide array of cuisine for lunch as they continue to push their comfort zone farther and farther back when it comes to food – sushi, cow tongue and other dishes were all discussed as lunchtime options.

We hustled home to get ready for mountain biking and just as we were waiting in the lobby, the skies opened. A downpour for the ages! The rain pounded on the rooftops sending tourists scurrying for cover. Our brave cyclists went against the flow of pedestrian traffic as we climbed into the van and began the long drive up the mountain. After reaching a height just shy of 4000 m (holy smokes that’s high!) Luis and his crew readied the bikes as students remained in the vans, praying for a momentary hiatus of rainfall.

The prayers of the faithful went unanswered: we mounted the bikes in the pouring rain and began the long trek down the mountain. The rain left us drenched, the wind left us cold and the ride left us with a memory that will be sure to last a lifetime. The elements made the trip an experience that students won’t soon forget. Halfway down the mountain, the rain subsided and took the clouds with it, leaving behind a view of Cusco that our guides said that we were “truly lucky to see.” The poor conditions turned quickly into the most beautiful conditions we could have imagined and resulted in some wonderful panoramic views of Cusco. The biking was certainly one of the highlights of the program so far – we are still drying our shoes from the journey!

students in mountain bike gear at city lookout

Tomorrow, we are returning to Helping Hands for our penultimate day of volunteering and attending an evening private Yoga session!

‘Till then,
Alex and Ryan