A Perfect Last Day

Good afternoon friends and family!

What a day we had yesterday. Everything was just perfect.

To start, our 4:30 am wake up call for Machu Picchu wasn’t as terrifying as we thought it would be (YAY!). We energized ourselves with the take-out breakfasts prepared by our hotel in Aguas Calientes. Leaving swiftly at 5 am with Luis, we walked PAST the busses and continued for 20 minutes to the bottom of the Machu Picchu mountain. That’s right, all 13 of our students decided that they will forego the bus option and WALK THE 1200 STEPS TO THE TOP OF THE SITE! Ryan, Luis, and I were so proud of them. Though it is NOT a race, and never should it be, I must say I am very impressed that everyone finished in 1 hour or less. Big shout out to Lennie G., aka Spiderman, who completed the climb in 35 minutes with Luis! Unreal talent and fitness right there.

Hiking up the mountain was nothing short of a challenge. Every step we took seemed to send fire to our leg muscles. That said, every step was somehow so incredibly satisfying. We panted, laughed, complained, and encouraged one another. We bonded, took breaks, and grew closer as a group. We inched our way to the top in the (refreshing) rain and felt utmost satisfaction once we knew there were only 10 steps left. WHAT A FEELING ONCE YOU REACH THE TOP!!!! Off came the sweaty and rain-drenched layers, out came the high fives and congratulatory hugs amongst our peers, and down went the granola bars and water to replenish those hungry tummies. Satisfying does not even describe it.

students in ponchos in Machu Picchu

After we took a few moments to settle in, Luis led us through the gates of Machu Picchu. It was really happening! He guided us through the grounds, giving us the historical background and interesting takes on how the city was built. The students were amazing. They were energized and engaged even after such an early wake-up call. One of my favourite parts was when we surprised Kaitlyn with a candle-lit Birthday brownie and a Happy Birthday song that tourists all around participated in! Turning 17 on the 17th, and being sung to on Machu Picchu while enjoying a birthday brownie sounds pretty fantastic, doesn’t it?!

student getting a birthday brownie in Machu Picchu

Once the tour was complete, the students had 2 hours to roam the site without being guided. They took many pictures of the vibrant green and structured city and took some time to relax in what is arguably one of the most beautiful places in the world. It truly is stunning. Fun fact: Luis has actually been to Machu Picchu over 100 times!

Machu Picchu

Our students topped off their afternoon with a tasty lunch at the restaurant that overlooks the jaw-dropping mountains surrounding us. We then congregated, officiated our passports with the Machu Picchu stamp, and bussed it back down to Machu Picchu Pueblo. Students enjoyed a few hours of souvenir shopping in the artisanal market before our 3 pm train ride back to Ollentaytambo and van ride to Cusco.

Students souvenir shopping in the artisanal market

The day didn’t stop there though! We arrived at our hotel in Cusco at 6:30 pm, quickly showered, and met up again at 7:45 pm in the lobby for individual awards and bracelets that were handed out by Ryan and myself. Luis then escorted us to our final banquet dinner, which was at a large restaurant that included a delicious buffet dinner and a show. We watched traditional Peruvian dancers, sang along with a vibrant band, and even participated on stage!

Students enjoyed their final night together, enjoying some late-night snacks and people watching in the beautiful Plaza de Armas. It was the perfect last day in Peru. Perfect doesn’t even describe it…

Today we enjoyed a very well-deserved sleep-in, and will spend our final hours in Cusco picking up last minute items and eating our favourite foods that we discovered while on this program.

We look forward to seeing all of the families picking up their kids at YYZ on Tuesday. One more sleep and they will be back in your loving care.

Thank you everyone for allowing your sons and daughters to join us on this incredible program. It will definitely be one for the books.

Alexandra Zourntos