Our last weekend in Peru had to be something special, and our visit to Huchuy Qosqo ( quechua for “little Cusco”) was just that. This close-knit community about half an hour from Pisac gave us a warm welcome and experiences we will never forget.
We arrived on Saturday afternoon and were greeted by community members with music and dancing.
With our official welcome complete, students met their host families for the night and had some free time to explore the town and the beautiful natural spaces around it. Then, it was time for a nutritious and tasty dinner of soup, corncakes, rice, potatoes, vegetables, and to finish, mazmorra, a traditional jello-like dessert made with purple corn. Students were happy to recognize this dish that we prepared during our cooking class in week 2.
After dinner, we warmed ourselves by a bonfire and listened to some traditional tales and songs from the community. It was a relaxing way to wind down the evening and prepare ourselves for the following day.
We were up bright and early the next morning. After a hearty breakfast of quinoa pancakes, juice, coffee and ponche de habas (a warm drink made from dried and crushed fava beans), we were ready to begin the day’s adventures.
A group of 12 brave students and 2 staff members set out on the arduous ascent of the mountain of Huchuy Qosqo.
We were led in our adventure by community member and expert guide, Mauricio. Although he makes the trek daily in about 1.5 hours, it took our group nearly three hours to reach the top. We arrived at the summit, about 12,000 feet above sea level, sweaty and exhausted but with the thrill of success at our accomplishment. The views from the top made the difficult climb worthwhile.
Those who chose not to make the climb had a few options for morning activities. One was to do a shorter walk to a grotto overlooking the nearby town of Lamay.
The other was to stay and help the community members with preparing lunch. We were treated to a traditional pachamanca, a cooking method using an underground oven of hot stones.
At lunchtime, we all convened to enjoy the feast of chicken, trout, potatoes, plantains, and vegetables.
We returned to Pisac later that afternoon with full bellies and more wonderful memories to add to the many we have made during our time in Peru.