July 12, 2017
Nobody can believe that our time in Peru together has already coming to an end… over the past week this incredible group has conquered the Salkantay Pass, trekked its way to Aguas Calientes, explored Machu Picchu, the lost city of the Incas, and guaranteed lasting friendships along the way.
Our first day of the famous Salkantay trek was a not so quick. We zig zagged straight uphill to our first campsite as we drew closer and closer to the foreboding Salkantay Mountain, with its jagged snowcapped peaks. Along the way, Tyler couldn’t stop exclaiming her amazement at the fantastic scenery, Warren couldn’t resist bouncing off and around every new boulder in sight, and Lillian couldn’t seem to place her feet in a straight line due to her swiveling head trying to take it all in. Our first night on the trek, although chilly, was unforgettably beautiful as we climbed to the top of a nearby moraine and learned about the sacred mountains around us and their rich history from Marco, our guide. After a cold night snuggled in our warm sleeping bags, we awoke to the morning sun reflecting off of the snowy Salkantay Mountain, and knew then that it was going to be a great day. After breakfast and a brisk morning huddle, we began our final ascent towards the mighty Salkantay pass, the highest point of our whole trek at over 15,000ft! Charles led the way as we finally made it to the top, and as soon as we caught our breath our jaws dropped at the 360 degree views of the huge mountain ranges around us. Everyone got some great pictures together, and Wright and Eli even got on top of a boulder to get a NatGeo-worthy picture with our fearless Peruvian guide, Marco. We eventually made our way down the mountain and hiked right into the clouds, descending into the greener (and a bit buggier) lower altitudes. Lulu may have taken a few spills on the way down but always bounced right back, feeling more determined than ever! Feeling a little sore after several days of hardcore hiking, we traveled to a nearby natural hot springs in Santa Teresa to soak and recover. John was able to enjoy a few cold “Inka Kola’s” after a couple days in the backcountry, while Julia and some of the girls got to lie out and soak up the sun on a beautiful Andean afternoon. Needless to say, it was a day of hard earned rest and recuperation. On our final day of trekking, Lottie as LOD led us along the Urubamba River to the quaint mountain town of Aguas Calientes, back to civilization! After a satisfying shower and our first real night in a bed, we woke up very early to reach the ruins of Machu Picchu just as the sun began to rise over the surrounding mountains. We were able to tour the ruins before most, and after our tour the group split up to conquer the two surrounding mountains, Huanya Picchu and the mountain of Machu Picchu. Adah and Lauren basically set an international record hiking up the impressive Huayna Picchu Mountain, summiting high above the ruins in just 27 minutes! Despite some long travel days and a few different obstacles, we made it back to our home away from home, Cusco, and sadly have to close out an unforgettable two weeks! Thank you for sharing your fantastic kiddos with us for these past few weeks. We feel so lucky to have explored Peru alongside them.
July 6, 2017
We have finished our service portion of the trip and are on the eve of our Salkantay trek. During our time working on community service, we continued to improve the Ccorca community center by sanding and painting walls and doors, and bonded as we brushed in rhythm. Charles, Lauren and Lottie showed no mercy to the walls as they stayed dedicated to the cause, barely taking time for a break. Their hard work set the tone early and served as a model for the rest of the day. Adah and Margaret climbed to new heights in order to finish the job, sitting on the roof to sand and paint. In the afternoons we got to play soccer with the locals and zipline across the Ccorca Mountains! Our pickup game lasted a breathless 90 minutes, in which “Mr. Moondance” Warren and Wright showed off their impressive footwork and Eli blocked every shot that came his way. If Peru had an ESPN Top 10, they would have made the cut! Lillian and Lulu made some new local friends, Andres and Piero, both integral parts of their respective teams and eventually becoming adopted Moondancers. Everyone got to practice some Spanish as they called for the ball and cheered on their teammates. After another rewarding morning working at the community center, the team hiked up into the Ccorca valley to try out an incredible zip line course. Despite some initial hesitations, Julia, Tyler and Wright stepped up and conquered the zip lines and had a blast doing it. On our last morning of community service, John and Lulu led the group and finished painting even the hardest to reach places, giving the whole team a sense of deep accomplishment – sometimes there’s no better feeling than seeing a job all the way until the end!
Throughout the first half of our trip, this group has stayed positive, engaged, and excited, and we can’t wait to see what the rest of the trip has in store for us! We’re super excited to start our trek around the beautiful Salkantay mountain – stay tuned for another update after we finish our trek and visit the sacred Incan city of Machu Picchu!
Until next time,
Michael and Margaret
Hey Mom and Dad, I’m having so much fun here but miss you guys, can’t wait to see you soon! Love, Lauren
Still having fun! – Charles
Hey Mom, Dad, and Kate! Having lots of fun and about to start the hike. Can’t wait to see you guys! – Warren
Hey Mom, dad, Read, and George! The community service was a blast! Today we start the trek to Machu Picchu! Wish me luck! I love and miss you tons! -Lottie
Hey Mom, Kenny, and Harden, I’m having fun and miss Y’all! See you in a week! Love y’all – Julia
Hey Fam! I’m having so much fun here. Hope y’all had a great time at the beach. Sad I couldn’t be there with y’all but we celebrated Peruvian style! We’re starting the hike today, can’t wait to see y’all soon! Love y’all so much- Lulu
Hey guys! I am having the best time! Everyone here is awesome! We just finished service yesterday and will start our trek to Machu Picchu today. I love you all and will see you very soon! Love, Lillian
I could not be having more fun! -John
Still alive and about to hike Machu Picchu. Super cold here/high altitude but loving every second! – Eli
Hi everybody! we just finished service which was super fun and now we are about to leave for Machu Picchu!! Miss you tons, love you! -Adah
Hey Mom and Dad! Community service was very fun and now we are beginning our hike to Machu Picchu today! I love and miss you! <3 Tyler
Still having a great time, miss y’all. – Wright
July 3, 2017
We made it through our first 48 hours of travel, which included a couple of firsts: Charles’s first flight and Lillian’s first night camping. (We camped alongside the Apurimac River on our first night in Peru!) Lauren showed more dedication to figuring out riddles than we’ve seen in a long time, a 4-hour car ride is plenty of time, right? The sound of the water lulled us into the deepest and most well-deserved rest we’ve ever experienced. Lulu and Charles woke us up on our first full day to prepare us for the most amazing day of rafting. We divided into our boats, the “piranhas” and the “river sharks,” and set off to attack the rapids. We could hear the piranhas’ screams from anywhere on the river as they cascaded along. We turned around to watch Wright flail into to the water with a huge grin on his face as they decided to paddle standing. This group of teens has bonded quicker than we could’ve expected!
Adah helped the girls out with her much-needed French braiding skills, and Julia joined the swimming club with Margaret and Mike, bobbing up like a pro. John then impressed us all with a back flip off our cliff jumping spot! Warren and Tyler rode the bull and may or may not have been tackled into the water. Today, Eli was the Leader of the Day on his birthday! We celebrated with birthday ice cream and an amazing dinner in Cusco! Lottie and Warren are leading us into our next section of the trip as LODs. We can’t wait to see what’s in store!
Hi everyone! I’m having a blast, rafting was so cool and pretty. Y’all wouldn’t believe these mountains, they’re nothing like the Blue Ridge. Love and miss you all! -Adah
Hey mom, Kenny, and Harden, miss y’all lots! I’m having a blast and will see y’all soon! -Julia
Hey Mom, Dad, Read and George! I miss y’all but had an awesome time rafting! I think we need to make a family trip here. Hope y’all have a great Fourth! I love y’all! -Lottie
Hey Mom and Dad! I’m having a blast. We went rafting the past 2 days and have service starting tomorrow. I miss y’all and will see you soon! Love you! -Tyler
Hey Mom and Dad! I’m having an awesome time in Peru. Rafting was so cool and the rapids were amazing, but the water was freezing. Say “hi” to Ryan and Owen and please pet the dogs for me. Love you!
Having a great time, love you! – Wright
Having fun! – John
Hey everyone! I’m having a great time! We just finished rafting today and we start service tomorrow morning. I good y’all are having a great week! I love y’all! <3. -Lillian
Hey familia! I’m havin’ so much fun! Everyone here is awesome and fun. Y’all would love it here, it’s so beautiful. I can’t wait to tell y’all about all of our adventures! Have fun on the 4th without me 🙂 I love y’all so much! – Lulu
Hey guys, I’m alive and I got another spinner. Miss y’all and having a blast. Love y’all. – Eli
Hey Mom, Dad and Kate! I am alive and about to head to service work tomorrow. We just finished rafting and Peru is awesome! Can’t wait to see you again! – Warren
I’m having a lot of fun and I miss y’all so much.
June 30, 2017
Hey Machu Picchu 2 friends and families!
Michael and Margaret said that all students have arrived safely in Cuzco, and they are off on their adventure. Stay tuned for more updates!
-Moondance Administrative Team