July 7, 2022
Howdy Friends and Family!!
Reporting to you live from Lima, Peru. We just watched all of your sweet kiddos walk through security, and now they are on their way to your arms! Even though our goodbyes were bittersweet, we enjoyed our last few moments together before we went our separate ways.
Let me start from where we left off: it was the morning of the Fourth of July. Patrick and I woke up the kids with some celebratory American music, followed by stars, stripes, and face tattoos. We made our way to breakfast, where we gobbled up some French toast, granola, yogurt, and fruit. After our all-star American breakfast, our LODs Huck and Tyler led us in an incredible group exercise: the NOLS Leadership grid. Everyone learned a little bit more about their leadership style and their friends alike. Now that we are fully caught up, we can tell you about our journey to Aguas Calientes!
We began our first Machu Picchu day by trekking our way into Aguas Calientes— Otherwise known as “Machu Picchu Town.” Though the trek was flat and straight, we made the most of our morning walk. For example, about halfway through our journey, we made a trailside stop for some delicious ice cream. Eloise and Ebbe were especially excited for the early-afternoon pick-me-up. We continued along the trail for about a half-hour— then we turned a corner and Patrick pointed out a familiar shape of the mountains. We could finally see the two peaks of Machu Picchu peering out from the other lush mountains. Morgan and Chandler giggled with excitement at this sneak peek of our destination tomorrow! Finally, after our brisk walk to Aguas Calientas, we were welcomed into our Hotel with some warm showers and fluffy beds. Before completely settling into our cozy rooms, we had to catch our bags from the train. Like a scene from a movie, we ran through the streets of Aguas Calientes to meet the train at the station. Huck was at the front of the group— ready to catch all the bags! We carried our bags back to the hotel as the Peruvian stars began to light up the night sky. Now that our group and our bags arrived at our home for the night, we decided it was time for a well-deserved meal.
To celebrate the 4th, we walked to a local American restaurant down the road from our hotel. It was so nice to sit in a restaurant after being on the trail for three nights. Knowlton and Tyler, enjoyed a classic American burger and held some entertaining table conversation to close our July 4th celebrations. After dinner, our LODs led Moonup under the star-filled sky of Aguas Calientes. We all shared our favorite 4th of July memories and reflected on our favorite moments from the day. After our nightly routine, everyone jumped into their cozy hotel beds and got some well-deserved rest.
The next morning was not only Machu Picchu day— but it was also Claire’s birthday!!! Patrick and I woke Claire up with some birthday balloons, candies, cookies— and her new favorite snack: Cereal Bars! We munched on some delicious eggs, croissants, and fruit at breakfast and quickly made our way to the Wonder of the World. We waited in a few lines, but once we entered the park, Jacob and Charlie’s eyes lit up when they saw the real Machu Picchu. It was a beautiful morning for it too— not a cloud in the sky, and you could see the Incan masterpiece so clearly. Early into our tour, we came across the perfect spot for a photo shoot. Abby made sure that everyone got their picture in front of Machu Picchu—and we got a photo of just about every combination of students, so stay tuned for those! We walked around the ruins for about 2 and a half hours, and we learned so much about how the Incas lived and how they built this architectural masterpiece. We had such an incredible time seeing Machu Picchu, and it felt like the perfect way to end our trip. Again, thank you to all the family and friends who made this trip a reality.
After our walking tour, we enjoyed some traditional Peruvian lunch, and then surprised Claire with a birthday cake in Aguas Calientes. After we sat and visited with each other, we made our way to the train station where we began our journey back to Cusco. The steam was rolling and the engine was running— we boarded Peru Rail and were pleasantly surprised when we all got to sit together! Our group shared four tables on the train, and—to no surprise— we had four different card games going at the same time. Thanks to Sam, each table enjoyed a newly beloved game of “Pres.” It may have been a bit competitive. Meredyth led her table in both friendship bracelet making and an electric game of Gin. We all laughed, shared stories, and had some friendly card-game competitions to entertain us throughout the train ride. After our long travel day, we finally made it back to Cusco where we enjoyed some delicious Italian food at a local restaurant. The warm pasta and gnocchi filled our bellies and put us to sleep, well-rested for our final day in Peru.
Yesterday morning, the hostel owner—Elena– cooked us some delicious eggs, toast, granola, and fruit for breakfast. After our morning meal, we played a few rounds of Pres, and then walked to the local markets down the street. We walked around the markets of Cusco for a few hours and purchased some exciting gifts to share with you when we get home! After exploring the markets, we walked to our favorite burger restaurant right on the town square: El Fuego Burger Bar. We enjoyed each other’s company and some delicious food for Banquet— and of course, we had some room for ice cream after! Banquet was a success, and with full bellies and full hearts— we traveled back to Lima, where we would say our goodbyes the next morning.
It has been an incredible two weeks to say the least. We have made the most of every moment, whether it is in the Apurimac river, looking out at Machu Picchu, or in a train station—not a day went by that wasn’t filled with laughter and joy.
Pat and I are so sad to see our group go, but we know they are excited to share their new memories and stories with you once they get home. Thank you again for making this adventure happen and sharing your kids with us for a piece of the summer— it definitely was the trip of a lifetime!
See you all so soon. Stay in touch.
Pat and Lily
July 5, 2022
Patrick and Lily here writing to you from our cozy hostel in Aguas Calientes. We only have one more night of sleep before we visit Machu Picchu!
Our trekking section of the trip was filled with beautiful sights, great conversation, and as always, a lot of laughs. Our first day of trekking began with a delicious breakfast in our hostel in Cusco and set a course for the Salkantay trail. The car ride may have been long, but it was a perfect moment for some carpool karaoke thanks to DJ Eloise and Claire. We reached the trailhead of the Salkantay, munched on an amazing mountainside lunch prepared by our outfitters, Marco and Daniel, and then we began our first portion of the trekking section up to Humantay Lake. As we made our way back down, the Peruvian constellations emerged from the night sky, and our guides greeted us with hot coca tea and hot chocolate. After sipping on hot drinks, we enjoyed a stellar fish and beet salad meal at 12,500 feet. The night did not end there as Knowlton suggested some incredible sing-along tunes, and the entire group lit up the tent with a classic backcountry dance party.
On our second day, we began our trek up and across the Salkantay pass. Abby made sure we had enough group pictures as she suggested a human pyramid photo shoot during our water break. Chandler led the front of the group up towards the pass, and we made it to the top of the pass sitting at 15,090 feet! We had warm soup and chicken wings at the top of the pass where Jacob and Charlie enjoyed a mid-mountain power nap. Eloise made it her mission to take the perfect apple desktop photo of the amazing Peruvian views as we made our way to our second campsite. With another night sky lit up by the stars, we enjoyed our “Pass Day” Fiesta with celebratory glow sticks and Nalgene lanterns. Meredyth and Sam entertained the table with some spirited conversation and debates while we waited for dinner. Do you think a hotdog classifies as a sandwich? We all enjoyed some comfort food – fried chicken and vegetables, followed by chocolate pudding and Oreos. To close the evening, we had Moonup in the chilly mountain air and then fell asleep nestled in our tents under the stars.
On our third day of trekking, we began the day with some Sunday morning banana pancakes while listening to Jack Johnson. After breakfast, we all made our way down the trail and met so many horses along the way. Once we arrived at the end of the trail, we were welcomed with a yummy lunch of tacos and apple juice! Ebbe was especially excited for our midday meal at the end of the trail. Once we finished lunch, we hopped into our vans and made our way to the hot springs. We all jumped into the warm water where we could rest and play some fun water games. Marco Polo was a huge hit, and Huck was so sneaky he nearly won every game. After relaxing in the hot springs, we ate some delicious ice cream and moseyed our way back to camp.
Before our hike over to Aguas Calientes, our LODs Tyler and Huck led the NOLs leadership grid exercise where we all learned more about ourselves and our leadership styles. As we made our way along the railroad tracks to Aguas Calientes, Morgan kept everyone entertained with engaging trail conversation. Before we knew it, we finally made it to our cozy beds and hot showers at our Machu Picchu Hotel. We are so excited to visit one of the seven wonders of the world tomorrow and cannot wait to see all of you in only a few more days!!
Thank you to all of our family and friends who made this trip become a reality. And thank you to our amazing guides Marco, Danny and the Raft Guides who bring our adventure to life. Thank you again, we are thinking of you and hope all is well at home! See you very soon!
Lily and Patrick
July 1, 2022
Hello friends and family!
We have just hit our halfway point of our trip and have finished up our day 7 in Peru! After our days white water rafting, we ventured over to the Ccorca district for our community service portion of our trip. These three days of service were filled with new friends, many laughs, and lots of games. Meredyth and Chandler helped make the student’s and teachers’ day when they made an old classroom look brand new with a new coat of paint.
Claire and Morgan wasted no time as they immediately applied their artistic talents to help brighten up the school’s yard. They both painted hopscotch and other games for the children. Huck and Sam also helped create more activity for the students at the school by building “Matachola,” or tetherball, for the kids to enjoy for many years to come! We were graciously invited to the school’s 22nd anniversary celebration of their opening, and Abby and Jacob made numerous new friends as they played Matachola and soccer with the children. We all enjoyed the company of our new friends as we watched native Peruvian ceremonies and dances together.
After a long and successful first day of service, we enjoyed some group games and activities together. Charlie was undoubtedly the “don’t touch my rock” champion and Ebbe’s karate skills flourished during our games of Ninja. For dinner that night, we had an opportunity to have a Peruvian cooking lesson. Knowlton mastered the art of cleaning a fish as she and some of the girls helped prepare our entree while the rest of us prepared sides, seasonings, and other delicious ingredients that made our homemade Peruvian dinner a success! We all shared our delicious meal together, and closed the evening with hot tea and Moonup.
The next day we were back to work putting the finishing touches on the school while also cleaning up the streets of Ccorca while we could. Eloise and Tyler helped make a plastic-littered street look brand new by picking up trash around the town. After our successful day of community service, we had the opportunity to look at cave paintings that live in the town of Ccorca. These magnificent paintings were over 10,000 years old and live in an ecological site by the school!
The service section of our trip provided a period of solace, connection, and laughter. We enjoyed some much needed rest here in Cusco, accompanied by warm showers and a delicious dinner. The kids enjoyed some comfort American food and milkshakes at a local restaurant, and we all laughed and shared stories across the table. Now, the kids are all sound asleep, catching as many Zzz’s as we can before we embark on our trekking section tomorrow. Tomorrow morning, our group sets off to the Salktantay trail to begin our trekking portion of the trip— we cannot be more excited for this journey! We cannot wait to share all of our stories with you soon! Thank you to all the friends and family that made this trip a reality—we are thinking of you! Before we sign off—here are a few shout-outs from our group!
Hope all is well back at home. Be in touch so soon!!
Pat and Lily
Abby: Hey brocho familia!!! So far we have already white water rafted and did some
awesome community service! The people here are so kind and my leaders/peers are
amazing!! Spread my thoughts to everyone!! Love you and miss you so much! Abby
Chandler: Having a great time! Hope all is well. Miss and love you guys!!!!
Huck: Hey in Cusco having a great time!! Love you!
Charlie: Hey family. I’m having fun in Peru. Say hi to everyone for me. Love you!
Jacob: What up fam. We have done 3 days of white water rapids, which was super fun.
I was tenting and also our raft flipped and i jumped off some cliffs. also, recently we did
some community service at a primary school, where the boys made some tetherball
tents, and hung out with some really nice kids. My spanish is thriving down here.
Mañana nosotros tomamos un autobus a Machu Picchu. the altitude has been iffy, but
nothing that your boy can’t handle. Met a lot of new friends, and the leaders are hype.
Say hi to everyone, love and miss y’all.
Claire: Hey family, Peru is awesome. I love it here. So far we have gone rafting and
camping for 3 days and then headed down to the town of Ccora to do community
service at a local elementary school. Everyone here is very slay and my group is
awesome. Cannot wait to come home and tell y’all all about our adventures. Thank you
for sending me here! I am having the best time ever. I love you all very much and miss
Ebbe: Hey Family!!! Miss you guys so much! I’m having such an awesome time here.
Rafting was so cool and the community service was such a good experience. We are
getting ready to start our trekking portion and I’m super excited! Everyone is so
awesome! Miss you tons, love you!!
Sam: Wuddup family, I’m having such a great time in Peru. We went rafting in crazy
rapids, and helped repair a school is Ccorca. Miss ya a ton, gonna hike Machu Picchu
in a couple of days. So much to say and yet so little time! Love you, Samuel L. Jackson
Knowlton: Hey fam! I miss y’all soooo much. I am having an amazing time here in
Peru. We just finished our service work and we’re about to begin our trekking
experience. I can’t wait to see y’all again in 7 days. Much love, Knowlton.
Meredyth: Hi mom and dad! Having lots of fun and lots of laughs. I had a great time
rafting and doing service work and am excited to see Machu Picchu. I am very grateful
to y’all for this experience and can’t wait to see y’all in a week! Lots of love to everyone
and the dogs, Mere
Morgan: Hey y’all!! I am having the best time here and have made so many new friends.
I know y’all are having a blast in Amelia. We head towards Machu Picchu tomorrow!
Miss and love y’all tons, Morgan
Eloise: Hi!! Rafting on the Apurimac was so fun and y’all would have loved it. Just got
done with service in Ccorca and had the best time getting to experience the culture.
Heading to trek tomorrow! Love and miss you!
Tyler: Hey fam, having a great time in Peru. In Cusco currently, about to hike Picchu.
Love you all! Make sure you’re taking care of Tilly.
June 28, 2022
Hi Family and Friends!
It is day 4 of our adventure and our group is getting along swimmingly. This is Patrick and Lily writing to you from Cusco. Peru has been an incredible adventure so far. Not only is the environment beautiful, but the people here are so kind. All our raft guides were especially welcoming and personable, which made our first activity so special. We are so thankful for our little community and are so excited to make many memories throughout the rest of our trip.
Our adventure began with an epic travel day to the Apurimac River. We had our first Moonup underneath the endless Peruvian stars, where Huck and Meredyth were elected as first Leaders of the Day! The next morning, we had granola, yogurt, fruit, and eggs for breakfast to prepare for our first day of rafting. Along the crystal-clear river, our kids started to bond with each other within each boat group. Jacob and Eloise passed the time by playing riddles and telling stories within their boat. Thereafter, Knowlton and Abby found an epic cliff jumping spot, where they were some of the first students to leap into the cold waters. After shredding the Apurimac River for a few hours, we had a wonderful lunch on the sandy beaches. We enjoyed some rice, salad, and tuna for our midday meal—and to top it off we had some incredible watermelon.
Later in the evening, we finally arrived at our campsite. Tyler and Chandler helped find and carry firewood to prepare for our evening entertainment. Sam led the entire group in a successful first game of “Mafia,” where Ebbe proved to have the best poker face. For dinner, we enjoyed some fireside quinoa soup, followed by some spaghetti Bolognese prepared by our incredible raft guides. After our epic game of Mafia and some yummy dinner, our guides surprised us with marshmallows! Morgan and Claire tested many marshmallows to find the perfect s’more. Meredyth suggested we all look at the stars and take a deep breath. What a way to end a first day of rafting!
The following day we woke up to eggs, toast, fruit, and granola prepared by the guides. Once we packed up camp, we had some time to spare before hopping on the river. Willy—our raft guide— led the group in a few riverside games. Charlie was a rockstar in the “spin the paddle” game as he nearly fell into the water, but he was able to catch himself and help win the game! After many laughs and many different games, we embarked on day 2 of rafting. To start off the day, we all climbed up a waterfall, where everyone ran underneath the cold Peruvian water. After enjoying the waterfall and some afternoon sunshine, we all jumped back into the boats—ready to take on more rapids. To close our rafting section, we stopped along the river for some adventurous cliff jumping. At the end of the river, we got out to enjoy an incredible Peruvian lunch in the sun.
After a windy van ride back to Cusco, we all took some warm showers and walked to a delicious burger restaurant in the Cusco square. What an amazing first few days it has been. We are all now nestled into bed, getting some much-needed rest before our Service section. Hope all is well at home—best wishes to all our family and friends! Thinking of all of you. Talk soon!
Lily and Patrick
June 25, 2022
Hello Machu Picchu Families!
We heard from our leaders that group has made it safely to Cusco! The trip is off to a great start, and we cannot wait to hear more stories from their adventure.
Please remember our leaders and students will be unplugged during their trips but we will be posting up to three trip updates throughout the next couple of weeks! This will allow you to follow along with the trip and the students will also give a special shout out mid-way through! You can also follow us on Instagram, @moondanceadventures, to see more of what we are up to this summer!