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Jumping out of a Cage and into the Salkantay Trek by Aela Morris

Don't freak out, but we went bungee jumping this week. On Sunday morning, we headed into Cusco, which has one of the highest bungee jumps in Latin America (400 ft). You go up in this very small cage, which takes both forever and no time at all to get to the top. Standing on this VERY small platform, you wait for the call of 1,2,3 bungee you jump (or don't). I did jump, and it was kind of insane, but also awesome. The first few seconds feel like flying. Then, of course, the rope snaps you back up with a lot of force and you feel like you've been hit by a ton of bricks for a few days afterward. But still worth it.

This week also marked our last few days in Cuyo Chico on the Tierra de Los Yaques project. We learned all about the process of making the adobe that they use to build the houses in the community. Then, we got a chance to make some bricks of our own. This involves a process called pisando, where you mix the mud and straw together by walking all over it. It got messy. We also probably weren't nearly as productive as they usually are. They need about 300 bricks to build a house, and in an afternoon, we made 23. Later on that day, we walked up to see some greenhouses where they are just starting to grow flowers, roses specifically, in order to sell. This is a project that was started by the Peruvian government to help communities like the one in Cuyo Chico have a supplementary income, as most only produce enough farming to feed their families.

There was also an opportunity to make our own jewellery. Almost all of the beads are made by hand out of clay like the kind we made the first day we were there. Renato and Mabel, the owners of the house we were staying out, gave us string and a bunch of beads in order to make our own necklaces and bracelets.

On Monday and Wednesday nights, we did something called a fogoto, or bonfire. We played games, danced, and our hosts performed traditional music for us. Our part in this cultural exchange was bringing marshmallows to roast.

Everyone was sad to leave Cuyo Chico. Everyone in the community was beyond generous to us. Even though there were so many families it was hard to know everyone by name, it was hard to walk down the road without someone stopping to say hello. The kids were also super sweet; we had a lot of fun playing with them, and they kept asking when we were coming back.

Strangely, our time in Peru is almost over, just one week left! Tomorrow, it's up bright and early to start out on the Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu.

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