June 12, 2006

Day 3: Maras Moray/Ollanta/Pacchar

Students took a bus to visit Moray: an experimental agricultural center from the Inca period. Form there, they continued to the town of Maras and walked to Pichingoto. They hopped on a bus and headed to Pacchar for their first night of camping.

Live field report

Dispatch 3 // June 12, 2006 // Didrik Johnck // Web Field Producer

As each day is filled with a barrage of smiling Peruvian faces, curious students, and activities, it’s been tough keeping track of the teenagers and recruiting them for the daily dispatch. So I’ll jump in for today.

It was our first day “on the trail”. Although the Inca Trail begins tomorrow, we spent the day in the countryside letting the sighted students have their first taste of guiding the blind students. I would call it baptism by fire. I suppose I nice easy trail would have been the way to ease into the hike, but instead the students faced an Escher-like drawing of steps and stairs floating into nowhere. This hike we did was deep into an old Incan ruin in the shape of an amphitheater. Concentric stone wall would about 500 feet down to a “pit”. Each wall had a series of floating rocks, some no more than 12 inches wide, that the students navigated across. Most definitely not ADA (American with Disabilities Act) approved.

The next challenge was what I would call the salt mines of Mordor. A working salt mine consisted of a series of small pools of water cascading down the side of a mountain almost 800 feet. At first I thought they were hot springs by the wild colors reminiscing of Yellowstone. As the grizzled laborers did their dance across the narrow, terraces from salt pond to salt pone, the students cross balance beams of salt with small rivers of water on each side. The group descended through the salt mine into a lush valley where our campsite was waiting.

Amidst the daily physical challenges there is the undercurrent of teamwork and leadership. Dave Shurna, one of the visionaries behind Global Explorers puts it best, “Beyond a travel adventure, my goal is to facilitate an experience for the students through hands on learning of leadership, teamwork, and community service and I hope these principles will stick with them for the rest of their lives.”

Tomorrow will be the students first day on the Inca trail. With a monsterous 3,000 foot climb out of the valley to 12,500 feet, the students will be tested both mentally and physically.

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It looks as if you are having a good time and learning from this. I hope all the best for you and just know that I am praying daily for you. God speed and good luck.

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