We caught a 9am bus from Juliaca just minutes before it was about to depart, said good bye to Silviu when we got to Cusco and got back to Olleantaytambo on a Tuesday evening after a full day of traveling. We landed in the middle of a party celebrating Thomas’ birthday, one of Carlo’s friends and at the same time one of the many foreigners working/volunteering in Olleanta. It was aparently pretty easy to find such oportunities there, and a lot of people were excited about spending a bit of time in the little town. Upon talking to people we found out some travelers do what we were about to do regularly: when in a new place they look for a hostel/lodge to volunteer in for a couple of weeks, and use the time to soak up the spirit of the place and see all there is to see around there too. If you’re traveling on a budget and with no time restriction, this is something you might want to consider so that you can spend more time in a place with way less money. Some travelers search hostels online and write to them before they head to a new destination, so by the time they get there they already know where they’ll be volunteering and for how long. Pretty awesome idea, we thought, and had we known about this before we would have surely done it in the other countries we’ve be
We were exhausted the night we got to the lodge, so we spent a bit of time getting to know some of the people, then had a well deserved good night sleep, preparing for the next day – our first day of “work” :).
When we got up at 6.30am we realised we had “chosen” the best day to start working: the day after a party! The kitchen was in a terrible shape and it took us almost 5 hours to bring the place back to looking reasonable. Carlo then gave us a short “tutorial” on what we were to do while there: our arrangement was 5 hours a day, 5 days a week, mainly in charge of breakfast for the guests in the morning and then keeping an eye on the place, taking care of accommodating the new guests and keeping the register up to date. Seemed simple enough, and later we found it indeed was!
We felt at home at the lodge starting day 1, and that feeling only continued to grow for the next couple of weeks. Carlo’s friend Gabriel from Lima was there, and a few days later Carlo’s uncle Vince (who’s in fact the owner of the lodge) and his friend Miguel came over as well, so we had ourselves quite an awesome little “gang”. There was no time for boredom or dullness, that’s for sure:).
And then there were the guests, some of whom we connected so well with that we still keep in touch. We loved spending time chatting to them, playing cards and sipping wine, or just sharing stories around the fire until late into the evening. We found the people coming to Peru in general and Sacred Valley in particular to be quite a different kind of tourists, with a story about how they gave up their “former” life in search for something, in search for themselves. Very similar to the people we met in the Eco Yoga Park in Argentina, and also to many of the people I had met in India. It was inspiring and lovely to hear these people’s stories and notice the similarities with, why not, our own. The idea that so many people out there are dissatisfied with what society says they should do in order to be happy, and are searching for that thing that will truly make them so, that idea gave us hope that people are and will be learning more and more how to really find fulfillment and happiness.
Every day at the lodge
A big part of the days spent at the lodge were full of different other activities, from attending different ceremonies back in Urubamba, to celebrating Olleanta’s 137th Anniversary with its inhabitans, experiencing our first bull fight (as spectators, of course) and fist Andean baptism, and taking part in a beautiful Full Moon Celebration (read about these experiences in the next post). The days when we didn’t go anywhere flowed pretty smoothly, with a similar program each day: waking up at 6.30am, finishing with breakfast by 10 or 11, then lying in the shade with the laptop or a book until lunch time, having some lunch in town, maybe distributing some cards to tourists met on the way, then back to the lodge for another round of writing and reading. We’d usually end the day curled up in bed with some pop-corn and a good movie. Not bad days they were, that’s for sure:).
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