Today was our first day of reforestation work and after 2 days of hiking, we decided to explore some alternate methods of transportation to get up the mountain to our worksite. We all rode in the back of a pickup truck half way up the mountain, with the neighborhood dogs following us the whole way. The other half of the trek we rode horses! Both were lots of fun. Once we got to the top, we started our reforestation work with the community members and together we were able to plant 800 trees in just one day. Throughout the day we talked a lot about our carbon footprint and how many resources we use a day, planting enough trees to help offset the carbon footprint of at the very least our flight over, if not more, was an extremely rewarding experience and playing in the dirt isn’t just fun when you are a kid!
We also had an amazing lunch, yet again. Several of the women in the community made lunch over the fire in the community kitchen at the top of the mountain while the rest of the community was making holes and planting trees. They served broccoli, beans, potatoes, rice, avocado and tostados (almost a half popped popcorn kernel, but we all want to bring some home!) After lunch on our way down the mountain we were able to see the alpacas live and up close! Gorgeous animals and even more gorgeous and fine fur.
After our hike down we talked a little more about our carbon footprint and what we can do for the environment and had dinner with our host families before heading over to meet the Shaman for a cleansing ceremony. The ceremony was different than I expected, but very intriguing. In the center of the room there was a stack of flowers, eggs and several different plants and throughout the night the Shaman blew smoke, moonshine and wine over these items. After explaining their traditions, we were each asked to take a candle and they were put above the items in the center of the room. As the Shaman continued to blow smoke over the items and candles, he was able to tell who had headaches, or a recent misfortune, etc. It surprised me how accurate he was and afterwards he cast the bad spirits away from each of us. We will see what everyone dreams of tonight and look forward to the 2nd day of reforestation work and culture night tomorrow!