Week 18: Farewell, Cusco and South America!

Our first major milestone as a group has come: one leg of our trip came to a close, and after this week, we made our first continent change. It’s a strange feeling, to be a third done with what has so far been the most incredible experience of my life.

As a group, we had mixed feelings about leaving: some were very ready, some wished we had longer in South America, and some, like me, fell in-between. I’ve loved our time in South America and was fortunate to not have any bad experiences like illness, injury or theft. The cultures I’ve been exposed to and learned about have been different and alive (what I mean by that is, it’s been really interesting to learn about the Incas and how the Aymara and Quechua people continue to live and uphold traditions to this day, mixed with Spanish influence). I’ve had many personal accomplishments here, from climbing ALL THE MOUNTAINS and realizing what I’m capable of (a look back: Fitz Roy, Chacaltaya, Rainbow Mountain, Inca Trail and Huyana Picchu), to leading a feedback effort with Remote Year, some of which has had impact on policies already. I’m also excited for the next leg of our journey: to spend time traveling, to explore museums and seeing shows, and to have all of Europe so accessible. I’m both sad to leave and excited to go – pretty much the perfect combination.

This last week was spent mainly working, since I had so much to catch up on and a big project dropped on us last minute. I was really productive, and ended the week feeling good about what I had accomplished.

Outside of work, I took a couple of yoga classes, made it to a Community Lunch at Green Point, and had monthly dinner with PTY Crew – those of us that had a day-long layover in Panama City. We went back to Cicciolina, and enjoyed good food and good company. This was probably the shortest and tamest dinner we’ve had yet (only two bottles of wine!), so we got a quick drink after at Quilla, which had pretty meh drinks and extremely loud live music. We dispersed pretty quickly…

South America Farewell Party

The main event this week was our farewell party. We have these in every city, but there was something special about this one, as our last South America hoorah.

We started off with dinner at Sumaqcha, with some amazing ceviche, and traditional aji de gallina (chicken in yellow pepper sauce) and lomo salteado (beef sautéed with vegetables). I definitely sat at the loud table, and a couple of beers in we were calling the owner of Poncho, our favorite baby alpaca, to meet us in the Plaza. (Background: Poncho had come to our first Community Lunch, which I had to miss, but was an instant hit. He is cute, fluffy, and a baby alpaca. Come on now.)

We met up at the workspace to have some drinks and some fun surprises: postcards that our program leaders, Sam and Travis, had written us, featuring our own words about what we wanted for ourselves during this program (mine included: “Be patient. Have fun. Take it all in.”), a video montage of our first four months together, and a local musician who sang us Beatles covers.

Later, we headed to Changos, a club in the backpacker part of Cusco. I hadn’t been there before, and wow, what a different area! Club promoter after club promoter try to lure people into their locales, with music blasting, neon lights blaring, and smoke starting to fill the dance floor. We had a VIP section in Changos, and the night started off with a live band but soon turned into an all-out dance party when the DJ came on. I knew I had to be awake at 4am the next day for a flight, and preemptively figured I wouldn’t be sleeping… so party Marina came on out and had the best time ever, dancing the night away. We got our faces painted, jumped around, and finished the night happy and tired.


Off to Europe

After a quick shower and packing any last-minute items, I said a mental thank you to Hotel Pension Alemana, my beautiful home for the month, an actual thank you to the half-asleep concierge, and hopped in a cab. A long travel day awaited, with a big reward: a week and a half in Greece with my bestie, Angela! We’ve been waiting for this trip for years, and started planning it when I thought I’d be in Istanbul for July, with thoughts of spending some time in Turkey. Even though Remote Year changed the location to London (which I continue to be grateful for, especially given the horrible attacks to Attaturk airport this week), we stuck to our plan and are going to Athens, Mykonos and Santorini. I CAN’T WAIT TO EAT ALL THE THINGS AND SWIM IN ALL THE WATERS AND TAKE ALL THE PICTURES.

And so, with sleepy eyes and weariness in hopes that my baggage would arrive, my flights would be ok, and I’d be able to sleep on my 11-hour flight from Lima to Madrid, I boarded the plane from Cusco and said adios and hopefully, hasta pronto, to South America.

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