The Link School’s last day in Cusco was an amusing and action packed day. We spent the morning on a scavenger hunt throughout the city, which would have been challenging enough… but not only did we have to track down random locations, we were also only allowed to talk in Spanish. Bobby first split us up into three teams: The Papas (Sarah, Alex, Rocky, Clara), Tuk-Tuks (Shepherd, Gavin, Tailor, George), and The Chonchos (Astrid, Suzannah, Emma, Sam). Before we started, Bobby gave everyone a little incentive to take the game seriously, telling us there would be prizes given out at the end. First place was getting t-shirts, second place was getting ice cream, and third place would receive the enjoyment of participating. Personally I was gunning for the ice cream and second place. In addition to the list of objectives, each team was given five soles (a little less than $2) for select purchases, and we set off into the city.
Once we started, our first task was to find our way to the street, Chaparro, locate a store with bordados and ask what they were. As soon as we headed to where we thought the street was, we soon figured out that the map we were given would not suffice and were forced to use other resources – and so we turned to the people of Peru. We asked a couple of friendly looking police where we could find the street and they generously pointed us in the right direction. We quickly found a store with bordados and, in our growing grasp of the Spanish language, asked what they were. The owner explained to us that they are religious tapestries and dress for the icons in the churches.
Our next task was to go to the church of San Pedro and look for the animal that was on the shield over the main entrance. When we got there, we all could clearly see that it was a lion, but I thought maybe I would practice my Spanish and ask someone nearby if they could identify the animal for me. I tried out my Spanish on three separate individuals, and my attempts at conversation all resulted in a shake of the head, a mumbled no, and them hurriedly departing from my presence. I stood baffled on the steps of the church, suddenly finding myself all alone.
Turning to more simpler tasks, we marched over to the outdoor market, where we purchased a rose, asked around for what Basilica Menor de la Merced meant in English, took a group photo in front of Jack’s Café, studiously counted the corners on the stones of the old Incan walls until we located one with 12 sides, and searched the streets for the seven angels.
Our allotted two hours were coming to a close and so we headed back to the Plaza de Armas, where we were supposed to meet. Our group had a full sheet of paper and even though it was raining, we were enthusiastic about everything we learned and did today. However, as we got to the Plaza de Armas, we saw we were the last group back. Yet when Bobby factored in everyone’s times and answers, we were thrilled to learn that we had come into second place and would be receiving the coveted ice cream. All in all, the teams placed in the following order: Chonchos came in first, second place was us, the Papas, and third the Tuk-Tuks.
I found the day to be an excellent way to wrap up our time in Peru. I loved getting the opportunity to talk to the people here one last time in a meaningful and engaging way as they helped us through the triumphs and travails of the scavenger hunt. I will miss this city and its cobblestone streets, dog throw-up covering the sidewalks, and children chasing us through the plaza with finger puppets and key chains in tow. It has been an adventure I will not forget any time soon.