Today was a big day for the group. We woke up at 6:30 and got ready to go to a delicious breakfast at Cafe del Tren. Carlos and his family served us a delicious spread of fresh fruit, yogurt, granola, bread and butter, hot chocolate and juice. Around 8:15 we walked over to our first partner of the day, Coordinadora Política de Mujeres or “Casa de la Mujer“. There we met the coordinator Suzana, who shared the moving origin story and purpose of the organization with us. Casa de la Mujer provides legal, psychological, reproductive, and entrepreneurial services to women at risk. We had a lot of questions for Suzana, and after an engaging panel-style discussion some of us bought hand-made crafts made by the women of Casa de la Mujer and got on the bus to head over to our next partner.

Around 10:30, we arrived at Jambi Kiwa (Herbs that Heal when translated from Quechua to English). This organization was founded by an indigenous woman who wanted to provide an opportunity to spread indigenous knowledge, and generate more jobs in the local community. Jambi Kiwa works with over 50 farmers in the local area to produce a plethora of delicious and healing teas. After a tour of their fields and processing plant, we really understood how passionate these people are about equitable and environmentally conscious business practices. All their products are 100% organic and fair trade.

We then stopped at Roma Santa around 1:00 for soup, salad, beef and rice, chickpeas and mushrooms for vegetarians and passionfruit juice. Most of us then returned to the hostel, enjoyed some free time, went to the internet cafe and worked on english lessons. Danielle, Lydia, Mario and I went with Juanito and Ana to go buy supplies for our CAP (Community Action Project) that we’re starting tomorrow!!! From 4:00-6:00 we had english teaching at Maldonado as per usual, and afterwards returned to Roma Santa for dinner. At 7:30 we returned to Tren Dorado and the torch was passed to Dana and Sam at our nightly meeting. After some reflection on the events of the day, their significance and connections to life back home, we had a half hour to relax and take a little time to plan english lessons before going back to our rooms for the night.

Being Líder del Día was both challenging and rewarding. I think the hardest but most gratifying aspect was having to push myself out of my comfort zone in order to help my peers do the same. On my part this included speaking out and being a little more assertive than normal in order to make sure we were all engaged and making an active effort to gain new experiences with new people.

We definitely have our work cut out for us tomorrow, good luck to Sam and Dana on mañana’s adventure!!