Maras, Peru is a small town about an hour or so outside of Cuzco. While we learned so much from the activities and lessons from locals, what also fascinated me was simply watching the people of the town, the children in particular. The first thing that struck me about these kids was how much independence and responsibilities they had – at least in comparison with their counterparts in the US. For example, we saw several little boys no more than 9 years old herding donkeys by themselves throughout the village. Later, while others were napping, Ellen & I sat in the plaza and we saw some donkeys and sheep. We went over to them to take pictures when a young girl approached us and started talking to us about her animals (the ones we were taking pictures of). She had no reservations in coming up to us and telling us about herself. The next day, while waiting to go on our hike, we saw a girl with her little brother. He started crying and she quickly came to comfort him and shared her food with him. I’m pretty sure if that were me and my little brother, I would’ve called my mom to make him stop crying because it was annoying me. When we would stop at small shops for water and/or snacks in Maras or in Moray, there were always children working alongside adults in the shops, eager to help us out. Even in Cuzco, the children have more autonomy as we saw when we were loading the bus in the airport parking lot after arriving in Cuzco. A little girl probably around 4 years old rolled down her window and was just talking to us. She asked where we were from and we told her. Then, we asked where her parents were and she told us her mom was at home and her uncle was somewhere around here doing something. I think it was Paige who said something along the lines of “I’m glad we are not the type of people who steal little children” because she seemed so comfortable talking to strangers and like she wasn’t worried at all. Meanwhile, I couldn’t order my own food at McDonald’s until I was 12 because I was afraid to talk to the cashier. It’s so interesting to observe the differences in social norms and what is expected of children in the United States vs. in Cuzco and small town Peru.