Hola from Cusco, Peru!
–Please excuse the iPhone pictures. I don´t know how to upload the photos from my camera. Will figure it out soon. And in the meantime, excuse the spelling errors…Spanish spellcheck is on!–
The flight here was a breeze, espeically since it was a redeye and I slept most of the way. A big round of applause to LAN for feeding us dinner AND breakfast over the course of 6 hours! Once I woke up, there was a really pretty view right outside my window…
I arrived in Cusco Friday morning, and after taking care of some paperwork, I was on my way ¨home´.
My first impressions of Peru: I definitely stick out here, it´s dusty, it´s COLD!, it smells like exhaust fumes everywhere and I never realized I took fresh air for granted. Also, there are so many stray dogs here and they´re not the mutt-looking dogs you see in other places. These are pure-bred-looking dogs that people in the US pay a lot of money to have! They´re fluffy (and dirty) and really really cute but my host mom says I can´t touch them :(. At least they look fed!
I have a host mom, dad, two sisters, and an adorable 6 month old baby & A bunny rabbit that bites. There are also three other volunteers living in the house, but I only share the room with one. The family is super, super nice. The mom is a Spanish teacher that corrects my Spanish, which is great. The dad doesn´t speak any English, but speaks slowly so I understand, and the two daughters are really, really nice. One of them spent some time in the U.S, so her English is great. They´re all easy going, so I´m happy to be living with them.
Speaking of the room, I have a comfortable bed with a pretty view of part of Cusco. When I first arrived, I was bummed to find out that my house is about 25 minutes from the main center of Cusco (I fondly call it living in the boonies of Cusco), but the bus has been a fun experience in and of itself! More on that to come…
Anyway, the first day was fine. I was a teeny tiny bit lonely and had a few moments of why did I do this, again?! but a three hour nap and meeting another volunteer quickly fixed that. After hearing about her experience, I felt a lot better about being here and was excited to start exploring.
So why not start exploring at the bar?! After dinner the first night, we took the bus (my first time with that crazy experience). We joined a girl from France in the main part of Cusco and watched a huge parade for awhile. I didn´t realize this, but I booked this trip during ¨Cusco month¨, which means that there are tons of festivals and holidays going on. This parade was huge and the costumes were incredible, as were the dancing and music. After watching for awhile, we headed to a bar (an Irish bar…they have those here–Maeghan and Collin, I thought of you). The bar had mostly foreigners, but it was fun with pool and darts. The ceiling was adorned with flags from all over the world: I was basically falling asleep on the table after my 1/2 beer, so the girls were nice enough to call it a night 🙂 We have yet to get to Mama Africa (a club worth experiencing, I hear), but that will happen soon & often…just wait.
I hardly remember getting in bed that first night– THAT´S how exhausted I was. I felt so much better on Sunday morning and was up early for breakfast. After breakfast, I took my second ICE COLD shower. They kept telling me that the water gets scolding hot, but I figured their idea of hot was something different. (Today I took my first hot trickle of a shower!). Then, I took the bus all by myself like a big kid! It was scary and packed, but it ended up being fine and I didn´t get lost. The buses here are more like vans and they have a driver that hardly slows down for you to get on and someone standing at the door yelling all the stops out and also collects money. And the buses have different names, so I needed to figure out which to take. All I know is that BATMAN gets me to where I need to go.
I had orientation yesterday and took a Spanish test and earned a grade that would embarrass my mother. Sorry, mom! I´ll be taking Spanish classes that will help fix that. I actually start in about 45 minutes! After the test, I went on a walking tour with some of the other volunteers, which was super helpful because Cusco has a lot of nooks and crannies (crannys?). With some experience, another volunteer and I went out walking & exploring & on a quest to book a hike to Macchu Pichu and to find a snack. We didn´t book the trip, yet, but we did get asked to go salsa dancing with our waiter, Enrique. I think we might go! (Hi, Russ). After walking around for awhile, it got dark early and before we realized, it was 6:30 and I still needed to catch the bus home. After some back and forth, the other volunteer walked to her house and I tried to find the bus stop! Ha, what an experience. Every bus stop that I walked to, the people sitting there would tell me that the bus doesn´t actually stop there, and to walk to another. Finally (FINALLY!) I found a bus stop with people and asked a girl if this was the stop that goes to my house (Pare San Miguel). The girl said yes and was telling me where to go and then her bus came and she jumped on the bus mid-sentence. I´m telling you, these buses stop for NO ONE. So again, I was alone. So I asked a nice looking couple and they were so so so so so (x1000) sweet to me and asked the bus driver for me if the bus would go to my house and then they took the bus with me to make sure I got home. So nice and I am so thankful.
I will say, all of that took about 40 minutes, but I wasn´t afraid or panicky because I knew I could have taken a cab, but when in Rome, do as the Romans do!
I got home around 7:45-8ish and had dinner (I had missed it, oops) and talked to the daughter that speaks English. We talked about life in Peru vs. the US, healthcare, iPhones (an iPhone here, with a 2 year contract is $800!!!!!), food, going to school and college, etc. I tried to go to sleep around 10:30, but I was wide awake with no one to talk to. I eventually fell asleep and was up at 7 this morning for my first HOT shower (more like a water trickle because the water is heated IN the shower head and the more pressure the water has, the less time it has to heat that water so it will be cold). Then I had breakfast with another volunteer and then we took a different bus to town and prayed that it got here (it did…that´s how I am writing this).
Anyway, this is 25 x longer than I anticipated and I need to get my Spanish textbook. The rest of the day will be Spanish class and then walking around town. I want to buy an Alpaca sweater or 8 since it´s so cold here. I start my childcare volunteer work tomorrow so that should be fun.
I hope all is well in the homeland.
Thanks for reading this novel!