Roots, rock and reggaeton … and now altitude sickness (booooooo) …

the friday night i was in lima i went out with the one other person who was staying where i was, dan from the uk, and we hit a part of miraflores called ¨”calle pizzas” i´m not joking.  it´s just an area full of bars and clubs and stuff.  we tried a maaaaaassive glass of pisco sours each which are delicious but they´re pretty potent and you don´t realise how strong they are untill you stand up hahahahahah … and then we hit calle pizzas and we went on a little pub crawl and then walked it back to the homestay.  music in the clubs in miraflores are all reggaeton, and not a single song in english hahahah.  which was fine for me coz i actually kinda like that kind of music but poor dan a bit bemused (he is seriously the first birtish person i´ve met who doesn not drink).

the next day i met another brit, a girl named charlotte (charlie) who is also doing a teaching project but in lima.  all three of us had to do orientation in another part of lima with other people who have project work all over peru and are starting this week.  so we had our orientation where they basically tell you what to expect and check your insurance and passport details etc.  then we got taken to lunch and the least most peruvian place you can imagine … a tennis club.  the food was ok …

that afternoon a bunch of us went on one of those touristy open bus rides which was ridiculous coz the traffic was horrendous and the commentary was pretty funny.  the woman doing the commentary was like ¨”and here you will see some llamas” and we were all like WHERE??  so we´´re staring out the windows for some random llama to walk down the street but i think she meant in peru in general lol.  and then she said the weirdest thing when we turned a corner, she was like “and here there are five trees”. ok lady.

that night we had a bit of a drinky drink at our homestay with the others before we headed out to some reggae bar in barranco, which is another area of lima right next to miraflores.  it was ok but i had a flight the next day to cusco and i didn´t want to be dehydrated due to being hung over so i had a beer and that was it.  a cusquena, which goes down smooth so had i not had to have flown the next day i would´ve had a couple more …

the flight the next day to cusco was ok, sat next to a full on indian peruvian couple who were so nice, my tray table kept falling out so the man fixed it for me.  then they said some pleasantries to me but they spoke so fats that i couldn´t tell if they were speaking to me in quechua or spanish so i just nodded and smiled and said “si” and “muchas gracias” a lot heheheh.  but the flight is fine, the view out the window was awesome you could see the mountains and everything.  the plane was even better than the plane united airlines used in terms of leg room hahahah.  but the body of the plane itself was like a bus with legs, you know like side propellers and everything which cracked me up.

landing in cusco was surreal.  you really feel like you are in a far far far away place.  the airport is surrounded by mountains and everything is geared towards people travelling on to machu picchu and doing the inca trail (which i learnt is referred to as camino inka by the locals).  so i step off the plane the first thing i notice is that i can´t walk as fast, like i´d done a body attack class at the gym.  so i´m like, ok fine this is my body adjusting to the altitude.  so then i go look for a loo and when i am finally doin my biz (had to be a bog blog at some point) i notice that i´m breathing a little funny.  so i think … shite. 

then i get my bag and walk outside and wait for a dude name Juan Ochoa who owns a homestay that i will be staying at.  and there he is with a sign that says Erica Enriquez and he is an elderly peruvian man who greets me completely in spanish hahahhaahha!  i was actually told the people at the homestay don´t speak any spanish so it was fine.  my spanish is going from shit to broken.  baby steps …

anyway he drives me to the homestay and nearly hits a dog on the way there.  the drive was like 10 mins away so not too bad.  he was lovely, chatting in the car about the area.  i´m actually finding that i can pick up a few words of the sentences and then i get the gist of what people are saying.  and he talks fast so i was happy i got what he was saying.  he was describing the street names and trying to get me used to the area.  i´m staying in wanchaq, only a few tourists here it´s nothing like the touristy area the centre of cusco is.  which is fine. 

i get to the homestay and senor ochoa´s wife, teresa, greets me at the door and she gives me a biiiiiig hug and keeps saying ¨que linda, que linda¨ which i don´t really get coz linda means beautiful i thought and i don´t quite know if that´s a greeting lol.  so she makes me drop my bags and sits me at the dining table and straight away she gives me a cup of mate de coca which is supposed to help with the altitude sickness.  i mean it doesn´t, coz i feel it still now, but it tastes nice. 

as i´m drinking the ochoas are talking to me (entirely in spanish, mind you) asking me about my flight, where i´m from, all that stuff.  and i try to answer as best as i can but with the altitude and the lack of spanish on my part my head is pounding hahahaha!  then senora teresa full on tests me on my spanish ahahaha and she´s pointing to parts of the body, which i figure i am meant to name in spanish, so we go through nariz, boca, braso etc.  hahah.  then i show her my phrasebook and she laughs and she goes “ohhh, no mala mala mala” and now she´s really laughing.  and i just laugh too coz what else can i do???

after that i get shown to my room which is up a flight of stairs and overlooks a little courtyard in their house. the stairs were weird.  i felt shaky when i got to my room heheheh.  the room is pretty basic and the tv is from the 70s but it´s fine.  the bed though has four really thick alpaca wool blankets and last night it felt like i was sleeping with an animal hahah.  but i was warm so i´m not complaining.   i took a nap for a while and that´s when i noticed that the temperature drops significantly at night.  it felt like a proper sydney winter night, so it wasn´t too bad.

after my nap i had some sopas which was basically corn soup really with starch and that was ok but i was starving.  i didn´t want to ask for more food and i didn´t want to buy anything (tight as that i am) so i downed that sucker.  i met another girl who has been staying there for about 3 months, and she´s teaching english in the school that i´ll be at.  her name is haya and she´s stuck in cusco for a while cos she needs a tourist visa to go to argentina, which is where she´s heading after peru.  anyway she was awesome cos she gave me tips and all of that so it was great.

today i started my project at the local school, which is about a 5-10 min walk from where i´m staying but with my body not yet used to the altitude it felt like i´d freaking ran there.  senor ochoa walked me to the school and he gives me landmarks so i don´t get lost on the way back.  the school is just like i thought it would be, i.e. small and crowded but managing as best as they can.  it clearly could use more resources but for what it is it´s pretty good.  i meet the director, a priest whose name i can´t remember, and one of the other teachers who only speaks a bit of english but we manage with some pleasantries, thank god.  then i meet the english teacher who i´ll be assisting, named margarita.  she´s a lovely lady and she speaks much better english than my spanish.  she´s indian though so she actually speaks quechua, spanish and english.  puts me to shame to think of all the languages i´ve had the opportunity to learn in my life and i am crap at all of them!!!!!!!

today we taught the 2nd grade, 3rd grade and 6th grade.  omg the kids are HILARIOUS.  the 2nd and 3rd grade classes were adorable!!!  margarita introduces me as “miss erica¨so she says ¨please say hello to miss erica” and they all say ¨hola, miss eeeeriiiicaaaaaa¨ and then she says “en ingles!¨and they all go ¨hello, miss eeeeriiiicaaaa!”.  hahahah. 

they kids are soo funny.  the classes are unruly and the kids are basically undisciplined, but not in a “high school high” kind of way, they just can´t sit still and margarita is too timid to yell at them.  the kids are walking around the classroom and talking to their friends and a couple of times the little girls would give me hugs hahahah and ask me my name.  they did this thing where they asked me to translate names of their classmates to the english equivalent which was funny like they say “oscar” and i´d say “oscar” and they´d laugh and go ¨hahah, normaaaaaaaaaaaal” and poor oscar would just smile sweetly hahahah.  another girl was reina and they asked me to translate that in english and i said “queen¨and all the kids were like ¨queen! queen! queen!¨.  yes we did teach them something today though.  we taught them how to introduce their friends.  they had to do role playing and it was the only time the kids shut up coz they all wanted to have a go at standing at the front of the class and practicing their english. heheheh. 

the other class, the 2nd grade class, was much the same as the 3rd grade in that they were unruly too but we were teaching them active verbs like jump, walk, read etc.  so we had to act them out for the kids and they had to follow.  they were ADORABLE.  they kept coming up to me and asking me my name and then they´´d give me hugs and some of them gave me stickers and made me stick them onto my journal hahahaha.  as were leaving the class about 12 kids ran towards me and gave me a massive group hug (well, kinda, they only came up to my waist) and wouldn´t let me walk out the door hahahah.  and i said ¨hasta semana¨ coz i only see that class once a week and they were like ¨noooooo!” hahaha,  they´re adorable!!  during recess a couple of the girls followed me around the playground and held my hand and blabbered to me in spanish about i dunno what and a few of the boys walked past me and smiled and waved but these kids are like 7 years old it was soooo adorable.  one kid was playing football and as he kicked his shoe fell off and landed on the roof of one of the classrooms and the whole playground cracked up laughing hahahah!  one of the older kids, i´m guessing a kid in high school, had to go up on the roof and get it down.

the 6th grade class were something else though, they were about 11 or 12 and i remember being that age and being too cool for school so i guess that attitude is universal in kids that age.  they just would not listen and they talked with their friends.  there were a few kids who were really good ans asked me to check their homework and ask me questions, and they were really sweet. at one point a group of kids clocked on that ¨may i go to the bathroom please” could get them out of class so they go up to me and they´re like ¨teacher, mayigotothebathroomplease¨and i just let them, and before i know it about 6 of them are out the door.  dammit!!!

my day ends at about 1:30pm and after that some of the younger grades had practice for this festival they have to perform at next week, where every school in the area gathers together and has some kind of festival. june is festival month in cusco.  so the little kids (some of them i recognise from my earlier classes) are lined up in 4 lines and the teacher brings out a portable stereo and they have to dance a little hop-skippity-hop thing to traditional pan pipe inca music but they´re 7 years old so they´re getting it all wrong hahahah.  they look kind of like the actions the teacher is doing, but his motor skills are far more advance.  at one point one of the girls i recognise from my classes  just sighs, gives up and sits down hahahah.  another kid leaves his place in line, walks up to the stereo, sticks his head up against the speaker and starts bopping to it.  hilarious!!!!!!

overall a good first day.  still have not seen anything remotely lonely planet-y as i´m not sure my lungs can take me into town yet hahahah. the internet cafe i´m at right now is in the centre of this area of cusco so there´s a market across the road so i might pick up a bite to eat on the way back home.  it´s about 7:15pm right now.

so it´s been great, so far.  some of the guys i met from lima are coming up to cusco in a fortnight´s time so i´ll see them then.  and i really wanna check out san blas and plaza de armas so i have lots to keep me occupied.  there is another non peruvian teacher at the school that haya told me to keep an eye out for so i will.  and margarita offered to show me around too so that helps, and she´s a local so i won´t be with a massive pack of gringos.  having said that though, i am desperate to take photos of this area but i´ll give it time and just soak in the atmosphere of not visiting like a typical tourist.  i really need to improve my spanish but i can feel my confidence grow in using my broken spanish …

ok that´s it i am hungry!

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2 thoughts on “Roots, rock and reggaeton … and now altitude sickness (booooooo) …

  1. Hi May,

    I enjoyed reading your “novela” and that was fun. Looks like you are really enjoying your time there.

    Hola. Hasta la vista baby…

  2. you had me at ‘pisco sours’ .oh my.
    i found a bar that serves good ones back home. happy to hit that when you come back home.

    are you in cusco for the inti raymi? its cultural hangover at the Inca fortress of Sacsayhuaman or the way i like to say it “Sexywoman”.

    your blogs are addictive. its like im there all over again.
    take care chica
    -SB

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