My first week in Cuzco is almost over now and I think I got a good impression of the city in this beautiful environment. I'm not yet able to volunteer, so I have 4 hours of Spanish every day which is good as I begin to improve. In the evenings I luckily get additional practice as my host parents (Wili Sr. and Gloria) do not speak English. They are a really lovely couple who greatly care about the students living in their apartment. Every time Gloria finishes cooking her delicious meals she yells: “Hijo, ven aqui! Come!” (Son, come here! Eat!). Their friendly and honest behavior made it easy for me to feel at home in their home very fast. However, I feel like a tourist rather than a “resident” in Cuzco. Back in Piura, when Javier told me that Cuzco does not feel like Peru, I did not quite believe him but he was correct. All over town there are people from different countries and if I wanted to I could strike up a conversation in German in any restaurant. Of course the locals here are much nicer to foreigners as most of the people in Cuzco depend on them as customers. It might sound funny but the men's evil looks in Piura made me feel more at home than the nice smiles of the young women who try to sell massages to me here in Cuzco.
At the moment I try to avoid acting like a tourist and therefore do expeditions of my own. As I was walking up one of the hills in order to get a good view of the valley I had to turn around as every two minutes a tourist bus shot up the road right next to me. That wasn't a problem for me but for the German Shepherd who had followed me from the city center all the way up the mountain. I couldn't get rid of my hairy companion but also did not want to as he gave me the feeling that a “local” liked me for other reasons than money!
Another strategy of mine is to go to restaurants where mostly locals eat. The school has advised us not do so because of stomach issues but so far so good! The fact that the stray cat, which was sitting in the door way staring at our food, was tolerated by the restaurant and that a street vendor came in to ask for left-over bones from our plates in order to feed his puppy made me happy. It mentally threw me back to bohemian Altos de los Mores with its strong sense of community.
However, I have to admit that there is a good side to the tourism: There are a lot of cafes with good coffee and funny tourists. Two days ago I was enjoying my cappuccino when a German couple caught my attention. They were discussing how to take a picture of the husband with the coffee and the scenery in the background. After finding the perfect distance between the camera and the husband they encountered the problem of the coffee not being in the picture. Finally after another two minutes of hectic problem solving the camera made: click! In Piura I would never have experienced anything similar to do this. However, in Cuzco this little almost ironic scene can be seen in many occasions.
In January I will start working in a home for mentally and physically challenged children. Around that time I will write my next entry to inform you about my work experience!
I hope that you enjoyed reading this less informative entry.
Best wishes from Cuzco,Shannon
|Class in Altos de los Mores|
|A horse in Altos that broke free|
|A school in Cuzco|
|One of the many alleys in Cuzco|
|A church on a hill over Cuzco|
|The city of Cuzco with a glacier in the background|
|Plaza de Armas - Cuzco|
|A hill on which my school is located|