Day 2 in Peru


*I wrote this post the second night in Peru, so when it says yesterday, it means a yesterday of the past.

So, yesterday, that blog post was pretty much all that I could handle. Basically, the not sleeping, not having coffee, and not having enough oxygen jacked me up a bit, but I slept well last night and now I’m fine.

The place we’re staying in is pretty fabulous. It’s got a quaintness to it, but I’ve stayed in far worse places with far worse people. We’re in a dormitory that’s owned by a non-profit, and we’re a bus ride away from just about everything in town. Cusco is far more spread out than you’d think. It’s a fairly touristy place, so I’m actually glad we’re a little bit out of the way of things. We’re getting a slightly more authentic picture of this place and its people than we would get had we arranged our own lodgings. It helps that Amy’s been here so many times before and has even led folks down here a ton of times. She’s been great at guiding us to all of the things we need to see.

This morning, we got up, cooked and ate breakfast, then rode the bus to town.

Buses here are like buses in just about any place that’s not the states. There’s always room for more, even when there isn’t any room. People pile in and don’t mind touching, which is refreshing.

Once we got into the more touristy areas, we walked around, looked at some Inca ruins (including the twelve-sided, hand-carved stone). We got Starbucks, and watched a bit of a parade. Then we went to a super-famous church in the town square. We did a tour where you get an ipad and headphones rather than a live person to guide you through it, and it was delightful. It was a Catholic church, of course, so there were gorgeous things to look at. I learned that the ladies here actually pray to Saint Anthony, who is supposedly the patron saint of marriage or something. They write letters to him, asking for good husbands. However, near the other end of the church, there was also a saint the dudes pray to, asking to be released from the women’s prayers. 🙂

Next, we did some shopping. I bought a chess set and a gift for someone. However, the coolest thing I saw was a pipe with a penis as the mouth-piece… completely to scale. I know you probably didn’t want to know that, but I did see it and point it out to everyone and laugh. It has something to do with a god of fertility.

While shopping, Steve won the award for the best quote of the day, when he was talking to a lady trying to sell him alpaca gloves. When any of the rest of us use what little Spanish we know, we do so with obvious timidity. He, however, as if it was the most normal thing in the world, said, “My manos are so grande.” Basically, he went for the Spanglish without shame and made my day. The shop lady gave him a giggle as well.

By that time, we were pretty tuckered out, so we stopped for lunch. We ordered some sort of sampler platter thing that included guinea pig, alpaca, lamb, beef heart, trout, potatoes, stuffed pepper… and I don’t know what else. It was amazing. Yes, I tried everything and enjoyed it all. Also, we got an avocado thing that was super good and I had a glass of wine.

Next, we took a bus tour around town. The highlight of that was el Christo Blanco, which is a big Jesus statue at the top of a hill. Also, I bought an alpaca headband/ear-warmer thing.

Last, but not least, we rushed around the markets, buying amazing fruit and supplies for lentil soup. I have eaten so well thus far.

After getting back to the dorms, we cooked, did yoga, ate, discussed heatedly (it’s okay, that’s what Steve, Lori and I do), and played cards. Finally, we climbed to the roof of the non-profit and looked at some southern hemisphere stars… not actually that different from northern ones. We saw Orion and the moon; most everything else was impossible to find.

Events of the day aside, I’m most struck by the lack of rules, urgency, and hurry here. Dogs wander the streets and seem to be just fine. We haven’t seen any run over by cars even though folks do what they want on the terrible roads. Children are everywhere, but they aren’t annoying even in the slightest. They are polite and don’t have the adhd look of the kiddos I work with. Peru shares a lot of the traits I loved in Mongolia, but it’s an altogether better experience to be able to read a large portion of the signs and to even pick up a word or two in every sentence spoken to me. Today, as we were returning to the dorms, some of the neighborhood kids and teens were blocking the whole street with a game of volleyball they’d set up, net and all. When cars came, they stopped playing and lifted the net so the cars could drive underneath… and everyone acted as if this were normal. With all of the Common Core shenanigans, I’m really loving that the people here seem less regulated… less like robots… more like human beings.

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