Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Day to Day in My Part of Cusco

I haven't quite been here for a week, but already I'm becoming more and more familiar with the streets around me. I live in Wanchaq (you can google map it). 

During the day, I take the little back alleys to get to the main stretch, La Avendia de Cultura. These alleys aren't normal alleys, because many people have the entrances to their homes here. They're just not marked on a map. In between these alleyways are hidden parks. There's a park I cross by on my walk with a little enclosed sanctuary, and in the sanctuary is a statue of Our Lady of Fatima. We cross ourselves and say a little prayer as we walk by, and usually there are a couple of Quechua women sitting nearby with things for sale. I'll upload a picture of my walk sometime! 

Usually, especially in these back streets, the "perros callejeros," street dogs, like to roam. A good portion of the dogs in Cusco are homeless, but most of the dogs I encounter on my walk have owners. Their owners like to let them out to run around and explore all day. This is something that many people back home would not understand, but it's interesting! It seems to me that many people in Cusco think it's not natural to keep a dog indoors. Dogs want to be outside after all; it's their nature. 

How do I know that these dogs have families? Aside from the fact that they look well fed for the most part, although not always well groomed, so many of the dogs here wear clothes! The other day, I saw a dog wearing a jumpsuit running like he was on a mission. Just yesterday, as my host mom and I stopped to buy eggs, there was a shaggy dog wearing a Batman costume. Remember, it's cold here. The altitude is over 11,000 feet, and it's approaching Winter. Many of the dogs need to wear clothes in order to stay warm. Regardless, it's funny.

The dog in my house, Chana, wears clothes as well even though she stays indoors. That's because central heating and air doesn't really exist here, so it's even colder inside than outside during the day.

Chana on my bed
I really need to take pictures of all the interesting things I encounter on my daily walk. For example, across the street is this really morbid looking park. There are huge painted metal slides that resemble dragons, and scattered in between the other rides are demented tribal-looking faces on poles. Beside the park is another place, El centro de cultura. It's a small building where there are gatherings, birthdays, and even funerals. Tonight is El concurso de payasos. Clowns! Yikes...

You can get a picture of what it's been like day to day. It's very familiar but very strange at the same time. I really am on the opposite half of the globe. 

Sunday, May 24, 2015

I Got Lost in Cusco!

Today has been a very long day with no time to stop and rest until now. I was woken up by the sounds of a dog gang and had breakfast shortly after. As a side note, "perros callejeros" or homeless/street dogs are common here. You see them everywhere digging through trash, sleeping, peeing on random things, etc. They aren't like normal dogs. For one, they look both ways when crossing the street! 
Perros callejeros on a famous street where Spanish Conquistadores marched through Cusco
We made a trip to Sacsayhuaman after a long orientation. Sacsayhuaman is an archeological site outside of Cusco. Cusco is shaped like a puma, and Sacsayhuaman is the head of the puma. At the site, I got to hold a baby llama. Also, the views there were great!

After Sacsayhuaman, we went down together to tour the city center. There were so many people out and about, and there was even a parade! I was so taken by the scenery that I wandered off by myself when we had free time. However, I was stopped by the parade and didn't make it back in time. Hence, my group left me. I was all alone. In a strange city. By myself. At night. 

I waited for a long time, asking the Cathedral guards it they'd seen a group of gringo students, but nothing. Finally, I decided to take a taxi home. I opened the door, said my neighborhood, but the driver didn't want to go that far. Right after I closed the door, I saw a lady from my program coming for me! She took me, and we walked in a small group together until it was time to take the taxi. 

"Ay, Katicita," said my host mom. She was worried and thought the ISA people were joking when they said I was lost. But I came back to some tea and a warm plate of tallarines saltados. 

I think it's time I get a phone that works here...

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Arrival in Cusco

What a whirlwind the past 24 hours have been! I flew from Atlanta to Miami, Miami to Lima, and then Lima to Cusco. All had stops in between to get bags, check bags again, and go through security. I finally made it to Cusco and was greeted by this beautiful view on the plane ride:

Friday, May 8, 2015

Service Learning Placement

I just got my placement for the service learning portion of my trip, which will run during the month of July. I will be working at Colegio Humberto Vidal Unda, a private school for elementary and middle school levels. This job was suited for those interested in TEFL, so I will be working with an English teacher most of the time.