Interesting Weekend- Part 2

Saturday morning I woke up and felt fine so I decided to go white water rafting on the Urubamba river, as planned. Phil, the student next door, was also going so I waited outside for him for a few minutes but he had already left because he knew that I had been sick the night before. I actually wore shorts outside for the first time in Peru because I didn’t want to get my jeans wet. That was also my first time wearing a swimsuit in Peru. Anyways, when I arrived at the school I found out that Susanna was joining us rafting. Phil and I had both been rafting before but Susanna had not. We had about an hour bus ride to the river and since I was feeling a little queasy I just took a nap. When we arrived, we changed into wet suits and got back on the bus. Urubamba River is fed by the glacier on Ausangate Mountain and so wet suits were definitely necessary. Once we arrived to our put in point, we donned the windbreakers, life jackets, and helmets. We chose our boats and started training on the river! In our boat, we had six people and the guide: Phil, Susanna, Michael from Holland, a couple from Italy, and me. All told, we represented 5 different home countries and four different first languages. All directions were given in English. Once we finished training we started with progressively harder rapids, up to class 3. In the middle, we stopped at a rock to climb and jump off. Without (almost) second thoughts I climbed up the rock and proceeded to jump into freezing water. My first thought was “Cold!!” and my second was “What is the easiest/fastest way to get back into the boat?”, followed by “No, I can not touch the bottom here”. Once I was back in the boat we all talked about how frigid the water was and how glad we were to have wet suits on. After that, we went through the class three rapids and tried to surf on one of them. After that, the guides all tried to flip their boats on a rock but I think the river was too low. I was glad not to be back in the water. When we returned to the base camp, we peeled off the wet suits and went straight to the sauna. It was nice and warm- and then they came in with a bucket of water to steam it up a little. It was probably over 90 degrees Fahrenheit in there and it became a little hard to breathe. After that, I had a warm shower (luxury here) and then a warm lunch made by the family who lives at the base camp. As soon as I was done eating, most of the group went on a zip-line across the river and then back to the base camp. We collected our stuff, got back on the bus, and returned to Cusco. On the way, we stopped for ice cream at one of the many little stores in the villages and while it wasn’t homemade, it was just what I needed after a hard day of play. When we returned, I went home and rested. A couple of hours later, I realized that I had completely forgotten about one of my friend’s birthday party! By then it was too late so I just stayed home and apologized when I got to school on Monday. It was more of a drinking party anyways so I don’t know whether I would have had fun or not.

Sunday was my day of rest and I got to sleep in until 8:30. I finished a bracelet that I made for one friend and started another for a friend who is leaving on Wednesday. I finished that one today (Tuesday) and started on another for the friend whose party I missed. The other thing I did on Sunday was four more colors on the Achoo! cross stitch. Now the pads of the feet have color and it has a black nose, eyes, and spots. That kept me up until midnight and then I got up at 6:30 as normal for school.

Monday started my last week of grammar classes with the hardest teacher I’ve had so far. We had four students in the class again but as of today we have another student from Brazil. That fills the class as the maximum size is 5 students. Monday night I went to a salsa class at the salsa school with some friends and signed up for a total of 5 lessons. By the time I get home, I will practically be an expert! Or at least be able to dance well 🙂 After that we went out to eat at the same English restaurant as on Friday and I tried their Cottage Pie. It was awesome and it came with an excellent gravy. That satisfied my cheese longings for a moment. The great thing about this restaurant is that they have fresh mint tea. Just thinking about food makes me miss home a little so having something familiar is just what I needed. While I was talking to the taxi driver on the way home, he complimented me on my Spanish and that pretty much made my day. I’ve almost been here a month and I’ve learned a lot but sometimes it feels like I just arrived.

Today I came back to school in the afternoon and taught the volunteer group some origami. I am also going to make some decorations for the Dia del Estudiante (Day of the Student) festival that we are having on Friday. That’s all for now! I will try to write more than I have been for the last couple weeks because everything is better with details.

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Interesting Weekend- Part 1

I definitely had an interesting weekend…
Thursday was yoga class- an interesting mix that I’ve never seen before. The purpose of the ~20 minutes of warm-up/stretching/exercise was to allow our bodies to relax for the next ten minutes. It was divine. All the instructions were in Spanish but that didn’t really matter. One person fell asleep on the little mat just laying there. Afterwards, I met up with Lena back at the school (~15 minute walk), we went to the bakery, walked 10 minutes to the supermercado, crossed two more streets to where we could catch the bus, and rode home.
Friday was very interesting for several reasons. I had a test in class, like always, but it was a little harder than normal. During break, I went over to the bakery and got a delicious cheese empanada, which they even heated up for me. I have been craving cheese pretty much since I got here since cheese is not so common every day. After classes Ashay, Phil, and I went to the “best” ceviche restaurant in Cusco. Ceviche is raw seafood in lemon juice. I had the Ceviche Mixto, which had fish, octopus, squid, and shrimp. It was served with corn, dried corn, two slices of sweet potato, and some lettuce to keep the corn out of the lemon juice. I really enjoyed it but I should have know from my previous experience with real sushi that raw fish and my digestive tract do not get along. After ceviche, we took a taxi back to the school since Phil had afternoon lessons. I showed Ashay where the bakery was and then I stayed at school until the group of us going to the Juanes concert met to go out to eat for supper. We went to an English restaurant and I only had waffles with ice cream since I had eaten almost all of a baguette (whole wheat!) from the bakery. After dinner I was rather stuffed, which did not help with the ceviche. We walked back to the school to meet up with Anna because she had to run her laundry home before the concert. After that we walked over to the concert, which was actually fairly close to the school. We got there as one of the pre-show bands was finishing, and then another band came on before Juanes. In the middle of that second band, my stomach was not feeling good and I told Ashay that I was going out of the middle of the crowd because I wasn’t feeling well. As soon as I said that, I felt like I was going to pass out but I dropped to my knees quickly and the feeling subsided. As Ashay was guiding me out of the crowd, I started feeling like I was going to throw up. Halfway to the edge of the crowd lunch, dinner, and who knows what else came up and out. I hope I didn’t hit anyone with it but I’m not certain that I didn’t. After that we moved to the edge of the crowd and I cleaned myself up a little. I was feeling a whole lot better since the food was out. Ashay stayed with me for the rest of the concert but we left a little early to beat the crowd. While we were still at the concert, there was a very nice dog that came and sat with us for a while. This was very welcome since it was quite chilly that night and the concert was outside.
In order to reduce the size of each post, I will write about the rest of the weekend in the following post. It should come out within a few days…

September 12

Pictures: if you want to see them, add me on Google Plus because they do not like to load on this site.
Last Friday I had a cooking class and I learned to make a dish with meat, onions, and tomato, seasoned with garlic, cumin, soy sauce, and salt. It’s easy to make but I wouldn’t want to do it on the stove at home because you have to have a fire in the pan and it would scorch the microwave. After that I went to see a concert by the Symphonic Orchestra of Cusco. The music was amazing and so was the soloist on cello. After the concert I hung out with some of my friends from school and had my first Inca Cola. It tastes like bubble gum but if that’s your thing you have to try it.
On Saturday I went on a city tour in the afternoon. We saw the cathedral, the Qorikancha, and Sacsayhuaman. The cathedral was very impressive and very imposing. Unfortunately, I was not allowed to take pictures in there. The Qorikancha was partly demolished by the Spaniards and then they built a convent on top. The Qorikancha was an arrangement of temples to the sun, moon, stars, and rainbow among other things. Sacsayhuaman was the old head of the town when it was in the shape of a puma. It is very impressive and has the largest stone. We also visited three other Incan ruins in that area. One of them was the Fountain of Youth- and its source has never been found.
When we returned there was a huge parade for the Virgin Mary and it seemed like the whole town turned out to see it. There were dancers, marching bands, and people dressed as dragons and apes.
Sunday was the tour of the Sacred Valley- Pisac, Ollantaytambo, Chinchero, and Tambomachay. I probably climbed a couple hundred stairs because the ruins are almost all on the side of mountains. We had a buffet lunch and I tried cuy (guinea pig), alpaca, and several other dishes. I think I would like cuy better if it was cooked differently- and someone told me which parts not to eat. The alpaca was marinated in a mustard sauce and while it was edible it was not enjoyable. I have never liked raw meat.
Monday I went to four museums with Lena ranging from native art to contemporary art, to the Qorikancha museum. They were all very interesting but a bit smaller than I’m used to.
Yesterday I went to the Centro Qosqo de Arte Nativo, where I saw several native dances. They play the dance music with a violin but played like a fiddle (among other instruments).
Today I have another salsa class and then tomorrow we have a yoga class. I have made 6 bracelets since I arrived and I’m working on a seventh. I finished the fourth Sleeping Beauty panel in a week and now I’m working on the puppy (Achoo).

First Salsa Class

Lena and I went to salsa class today and we had a blast! We learned 6 basic steps and then started dancing with partners.

Classes have been going well and we have been talking about our family, our town, and today we talked about a book. I can finally read Gato con Botas (dreamworks version) and I’m going to try to read Sonador (the reader I brought with me) a bit at a time.

Lena and I have been walking to school with another student who lives next door. A group of three is definitely better in the city.

I’m going to upload some pictures eventually….

September 2

I finished my first week of classes on Thursday and had Friday off. I did really well on my test on Thursday- exactly how well I will find out on Monday. I have had a lot of free time to do bracelets and cross stitch- so far I finished the four panels of the Sleeping Beauty cross stitch, did three bracelets, started a fourth, and started working on the Achoo! (puppy) cross stitch again. As I start hanging out with friends more, the time for crafts will decrease.
We have a new student in the house- Magdalena from Holland. She doesn’t speak any Spanish yet but we can talk in English. She is one year older than me and is also doing a gap year before starting studies at a university.