I'm sorry it's taken so long for me to write an update here. The Blogger app on the tablet I am using has gone on strike indefinitely, and the browser will not accept that I am in fact the rightful author of RBF and insists on a read-only Blogger basis. As of now I have decided to write this in an email to myself from my tablet, which I will copy and paste into Blogger from the more cooperative computer at the school. Now that you are up to date on everything that you don't care about, I'll try to summarize a few points of interest from the last 5 days...
1. I arrived safely. It came to about 24 hours of travel, not including the drive to Vancouver. I got precious little sleep due to nerves, flying (can anyone actually sleep in those seats?) and airport delightfulness, so I was pretty pooped by the time I landed in Cusco, Peru. My adrenaline got me as far as about an hour after settling into my homestay, and then I crashed for about 4 hours until dinner, and when I went back to bed later that evening, I slept soundly for another 8. A rarity for me at the best if times!
2. No altitude sickness! Yay!!! My host family has been drowning me in mate de coca which is supposed to help, so maybe that is the key. The tea tastes like green tea, and I get seriously jittery when I drink it. I'm sorry I can't bring any home for you to sample, as the drug sniffing dogs at the airport would bust me as a coke smuggler. True story.
3. My hosts Willy & Gloria are the sweetest little couple. I think they are in their 60's, and they live in a multilevel home with separate apartments in each floor. Their grown children with families if their own lives in the other floors. They also own a 6 month old terrier named "Speedy" (spelling unknown...this is just how it sounds). I am one of two student/volunteers staying here. The other is a guy from Germany who is fluent in "Spain Spanish", which has an interestingly different accent. He also speaks English, so I feel pretty silly struggling to learn my first second language!
4. I am slowly adjusting to a different way of water usage that includes unpotable running water (ie: brushing my teeth with bottled water), throwing toilet paper in the garbage rather than flushing it (because the plumbing can't handle it), and water only being hot when used for tea. Cold showers and I have yet to become friends. I'm already dreaming of a steaming hot shower followed by a large tub for soaking in when I get home!
5. I've had my first Spanish lesson, and discovered that (unsurprisingly) I am far better at reading and spelling than at speaking the language. My memory is bad...I knew that already...but it is frustrating when I have to keep checking back to my phrasebook for things I know I've learned! It's early days yet, so there is still hope for me.
6. The weather is generally cool, though. It changes rapidly from sunny and warm to rainy and stormy. We've even had periods of hail the last two days, and plenty if torrential downpours. I plan on purchasing a nice cozy alpaca wool sweater this week. Sure it will make me stand out as a tourists...but who am I kidding. That was already blatantly obvious. I've never felt so conspicuously white in my life.
7. Last night/this morning I celebrated Años Nuevo (New Years) with my new Peruvian friend, E. We joined the drunken throngs of tourists and locals alike in Plaza de Armas...it was quite an experience, and I will hopefully elaborate on it later when I figure out how to put up photos and video! It was unlike any New Year's party I have ever seen before! My ears are still ringing :)
8. I've done a fair bit of exploring on foot already since I think it is one of the best ways to get to know a city, along with the fact that I haven't figured out the bus system yet and I have plenty of time to kill! Cusco is quite large and very busy.
9. The food! Gloria is a wonderful cook, and everything has been very tasty. Peruvian cuisine is very starchy, so there has been lots of quinoa, rice, and potatoes, usually accompanied by a bit of huevos (eggs), queso (a mild, salty white cheese), or pollo (chicken). For breakfast once it was simply a sliced boiled potato with two large slabs of cheese! More often it is a guava smoothie and two small bananas.
10. The portion sizes have been so incredibly large, and served three times a day, that I have been feeling sick and each bite is a struggle to swallow! Nerves and not a whole lot of activity also contributes to a current lack of appetite. I have been so afraid to offend that I've eaten everything I've been given no matter how long it takes...but I finally worked up the courage today to speak to Gloria about it! It took me about an hour to compose a short paragraph in Spanish which I read to her haha!! She laughed and said that she wouldn't serve so much to me, and said my pronunciation was "muy bueno". Tonight will be the first test run with the new portion sizes! My next challenge is tackling the bus...
That's all the news I can muster for tonight. It takes a long time to tappity tap it out on the tablet! Hope you enjoyed reading!