miércoles, 26 de enero de 2011

                                     This is la cuy that they eat...
 La familia - from left to right Rossana, Luis, Lucho, Andrea
 Alpaca / llama zoo!
 Viva el Perú (note also the Cristo Blanco on the left)
Señora in the alpaca/llama place

Time for an update. Monday I had my first day of rain, lots of rain. Before I left I already put the weather forecast of Cusco on my homepage and it wasn’t greatly promising to see pictures of heavy rain every day (January, February is rainy season here) – but when I arrived it wasn’t so bad. The thing is, Cusco is surrounded by mountains so once the clouds are inside, they don’t leave so quickly. Anyway today was better already.

Last weekend was nice, on Saturday I went with Lucho and Luis to a sort of big market place (el baratillo) where people sell second hand stuff. Mostly looking like fifth hand I must say. They sell everything ranging from doll heads (scary) to empty coca cola bottles, to car parts and phones. I had to buy a phone still so this was the perfect place and I even managed to buy one that wasn’t about to fall apart, pretty much new actually! Fourty soles, which is a little bit more than 10 Euros. Anyway, quite the place, el baratillo.
Sunday we went with the whole family to el Valle Sagrado (Sacred Valley). It’s a valley with lots of villages with Inca excavation sites and remains, and artesania and all, about an hour away from Cusco by car. It was so nice, I saw lots of these places, unfortunately didn’t have this tourist pass you need to enter most of them, but beautiful landscapes. Also a mini zoo-type place along the road with alpacas and llamas and all! Very cool. After seeing loads of places and look-outs, we went to see Lucho’s sisters with children etc. We stayed there for a while, in a beautiful village between the mountains, with very fresh air and little rivers and all. In the evening we went back – stopped by the Cristo Blanco (the one they also have in Rio de Janeiro) to see beautiful Cusco by night. Then we drove back by car, listening to music and enjoying tiredness and the view.

Monday back to the aldea again – facing reality of snot and poop. And of two beautiful smiles greeting me! It takes me effort to call the little one la Cuy because yesterday I saw the real cuy- which is something like fried, stuffed guinea-pig, complete with eyes and teeth. Quite gross – it’s a delicacy here and apparently quite nice but to be honest, I hope I’ll be able to leave the country without having to try it. Today I also went to see the building of the NGO where I will be working my last one or two weeks. Lucho is the director, the NGO is called Inca Educa, and they offer short practice aimed types of education of a few months to people between the ages of 17-30. They pay a small amount and choose a direction, like bakery, cooking, house keeping, bar/restaurant personnel, etc. After they finish, they get an official diploma and Inca Educa helps them to find a job. There is also a nursery for the kids of the people who take classes. They open next week, and then I’ll see when I start there. Ya está, that's it for now.

sábado, 22 de enero de 2011

La cuy & la Valeria and me

The orphanage and Peruvian public transport

Last Wednesday I started working at the orphanage - La Aldea de Juan Pablo II. There are many orphanages here in Cusco, even though it is a relatively small city (though in numbers Peru apparently is economically (one of) the most stable countries in Latin America, there is a lot of poverty and children just get abandoned – or their parents die).
Anyway – this orphanage has 56 children, boys and girls, ranging from babies to 18-year olds. They are divided into casitas, little groups of 7 or 8 kids that live in little apartment-type places within the bigger building. Every casita has its ‘substitute mother’ that takes care of the kids and cooks for them etc.
My first morning in the orphanage, the youngest girl (just turned 1) in the casita I was assigned to, chose to befriend me immediately – she’s crazy but adorable. Her name is Melanie but they call her ‘la cuy’ (pronounce kwee) – the guinea-pig. She has an amazingly high energy level but sometimes falls asleep in my arms, snoring a tiny bit, which is the cutest thing in the world. The second youngest is Valeria, 2.5 years old, also very sweet, she will be adopted soon. I spend most of the mornings watching these little two, when the rest is in activities or school. I play with them, keep them busy, so that the mother has some time to do the other things that need to be done – cleaning, cooking, etc. The oldest of the casita, Yashin, is 13 years old and in love with Justin Bieber. I couldn’t really talk with her about her favorite song ‘Baby’ (which the other kids also happily sing along) but luckily my knowledge of other (Latin) artists was sufficient to bond with her. Every day she comes up with new artists to ask me if I know them and what my favorite song is. There are also two boys and 2 other girls – they call me señorita and already, when they see me, I get loads of hugs and kisses. Yesterday I brought my camera – which they loved (“take a photo of my toy! And of me and my homework! Show me!”), so I will try to also put some photos on here.

I get to, and back from the orphanage with the public transport, which I had to get used to. Public transport Peruvian style is something like this: you pull over a micro (mini bus) that is usually filled to the top, and then a little bit more. Then there is someone who opens and closes the door and collects the money, who always stresses me out by yelling ‘baja baja baja’ (get out get out get out) or ‘sube sube sube’ (get in get in get in). Traffic is one big chaos. It does make me feel pretty independent and Cusco-experienced, finding my way back and forth all by myself. Now I just have to perfect my skills: the gesture to pull the micro over, how to push yourself in, stay inside when people try to get out, pay the right person at the right moment, and not unimportantly: know exactly when to get out (and make sure it also stops to let you out). The subtleties that need to be mastered in order to become a real Cusqueña!