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!