Tuesday, February 17, 2009

More Ruins, More Water, and Lots of Dancing!

Well hello all you out there anxiously awaiting more news...I do not have too much more to report, but I really am adjusting well and loving it here more everyday. Last week was fairly uneventful, I went out dancing on Tuesday night with my housemate Laura and Dorien, a girl from our school. I had my first Pisco Sour--delicious!--and my first foray into the discoteca´s of Cusco. We had an great time hopping from place to place, getting free drinks and dancing to Spanish music...a few places I will have to return to, such as Mama Africa (one of the most famous clubs in Cusco for it´s dancing, although not much when we were there!) and this club that had great music and tons of soccer fans all over the place (did I mention what a big deal that is here?) However, we did get home quite late, and it took me much longer to recover from that than it normally does! Still getting adjusted, I suppose!
Last week was rather frustrating lessons-wise, but I think I´m starting to see more results. Maybe not as quickly as I would like, but results just the same! On Thursday there was also a gigantic fiesta, part of the Carnivale celebration. San Blas, the neighborhood my school is in, is the oldest neighborhood in Cusco, and one of the last to celebrate ¨Compadres¨ in addition to the rest of Carnivale. It was fun to see, the street was full of people and music and dancing, and presents were falling from trees and vines strung up above the street. Of course it was pouring, so I didn´t stay long, but I was amazed that one family in the neighborhood paid for everything--music, candy, toys, food, beer...lots of expense! I guess it rotates every year, but still!
Speaking of Carnivale, it hits it´s peak this weekend, and you can definitely tell--I don´t think I´ve been dry in a week! Everyone else now is starting to experience it, the men and boys who are mostly throwing the water tend to target whities (like myself, although I´m more of a bright pink these days) and attractive females. I don´t know how much I´ll be venturing the streets this weekend if it´s cold, because apparently the entire city is dripping! The little boy I live with, Rodrigo (who I learned is my host sister´s son), proudly showed me his collection of water balloons and massive squirt guns.
This past weekend was eventful, full of dancing, ruins, walking, and even an earthquake! Which I did not feel as I was dancing the night away in another discoteca--this one called Muki, which looks like the inside of a cave. Me and Linda, my favorite travel buddy, hiked up the mountain to Saschyhuaman (which always sounds to me like ´sexy woman´ slightly slurred), famous Inca ruins right above Cusco. They are massive and gorgeous, and apparently a famous hideout of Franscico Pizarro´s during an Inca rebellion. I learned that Inca architecture is so sturdy for four reasons: the giant stones on the bottom, the smaller rocks on top, the trapezoidal shape of doors and crevices, and the fact that the wall is always larger on the bottom. Pretty interesting, and pretty cool to see all this in a pretty field overlooking the valley. I even found some channels leading down from the altar that used to carry maize beer!
From there we walked over to Q´enqo, and old Inca cemetery, where everything was carved out of rock--seats, walkways, stairs, tunnels, and caves! I slipped into one cave briefly and had a panic attack as I stepped on a twig and broke it, thinking it was a bone...overactive imagination, a great help as always!
After Q´enqo we wandered up to Tambo Machay, the worshipping site of a water cult, where it appropriately started to pour. It was cool to see the old Inca baths and man-made waterfalls. Just below there was Pukapukara, a site probably used for storage of goods and animals. The view was the best part, although we found a few carvings of flowers and animals on the rocks. I was getting a little tired of ruins at this point, but it still rocked (haha)! We caught a collectivo (small bus/van) down the mountain because taxis up there were waaay overpriced (at about four dollars) and we wandered around Cusco for awhile, visiting my favorite bakery near my house and the like. AFter this, we headed off to finish up our rip-off tourist tickets, to see the Monumento Pachacuteq (the ninth Inca, and the one accredited with glorifying Cusco) which wasn´t much but had a great view!
Then the dancing began--first in the form of traditional dancing and costume and Cusco´s cultural center, which was very fun to watch, although all of the woman had terrible voices...seriously, the most nasal I had ever heard! We ate a decent and super cheap meal and Linda´s favorite vegetarian restuarant, and from there we met Laura, my host brother Paul, and some other people from our school for a night out!
It happened to be Valentine´s Day--much more toned down, but the first place we went still had petals lining the stairs and balloons everywhere. We met some more people there, had a few drinks, and then headed out dancing! We danced and danced until around four a.m...which canceled most of my Sunday plans! Still a good time, and nice to meet some more people!
This week has been fairly uneventful, although I did discover the tea I´ve been inhaling by the gallons is actually made from cocaine, which probably explains most of my ´altitude´ sickness...good to know that my Spanish is improving enough for me to understand that! I also figured out that the ´stray´dog is actually my family´s, named Beetlejus...at least I am slowly learning! I also went over to the contraband market to buy some movies (they sell everything from music to movies to shoes to microwaves to cameras...)--I scored a few new ones in Spanish that will hopefully be a big help! I can catch about every third word now, woot!
I am beginning to discover more food that I like, and the school takes an hour out of classes every Friday for a cooking lesson! I still need the recipe for the first week, as it remains a delicious mystery, but this last Friday we made Pisco Sours. My family continues to overload me with the soup, but I´ve discovered a few great bakeries, a coca shop, and some snack foods that I like. Eating most of the soup is quite painful--although I do enjoy the squash soup! We also have interesting dessert, one jello type thing that was made from corn (I think) but inexplicably purple...Hopefully as I continue to improve in Spanish I will figure this stuff out!
Well here´s the end of my news! Here´s hoping my Spanish is beautiful SOON, Adam buys his plane ticket to come visit (!!) and the endless rain stops...although I do manage to get sunburned every time the sun comes out! Love you all mucho and hope things are well wherever you are!! xoxo

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