I truly did not know what to expect when I began my 20 hour journey to Cusco, but those are always my favorite adventures. I woke up as the plane was landing, just in time to catch a glimpse of the unbelievably green hills freckled with hundreds of colorful houses that appear to all be stacked a top one another.
After three layovers and down one bag, I arrived in Cusco hungry and exhausted. I soon realized they weren’t kidding about the altitude as the weight of my body became more apparent.
Day one was a bit of a blur battling altitude sickness, and making the lovely acquaintances of my host dad Marco, and my housemates Shruti and a newlywed couple.
Since then I’ve had two weeks of TEFL (teaching English as a Foreign Language) classes at Maximo Nivel, which I thoroughly enjoy. The course is extremely practical and hands on, which is a welcomed change of pace from my previous academic experiences. I’ve also become fond of my TEFL classmates, we have a wonderfully fun and dynamic group and I’m glad to have met each one of them. In between my busy 9-4 school day, I’ve managed to find time to explore the typical suspects of Cusco including Plaza de Armas, Plaza San Blas, and the San Pedro Market. I’ve seen children walking llamas, a mixture of people in traditional attire and modern clothing, and I have not ceased to be mesmerized by the backdrop of rolling green hills. I have partaken in free Salsa lessons at Maximo, and enjoyed some life changing guacamole. I’ve gone dancing at a discoteca called Mythology, and I’ve tried a pisco sour, which is simply a grape brandy with a bit of egg whites mixed in for good measure. Unfortunately, I’ve also gotten a bacterial infection and spent several days sick, but that was to be expected eventually. Last but not least, I’ve hiked through some incredible Incan ruins with the highlight being the majestic area of Pisaq.
Yesterday I moved in with a new host family, which is much more homey and suits my needs better. I have a sweet host mom named Gabrielle, and a host brother named Diego, whom celebrated his 28th birthday yesterday. It was quite the treat to see and experience how Peruvians party!
Adapting to life in Peru has been a bit rougher than I anticipated. I’ve learned that the language barrier is one factor that I am having trouble overcoming, and I am more determined then ever to become fluent in Spanish! Overall, I think Cusco looks and feels a lot like if Mexico and Italy had a baby. I’ve yet to fully take in all that makes up the rich culture of Cusco and its’ Incan ancestors, but one thing is for certain, charm is ubiquitous here.