Peru South America Travel

Strikes, Urubamba, and Carnaval

So the last few weeks have been eventful for both me and Peru. First there was la huelga (the strike), I ventured to Urubamba for Carnaval, and I started teaching.

The worker’s strike against the government lasted for two days and consisted of everything shutting down in Cusco, including transportation.  There were several demonstrations around the city involving burning tires, protests, fireworks and cannons. Luckily, in the midst of all of that I managed to get a photo with the police and their riot gear.

Then there was Carnaval, which is a big festival having something to with Lent, where gringos become targets and it is acceptable to throw water, paint, and something that looks like shaving cream at one another. So naturally I wanted to be a part of the celebration. Fifteen of us teachers and Maximo employees piled into a collectivo and journeyed to a nearby town called Urubamba to make the most out of the festivities. Urubamba is a beautiful town about an hour bus ride from Cusco where you can see the stunning contrast of the snow capped Ch’iqun mountain range amongst the various shades of lush green shrubbery on the mountains closer to the town. We stayed at an interesting hostel that was apparently a llama breeding facility first and foremost, and secondly an accommodation, which the owner kept stressing to us. After a fun evening of eating beef heart, drinking boxed wine in the plaza, and briefly dancing at a discoteca we called it a night.
The following day we geared up with water guns and shaving cream and headed to the plaza. There were apparently no rules of warfare and children and adults of all ages partook in what can only be described as the biggest water fight I’ve ever witnessed. After a few hours of epic chaos and fun, we headed to a park where we became even more obvious targets. As we ran around, we quickly realized that being thrown in the pool, having copious amounts of water being thrown on your head, and having powder paint thrown in your face, were all very real possibilities. Fortunately we discovered that anywhere near the food tents were an unspoken safe zone, and we were able to eat lunch in peace. I also road in my first mototaxi in Urubamba, which unfortunately we discovered the hard way, did not guarantee us any safety from the Carnaval chaos.
Most of the group all geared up at Carnaval
Carnaval chaos in the main plaza
Mototaxis in Urubamba
Urubamba with the Ch’iqun mountains in the background
On another note, I finally began teaching at Maximo. Last week I worked as a substitute for another teacher, and this week is my first week as an official English teacher with my own classes. I have six classes ranging from Basic to Advanced levels, and they are all great! I’m still taking Spanish lessons, which are helpful but discouraging because they are a constant reminder of how complex languages are, and how much I just don’t know. Cusco still amazes me more everyday and I’m thoroughly enjoying every second of my time here.
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Anna French

Anna is an optimist with pessimistic tendencies who enjoys making a short story long, her coffee black, and watching Friends re-runs. These days you can catch her in her natural habitats wandering through forest roads in her van or hiking to a waterfall or glacial lake.

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