I have been in Cusco for almost one week and it has been thoroughly amazing!! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cusco I am living with a couple who has been married for 51 years this July, Osmar and Virginia. Osmar is a retired accountant and Virginia is a domestic engineer. They have three grown children, two boys and one girl, of which only one still lives in Cusco. They take great care of all the volunteers in their house....cozy rooms, three amazingly yummy meals everyday, and lots of great spanish conversations. Currently there are five girls in the house and they all volunteer in Cusco with children to some extent, either at a day care, an orphanage, or a school. We share bedrooms and the one bathroom that has an interesting shower. The hot water in Peru is heated by electricity, so you have to be very careful while attempting to take a hot shower so that you don´t touch any metal and shock yourself. The toilets flush most of the time, but occassionally the water is turned off. So far the electricity has stayed on everyday since I´ve been here, so my stay here in Cusco is an upgrade from India and Kenya. :)
I was supposed to go to Lake Titicaca this weekend, but my trip has been postponed due to strikers blocking the roads to Puno. My roommates and I will try and go next weekend, but it will totally depend on whether the bus drivers are willing to drive there. The strikers are non-city dwellers who are fighting the government´s desire to privatize water. The city dwellers have no problems with it, but the farmers and suburban dwellers have been in an uproar about it for weeks. They have been blocking the roads to Puno, thus causing monetary damages to the Peruvian tourism industry, which is unfortunate for the entire country since tourism is their largest source of income. I haven´t spoken with enough non-city dwellers to understand the entire story, so I will have to see what people in Puno say once I finally make it there.
The Inti Raymi Festival on June 24th was absolutely AMAZING!! It involved three parts at three different locations within Cusco and over 500 actors. The first was at 9am and involved a salute to the sun at the Temple of the Sun, Qorikancha, which is directly across the street from my volunteering office. There was a processional of musicians, the Sinchi and his guards, the Imperial Army, women, princesses, nobility, and finally the Inka. The second ceremony began at 11am in the Plaza de Armas and involved a processional of the same people and a presentation of coca as an offering to the Inka. The Inka was on a stage in the middle of the Plaza de Armas preparing the people for the afternoon´s cermemony, which is the largest and longest of the three. Everyone proceeded up a huge mountain to Saqsaywaman for the final ceremony from 1:30-3:30pm. It involved a processional of the same 500 actors, a dedication to the sun, lighting of a fire on the main altar, offering of a llama (used to be an actual llama), eating and drinking of Chicha (Peruvian liquor), and ended in dancing/music/ eating/drinking by the actors. It was the most beautiful ceremony I have ever seen and I can´t wait to show everyone my photographs.
I am excited for the beginning of my volunteer position on Monday. I will be working at Clinica San Juan de Dios, which provides rehabilitation services to children with disabilities, especially those whose parents cannot afford it or do not know how to care for a special needs child. There are doctors, nurses, and therapists on site who provide physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and general medicince. There is also a school connected with the clinic which provides Special Education services to the children. What a perfect placement for a Special Education teacher....I am so excited to begin on Monday. You can explore more about where I will be volunteering at this site:
RIP Michael Jackson.....The bars/night clubs have been playing his musis all week long. :-)