Sunday, June 17, 2012
First of all, Happy Father´s Day to my Dad who is obviously the best Dad of them all! :D So, picking up where I left off. Towards the end of our hike to Aguas Calients there was a little village which we thought was Aguas Calientes but it wasn`t so we were a bit depressed and sat down for about 10 minutes. BIG MISTAKE because our muscles cooled down and then it hurt so much more to move! But move we did ladies and gentlemen! :) When we arrived to the town we looked for a hostal and Nicolas found one for 15 soles and we stayed in a different one for 30 since we wanted our own room together and not a shared one. The bed was much softer than the bed in Cusco and there was natural hot water (hence the name of the town- Aguas Calientes = Hot waters). The shower was one of the best of my life. I took a picture of my foot first though and the new blisters it had. Man did our shoes and socks ever reek! They still do since we haven`t washed anything yet! We all met downstairs after the showers and had supper at about 11 before going off to sleep much better than babies since they wake up a lot and we did not. In the morning Cèsar and I split up from Nicolas as he decided to hike up the mountain (a steep upwards climb of 700 metres) and we decided to take the bus. It cost $10 which is so expensive for a 10 minute ride but I am glad we did it because the uphill climb after the hike the day before would have finished us off. Before that we had breakfast upstairs in the local market since the restaurants were so expensive. I mean, $10 for breakfast! Let`s get real here! Aguas Calientes is a tourist town and we saw the hotel Mick Jagger stayed at when he visited a month ago. Actually we don`t know if he stayed there but it was the poshest one there so we just guessed. In the market we made friends with the lovely lady at the stand and talked about politics before buying the entrance ticket to Machu Picchu. It costs $50 for foreigners to get in which was heartbreaking for me obviously but you know it`s one of the new wonders of the world so I gutted up and forked over the loot. It was a lot cheaper for Cèsar! Machu Picchu was spectacular! I have to go now so it`s short but we have a bus to catch to Arequipa! See you all soon xxx
Friday, June 15, 2012
Well, I guess I should start from the beginning. Do some eyes exercises and get ready to read! On Sunday night we left Cajamarca for Trujillo (6 hours). Once there we stayed in a cheap hostal ($10) since we arrived at 4:30 AM and couldn`t very well just sit in the street until dawn. Then we went to pick up my laptop which Cèsar`s friend Rafael had fixed for me. The problem was that my antivirus expired a year ago and the thing had so many viruses that you could`t use it. Now I can use it. In return I translated his systems engineering homework into Spanish. Fair trade right :) although it was very complicated homework! When at Rafael`s house we ran into Wesley who was there to pick up a car to drive back to Cajamarca. He said we should all go to pick it up, so we did. The car was so bad. I mean, we drove a block and then had to get out and push to make it start again. I was a bit scared because there was a lot of traffic but luckily I survived to tell the tale! At one point it stopped altogether and the men were pushing it for a few blocks so Wesley decided to go and visit his girlfriend while Rafael and the car`s owner fixed the problem. We went with Wesley to see baby Adrian who is now 7 months old (doesn`t time fly!) and very cute. We took him for a walk and had some cheap lunch ($2) and said goodbye to them as Wesley had to take the car back to Cajamarca. We then accompanied Rafael and his mom to the main square and the market and back to their house which was about 1.5 hours of walking but it wasn`t too hot or too cold so it was good. Then we hung out with Rafael`s mom while he was studying and had a really interesting conversation with her until 10 when we had to go to the bus station to catch our bus to Lima. The journey was 9 hours long but I slept all the way so it wasn`t bad. We arrived in Lima at about 7:30 AM and decided to hang out in the bus terminal instead of spending cash on a hostal and bought our tickets to Cusco. We left our bags there and went for a walk in the lovely contaminated city of Lima and remarked on the beautiful layer of contamination and how it hurt my eyes (Cèsar said I was overreacting but later his eyes hurt too so ha!). We went to the Expedition Park which I nicknamed the Chinese Park two years ago but I CANT REMEMBER WHY?! Anyway there were all these photos of Lima and it was really sad, you saw the rich parts and then the really poor parts and it was kind of sick actually. Then we had really cheap strawberry juice (obviously fresh because it`s Peru) which was very nice! I apologize for the lack of paragraphs in this blog entry, but my fingers just say, go go go because the time here is costly (not really but when you are tight it is). Then we had to sit in a bus for 22 hours to arrive to Cuzco. It was cool at first to see the nice landscapes and all that but then I felt nauseous so I drugged myself up on gravol and went to sleep until the next day. We arrived in Cusco at 1 p.m. and I saw a bunch of cheap hostels by the bus station so we went to one and they only charged us 10$ again (nice!) and I was happy because I was told that going to Cusco with less than 1000$ a person is impossible and that`s all Cèsar and I have for both of us. The problem was that the water was ICE COLD, I mean not just cold but freezing. Plus Cusco is at 3326 metres above sea level and it`s quite cold there! Cajamarca is only 2750 so it`s quite a bit higher. It is okay having a cold shower when it`s hot outside but not when it`s cold! You couldn`t help but scream like madmen! Anyway we had to shower because we hadn`t since Trujillo on Monday and we arrived on Wednesday! Then we tried to walk to the main square (because I told Cèsar, I am sure it`s this way) and then we asked a local woman and she said we`d been going the WRONG WAY so whoops! She said to take a bus which was only 50 cents so we did. Then we basically spent the afternoon eating and walking around the really beautiful city centre and getting bombarded with tour agencies. Cusco is obviously super turisti-cized (new word) but it`s neat because walking down the street you can hear so many language. Sometimes we play identify or guess the language but obviously we can`t very well ask the people if we are right so it`s juse speculation. At night we went to the highest Irish pub in the world, and then a British pub where I made Cèsar drink Old Speckled Hen on tap since it`s from Bury St. Edmunds where I was born. Then we went to another random bar and played darts but then I got tired so we went to bed. After checking out all the tour information we decided not to take any tours since they were all more than 100$ each and instead go ourselves. The next day we got up early after a very cold night in Cusco and went to the bus stop for Urubamba. There we took a bus for about 1$ and travelled for an hour. On the bus we met a backpacker from Argentina called Nicolas and he said he was going to walk to Aguas Calientes from KM 82. We hadn`t considered that since it is 30 KM and that`s quite a walk. We were going to take the train from Ollantytambo. When we arrived to Urubamba we took a cab with Nicolas to Ollantytambo which was about 20 minutes away for 4$ so the 3 of us. Not bad so far. In Ollantytambo there were awesome ruins. On one side the ruins cost 70 soles each to enter which is so expensive so didn`t go, but on the other side of the village there were other ruins with a sign saying DANGER: not cross, but we saw various tourists up there so we crossed anyway and it was really cool and not really dangerous unless there was an avalanche but really, it was wasn`t raining and everything was quite stable so don`t worry! We got some great pictures on the up mountain climb to the ruins and then returned to the villlage, it was only about 2 kms so we were still good. We bought some fruit and found a combi to KM 82 and travelled there in an hour. There we met a bunch of kids jammed full into the combi and Cèsar gave them an apple to share and they chatted about soccer while I took pictures of the snow peaked mountains which are much more impressive than the mountains in Cajamarca. When we arrived to KM 82 we headed down to a hut which I didn`t know was the start of the Inka Trail and walked down to it where the warden told us we couldn`t continue for many reasons and after half an hour of trying to bargain we turned back disappointed. It was 2:15 and we went back up to the train track where the combi had left us and asked the guy if the train would pick us up there. He said the train might pick Cèsar up since he`s Peruvian but it wouldn`t take foreigners so Nicolas and I would be stuck. We decided that wasn`t an option. Then we saw another Argentinean backpacker heading our way down the train tracks and he said he had come from Aguas Calientes without any security problems. He had left at 5 AM having done the hike in 9 hours. He said the biggest problem would be that night would catch us and then it would dangerous unless we had a lantern. I had on my cellphone, but I wasn`t sure, but then I got excited and we decided we only live once so why not go for it! We went following the train tracks where there were paths above and below where the locals must walk because there were cows and bulls (luckily not angry bulls but I sent the boys first just in case). The first four hours were great because the views were AMAZING and it was so peaceful. We didn`t meet any other backpackers and we didn`t stop because we wanted to walk as far as possible before it got dark (at about 6:10 it was impossible to see anything). I was surprised at the number of trains that passed but none of them went faster than 40 km/h. A train ticket is more than 70$ for foreigners by the way, so we really saved money by walking! Oh, and Peruvians have to travel on a different train from foreingers as like, a different class which made me ask if we were in 1930 still. No way am I travelling in a different train from Cèsar! When night fell we decided to stay close to the tracks to avoid getting lost. The boys had much more facility peeing than I did and went like 10 times but I only went once because I thought a spider might bite me or something! The train tracks were filled with sharp rocks which cut our feet and I twisted my ankles. Cèsar got bitten by something and now has a HUGE blister, the biggest I have ever seen! I have blisters too but you know, normal size ones. There were lots of bridges to cross which were a bit scary but obviously they were safe since they took the weight of the train. Sometimes you had to balance though as not to fall through the cracks but that is part of the fun. After about 20 kms it got really hard for me. It was surreal because the sky was beautiful and full of stars and the river (I forgot to say we were also following a rampant rapid river) was so loud it was like we were there with nature where nobody else was. The scary parts were when the train passed because sometimes there wasn`t much space to stand between the train and mountain face. One time we were so close my nose almost touched it. Haha, that`s a joke, but we could feel the tug and I thought Nicolas was going to die at one point because he swaggered a bit. I always sat down because it`s harder to get tugged that way! We chatted lots and I suggested we sing but the boys didn`t want to. I felt like the seven dwarfs and wanted to sing, Hi ho, Hi ho it`s off to work we go, because I was carrying our water on my shoulders like a hammer. Well after 25 kms I was pretty much just walk like a zombie because my legs were hurting so much! Ohhhhh I have to go my time is up, today we went to Machu Picchu and it was awesome! I will write more when I can! Loveeee!
Saturday, June 9, 2012
Yesterday I went to the shop to buy sugar and flour (I was making perogies, probably a good idea to check if you have flour before you begin) and I realized that I am really going to miss them weighing a kilo of sugar for me out of a huge bag. I suppose that´s what it was like 30 years ago but it´s really personal and cool. Maybe I should open my own store in Canada old fashioned like :)! I will miss my fresh fruits and veggies and lack of pre-packaged and chemical filled foods. Now that I have perfected my rice cooking skills it will be strange not eating rice all the time. At first I found it dry but then I learned to coat it in soy sauce and now I love it :) César and I went to see The Woman in Black (it took quite a bit of convincing on César´s part because I hate horror movies) and it wasn´t that scary thankfully! It wasn´t brilliant acting and all I could think of was Harry Potter and how weird that Daniel Radcliffe had a kid...?!! Then we went to see Madagascar 3 which was cute and a little girl was dancing in the isle which was cuter still! I will also miss cheap movies! I know I am not a city girl and that´s probably why I kind of love being able to flag down a taxi or a mototaxi (cheaper) wherever I am! I will not miss the sexist, untolerant rich city people and the social class divisions though. We´ve been watching the world cup, Germany just won a great match with Portugal. England plays France on Monday, should be a good one. I´m supposed to be packing for our vacation but I haven´t quite got around to it yet, maybe at the last minute! Tomorrow we are off to Trujillo to pick up my virus clogged laptop and visit César´s friends and from there it´s off to Lima! Much better to have two bus trips than one 14 hr long one. However, the bus ride from Lima to Cusco is a day long so whoopee there. Should be worth it to finally see Machu Picchu though! I put a picture where I thought a couple of the translations were funny like pancakes with bees. Talk to you later! I made my own mazamorra and I was proud of that. Maybe I will find some purple corn when I am back in Canada, somewhere!
Monday, June 4, 2012
Yesterday César decided to go to the hairdresser and I thought, I haven´t had my hair cut in a year, might as well go to. Well, it was quite interesting because the hairdresser was a transsexual lady and extremely bitter about life. You can only get an appointment by phoning. When we arrived she complained loudly that her style is to have one visitor at a time and now our haircuts were going to be terrible but she never said anything when César called to make the appointment! Anyway, she spent the 2.5 hours it took to do our hair complaining about Cajamarca. Now, I can understand the difficulty of being anything other than heterosexual in a place like Cajamarca. We are talking about an old-fashioned highly religious city which hasn´t quite caught up with the 21st century yet in terms of acceptance of anything a little bit different. Well actually I think we are stuck in the 70s here! In terms of local buisnesses it´s fabulous though as you can still go to the seamstress, butcher, glass maker etc., however tolerance is not something most people have. It is so bad that even tattoos and piercings in places other than your ears are seen as gang signs. However, when one chooses to come to a city like this (she is from Lima) you have to come accepting that. It doesn´t mean you can´t try to change it. If she put half as much effort into changing people´s close-mindedness as complaining she might actually be able to change people´s opinions. I think that instead of staying inside she should go out and let people get used to seeing her. I want to believe that after people get after the initial shock of her appearance they would forget about it, however I am a bit optimistic like that. I did have to talk to my students a few times about tolerance though, it´s disturbing when you hear grown, highly professional men saying degrading things about the homosexual etc. community. They always looked taken aback when I reproached them though and hopefully that gave them something to think about. If more people stood up for each other maybe things would change, right? Anyway, the lady showed us her paintings of Ancient Egypt which were awesome! We had a great conversation apart from her bitterness. She kept talking about another city and how accepting the people are there and I thought, why don´t you move there? It would be so much easier, and it isn´t like she´s fighting for change here, plus she seems to hate Cajamarca. But what do I know? She told me she doesn´t like white men, and apparently César is white. I had no idea. I had lunch with my previous host family and tried a new fruit for me called Kaki. It looks like a tomato but it tastes like a hard pear. It´s supposed to be really good for you anyway and it´s delicious! I´ve now finished teaching and am bored and want to work as we can´t travel yet due to the strike here and another strike in Cuzco, worst luck! César and I went out for supper on Friday night and look at my beautiful frozen lemonade. mmmmmm! So far the strike has been passive accept for the stupid cops who instead of keeping the peace hit people with their canes and kick over the farmer´s food. The police here are just arses and it´s not surprising as they are mostly not very intelligent and just follow orders. Yesterday Peru lost to Colombia 0-1 in the world cup eliminations so they probably won´t qualify. Despite Colombia having better players Peru played a respectable game and just missed a bunch of possible goals. Their players are young and unexperienced or old and tired though. On Friday César dropped me and I twisted my wrist. We bought a heat cream and put a bandage on it. I then had an allergic reaction to the cream and now have mini warts all over my hands and wrist so that is great. I bought an anti-allergic reaction cream and it hasn´t worked yet but hopefully it clears up. . It´s not exactly beautiful. This time next month I´ll be studying in Canada. Wow! Here´s a picture of César´s sister´s baby. Take care! I dont know anyone who wants to be a cop, and I´ve never met a cop that I like. They are creepy.
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Thursday, May 10, 2012
So yesterday my taxi had a seatbelt for the first time in a few weeks and I had forgotten how much they restrain you while moving, it felt like a huge constraint which is obviously the point but it´s the first time one has felt odd to me. In other news, César´s 5 yr old cousin got hit by a car and fractured his ankle. The car belonged to Yanacocha the gold mine so the family is starting to look somewhat suspicious. At least they get hit by cars that have insurance though! It seems that Conga, the new gold mine project will go through much to the anger of many people (although not really surprising) land has come to an all time high with sales at $1-3000 per square meter. Ridiculous! Turf wars have begun, a recent news story says that a rich -(though humble at first sight) land owner left his family for his lover and then died. The lover claimed that she had land rights and the family said she didn´t. So she plotted to brutally murder the family with an aunt and chopped them up. I guess money makes people go mad. In other headlines, a drunk cop hit a woman with her two kids in his car and then drove away. Since Cajamarca recently installed 40 security cameras it was captured and all over facbeook within a few hours. Controversial is that there were other cops in the car and then didn´t even lose their jobs, only the driver. Good thing I own very few things of value and don´t walk very much during rush hours. Dad´s birthday was last week and Mother´s Day is on Sunday. Happy day Mum! It´s huge here! Students keep missing classes for dance practices and dinners. Apparently Father´s Day is not nearly so big, which doesn´t seem fair really. Well apart from that I keep teaching which is usually wonderful even though I lost my favorite groups :( I went to see The Avengers after work on Tuesday (cheap night) but I was so tired that I couldn´t pay enough attention. Looked like the same earth invasion prevented by superheroes story as always though. However due to all the hype I may have to see it with both eyes open sometime. Last night César´s friend Wesley came back from his months working in the desert with the new perspective on life that one gets when they have to work. His baby is getting big! There appears to be some kind of dying cat next door, it´s very loud! Well I only have about 6 weeks left here, which is a mixture of saddness of leaving and excitement to see everybody again! Here are a couple of goofy pics of us! See ya soon!
Monday, April 30, 2012
Hi there folks! Well, not much has happened since I last wrote. Last night César and I went to see the Trujillo ballet company which was nice, since Cajamarca doesn´t have many theatre or dance events. The attendance was dreadful though and it was so cheap so that´s a shame since they probably won´t return. There were a couple of terrific male dancers there though. They started with the Cajamarca children ballet dancers who were about as good as the Rivers ballet dancers but they had better tutus. The seats in the theatre were so cool because they all had pull up tables like in aeroplanes!
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Well, remember how I said that we were going to go to the Rock Forest? Well, César´s friend invited us to go to Aguas Calientes with them in his truck so we decided to go there instead! It was a bit uncomfortable with 5 people in the back of the cab but at least we didn´t have to pay to take the bus! It was raining so the bags got a bit wet even though they were covered with plastic, go figure. When we arrived to Aguas Calientes (natural hot springs) we ate some overpriced food and then went off to someone´s country house. The house was made of mud and very simple but it did have electricity which shows the mining influence in the area since we were in the middle of nowhere. The outhouse was a hole in the ground with a mud wall on 3 sides. The hole was super deep, you couldn´t even see the bottom, and I was scared I would fall down. I asked César if he thought anyone had ever fallen down there and I think that should be on the show 1000 ways to die. He just gives me that look in the moments when I come out with things like that. Anyway, we were just hanging out in the yard with lots of people who I didn´t know and someone got the idea that we should have duck for dinner because there were ducks in the yard. One man tried to catch a duck but just kept bringing back geese. Finally he caught a duck and MURDERED IT IN FRONT OF OUR EYES! Then he got told it was the male breeder duck and that it was worth quite a bit of money. But then one of the relativies of the people who owned the house said that it was no problem because somebody stole 200 guinea pigs from their house and they showed me where the creatures are raised. That was great. They didn´t end up cooking the duck until the next day at lunch but I didn´t partake in that as I still remembered the poor thing alive. The next day we went off together to eat the famous hen and head soup (I chose hen because I don´t like my food looking at me) and then had a couple of nice beers with inca cola in a relaxing village where I also had to use the bathroom and though it was just a hole in the ground it was feces free and therefore quite inviting. Then the girls and I decided to go swimming at the pool. I was wondering why everyone was lying on the side instead of swimming since the sun was out, that is until I stepped foot in the water and almost burned my skin off. Afterwards we decided to go to the private baths but unlike Baños Del Inca in Cajamarca they had no cold water so it was too hot for me to step into. As I left after 5 minutes an older lady outside asked what was wrong, and I told her I couldn´t stand the heat. She said it takes a few minutes to get used to it and that´s okay. I think it´s only true because all your neurons burn off and you stop feeling anything. I went to a hotel to have a cold shower instead-
Well, then César and I (well, more me than him) decided to go off and see Cajabamba, we walked a bit and then took a mototaxi to a small village where we had some kind of spicy meat concoction for lunch which was disguised as hen and then I used the most disgusting bathroom I have ever seen, I mean it was BAD and even my purse around the neck squatting while holding the wooden door thing shut with one hand and trying not to step in anything or fall down the hole technique didn´t cut it and I left with a dirty feeling. Luckily the lady didn´t charge me for using that...bathroom. Then we caught a combi and were off to Cajambamba. The views in the valley were marvellous but as it was raining and the windows were dirty my photos just don´t do it justice. When we got to Cajabamba we walked around the town which was really nice, the market was clean and organized and it looked really modern unlike the really dirty market of Cajamarca. Then we had to get back because we had left our suitcases in a hotel in Aguas Calientes so as to be able to travel lighter. It was also raining and we didn´t have any jackets. We were just returning when we got to a point in the road which was totally flooded by the river and the taxi driver told us to get out because he wasn´t going to cross. So everyone in the cab got out and there we all were in torrential rain watching a tractor pull another taxi across the road river it had gotten stuck in. We waited for a bigger truck vehicle to come and they luckily conveyed us to the other side. We got our bags and waited outside in the rain, me singing and dancing int he rain and César not amused saying the delay was my fault because I wanted to go to Cajabamba and I didn´t listen to him on the way saying that if the rain continued that road would get blocked. I didn´t care cause I was happy!
Well now I am working 41 hours of in class teaching plus preparation and marking so I am really quite busy and I get quite tired. César has just left for Huambos to get his mum´s birth certificate sorted out and I am going to bed right away! Have a good one dears!
Thursday, April 5, 2012
Well I am sorry for the long delay, my internet has been somewhat hit and miss and sometimes my blogs dont get saved and I cant find the energy to start writing again from scratch after a novel gets erased :( but thanks to my super intelligence I am now using the super safe copy and paste technique- yay!
Did I tell you about my experience in the market? César and I went looking for a wheelchair for his mother and we ask in one used goods place and they didnt have any, so we are walking through the vegetables (great, fresh and cheap mmm) and the SHADIEST man ever calls us over to the shadow. We go to meet him and he says ¨ heard you´re looking for a wheelchair¨ while looking around him as if being pursued. ¨uhm, yeah¨ ¨what kind do you want, electronic or manual¨ ¨well, manual..¨okay I got one but you cant take it to the hospital¨ ¨well, we have to take it to Limatambo Clinic¨ at this point he seems to be muttering and considering it and then he says, ¨okay give me 200 soles¨ ¨well, can we see it first¨ ¨ no you give me the money and then I will get it to you next week¨ hahaha, yeah right. He gives us his number and an obviously false name and runs off into the shadows. Me being intelligent and all I said, hey César I think he is going to nick a wheelchair from the hospital and sell it to us. César said, want to say that a bit louder? And then I was smiling because it felt like we were in a really sketchy movie.
In the end César got a used one from a friend and painted it sky blue (at his mother´s request).
I have been working lots, I have class from 3-10 p.m. and no break and for 6 hours on Saturday which is a lot of teaching hours for one week when you consider normal teachers work monday to friday from 9- 3:30 with a lunch break and often snack breaks too! I am pretty tired at the end of the week! Plus I sometimes do translations in my free time. Unfortunately due to this insane amount of hours I haven´t had time to travel. César and I bought a sofa, as you can see in the picture.
You know how intelligent people measure the size of their doors before purchasing a large object? We didn´t do that. So not only did we have to take the door off the hinge, but also the entire wooden part around the bricks which sustain the door in order to get the thing into the house. Here is a warning for all you idiots like us, use a tape measure! doh! But at least now we have a lovely sofa to sit on and watch T.V. as we have also bought a little T.V. because our pirated movies will no longer work on the laptop.
However, last week I had to travel to Chiclayo (6 hours by bus) to pick up my visa extension and since I had to get the day off work César and I took the opportunity to travel to Mancora (another 6 hours by bus) to a beautiful beach and relax! While in Chiclayo César introduced me to a man who helped him out a lot as a child and is like his father. He was a very nice fellow and I am sure we will see him again! He is with César in the photo. We had lots of fun swimming in the ocean with huge waves and even though we used sunscreen we still got very burnt. We also met a cool Argentinean man called Martín who was backpacking through South America. He is 30 and had some great stories!
It was Cesar´s birthday on March 27th and I made him this great lemon cake (with real lemons) it was delicious even though it looked a bit odd.
César´s mum is much better and living where she wanted to.
César and I are off to Chota tonight for a couple of days to see the La Bosque de Piedras- The rock forest. Sounds fascinating right? I will take some pictures to share with you! It´s Easter so we have 4 days off which is prety much a miracle and must be taken advantage of! :)
I now have classes with up to 27 students and have had to move to a bigger classroom. I have yet to receive Ron´s evaluation but I think it wil be soon.
My hands are suffering from the blue ink I use in my whiteboard pens. I am sure that chalk and a blackboard are much safer for them and then I would feel like a real teacher!
In June I am off back to Canada and in July I will take the TESOL course at ACC where Katie studies. Will be nice to see everyone after a year away!
It was chucking it down outside but now the sun is shining and it´s lovely! I continue to experiment in the kitchen and César is the victim to it! hahaha
Well, I will update you about Chota with pictures (unless my camera gets stolen of course but it has survived almost 6 years now!) next week!
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
My dear friends, be careful what you do! Did you know that if someone asks you to cut their baby´s nails and you do it means you will become their godmother and have to foot the bill for every need he or she may have? I didn´t either. But luckily I didn´t have any nail clippers so I avoided becoming finanically responsible for another human being!
I went to my first onsha the other day. What is an onsha you may ask? Well, cut down a tree and put it IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD and then proceed to decorate it with a bunch of random things. Add music and spend the night drinking and dancing around it. At midnight cut the tree down. That is an onsha. Here is a picture. We are currently in onsha season which means that you may frequently find your way blocked by a strangely decorated tree. You have to love this country!
Yesterday I attempted my first lasagna here and it actually turned out well! yay! The thing that looks and tastes like mashed potatos is actually a vegetable call oca. It is yummy when you prepare it correctly which I didn´t. Oh well. The other photo is César´s mother and Elsa about to eat yummy chicken in white sauce :) Everybody seems to be in a bad mood today so I am camping out in my bedroom and writing my blog!
César is off to Chiclayo tomorrow night to solve my visa problem for me, hopefully it works so I can stay until June!
Have you ever had someone in your house sleep with a giant steak knife? No? Welcome to my life! Apparently a steak knife is useful to stab your shadow if it attempts to kill you. If you happen to be haunted by your shadow you can solve this problem by firstly rubbing an egg all over your body and then cracking it into a glass. Should you see any black bits in the egg that is your shadow. Funnily enough that didn´t work as the egg was normal. The next procedure is to take the clothes of the haunted one and put grains and oats etc in it, and then procced to have him or her walk around with a knife stabbing the air. This is a deadly serious ceremony. I now have the knife under lock and key to prevent any unfortunate stabbings from occuring.
Well, work is normal. I am teaching my students manners. I now ignore all whats and huhs and will only respond to, ¨excuse me teacher, could you repeat that please?¨ which sounds lovely coming from the lips of adolescents!
Ron, the American TESL evaluator came to observe our classes last week and he said that I am a good teacher which is high praise coming from him so I was super excited about that. We don´t get our official evaluation for a couple of weeks though. We get an hour long audio commentary about our class as well as a rating from 0-5. I am hoping for a 4 or higher. I will let you know how I do! :)
I included a picture of homework which one of my students presented to me, I thought it was super cute. Good artist right! She is going to be a lawyer though, not an artist.
Well, César´s mother is still living in our kitchen while she gets better. I won´t comment on how I feel about her.
Yesterday Elsa and I walked for an hour around the market and there was no broccoli which I find extremely sad and now we must eat lunch without broccoli once again.
I suppose I should get my classes ready now.
Take care! xx
Monday, February 27, 2012
Sometimes my life seems so unreal, as I go bouncing between 2 realities. Working in an institute where I teach high class professionals and their children (apart from the classes of scholarship students who go to public schools) has taught me one crucial thing: the people here are even colder than the people I know in Canada. Most of the people I know in Canada are involved with some charitable organization, and although more than often it´s fighting cancer or numerous other diseases and not international aid (apart from the hugely popular sponser an african child organizations) the thing is that people seem to actually care about others.Now, I don´t want to shed all rich Peruvians in the same light because there are some that do some good things but from what I see the aid from the general public is much less. In fact, if it weren´t for some of the university students it would be appalling. When I teach my classes, at least once a week I bring up one of the various social problems in Cajamarca and listen to the responses from my students. One of my 16 yr olds told me she simply didn´t care and tuned out. The ignorance is another problem, I have had students tell me that in Cajamarca there are no drugs, no gangs, and no problems with illiteracy. That is not funny, that is a serious problem and you have to ask yourself if people are blind. At least in developed countries you can walk around many parts of a city like Brandon and not actually encounter any obvious signs of gangs, drugs, or poverty. I can´t walk anywhere here without being reminded that firstly I am a woman and secondly since I am white I am quite clearly rich and thus become a target for beggars. The sad truth is, if you really want to have a discussion you have to talk to the ACCESS program students or professional, well educated adults (I feel the need to use both words because there seem to be some really ignorant professionals around- but then you can pay off many teachers here so don´t be surprised). I know I am rambling but I can´t stop. The thing that really gets on my nerves is the snobbiness. One of my teenage students was saying how there were no jobs and I told her I had seen lots of people advertising for cleaners (almost all rich or middle-class people have maids). Apparently that was a really funny and ridiculous statement. They don´t believe me when I tell them that in my first year of uni I cleaned people´s houses. The worst thing is that César´s sister worked as a maid before she had the baby making 150 soles a month. That is about 50 dollars people, or 35 pounds. Sound good to you? The minimum wage here is 600 soles- about $220, which still sucks but at least you can live on that here, whereas living on 50 bucks basically means you live in a hole, literally. I can´t believe that people are so cold as to pay somebody so little to do the chores that they don´t want to do. I could never imagine having a maid in the first place, but if I did have one I´d be sure to pay her (since men don´t do this job) well. It´s a matter of respect! Once a lady told me I should get someone to clean my house for a couple of hours because it only costs 2-3 dollars and then I would have more time but I think that is just disgusting. Also I think we are more than capable of cleaning our space. I want to note that apart from being selfish most of my students are lovely people and I do enjoy teaching them and am grateful to gain such valuable experience at my age. Hopefully little by little I will be able to change their frames of mind. Another option which some of my new family does is wash cars for which you can earn up to 400 soles a month which also sucks.
Anyway, when I am not a work I hop back into my other world which is my new family. In the picture you can see César´s mum in the clinic with cousin Elsa. It was taken yesterday and after being hit by a car and having had a stroke she is now talking coherently which is wonderful although today her 18,000 soles of insurance ran out (in just over two weeks) so we had to talk to the company responsible for the accident and their insurance will cover the next part. She is still dependent on her oxygen though so she can´t leave yet although she wants to, she also doesn´t know that she can´t walk and will need a wheelchair. Elsa (16) is looking after her and we have a plan where César´s mum will live with Elsa and her older 26 yr old sister when she gets out, in a place we will rent out for them on the condition that they go back to finish elementary and high school. Hopefully their younger sister will follow them and start going to school too. The whole seriousness of the illiteracy topic has suddenly become relatable to my everyday life. We also went to visit the baby yesterday, her name is Maricielo and not Alejandra which I am assured is a girl´s name even though it sounds like a boy´s name to me.
Well, I survived carnival season although I got hit by water balloons and buckets of water with no mercy- I was soaked as you can see in the photo. It was nice because while César was in the clinic I spent time with his cousins. They are lovely really and without them I don´t know if I would have found my way to the correct bleacher without being trampled by the crowd. These are kids who know how to survive on the streets.
I suppose that in the end everybody is looking out for themselves right? It´s easier to close your eyes and block out the unpleasant things than try to promote change. I have given up trying to do anything on a big scale, but one by one I hope to help those in my new family through education and affection.
Thursday, February 16, 2012
It has not been an easy week here, but three of my students made it a bit better when they presented their homework so wonderfully, so I thought I would share it here just in case you would like to know how to prepare mazamorra. Well, what with César´s mother´s accident, the new baby, carnival season and me having more hours at work we´ve been very busy. It was one of my student´s birthday yesterday as you can see from the picture and her classmates bought and decorated a cake for her, so that was very nice.
Apparently the video doesn´t want to work, oh well. That fits in with the last couple of weeks which I have had.
I will write more when I have an opportunity, take care.
Apparently the video doesn´t want to work, oh well. That fits in with the last couple of weeks which I have had.
I will write more when I have an opportunity, take care.
Wednesday, February 1, 2012
Yesterday, I opened my taxi door and knocked a young man flying off his bicycle. Oops.
I wrote that about a week ago. So now let me get down to finishing the blog entry.
Well the new cycle started on Friday. I have to teach for 6 hours a night with NO BREAK which is extremely exhausting! On Saturday morning I was just leaving my class and my collegue told me the meeting was starting in 5 minutes in room 4. They hadn´t even told me there was a meeting. I might have lost my temper a little bit and said I wasn´t going and that it was disrespectful to expect us to go to an unpaid meeting with 5 minutes notice. He said we got an email but I know I didn´t get an email and WHY CAN´T THEY POST A NOTICE IN THE OFFICE where we all go everyday? I am the first teacher to arrive and the last one to leave so I had more than enough time to read a poster indicating a meeting but instead they sent an email which I didn´t even get. When they revised the list of teachers my name wasn´t even on it and they were so surprised. They asked how ICPNA contacted me and I said I have never missed a scheduled day of work for any reason before. Also our new secretary is super disorganised and forgot to post the schedule with the rooms. Since she arrived late on Saturday we had lots of students walking around lost. My class began half an hour late and I was not impressed. I might be the youngest staff member but I am going to develop a serious attitude soon. I miss my mentor who left for Chiclayo. She entrusted me with all her students this month so that shows a lot of confidence :)
I have two classes of 13 year olds and the rest are adult-teen mixed groups. I am starting to get the hang of teaching 13 year olds. The key is lots of games and short activities. Also if you put a young boy with a young girl he instantly becomes more of a gentleman. At least-- it works here!
Last night we went to see the coronation of the carnival queen for Baños Del Inca. They choose a child and a young lady. It was fun except the carnvial music- huayno- which is said ¨whine-o¨ actually sounds like wining. It is HORRIBLE and I just cannot get into it. The dance also looks ridiculous. To me it looks like people skipping around in circles but when I tried it apparently I looked stupid so there you go. It is clearly practiced flailing that I need to improve on. At least later on they started playing Cumbia which I much prefer! We went to support one of our friend´s girlfriend´s relatives who was running and in the end she won! That was wonderful! She is the one in sky blue in the picture. A random drunk man opened a bottle of beer and empied it over my hair and I was so NOT impressed with that.
The litle orange berry in the picture is aguaymanto. The company I translate for is exporting it into Europe and basically any market they can get into. I tried them and I kind of like them. They have loads of health benefits apparently. César loves them.
It rains and rains and rains here and it is horrible. Last week I made quiche and César hated it. Actually I didn´t do it very well. The pastry rose for some reason and there was at least 4 times more pastry than the tasty stuff. Oh well. My cottage pie turned out to be much more successful!
That´s all for now! x
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
a master chef! At least, I have in my imagination. Look at my wonderful porcupine meatballs and spaghetti. I hope you are proud of me mum! haha. Yesterday I made chicken in an awesome sauce which I will call a la Gemma because it involved anything I could find in the cupboards and was very tasty! But all this domesticity has bored me and I have agreed to take on a few private classes come February so things should get back to being busy soon :)
I wanted to chat to you about New Years in Peru. In Cajamarca (Andean region) they make dolls out of old clothes and bit and bobs that they don´t want and then they burn them. In Ecuador and along the coast of Peru they buy dolls- like Smurfs for example- and burn them. It reminds me of Bonfire Night in England actually. You can see some of them in the picture. I tried to get a picture of one burning but since I am such a brilliant photographer it turned out black and all you can see is that there is a fire. :( Another tradition- eat 12 grapes and make wishes, one for each month. And the most absurd (which I think I mentioned in a previous blog but here it is again) is walking around the streets with an empty suitcase. This means you will travel in the next year. Weird, right!
Carnival has begun here! You´ve probably heard of Mardi Gras in New Orleans and Carnival in Rio right? Well Cajamarca is the capital of the Peruvian Carnival. That means that from now until MARCH the minute you step foot on the street you are at risk of being soaked with buckets of water and hit with water balloons. Luckily I haven´t been hit yet due to my ninja-like dodging tactics but I fear I am only delaying the inevitable. I wouldn´t have a problem with it on Sunday but if I am on my way to work I really don´t want to be soaked and spend the whole night shivering. Last week before I could catch them two boys hurled water balloons from the window of my THIRD FLOOR classroom at poor innocent girls passing by. I bet that stung! It is nice to hear people singing and dancing in the streets though! The key weekend is in February and we have the Monday off work. I have been told that it gets CRAZY so I am pretty excited about it :)
Mum and Dad are going to Jamaica to celebrate their 25th anniversary. How awesome is that! I hope to see lots of photos!
That´s all for now folks! Chau!
Monday, January 23, 2012
It seems that the cockroaches which I spent a lot of time dancing around in Guayaquil have actually mortified me and enter my dreams and eat everybody I care about. César found a baby cockroach in our kitchen last week so now we are being super clean and stuff. I mean, our kitchen is never dirty for more than half an hour as we are both kind of obsessive compulsive about it, but somehow a baby entered which means there are mum and dad cockroaches in the vicinity and how am I supposed to sleep now? Especially when the mosquitos eat me when I do. In our old apartment we had no bug problems apart from some really big flies. Now that we live near some fields and flowers and stuff it´s dreadful! This morning César told me that my back looks like the face of a teenager going through puberty. He´s great. I haven´t actually seen my back as we don´t own a mirror. I can´t feel them when they bite me. César wakes up numerous times during the night to try and kill them with an old t-shirt which he usually fails at because they are so fast! And he usually ends up jumping on my leg or something to be able to reach the ceiling. Yesterday he killed one on the wall and it fell into my hair, so that was wonderful.
You want to know how my turkey went right? It was wonderful, really! As you can see in the picture. It only took 6 hours. The one problem was the stuffing. Although I spent eons going from shop to shop in search of boxed stuffing it was all in vain so César said we´d make our own. We bought bread, raisins, onions etc and then César had the excellent idea of buying liquid garlic. He then proceeds to put all the garlic into the mixture along with almost half a mini bottle of vinegar. At this point he looks like a mad scientist minus the goggles. I try it and it actually burns my tongue. César assures me that when we cook it, the true flavor will come out. So I gave him the benefit of the doubt. 6 hours later and the stuffing is practically toxic. Luckily the veggies and potatoes were fine and César´s mother and pregnant sister didn´t die from the experience. It was actually quite nice although I am not keen on the Peruvian tradition of eating turkey at midnight. The bonus is that after you eat all of that food you can go right to bed. Unless you make sangria forgetting that nobody else drinks alcohol (César was sick) and you have to drink it all yourself. What a shame! :) You can see César´s mother and sister enjoying the salad in the picture. They wear the traditional Peruvian clothing. It was lovely to have them over.
I managed to get a great picture of César with with his mother in which they are actually both smiling. Now, remember that I am short and César is pretty much the same height. Peruvians are little people.
Oh, and the end of the Ecuador story. Well after César got sick we couldn´t really do much. We went sea-dooing in Salinas which probably made him worse thanks to the wind. We also went out on a boat and then I jumped in the ocean and swam around a bit although life jackets seriously impede the ability to swim. That white thing in the picture is me, even though it was plus 6 billion degrees I didn´t get a bit of colour thanks to César´s SPF 100. I suppose white is better than red! We spent lots of time on the beach. I built a sandcastle and made a sand angel while César slept. It was relaxing, but then we had 1 and half days of travelling to return back to Cajamarca. We spent a night in Tumbes and another night in Piura (both in Peru) because he couldn´t manage a stright trip. We went to numerous pharmacies looking for pills etc for César but he just got worse and worse and when we got back to Cajamarca he had to go for lots of shots and spent 2 weeks bedridden. Lesson: don´t eat lobster and take pills! I bought suero and took out my wallet to pay in Tumbes and the lady behind the counter looked at me as if I were an idiot and told me to put my wallet away if I don´t want to get mugged. Brilliant. Last week César started to work again and this week he is going to formalize his buisness which is exciting stuff :) its also time to recover from the economic hit. Be thankful for public healthcare Canada!
Yesterday I went with César (who is an automotive electrician just in case you didn´t know) and a mechanic to Chilete where he had to do a job. It was a 3 hour journey and when we arrived I sat in a cloud for an hour with the mechanic´s girlfriend and froze my bum off. The trip gave me nausea as usual but I loved seeing the magnificent mountain scenery even though the road was hellish. I also saw a cool flower in the main square of Chilete as you can see in the picture.
I have a children´s class this month. I so do not like teaching 7-9 year olds but nobody seems to care about that. I am sucking it up and doing my best just as I learned in girl guides :). I do like my adult classes although the ECCE exam preparation course has to be the most boring thing ever. Try as I might to make it interesting it doesn´t take away from the fact that they have a ridiculous amount of work to do in 2 months and it simply is not fun. Oh well, only 6 classes left of this month´s cycle and then onto new groups (hopefully not children).
Well I´d better let you do something more important then read about my life! Have a good one!
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
The first thing I noticed as I entered Ecuador was housing estates. Just like in developed countries. It was truly bizarre, we passed slums and normal middle class south american housing and then we´d pass estate after estate! High walled with security but from what you could see of the houses they were north-american style. That was new for me, because in Cajamarca there aren´t any estates. In Baños lots of rich people live in nice houses but not in Cajamarca itself and those houses are all different and mostly in a Spanish architecture style so it is not the same. César says there are housing estates in Lima but whenever you talk of a city the size of London you are talking about a bit of everything. Anyway you can definetly see the difference the United States has made in Ecuador. That is not necesarily a positive thing. While it is clear that the upper class is more prominent there (I guess Cajamarca is more middle class) there are many more people on the street. I would guess that 10 x more people tried to sell me stuff or begged for money there. So what does becoming a buddy with the U.S. mean in the developing world from what I have seen? Simply a wider gap between the rich and the poor. Now, I am not saying that the housing estates didn´t look like lovely safe places to live, but that beside such poverty they seem perverse.
One more difference: Although I spoke of poverty they are slightly better off than Peruvian slums- we passed a few with satellite dishes all over the place! Is that the solution they have found for poverty? Give them satellite dishes? Because the housing was deplorable and the garbage solution was throw it down the sides of the mountain and into ditches. I also saw a 9 ? year old boy who risked his life running into the road to grab a piece of rubber.
Next: the roads! What beautiful pieces of architecture! The roads and the green trees and rain made me feel as if I were in England while passing through the countryside! Minus the bananas and coco plants! Ecuador beats Peru in roads and bus system! While classy Peruvian busses have more security - finger prints, film, baggage tickets etc. Ecuadorian busses don´t have that but they do have 1 thing, efficiency. In Guayaquil you go to the bus terminal which is like an airport, buy your ticket on the first level and run to find your bus before it leaves on the second or third level. You hope that nobody steals your luggage because it doesn´t have a ticket (to be fair, some agencies put tickets on). The bus leaves quickly. The problem is that a direct bus will stop in EVERY SINGLE VILLAGE AND TOWN to pick up and drop off passengers your 3 hour trip turns into a 5 hour trip. However many busses have air conditioning which is more than can be said for many Peruvian busses in which you get heatstroke in the day and freeze your butt off at night.
In both countries it is rare to find a bus with seatbelts unless you pay big bucks to take a first class top bus like Cruz del Sur (which I don´t).
In the picture I am eating humita, its like mushed up corn (not sweetcorn). That´s the best explanation I can give. People come on the bus at EVERY STOP and try to sell you just about anything, coconut milk, ice-cream, drinks, fruit whatever. It is actually quite convenient because you don´t have to move!
Happily, César is finally recovering. His lips are better and now his tongue is the main problem. At least now he can talk somewhat more clearly and seems to be in less pain unless he tries to eat something that isn´t a non-acidic soup. Yesterday while I was at work he went out to buy water since we didn´t have water for 2 days in the house and forgot his key so he had to walk to his mother´s room to wait for me to finish since he lost his cell phone. Excellent right! Hopefully he will be back to work next week.
Well I am going to go and take advantage of the fact that we have water and stop being cochina (dirty) as César says!
More to come, stay tuned xx
Wednesday, January 4, 2012
Well folks here we are back in Peru and César is half dead. It really isn´t fun that his immune system sucks so much. Anyway, now we have to go to the clinic 3 times a day, and there is no public health system here...wonderful. I start work tomorrow again so I guess he will have to fend for himself. At least he is getting better. We arrived here on Monday and went straight to the doctor. He had a cold when we left which changed into a raving fever and has now developed into infections and he can´t speak and only drinks liquids like soup and porridge (gross). But anyway, the trip!
Well Ecuador was pretty cool! Not difficult to enter Ecuador illegally though, on the bus they said, anyone who wants to go through customs, now is your chance. Like as if there was a choice? Weird. Some busses just went zooming on through. The river gives you an idea of what it was like arriving- wet! Raining hard! In Ecuador there are a LOT of bananas. Acres and acres for hours! You can see a bit of that in the photo.
Well, passing the border we went straight to Guayaquil. In Ecuador the money is American Dollars, so everything seems more expensive but actually the whole trip including everything from Cajamarca and back cost less than 350$ so that isn´t bad. We pretty much went straight from Cajamarca to Guayaquil so we were tired because thats about 24 hours of straight bus rides. Luckily I am getting good at sleeping on busses though so I was less tired than César who had a fever by then. It was sweltering hot in Guayaquil so we stripped down and went exploring. We had broken out a sweat within 1 minute of walking- well I had, César was already sweating heavily due to his fever. We had heard about the iguana park and wanted to go, but was asked a local and he had no idea what we were talking about! We kept walking until we got the mall. I should explain, the taxi driver from the bus terminal to the hostal told us that Guayaquil had the biggest mall in South America. I was surprised because, you know, Ecuador is not one of the richest countries around here and we had never heard of it. Then it ocurred to me that the driver had probably never left Ecuador. The mall was not that big, nor very impressive. I guess about 2 times the length of Brandon mall. I ate cake. It was great, better than the disgusting lunch we had. Peruvian food is better folks!
Further proof of this fact: we went back to the hostal for a nap and later wanted to go out for a good meal (we didn´t eat much on the busses at all). I asked the man at the reception desk where we could out for a decent meal and he looked at me aghast. ¨What, at this time of night?¨ I might add, that it was 9:30 p.m. ¨Well, I´d suggest KFC.¨
And that ladies and gentlemen is what Ecuadorians consider a decent meal. They are obsessed with it, everywhere you go there are loads and its like McDonalds in extreme! Anyway, after walking for 40 minutes we found a restaurant in an expensive hotel. I do not kid you, EVERYTHING was closed! It was a dead city. I don´t know how it got compared to New York, this city sleeps before 9! And AHHHH COCKROACHES! Big cockroaches all over the pavement at night! I had to dance around to avoid them. César thought I was being ridiculous but I didnt want them crawling up my legs! It is weird because the population of Guayaquil is about 2 million. Maybe we were in the wrong part...but we were in the city centre!
The other picture is an awesome tree.
Anyway, after the mall we walked around and went to a museum. I went to tourist information and asked what there was to do. They made me sign a guest book and then gave me... a map of Guayaquil. Not exactly what I had in mind. But there you go. Then we stumbled across the iguana park. It was cool! They are tame and they are everywhere. César got an awesome picture of one which you can see here!
Well, after that we were pretty bored of Guayaquil and couldn´t take the heat so we headed on to Salinas...but that´s a blog for another day! Better go and see to César!
It´s raining in Cajamarca, but at least we have escaped the heat!