cusco, peru 1555hrs
ohmigawd... i'm sorry guys for not writing earlier... been so tired and jetlagged and lariam-ed out and altitude sickness-ed.
i'm not sure which one of the above made me feel like shit the whole time, but it's definitely one of those... or a combination of all of them.
for those who don't know, i took some lariam pills as prophylaxis for malaria before i left singapore and have been feeling sick. i've stopped taking them after the second day but i was still feeling the side effects when i got to LA.
the valley of cusco is 3326m above sea level and i probably am suffering a wee bit from the altitude. hard to tell as the symptoms are somewhat similar to the side-effects of lariam.
but i've finally almost recovered from feeling sick and woozy and.. oh oh oh... i was so sick that i didn't smoke a single cigarette the whole time...
so anyway, i feel a lot better today and went for breakfast in beautiful cusco. this place is totally amazing! i'm loving it so much! there are still remains of inca walls (used as foundations for the newer colonial and modern buildings) and the streets are covered with cobbled stones... it's like being in a 14th century inca village but with all the modern contraptions zooming past u. aw man, but the pollution from the cars are real bad though.
not a good thing for someone suffering from altitude sickness and wanting more oxygen than normal.
cusco is quite touristy but it has got such a good vibe and i can't stress how beautiful the valley is, nestled between the mountains. the main plaza/square is really cool too with the huge cathedral. i have to take a photo and somehow get it scanned or something and put it up here.or borrow someone's digicam.
if anyone read my diary entry, u would know that i brought along a camera that isn't working...!!! i am so pissed off with myself for not checking beforehand. i've bought a disposable one in the meantime to tide me over.
this morning after breakfast at this quaint li'l cafe with a balcony hanging over the pavement (there are lots of these cafes and restaurants and pubs in cusco, and the buildings are only 2 storeys high), i walked down the main street and there was a colourful procession going on. i quickly hopped into the nearest film shop and bought another disposable camera and started snapping away... the whole time not forgiving myself for bringing a spoiled camera.
anyway, yesterday was halloween - day of the dead. and today is the day of the living, so i thought maybe that's why they have the procession. but i noticed they were carrying a picture of jesus on the cross. so i was quite confused the whole time. got back to the hostel, and found out through one of the other volunteers, brenda, who's been here long enough that it could be the procession of the lord of earthquakes!
a long time ago (i'm not sure when) there was an earthquake... so the people of cusco paraded around the plaza with a crucifix, praying for the earthquake to stop. and stop it did (no surprise there...). so anyway, ever since then, they've got this procession of the lord of earthquakes.
brenda asked if i had taken a good look at the picture of jesus on the cross. i said no. she said, if he's wearing something like a short skirt, then it's definitely the lord of earthquakes. well then, i might have to develop my disposable camera soon to identify that one! it might not be though 'cos someone else at the hostel mentioned later that they thought the procession of the earthquakes was in march. hmmm....
i had my first day of school yesterday. it was up in the mountains... well not too high up, but further up than the main city. it's said to be a rough neighbourhood so don't think i'll be wandering there after sunset!
but the kids are so cute and lovely. there are about 10 of them, and they are divided into 2 groups according to their age. six in the younger group and four in the older one. i was supposed to be in charge of the older group but only one turned up yesterday and he was throwing a tantrum and we couldn't handle him, so we left him alone to brood. i went and joined the younger group. they were learning spanish phonetics, so not much help there from me!
okay, i think this is how it works: there are 2 spanish teachers, 1 for the young 'uns and 1 for the older group. so me and another volunteer, emma, help them out everyday. monday is spanish. tuesday is english. wednesday is math. thursday is something else, i forgot what. and friday is art&craft. so monday is basically just to sit around and make sure they stay put and don't run away while the spanish teachers teach them spanish.
they have a really short attention span.
and then the other days, we can chip in.
so everyday, they have lessons from 9am to 10am. then it's playtime from 10am to 1030am. played soccer with the boys yesterday.. fun! the girls were swinging on home-made swings, made from skipping ropes. then from 1030am to 1130am, they have lessons again. and then they break for lunch. we bring along packed lunches and juice from the hostel for the kids. then they each line up for some toothpaste to brush their teeth... very cute. and then, they line up for moisturisers, to keep their hands moisturised 'cos a lot of them have really bad cracked skins. and then they go home.
so that's a typical day i guess. i've only done one day. today's a public holiday. tomorrow too, but we're bringing the kids to the park.
the afternoons are usually free, so we can do whatever we like. can take spanish classes too, but i think i won't have time for that even though i'd love to do it. i want to explore cusco and the surrounding areas too! will see how it goes. then in the evenings, we teach english to adults, i think... i haven't been assigned to do the evening classes yet.
i get fed 3 meals a day for all the days when there's school, and find my own meals on other days.
it's been okay so far... i guess... i mean i haven't exactly been "awake" at all until today...
i missed out on halloween too last night. BrucePeru, the organisation i'm with, organised a halloween night at one of the clubs here last night to try and raise money for the kids. i went back at 10pm. just couldn't hack it.
alrighty, i think i've written enough and over-compensated for the last few days of not reporting in. am actually getting real tired again... i think it's the altitude. yeah blame everything on the altitude...