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Published: April 22nd 2014
Just doing the touristy thing.
It is starting to become a challenge to remember the sequence of events for each day. While I thought this blog would be an efficient way to record things rather than write them in a journal, it is very easy to leave it for a couple of days on the pretext that I don't want to bore everyone to death! Of course, then when I go to write to you all I can't remember how many things have happened and when - oh the pain of being on holidays LOL!
Having said that, I have had some great experiences over the last 3 days that I can share with you.
On Good Friday our Brazilian friend Gabby was having her last day before heading home. She was keen to see some of the Churches before leaving and therefore myself, Lauren and Emma decided to have a look as well. The first stop was San Blas but the church was 15 soles to enter and we felt that was a bit steep so off we headed to the Plaza de Armas. Patricia (our house mum) was certain that all the shops would be open and probably the churches too. Unfortunately
Gabby not happy at being locked out of the churches on her last day.
that wasn't the case. The la Catedral and la Compañia in the plaza were closed which was very disappointing for Gabby, but we soldiered on and found San Francisco was open so went in there and had a look at the beautiful artwork. Prior to that we had returned to San Blas to have morning tea at The Meeting Place again. Just as well because they had hot cross buns on the menu which were exceptional! I felt a little bit of home wash over me as I gobbled up the warm cinnamon, raisin bun with the icing sugar cross. Wandered around the plaza and decided to have lunch at a place that Gabby had been recommended to. It was delicious and the vegetable soup was just what I had been craving. We then headed to the market for Gabby to find some last minute bargains before making our way back to the house. Although Gabby had to be up at 3 to get her taxi to the airport, that wasn't going to stop her from having a great send off. We had a wonderful meal prepared by Patricia and then we all headed off to Mama Africa's for Salsa
Yay! I found a hot cross bun.
lessons and dancing. It was great fun (the mojito really helped my twinkle toes Jane!) and I managed to keep up with the 'twentysomethings' till 1 am. Impressed them enough to want them to take me on a pub crawl! You will be pleased to know that I gracefully declined to ensure my 'cool' status was kept in tack for at least a couple more days.
On Saturday there was a free walking tour around Cusco. It was 3 hours of ups and downs that included some great history information, cultural music and drama as thunder warned us that there was the potential to get drowned. Fortunately we didn't and Emma, Lauren and myself decided that lunch at 3 pm could only mean hamburgers at Bembos. This is almost
a MacDonald's but with a Peruvian spin - unfortunately
there is a MacDonald's in the main plaza! It was the first billboard I noticed when I got out of the airport in Cusco a whole week ago! So now that I have had the official information provided to me in the tour of Cusco, I better correct my huge error on the photo that I took last Monday and which
With Gabby and Lauren. The vegetable soup was amazing but you are looking at Gabby's tomato soup.
I mistakenly thought was Our Lady. Don't know how I could have got it sooooo wrong but I did and the statue is actually of the Inca warrior. Let's just put it down to not having my glasses on at the time I took it and then posted it blah blah blan........
And that brings us to this evening Easter Sunday as I write, and the reason for my blog title. I had decided that I needed to do more than just walk a couple of blocks away from the house by myself which I think I did on Thursday. It is very daunting though when you have a very limited amount of Spanish and don't really know the area. I walked to the supermarket and managed to buy some snacks, then off to a stationery shop to by my pencil for Spanish lessons, all without getting lost and able to make myself understood.
My real challenge was to actually go somewhere by myself which to date I hadn't done as, quiet frankly, I was very nervous to do.
After speaking with Patricia, I decided that I would travel into the Plaza de Armas by taxi to
Gabby decided to do this when I was capturing the streetscape.
attend Church at 12, then taxi to the bus stop area and climb on board a mini bus to go to Pisac as it is a lovely small town with a market every Sunday. Patricia assured me it was very easy to get there and back and I wouldn't get lost. (Yes I know what you are all thinking...)
Managed to hail a taxi and get to the plaza - no worries. Went to la Compañia for Easter Sunday Mass which although I couldn't understand the Spanish, knew which bits we were up to and got told off for putting my feet on the kneeling pads 😞. I then strolled down the Ave Le Sol which takes you to a very large market place. Tempted as I was to go and wander through them, I continued on my mission to taxi to the Casse Pututi where I had been assured minibus drivers would be yelling 'Pisac! Pisac! Pisac! to obtain my 5 soles. Yep, the plan was working and I was on my way to Pisac after waiting half an hour for the driver to coerce enough people into his van to make the 30 minute drive worthwhile.
Cusco walking tour
Our guide providing information on how the Incas knew how to build earthquake proof buildings.
The scenery was breathtaking......and you will notice an obvious lack of photos as I really just wanted to enjoy the moment. I will be going on the same road with a tour in the upcoming weeks and will ensure that you see what I am talking about then.
Arrived at Pisac around 2.30pm and there were no obvious signs of a market, so off I marched down the main street to find them. Ummmmm.....by the time I had reached the outskirts of the town I realised I may have been heading in the wrong direction. No matter, I just marched back again to see if they were in the other direction. Please note that although I am female and asking for directions is not an issue for me under normal circumstances, the odds of making myself understood and then understanding the answer did not feel like a good option. So instead I decided to do the logical male thing and just keep walking. I did start looking down side streets to see if there was a hint of a market and low and behold, the street opposite where I had been dropped off was where all things markety were.
Yay! mission accomplished but.....the day was not yet over.
By this stage it is 3 pm and I am STARVING! Decided on a lovely little restaurant with only one customer to hear me mispronounce or even worse try Spanglish in order to get food. The owner was more than patient and while I really should have read the menu decoder in my Lonely Planet phrase book before I ordered rather than while I was waiting, the omelette and chips were delicious (unfortunately not so much the coffee). It did occur to me that there may be a time when the buses stopped running and I remembered seeing 4.00pm somewhere near the area. My gracious host assured me that they kept running until 8pm which really surprised me, but happy to believe him (yes there could have been some 'lost in translation' stuff going on too). Anyway
, off I wandered at a Peruvian pace (much the same as Fiji pace Jolly & Hicks families) to see if I could haggle my way into a bargain. I managed to purchase a pen with a lama on it for 2 soles (a whole $1) which while I think was probably too
much compared to what she would have been prepared to sell it for, felt my budget could make allowance for such a frivolous purchase. Don't worry, I am planning to buy plenty of stuff but I do have another 4 weeks to really hone in on my bargaining skills once I can speak more that two Spanish words. As it was getting towards 5 and the wind was picking up, I thought I may as well head to the bus stop. Just as well, as a crowd was gathering and had been for over half an hour, according to a lady who was looking for a person to share a taxi back to Cusco. I declined at first and then thought that it was probably worth the 10 soles (as opposed to 5) not to have to wait for what could be another hour. The four of us (a couple from Germany and an Argentinian lady with all the Spanish we three needed) squeezed into the taxi to head up and down the mountains towards Cusco. The German couple explained that they had been in a taxi with no headlights at night travelling around the mountains recently and did not
The restaurant where I managed to successfully confuse the owner.
want to have the same experience. I could certainly understand why. About 10 mins into our drive a large squeal and burning smell came from our taxi, accompanied by loss of power. Our taxi driver did not appear overly concerned but I really didn't like the sound or smell and mentioned to my companions that it sounded like the fan belt was on it's way out. I know, amazing that I should even consider this as a possibility! We continued to drive and then were pulled over by the police, but our driver couldn't/wouldn't give us an explanation as to why. Of course, this meant the car had to be stopped and while the driver tried to jump start the engine by rolling backwards, it wasn't until he had the police and some others push it into the middle of the now very busy highway, to be pushed heading back to Pisac, that we realised that he definitely wasn't going to be taking us back to Cusco. The bonnet was up and the broken fan belt in our drivers hand. (Good god! I was right???!!!) This was quite concerning as every single bus and taxi was full coming out of
Looking into just one of the mountains that surround the village.
Pisac, it was getting dark and there really wasn't anywhere to stay where the car had broken down. Fortunately, the taxi driver flagged another driver down for us who was on his way home to Pisac who was prepared to turn around and go back to Cusco for us. We arrived back in town at the fairly reasonable hour of 6pm and the Argentine lady and I decided to celebrate our return with a beer sitting in a pub balcony overlooking the Plaza de Armas. What an initiation for my first day on my own! Reckon I will be able to manage just about anything now.
It is now Monday evening 21/4/2014 as my computer decided to just update while I was in the middle of finishing this blog. Have completed all the updates that were lost for yesterday and thought it was a great opportunity to fill you in on today. No where near as adventurous but for me very rewarding.
I have spent my first session at the 2-3 year olds group. They are very cute but one poor little fellow, Luis Mario, cried the entire time he was there. We are required to
The challenges of taxi journeys!
entertain and then help feed the 6-10 children usually there until 1.30pm, when they are then put down for their nap. The conditions are very minimal as can be seen by the photos. Curiously one of the guys from The Meeting Place turned up to the group to promote the work they do as they have contributed the funds to allow the building of the toilet next to the pay room. Currently the children pee etc into a bucket which is kept outside the door of the playroom. They have a few toys which are not really all age appropriate but the British girls have purchased a few things and I intend to buy some simple books etc to assist in relieving theirs (and my) boredom. I arrived back to the house in time to have some yummy Peruvian lunch with potatoes, rice and sauce before the commencement of my first Spanish lesson. Luchow also works at the alpaca farm that I passed on my way to Pisac yesterday. I have plenty of homework to do and because I have no other distractions, intend to make the most of this week in getting my Spanish improved by 100% (which of
Plaza de Armas
Really enjoyed the view and REALLY enjoyed the beer!
nothing seems highly achievable lol).
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