Peruvian Moments

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May 20th 2014
Published: May 24th 2014
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What can I say? I am currently sitting in my homestay bedroom in Quito, Ecuador and can't believe that I have already been 5 weeks away from home. This blog is going to be a reflection on the work I was doing in Cusco, so for those of you who only want the touristy stuff you can stop reading now but, have a look at some of the pictures that I have posted as 'moments in time' in Peru.

The 2 projects I was privileged to work on lay in the outer region of Cusco city - farming area I guess. The people need help in the school and day care in order for the mothers(most often single) to be able to work and provide for their families. There is not much money to provide resources such as the normal play and school items or teachers. They are supported by charity donations and a fee that is paid by the family. The conditions would make any mother in Australia cringe and it was one of the things that I struggled with. Not because I wanted to make it 'all better' but because I didn't understand how parents would want their children to be in this environment. However, when you are also privileged to go to one of their houses, you understand that this is part of life in Peru, when there is no money for the simplest of luxuries.

To get to the projects I caught a local bus for about a 20min ride. I learnt how to say "barja" so it would stop at the corner for the day care centre and I then walked the 100 mtrs or so to a corrugated door which would be opened for me to then play with the 6-8, 1-3 year olds for the next 4 hours. This included getting them to eat their lunch, put them to sleep if need be, find puzzles pieces and lead them to the bucket/street if they needed to "pis". Lunch was a bit of an ordeal not just because we had to climb a very steep dirt hill to the kitchen (carrying a baby and maybe hanging onto 2 toddlers), but also because they were served a huge lunch which they were expected to eat. Nidia would force feed as much into their tiny bodies even though they were tired and had been snacking most of the morning! They were also very tire by this stage (1.00pm) and not really interested in food at all.

Once lunch was finished and the children back in the play room, I would make my way back on the bus and walk the 15 mins back to the house where my lunch would be ready for me.

Working with the bigger kids was different again. Same bus but I had a further block to go and then about a 20 minute walk through the streets to school. I will admit I was pretty nervous the first time I went on these bus trips by myself because as you already know, I'm pretty good at getting lost ! But it went off without a hitch as I had my landmarks which had been provided by the British girls. For example if I was not sure about I street, I never walked under the flags as that meant the wrong way. Also ,as long as the barking dog was there barking, I knew I was on the right track. Then it was a matter of walking along the boggy part until the end, turn right and then dodge the electrical wire as you walked through someone's front yard to the start of the school grounds. There I would be welcomed by Tao and the children would all say good morning. My time would be mostly spent in drawing up the words for the children to colour with pens or paper which would take a good hour or so for them to complete before going outside to eat and then run around. It was never cold at this school, I don't know why. I would always need sunscreen and a hat but the kids would run around like crazy in a couple of jumpers???

They would then be called for some songs, stand in line to check they knew their own name and wait for their mothers. Colours and numbers were part of the learning every day which was great for me and my Spanglish. The resources were much better here but trying to teach 3, 4 & 5 year olds all at once was a bit of a nightmare for Tao who was doing a great job but just a little weary from constantly trying to keep the group together. There was no accommodating the age groups with different activities for their capabilities which may be a very good thing for the 3 year olds by the time they are 5. However, I suspect that this is were you have the naughty, bored ones that have heard it sooooo often they are no longer interested.

I would leave around 12.30 after sweeping the floor and walk home 3 little girls until we parted way the long boggy track. Wandered past the barking dog (very reliable!) and then onto my bus for the 20-30 min drive back, depending on the traffic. Even though I was fairly well acclimatised, every time I walked up the first part of the track to the school I would be puffed. I guess you really had to be born here for the altitude not to have a major affect on you.

My afternoons would then be spent mostly learning Spanish and even though it has been rewarded with an improvement on what I had before I left Australia, I don't feel that I have made much progress. I can understand, or get the gist of, a lot of the conversations but I am still only managing 3 word sentences.

I am posting quite a few photos with this blog to show the kids and the schools, along with some candid shots of Peruvians living their lives.

My last day/night in Cusco was spent socialising with the Aussie couple from QLD and my Spanish teacher for lunch at a very special restaurant. It was the first time we were able to try Cuy. The view was spectacular and the recommendation from Patricia was perfect. After returning back home, I said farewell to my favourite and most patient teacher Luchow. I then raced back into Downtown for last minute shopping, arriving back in time for dinner which had been especially prepared by Patricia - alpaca! A feast of traditional Peruvian food. After dinner, Andrea, Lee, Ola and I hit Mamma Africa's for some last minute Salsa lessons plus the odd mojito, but home in time for an early start the next day.

Patricia was pretty surprised that I managed to get my bags packed the next morning as the room did look like a bomb exploded in it the night before. I also managed to get into the Post office and send home the stuff I had bought so it wouldn't get lost in the next episode of repacking my bag for the Galapagos. I returned in plenty of time to take photos and say goodbyes to Totti and Patricia and thank them for their lovely hospitality. Taxi arrived promptly and I was off to Lima to say hello again to Martiza, Mario, Fiorella and my new friend Fran who had spent a week at Patricia's and travelled with me to the alpaca project.

Hope you enjoy. My next blog will be about Quito and if the photos don't take too much time to load, I will try and do today as well.

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