Jul 072010

July 7, 2010: VAYA CUSCO!!!

On Sunday morning, about seven of my housemates and I went to the bus station a few streets away to buy the bus tickets that would get us to Arequipa, the second largest city in Peru and this weekends travel stop. The roundtrip tickets costed 60 soles, which is about $22, and the buses we are taking have reclinable seats that will no doubt be a great luxury during our nine hour overnight bus ride from Cusco to Arequipa. On the street where we live, in the neighborhood of La Florida, there has been seemingly endless construction ever since I arrived in Cusco. I am guessing that the reason for the construction is to boost the local economy by providing jobs. This Sunday marked the completion of the chaotic construction, and to celebrate the end of it all there was a block party with music and balloons and a car that was spray-painted in Spanish saying, “Thank you mayor for helping to modernize our city.” I thought it was so cool to see how proud and appreciative the people of La Florida were of their successful urban renewal project.
After we got our bus tickets and witnessed the block party, Emily and I went to meet Tigon at the beginning of Avenida El Sol, the main street in Cusco, because she wanted to come to the Cusco v. Lima soccer game with us. When we met her at the water fountain just across from a giant market, we saw that she was talking to someone. When we walked over we started talking to the guy as well. He apparently has been biking South America alone for the past seven months and will continue for another five months. He travels really cheap because he sleeps in parks and does not pay for hostals. He said he bikes about 100 miles a day, and all that he has with him is tied to his bike. The people you meet in Cusco!! After we left the adventurous biker, me, Emily, and Tigon searched for a cab so that we could go back to my family house and meet up with everyone so we could all go to the soccer game together. As we tried to get a taxi, right across from the water fountain the big bus with all the Cusco soccer players was being escorted by the police to the stadium a few blocks away. We hopped in a cab and returned to La Florida.
Sunday was a really fun day because we got to attend a South American rivalry soccer match. We got tickets to the game for about $4, and when we got into the stadium and found some good seats (the tickets were general admission and thus there were no assigned seats) near the field we all bought Cusco futbol jerseys from the vendors. I bought jersey #10, which I was told was the number that Cuscos captain wears. I was commenting that in Boston when one wants to attend a sports game he or she must be prepared to pay exhorbitant prices for food and drink. The case is not the same in Peru. The jerseys costed about seven dollars and any food or drink there was about $1. At South American, or at least Peruvian, soccer games the calm fans sit on the sides of the soccer field, whereas the intense, crazy, drunk fans from both teams sit on opposite ends of the field and sing, dance, form mosh pits, and blow up firecrackers all game long. The energy at these games is so great and the fans so into everything that hundreds of policemen dressed in swat gear bearing shields is necessary to maintain the peace. I was not sure at first what the shields were for, but I later found out that they are used to cover the opposing teams players as they enter the locker room so that noone can throw crap at them.  After observing all of what I just told you, the game finally began and it seemed as though Cusco was the better team. Unfortunately, Lima scored an early goal and kept the 1-0 lead for the entire game until with 30 seconds left Cusco scored a GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOL!!! The entire stadium erupted as did my friends and I, and I think I caught the goal on video camera. During half time, I tried my first street food and surprisingly never got sick from it. I ate some dish with rice, noodles, egg, potatoes, and onions, and I tried someone elses Anticucho, or beef heart. After we scored the goal and ended the game with a tie, my friends and I began walking home because the stadium was not too far from our volunteer house. In the beginning of the walk, we saw all these rowdy fans running through the streets mob style. We heard that after Cusco either loses or ties, fans run throughout the city smashing windows. Not too long after seeing the crazy fans take to the streets, I was almost run over by a stampede of those heavily armoured policemen chasing after the rowdy crowd. We returned home exhausted but excited at the same time because that soccer game was such a fun and interesting experience.
The weekend was great, and everyone was dreading the week when we would have to wake up early (not me because I never wake up before 9am) and learn and teach all day. Since last Friday was my breakthrough with the kids, I was actually really excited to return to Salome Ferro on Monday to see if I could continue to make connections with these kids. Luckily, everything happened as I had hoped it would. On Monday afternoon in the courtyard of Salome, I ran a soccer clinic where I would toss a soccer ball at the kids heads and they would headbut it back to me. It looked dizzying and painful to me, but the kids seemed to love it. After a while I got really exhausted and decided to go into the homework room to help out. Usually the childrens homework consists of copying each others notebooks- something I cannot really help them with. But on Monday for the first time I felt useful. I helped teach and practice the times tables with a few kids, and I felt so good about finally being useful. Yesterday at my placement I also had another good experience. I was helping Freddy and Alex, two 15 year olds, with their English and Math homework. I was teaching Freddy how to pronounce the letter “v” because in spanish the “v” sounds more like the “b.” It was really funny listening to him try to pronounce it, but I was not laughing at him because obviously I am not that great at pronouncing certain spanish sounds correctly, such as the “r” that requires a toungue roll. I went back to my volunteer house yesterday in a great mood because I finally feel like I am making a tiny difference in some of these kids lives. They are all such good kids, and I am so happy that I have the pleasure of helping them enjoy life more than they already do and learn stuff that a Peruvian teacher could not teach them.
Tonight I am taking a 9 hour bus ride with ten of my housemates to Arequipa. I am so excited to hike the deepest canyon in the world and see the second largest city in Peru. I will tell you all about my adventures when I return to Cusco next week. Hasta Luego from Cusco.
p.s. HAPPY BIRTHDAY AUNT LAURA!!!! I will be thinking of you on the 12th

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