Saturday, can it really be the 1st of November already?!!!

And time to return to standard time in the states.  I was going to remember to turn my clocks back before I left and I’m pretty sure that I did not.  Oh well….
Woke up this morning to having a new roommate at about quarter to 7.  Fortunately I was up and journalling at the time.  Her name is Loretta, from Australia, and she had to take 4 different planes to get here!  Her first flight was from one side of Australia to the other and then she flew from LAX to Lima to Cusco.  Ugh!  I thought I was tired when I got here!  She is napping right now.  I will be exploring, and then back to Pilar’s to bring Loretta down the hill and to the Maximo Nivel office to get somewhat situated.  She doesn’t think that this is her permanent placement house yet, but that she needed a place to stay for the night tonight, and then she has orientation at MN on Monday morning.  So don’t know if she will be my roommate for a while or not.  Pilar had said two new volunteers on Sunday. She didn’t say anything about this morning until the phone rang this morning.
Gonna go see a couple more cathedrals and explore a bit more today, maybe some more ruins here in town, and a bit of shopping the little tiendas.  I haven’t done much of that yet.  Loretta wants to go to the little supermercado too, so will save that for later.  Almost out of my little jar of peanut butter that I brought with me, so needing some more for the week.  It is super expensive here and not something that the folks here buy regularly, like s/.20 (20 soles) which is about $7.50 for a little jar, but you all know that for this, I will splurge.  :-)
It is a high-cloudy sort of day here, a bit of a cool breeze, but warm enough for short sleeves in the sun.  Maybe no rain for three days in a row now???  Not gonna hold my breath as the clouds and weather are so variable!
The Halloween celebrations lasted into the early morning hours (like 3ish), and there are more celebrations for the Day of the Living today, and for the Day of the Dead tomorrow.  Fiestas, fiestas!  Cuscanians love their fiestas!
It was a great morning with a bit of a walking tour and some shopping. Many things are not open today because, in addition to El Dia de Vivo (day of the Living), apparently it is also All Saints Day, or Todas Las Santas.  So cathedrals didn’t open until 2:00 pm.  As I walked back from the Inca Palacio, I found an artisan Master Bread Baker just west of the Plaza, in a small niche outside of a cafe, but under the entryway. I tasted and then purchased some wonderful sourdough bread!  We talked for a bit and he studied for baking in Spain for 6 years prior to returning to Peru.  His breads are delicious!  With many different spices, different smells than I am used to.  I brought some home to Pilar for dinner or breakfast or whatever.  Since I am getting up early tomorrow morning, I may have some for a quick snack.  I took photos like a fiend at all the amazing Colonial and Inca fusion of architecture on this beautiful blue-skied day, and I actually went into some of the many tiendas that I pass daily on the bus or on my walk down to the Plaza.

I purchased a couple of Peru books, one on Cusco, and one on Machu Picchu just inside of the smaller of the two cathedrals located on the Plaza.  I had already made up my mind to take one of the bus tours around the city, and so I let the first guy that approached me to hawk a bus tour talk me into it (at about noon).  Funny thing about it is, he said that the bus leaves in about 20 minutes, and that it lasts about one hour and a quarter.  Ok, so I went upstairs on the bus to enjoy the view, and continued to take photos of some of the same things that I have many photos of already, but that was another day, and another sky.  Today is exceptional with wonderful sunshine and blue skies, white puffy clouds and a bit of a breeze.
And we slowly made our way around the Plaza, picking up additional customers as we went.  And then we slowly made our way around the Plaza again, and picked up a few more customers.  And then once again, we made the rounds, and picked up some additional tourist type folks.  And THEN, we drove one block straight out of the Plaza to another smaller plaza, and then stopped to pick up some more folks!  They really know what they’re doing, because you don’t get bored as long as the bus is moving, (even just a little bit to pick up the next few), because even though the buildings are the same, the people and the photoscape do change with the dramatically changing sky, and you can take so many angles.  I probably have 30 pictures of the same cathedral!
So we finally got underway at 1:00, and then yes, the tour did last for about 1.5 hours.  So I definitely got my s/.20 worth once again.  And to top it off, the vertically challenged bilingual tourguide’s name was Elvis (accent on the last syllable like this:  el-VEES), and he was a riot, without really trying to be.  The intonation in his voice when he spoke his broken English (actually better than my broken spanish) was wonderful, like he was reading from an exciting transcript.  And maybe he was. I couldn’t actually see him since I was on the upper level of the double decker bus, and he was down below with the driver, named Gabriel.

I befriended a young teenaged hitchhiker boy that our bus driver picked up at the top of the hill, where the boy’s older sister was working in one of the Alpaca shops, in traditional Cuscanian garb.  I’m sure the brightly colored geometric patterns of her hat and sweater mean something, but I have not learned about the traditional clothing yet.  Maybe tomorrow when I tour the towns of the Sacred Valley.  Anyways, the boy, who lives in Urubamba, wanted a ride down to the Plaza, to see his buddies I am sure, and then to come back up again in a couple of hours, when his sister is done this evening in the Alpaca tienda.  And I asked to be dropped off up top so that I could just walk down to the casa in the San Blas district, to save time, as I knew that I would be walking around with Loretta to show her the way to the office and little supermercado too.  It was no problem;  he just opened the door and let me out on their way down the hill.
Loretta was awake when I got back, so I took her down to the office and then to the supermarket, where I found more peanut butter and fried plantain chips.  I’m really liking that combination too:  PB and fried plantain chips!   :-)   When in Cusco….  I know, probably not.
Observations:
1.  I just figured out today that the streets that are open to car traffic have a different suffix at the end than the streets that are closed to car traffic.  The little roads for foot traffic only, end with “-pata”, like Tandapata, Colcampata, and Quiscapata.  The other Calles have a variety of names and endings to the words.  Throughout Cusco, many street names only last for one block, and then the name of the street changes, so you may be on three or four different street names without ever deviating from the one street.  In the San Blas district, there are at least two names for each street, and many times at each block or “cuadro”, depending on which sign you look at, as they have recently put up the Quechua names for some of the streets, in addition to the current Spanish names (that do change in different blocks).
2.  All street signs are up on the sides of buildings near the corners.  The newer signs are painted tile over the top of an arrow indicating which way the road goes, as there are frequently one-way streets.  But as I stated before, that is just a suggestion, and many times, the loud back-up beeps of the taxis are heard as they back the correct way down the one-way streets that they have driven up the wrong way.
3.  There are no hot water faucets in Cusco.  Except for the occasional warm shower faucet, due to the heating pump that is retrofitted into the system.
4.  Do not get your hands too close to the shower head with retrofitted heating pump, as you will get a bit of a zap with all of the wild external wiring that is visible above said shower head.
5.  There are somewhat standard handicap curb cutouts in the stone walkways, with the universal handicap sign of a wheelchair, but just because there are cutouts on one end of the block does not mean that the other end of the same block is guaranteed to be accessible.  And it, in fact, may be a full set of completely inaccessible stone steps in that part of the sidewalk, even on the same block.
6.  Houses here are built right up on the streets, with the front wall of the house being right on the sidewalk.  Due to the limited work space in the streets here and in the lots, construction materials must often be dumped into the street and then be carted or shoveled through the gate and into the actual lot behind the large front wall.  Or, as the other day I saw the entire foyer of a construction project that was full of large mud bricks, to the ceiling.  Where else could they put them pending the actual placement into the walls?
7.  There is much construction of larger masonry buildings in the newer downtown areas, including office space and apartment buildings, that is unfinished with rebar sticking up several feet from the top of the last completed floor.  I have heard a couple of explanations for this, including running out of funding, but also, the superstition that you never actually want to finish building your building in Cusco, with the thought that leaving things unfinished will prolong your time here on the Earth, as long as you still have something to do.
8.  I saw a car-painting place on the way to work one day. The car was outside, to the side of the gas station.  It had newspaper masking-taped over the tires and windows, and looked like it was being spray-painted bright fire-engine red.  I have not seen any bright red fire-engines though. Actually I have not seen any fire engines at all, just the small van for the volunteer Bomberos, or firemen. Don’t know if there are state or federally funded firefighters or not.
9.  Time for bed, I think.  Goodnight.

  2 Responses to “Sat. 11/1/14. El Dia del Vivo, The Day of the Living”

  1. Hey :) I am sooo enjoying your amazing journey/details! And the shower stories so make me laugh (do you remember when we went to the conference years ago, and I had to take the cold shower because I couldn’t seem to master the faucet?! ….seemed so funny then – but nothing compared to what you are experiencing now!!) And I love their idea about leaving projects undone – so that we still have a mission/purpose! Now THERE’S the excuse I have always needed for my multitude of half-completed tasks :) Anyhow – stay safe & keep blogging!!!! (and happy belated halloween….I was Charlie Brown… think you can guess why!) :) Hugs-Carla & “the group”

  2. Great, you have not lost your sense of humor at all, Girlfriend! Hope things are going well and yu’r feeling pretty good! I’m already at my halfway mark here, and just one more week of classes and work, then just for fun after that! Yesterday the tour was a lot of fun, and it was nice to be off for the weekend! Thank you so much for your responses! I really am enjoying getting emails, even from Charlie Brown! I can’t access your care pages till I get home though and can access my email. Had to call my bank last week (again) just to be able to access the website, because they “don’t recognize the server” here in So. america. Oh well, if that’s all I have to grown about now, we’re doing pretty well! Talk soon! Be well! Much love!

   

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