Wed. 11/5/14.  A rainy day, but a good day!

Whoop-tee-do!  I found out this morning that Pilar’s house is not full of volunteers next week and that I can come back here when I get back from the Machu Picchu trip, and that I can also keep my big bag here and come back here after the lake Titicaca trip too.  That’s terrific news, not just that I have the place and don’t have to move my bags down the hill and then back up for those few days next week, but I just really like it here, and Pilar is so hospitable and sweet to all of us here.  We eat a lot of starch, but she is here and cooks dinner for us every night, and she makes sure that  I have some protein and vegetarian options every day.  She even packs me a little plastic box full of fruit each day.  I have a hot dinner here each night.  It’s my home in Cusco, and Tio Mario is a riot.  He’s a funny little Peruvian man, who has made it his goal in life to help me be “not so flaca”, or skinny, and is always encouraging me to eat more bread and pretty much everything else too.  He thinks I am nuts for seeking out additional steps to walk up and down at the beginning and end of my days.  He feels that there are enough steps in Cusco without seeking out more!
So, I have figured out today that I am not getting all of your emails, and you may not be getting mine either with wacky WiFi at my homestay or at Maximo Nivel’s office either.  If that is the case, me disculpe, please forgive me.  I am answering every email that I receive as soon as I receive it, but I don’t know if those are getting back to you.  Once again, I am at [email protected] because I cannot access my primary Verizon email account at all in the city of Cusco anywhere.  And I have been doing a bit of facebook-ing, and the fundraising website at GoFundMe is:
Chelsey, who works here at Maximo Nivel, has created this website for the kids at the orphanage, and will post the items that have been purchased.  The kids need everything:  toothbrushes, vitamins, clothing, jackets, soap, food, medication, toilet paper, pencils and erasers and pencil sharpeners, and that only touches their needs a bit.  Once again, thank you all for the donations that I was able to bring here.  They are all distributed and being used Right now.  All hygiene items and vitamins and school supplies are used up quickly with 20 kids in one location on a daily basis, and there are several orphanages just in Cusco alone.  We volunteers are going today to the big market to purchase a week’s worth of vegetables for the kids at Hogar de las Estrellas, because there is not a vegetable left in the house… Not one.  The women work constantly and do their best to provide the care that the kids need, and the kids do know that they are loved dearly.  They laugh and play, and tease and fight, and cry at times, and are disciplined with tough love.  But they are generally healthy and know that they are well loved, and they mimic the care that is modeled for them by the caregivers, mothering and loving on each other.
It is definitely with mixed emotions that we travel to the orphanage each day, and try to provide all of the kids with the love and care that they need, as well as the fun and happy times that kids so desire, and an outlet for their abundant energy, most of the time, within a very small amount of space, and with few resources.  This week, since it has begun to rain again, we have not had opportunity to go to the park again.  But now that the street construction is completed outside of the orphanage home, they will be able to walk to a much closer park, when it is not raining.
So I am beginning to make preparations for my trip to Machu Picchu and will pack everything for 3 days into one small backpack–don’t know how I will fit all layers of jammies into it, but at least I know that I will be 3000 ft lower altitude and a bit warmer when I get there.  Machu Picchu is apparently in the Selva region of Cusco, or the jungle terrain, and will be a warmer, more humid climate (yay!) with bugs (Hmmm.).  The trek will begin much higher and will involve climbing to higher elevation before coming down, but will not be like the Inca Trail, Lares, or Salkantay Treks that have you sleeping at 14,000 ft, cuz I just know that that would not be fun.  I would be a walking Popsicle, and probably not much fun to be around.
So, after the two days of walking, we will be in a hotel near Machu Picchu for one night, and then will have the whole day at Machu Picchu from 5:30 am til about 3 when we need to be back in Aguas Calientes to catch the train back to Chicharrone and then a bus back to Cusco by about 10:00 Monday night.  So may need a bit of a rest Tuesday, or not, who knows?  Then, the next day, I leave again bright and early for the Lake Titicaca trip to Puno via bus tour for a day, Lake towns tours via boat the next day, and then a night bus for the 8 hour trip back to Cusco.  I’m supposed to be back to Cusco somewhere around 4:00 am, and will have a ride back to Pilar’s then.  I am just so glad to have a place that I know where I will be able to stay and rest up a bit before I leave Cusco for the last time on Saturday evening.  I might even be able to find time to fit another little tour in on Friday or Saturday morning, or maybe just a bit more exploring.  This city is really too big to be able to explore fully in just a few weeks, especially a few weeks packed full of classes and work.

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