Sunday, February 22, 2015

Graduation Celebration - February 13, 2015

The last week of school was our practical teaching week.  I had an Intermediate II level class, which means that most of the students can speak English quite well, with very few errors.  I had to teach them vocabulary from their reading of Mount Everest. I also had to teach them grammar during the week. It was a very hectic week, preparing for each class and then attending class myself.  But I made it to graduation!  I have my certificate and I'm ready to teach.  I'm just not sure where yet.

On Friday night, we had our TEFL Toast with food and drink, music and dancing. It was both fun and sad. I was happy celebrating our successful completion of the course with my classmates, but knew I would be leaving the following morning to make my way home. 

Cusco is a beautiful city, but it can also be a harsh one if you are not well prepared.  In hindsight, I think I could have been better prepared. Would I go back? You bet I would. There is so much there that I would love to explore more.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

I had another rocky day last Thursday.  The parasite and I were fighting for control and unfortunately
the parasite won for that day.  I couldn't lift my head from the pillow until well after noon.  But by the time evening arrived, I believe that my body had taken back over.  You know the feeling when your fever finally breaks and you just know that you've weathered the worst of it...that's what I felt. I was finally able to make and eat a bit of rice before heading back to bed for another night of healing sleep.

Friday morning, I was up by 6 and out the door soon after 7 am to print the materials to teach my last mini-lesson on Gerunds as object nouns using like/enjoy.  I let all my classmates go first and then I mustered my energy and got up there and had FUN! I hope the learners had fun too. I was finally able to get through all I'd planned in the 20 minutes allotted and we played a game.  I'd printed out pictures of ING words - swimming, shopping, get the idea.  I had the students put them on the board and then drew blocks around them to make the spaces on the board.  The learners picked a number 1-6 from a cup and moved that many spaces and had to used the word in a sentence.

Ok, so it wasn't the most fun game, but it got them moving and involved.   The rest of the day yesterday I got caught up on some of my work and planning for the upcoming week which is our practical teaching week and my last week in Cusco.  I can't believe that I'll soon be leaving here.

So I want to talk today about how crazy the drivers are here.  Boston is calm and orderly compared with the Cusiquenos!  Those most obey the street lights, the lanes are suggested driving paths. They float freely between them whenever there is anything stopped or moving slower than them in their path. As a pedestrian trying to cross the road, you take your life into your own hands every time.  They will gladly run you down while honking for you to get out of their way!  Let's talk about the use of horns.  They honk at every corner, intersection, person on the side of the road, dog, cat, other car or just because they feel like it! This happens at all hours of the day and night.  I my neighborhood, it is especially loud around 5:30 or 6 am when all the trucks are bringing produce from the farms to the Mercado.

I'm quite lucky to have that market next door.  There is a ready source of fresh vegetables. Most of them are root vegetables or vine fruits like watermelon and cantaloupe.  I always buy the whole fruit and clean it and cut it up myself.  The flavor is like these fruits should taste.  Not like the tasteless stuff we get in the US.  I haven't trusted things like green beans there, so I'll be pigging out on vegetables when I get home.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

I have been sick for 3 days - travelers disease or food poisoning I think. Yesterday I was able to get myself to school to complete the 2nd mini-lesson, although I didn't get through it all due to my timing of the lesson.  The plan was good.  I have another mini-lesson on Friday morning.   Today, I thought I could make it, but multiple trips to the bathroom in the first hour told me otherwise.  Around mid-day, I finally asked to see the Dr.  He was here within 30 mins and the house call cost me $20!  Why can't our Drs do that anymore????  Anyway, he put me on an antibiotic to kill whatever bug got into me and another pill to help with the dehydration. I hope to feel better within 24 hours.  Unfortunately, I had to go out to get the medicine and some rice, crackers and electrolyte drinks to have. Not much of an appetite, but the liquid is good.

I have lots to do for this week and next and being sick is not helping me. I've only got 2 more weeks and I'm not sure I'm going to have time to go to Machu Picchu.  I may have to change my ticket by a few days to give me time to go. I can't be this close and miss it!  If I'd have known how crazy it would get with schoolwork, I may have gone earlier.

Oh well, plans can be changed, but I sure am looking forward to my own bed and a nice hot bath.  Drinkable water and being able to flush the TP down the toilet.  My apartment, while adequate is not really very nice.  The windows don't seal shut so the dust from the road comes right in.  Everything I own seems to be covered in a fine layer of dust. I guess I'm spoiled, because I can't wait to move out of here.

Dishes are another complexity. There is no running hot water in the sink and even if their were, it's not potable, so I wash the dishes and rinse them, then I boil a big pot of water to rinse them again. I'm not even sure if that cleans them thoroughly, but it's the best I can do given what is available.  Being sick I'm very down on how hard all of this is right now. I'm ready to come home.  I hope that I feel better tomorrow so that I can complete the journey on an up beat.

Saturday, January 31

Today was the tour of the Sacred Valley.  Sarah, Drew, Andrea, Shawn, David and I met at Maximo Nivel at 7:30 to get onto the tour bus.  After picking up some others in various hotels around the city, we headed east to Pisaq.  The views along the way were breath-taking. The mountains rise on each side of the narrow valley and in many spots, a river runs along the valley floor.

In Pisaq, we climbed the hill to the Incan ruins, which house a temple of the Sun, other ceremonial "rooms", many agricultural terraces and on a nearby hill are the ancient burial grounds carved into the hillside.  There was a lovely waterfall and small river running between the hills. We were in awe of the feeling of the sacred space atop the hill. This was just the first of 3 that we visited.  Afterwards, we went down to colonial Pisaq, where we stopped at the market.  The tour guide led us to a jewelry factory where they handmade silver jewelry.  Of course, I was in 7th heaven watching them form the settings and cut the stones to fit. We then went into the factory store and I was loving everything I saw.

After Pisaq we ventured further into the valley.  On the road between Pisaq and Urubamba, there was a roadside stand selling roasted Cuy (Guinea Pig).  The driver stopped so we could get a good look, but we were not buying that!

In Urubamba, we stopped at a nice restaurant which had a lovely buffet. The food was fabulous, but I think it was here that I caught an intestinal bug. They had a full salad bar, main courses and desserts.  The guys raved about it over and over again.  Everyone seemed to enjoy it and overindulge at least a little.

From Urubamba, we went to Ollantaytambo.  Here there was another impressive Incan ruins which we climbed up.  On another nearby mountain, they had carved the head of Tunupa. Tunupa was the messenger of Viracocha the creater god of pre-Incan and Incan mythology.  The image remains there today and made me think of the "Old Man of the Mountain" that we lost a few years ago in NH.  

Ollantaytambo is the start of the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. In town, we left some of our fellow tourists who were heading up there the following day.  If I get to make the trip to Machu Picchu, this is where I will take the train to Aguas Calientes. 

The rest of us went onward to Chinchero and another set of ruins.  This one was up on a plateau so we did not have to climb as much, but the view of the patchwork of farmland was wonderful.  We did a bit more shopping along the route back to the bus, but I didn't buy much. 

A little bit about the vendors who are EVERYWHERE!  I'm getting a little tired of them always coming up to me to try to get me to buy something.  After a while the constant pleas kind of fall on deaf ears.  At first I would politely say "no gracias", but now, I'm more likely to ignore them or if they are insistent to tell them to leave me alone.

After our trip, we got off the bus at Plaza San Francisco and decided to stop into a small bar for Pisco Sours.  This is very similar to whiskey sours but made from Pisco, which is a type of brandy.  It also has lime juice, bitters, syrup and egg whites.  It is very good, but for me they go down too quickly!

It was a fun day spent with some of my classmates.  I'll try to put up the pictures as soon as I can.  The internet here is touchy! 

Thursday, January 29

Today I went to Qoricancha.  This is an Incan temple of the sun that was torn down and then rebuilt in the colonial style by the Dominican's.  The architecture of the site is beautiful, with the base being of Inca stonework and then you can see the European influence in the courtyard and the upper floors. Inside it is a museum housing many works from the Cusco school of art, dating from the 17th century.