Schools Out in Cusco! (a week of español)

Trip Start May 23, 2004
Trip End Ongoing

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Tuesday, September 7, 2004

Monday 10:00 and me and Darren (sorry Darren Y Yo) are crying outside Amigos (Amigos Spanish School Website ) , our host families dragging us by the ear into our first day of school. This was the start of the most mentally challenging and one of the most rewarding weeks of my travels.
We were met at the door of the school by Rocio, our first professoro, and immediately thrown in the deep end as the classes were in Spanish for our own good and immense confusion. After two hours we had five minutes to suck our thumbs and play line chasey before two hours more with more elderly Maria Teresa (affectionately known by us students as Mother Teresa)who instructed us in the finer arts of Spanish gramar (Both were excellent).
At the end of day one I returned to my homestay host families house to sit at the table with the children and attend to my first Tarea (homework) in Spanish. ┐Que hay en tu mochila? in English - What is in your bag? An hour later I had managed to describe my two blue pens, pair of black binoculars, Spanish-English dictionary and digital camera!
The host family I scored were extremely friendly and welcoming, there was a sign on my door `welcome Tim Nicole`when I arrived, only also a very large family. Gloria and Americo Garcia were the parents and grandparents, also in the house were their son and daughter, their daughters husband, their two grand children and the maid. This was almost manageable except for the visitors each night. We had visits from cousins, aunts, brothers, sisters, work colleagues, friends and lots of other people whom I simply couldn`t identify, I must have greated at least 50 people in five days. The highlight of all this was the party for the Cienciano Vs Bocu Junior football match. Cienciano (Cienciano)is the local club in Cusco and the game was against Argentinian club Bocu for the title of Champion club of South America. Cienciano became the second Peruvian team ever to win the title amidst much dancing and singing from my host family et al.
The family was fun and friendly. I never had a meal without Americo at the table, he would wait for me to eat. The food was magnificent too. I have spent a lot of time bagging Peruvian food but in the home it was something else. Apart from the many tasty Comida Typical served to me, an added bonus was that all the basic food was homemade. Americo made the coffee, the marmalade and all the fruit salads, and even the milk and coca leaves (for mata de coca, coca tea, for those who were asking!) came from an extended family members farm.
It was great to see another side of Cusco, no postcards, no shoe shines, no finger puppet kangaroos and no pet Alpacas to be seen! Each day I walked to school past small home run pubs serving homemade Chicha (a sort of corn beer that I long to try but have avoided as it is made overnight with local water), past packs of stray dogs, including my favourite who sat outside a bathroom tile shop every morning, and past many small markets, half built houses and other very Peruvian sites.
The week went by and I graduated to being able to describe my day at work in Perth, speak basic past and future tenses and know a few basic verbs to get me by. I understood a few more words in the family converstation but didn┤t really have a proper converstation until after a large beer on Thursday night when I could suddenly understand a lot more! I had a half decent conversation about the lack of virtue of the war in Iraq, the glory of the Inca empire, his past as a good swimmer when he lived somewhere in the Peruvian rainforest and the many virtues of Coca leaves with Americo.
Its the end of the week now, I understand a lot more about Espa˝ol and speak a little more, but most of all I think I┤ve had a great privellage to get a little insight into how normal people in a very different country live out their daily lives.
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