Two weeks down and only two weeks to go (with only four teaching days) – can’t believe how the time is flying!
The first two weeks have been fab though. They have recognised our expert leadership qualities and appointed us respective leaders of art and PE which has been fun but challenging – especially given our cruddy Spanish skills.
In the first week we experienced one day of lessons, and two of construction thanks to a teachers strike (lazy so and sos). It was really fun but you do constantly wish you could sink your teeth into it more. Half the time you feel like you’re just getting somewhere and you have to stop for one reason or another. Lee and the boys got some good work done on the greenhouse and I worked on the outdoor eating area which was pretty cool.
Thursday was the start of our included trips and we headed out into the surrounds of Cusco to check out some ruins on horseback. My horse, who we shall call Farty, loved to ram other horses so I had my knee up the other horses’ backside most of the time and Lee’s, who we shall call Tonto, loved to be on his own so explored all the places we weren’t meant to be going.
It was a fun day and the beginning of our induction into Incan ruins, where we visited Tambomachay, Q’enqo and Saqsayhuamán. Saqsayhuamán was by far the most amazing and was constructed using the most massive rocks and sanded in true Incan style to fit together without any mortar. Despite the large beer at lunch and searing sun, it was well worth it.
We celebrated the end of the first week with a birthday party in Los Perros for Lee and Glenn which was bound to end in disaster. For reference, alcohol (particularly large shots of brandy, tequila and other unknown spirits), lack of sleep and altitude are not a good combination. After a massive night where I had to drag Lee from his position on the top of the bar dancing at 3am, there was a massive three day hangover to contend with. Lucky you’re only 31 once aye!
As a result, the rest of the weekend was pretty subdued, and we wandered around Cusco city meeting friends, eating greasy food (although I’m so proud of myself there has been no MacDonald’s yet) and experiencing a few hangover relapses.
On Monday and Tuesday we set off on the next of our explorations and headed into the Sacred Valley. We started our trip on Monday by heading out to Chinchero which is 3762m above sea level and backed by the stunning Vilcabamba mountain range. This was only a brief stop where the local women showed us how to make textiles as it is one of the primary weaving regions in Peru. Needless to say, this wasn’t the highlight of Lee’s birthday. From there we headed onto a massive lunch before moving onto Ollantaytambo. Ollantaytambo is the final stop before the Inca trail so we explored this one with a lot of trepidation knowing that we would be back in a little over a week and about to start a very long climb. The Incans had carved massive terraces into the mountain to grow differing crops and placed them at the altitude at which they grow best at. This was our final exploration of the day and we headed across to Pisac so that we would be ready to explore it the following day. Pisac was the highlight of the sacred valley tour. The citadel, built high above the town, is stunning and so precariously perched that it was a test on the old legs coming down. But it was good practice for the ups and downs of the Inca trail so the hour long descent was nothing to complain about. We ended the tour in Pisac and drove back to Cusco on the Tuesday evening, ready for the onslaught of classes the next day.
The rest of the week flew by quite quickly. Lee and I took an art class together and made masks with the grade threes. They loved it and were so involved. Lee continued on in PE as well and it’s gorgeous to see how much the kids love him.
We kept it pretty quiet for the rest of the week with a few more classes, a very sedate birthday dinner with one of the girls in the group, and some farewell drinks with Tommy and Clare who we won’t get to see again until Aus.
Yesterday (Saturday) we checked out Tipon which is the last of our Incan ruins before Macchu Picchu.
Another brilliant example of Incan ingenuity it was topped off by an awesome lunch (depending on which one of us you ask) of Cuy. It was a little disconcerting eating a guinea pig which looked like it had been cooked alive, but we survived the experience, and I think Lee would happily indulge again (apparently there isn’t all that much meat on the fat little fellas).
So all in all a pretty good couple of weeks, with the Spanish improving very slowly, the kids getting cuter and cuter every day, and the time ticking by too fast.
Love to you all!