Week 3: Where taste buds belong

Friday, June 20, 2014

Today marks the end of my third week! This week has technically been the least eventful, and yet I've enjoyed it at least as much. If it wasn't for how much I miss Roberto---or the fact that my normally-prominent veins have almost entirely disappeared from visibility due to regular and exclusive exposure to ice-cold water and ice-cold air (don't worry, a post on the things first-world countries take for granted is in the making)---I might just be able to live here. For example, I'm just getting started with my appreciation for the handmade goods and the FOOD. The quantity, the quality, the variety! As a vegan I'm restricted to about 10% or less of most restaurants and menus, and still my taste buds are having the time of their (short) lives. 

And the chocolate. The richness and ingenuity of the chocolate that's available here makes Ghirardelli taste like plastic. But more on that another week.

Loving the llamas! (This is either the perfect or most horribly inopportune time to mention that I tried my first bite of alpaca this week... it's almost indistinguishable from beef but a little more chewy.)
I could watch the artisans for hours. Actually I wish I could, because I still don't quite understand how what they do results in the beautifully intricate patterns that it does.
Aldea Yanapay, a Quechua verb for "help," is an endearing restaurant in San Blas. On top of having amazing food at affordable prices, their adorable atmosphere reminds you that the profits go to causes that help local children.

Till post #4 :)

Week 2: Feelin' local

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Hard to believe my second week here has already come and gone and I'm a quarter of the way through my stay! I will say, though, that I'm really enjoying the familiarity earned during the first week: I now know the correct---I mean most convenient bus stop home, the cafe that offers the cheapest chocolate caliente, and the corners where you can buy a llama keychain or avocado sandwich for one nuevo sol. The rest is best said by pictures.

(Loving my mirrorless Olympus & M.Zuiko 17mm lens; the almost-quality of a DSLR in the form of an inconspicuous point-and-shoot. Surprised/sad I didn't discover mirrorless sooner.)
Professor & class room.
 A shot from horseback riding last week. Practically fresh off the plane, and I was riding past sheep in a foreign countryside on the back of an animal named Poco Poncho... yep, that was a bit surreal.
 One aspect of my daily life that hasn't changed is the cups of tea I drain everyday.
I'm in love with San Blas! I can't say it's not touristy, because as the venders in the picture below indicate, it has its moments. But it's more of an expat kind of touristy. Less pushy-venders standing by to hassle families wearing khaki fishing hats and more of just doing life. All the culture, but with cheaper food and less bussle.
This is the main square at dusk.
An entree from the restaurant I intend to remain obsessed with. For lunch they serve a salad, an appetizer, an entree, and a dessert---all vegan---for 10 soles, or the rough equivalent of $3.59.
Visited four art/history museums this week! The explanations for most of the pieces have either been entirely in Spanish or essentially non-existent, but as usual I just like to gape at las pinturas
Afternoons spent in the plaza can mean making friends. :)
Finally finding time to re-discover a forgotten hobby.
 Mercado Central de San Pedro

Tried this thing on the recommendation of a guy from Wales named Tom... not a good idea for anyone who's picky about their textures. 
I'll be nice and leave the topic of the meat market at this...
Hiking through the amazing Incan ruins of Saksaywaman. And yes, Peruvians are painfully aware of the name's English phoneticism. (Thanks for the shot, Sarah!)
Next week... :)

Week 1: Exploration Peru

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

So, a few things have happened in the last week.

Since honesty is a good place to start, I'll just come right out and tell you that I had Roberto pull over on the way to the airport in Malibu for fresh air to avoid crying, throwing up, or both. But before I knew it, goodbyes were said, bags were checked, and the adventure had begun.

The trip itself was a streamlined blur. It was almost as if getting through security in LAX, changing flights in Panama, watching The Little Mermaid, reading enough of the The Book Thief to realize it required anti-depressants, and passing through customs in Lima was somehow packed into a span of four sleepy hours.

I arrived in Cuzco at dawn. The sun coming up over an aerial view of the snowy Andes mountains was unreal---an official sign I'd arrived to a place like nowhere I'd been before.

My host family consists of a woman and her three sons, all of who are wonderful. They speak almost no English, except for one of the older boys, who knows enough to help me when I'm stuck. So, in-depth conversations are off the table. But we still communicate enough to be acquainted with one another and make small talk at meal times. I will be with them for one month before I relocate to the student dorms.


So far I've spent my spare time exploring, horseback riding, making friends, and visiting the textile museum, all of which have been absolutely amazing. After a crazy busy year, though, what I'm currently enjoying the most is the time itself, and the beautiful ability to squander it by kicking it back with a neck pillow, blowing up Roberto's inbox with cat memes until he's wondering why I needed to go to Peru to blow up his inbox with cat memes, and falling asleep with Spotify and earbuds.

I'm loving my Spanish classes. I understand what's going on, and yet I'm challenged. More importantly, our classroom overlooks the city and keeps us supplied with hot tea. Between attending classes, getting around the city, and being with my host family, learning has proved inevitable; I'm already thinking in Spanish! I'm fairly proficient with speaking the present tense---or at least I put it out there like I am---but I look forward to tackle the other tenses soon. As someone who enjoys getting to know people, limited conversation can be frustrating; there's so much I want to ask and understand, I find myself searching for a "Press when you've had enough of the whole language barrier thing" button. But it's all a part of the experience! And an incredible experience it's been and is becoming.

¡Hasta la próxima semana!

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