Back to school in Cuzco
Trip Start Jun 16, 2007
41Trip End Nov 13, 2007
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Arrived 5:00am in Cuzco on Wednesday 27th June on the overnight bus from Arequipa. A 10 hour bus journey and managed to sleep most the way despite a fellow passenger's 9 1/2 hours of sickness!
Spent a couple of days acclimatising (3,300 m) exploring the city and finding a Spanish school. Cuzco is the gringo capital of Peru and so whole place full of guest houses, restaurants and bars. Lovely clean city, and lots of see, including a huge traditional market, cobbled streets, and the ancient old Inca walls around the city. Loads of events happening, although we were never really sure what they were all about, including a military parade, teachers strike over new performance tests, and a local pop star playing in the stadium (all rubbish covers!)
After the squalid bathroom in our Arequipa hostel, we checked into a lovely family owned guest house overlooking the city. Absolutely amazing views from our bedroom and roof terrace. Hostel fantastic - hot showers (and towels and a hairdryer for Claire!), very clean, huge buffet breakfasts and an Italian restaurant just next door. Perfect accommodation and still only a total of 17 quid a night!
Cuzco absolutely freezing at night and getting used to sleeping in fleeces and hat, and 6 blankets! Ross much hardier than Claire and still in a t-shirt!
Found a Spanish school close to the centre, and booked in for a week (Monday - Friday)! Decided to stay in student accommodation at the school with 2 meals a day included, and booked a mammoth 6 hours of lessons a day! 4 hour group lesson in morning and 2 hours of individual lessons in afternoon. Spanish boot camp had begun!
First day at school consisted of an interview to establish our level! It was soon clear that we were starting from scratch when we were handed the textbook verbo basico! We were in a 6 person group in the morning consisting of a family from Vermont and a guy from Switzerland who could already speak 2 languages and whose sister was in the top class!
Met loads of other really nice people from all over the world, who had all come to study Spanish for same reason. Most staying for much longer though. Despite being only English people at school, it was weird to find everyone communicating in English as the common language! Felt a little embarrassed that we couldn't speak any other language than English as everyone else could speak a minimum of 2.
Very strange to be back at school, and stranger still to be given homework each night! As the days went by it was clear we were not excelling in our classes, and learning verbs became a little tedious! However, we stuck with it and picked up some basic vocabulary (and verbs!) to help us through the next few months.
Every evening the school had an 'extra curricular' activity and we signed up for the pan pipe lesson which was hilarious! We all learnt how to play a traditional tune! We also learnt salsa (!!!), and watched a Latin American film on the terrace outside - one patio heater between 30! We also spent evenings having dinner with fellow classmates, and was really interesting to learn about their cultures, and the differences with ours. After hearing a guy from Taiwan's nightmares in travelling S America due to complicated visa requirements, it was clear how very lucky we are to have a British passport for the trip.
Accommodation very basic and even colder in rooms, and bathroom, than outside, if possible! However, close to centre and as staying in school no problems with lateness to class!
We got a certificate on the last day confirming 30 hours of study but unclear as to what level achieved! We now need to put into practice everyday what we leanrt at school, and are promising revision lessons! We may also do another week's Spanish school at another stage in our trip if feel we need a top up!
After 10 days in Cuzco we were itching to get back on the road, and bought our train tickets to Agues Calientes, the village closest to Machu Picchu, for first thing Saturday morning following the end of school, returning on the Sunday to Cuzco. On the Monday, we are then to catch another train to Puno on shores of Lake Titicaca .
Hope everyone is well, and the rain in England has finally stopped.
love Claire and Ross xxx
P.s hope you like the photo album, again couldn't upload as many as would have liked due to crazily slow internet!
Where I stayed