Salsa & Spanish
Trip Start Oct 08, 2007
110Trip End Dec 16, 2008
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I love it by day. The old town is gorgeous. It is clean and pretty and dotted with colorful shops and sleek tourist restaurants. It is sunny and busy. People go about their business. Students in school uniforms crisscross the streets. Tourists in shorts are snapping photos of indigenous ladies in ethnic outfits, carrying babies wrapped in colorful blankets on their backs. Occasionally I'd catch a glimpse of those same ladies shopping in the western type grocery stores. They look so out of place there, but this is how things are here – old, new, and nothing in-between
At night, darkness descents upon Cuzco. The tourist center remains illuminated by thousands twinkling lights. The night life picks up in the numerous bars and dance clubs, frequented by tourists and locals alike. It is truly enchanting to wonder about. But walk towards the suburbs and the streets get dustier, and the lights less bright and more sparse. Small plazas are inhabited by the shadows of smooching couples occasionally caught in the headlights of passing cars. It is cold. Very cold.
The cold seems to be everybody's favorite topic. "Buenas dias. Que friiioooo!", "Buenas noches! Que friiioooo!" Cuscuenos make no sense to me. Take for example the family I'm staying with. They have a decent 3 story house in a nice area near the center of town. It is freezing inside. The explanation is that electricity is too expensive. No other hitting alternatives seem to be considered. Trying to heat this house, by the way, would be like trying to fill in a bathtub with hot water without closing the drain
I am hugely unconvinced by the "no money" argument. If there is enough money for a 3 story house, surely there is some money for a heater. Or perhaps you build a 2 story house and spend the 3rd floor money on heating. Just an idea. It seems like many people in Cusco like to think of themselves as poverty stricken. Look at me - I have no money for heating and hot water. Never mind the house. Which makes me wonder again - what is poverty? I've seen people that own much less, if anything, but are not complaining. In fact, they looked content with their lives and rightfully deserved my sincere envy. Is poverty a state of matter or a state of mind?
Back on the freezing issue at hand. Just for the sake of the argument - here is the last one: "That's how it's always been". Traditions are to be kept, right? I think in societies with high regard of tradition, living standards improve slower. Haven't proven that one in a statistically significant way, so don't quote me on in your "Safe the World" thesis, but just think about it
How do I deal with this situation? I dance. I dance salsa almost every night. I invested into two t-shirts and two pairs of elastic jeans, and a pair of gold-colored pumps that I wear with black socklets with silver stars. It is a dreadful combination, but at least I don’t smell when I swing my hips with the local guys. There are few local girls too, but noticeably more guys are into learning how to dance salsa. It is so much harder for them, because they lead. It also has practical value. I suspect that scoring a girlfriend without demonstrating good dancing skills is close to impossible. I though that dancing salsa was a birth right for every South American - something they learn to do right after learning to walk and before learning to talk. I have a lot to learn. Salsa is no native to South America. It was in fact born in New York. It is called salsa, because it is a mix, salsa of music styles. I had to come to Peru to learn that.
I expected dancing will warm me up and cheer me up, but I did not expect to discover my best look ever doing it
I am learning to spin, but I’m doing something wrong.
"Look, it is easy." sais Jose in Spanish, so I am loosely translating here. “Step forward as if you will give me a kiss, then change you mind in the last moment and turn away”. He is looking directly at me, totally serious. Looking your partner in the yes and “listening” to his body language is the most important thing in when dancing salsa. I suspect in other situations too.
“A-ha, I think I can do this”, I reply and make a perfect spin, and another one and another one. My head is starting to spin, not entirely sure if it is the spins or the reoccurring intention to give Jose a kiss and than having to abort the mission in the last secondhttp://www.salseroscusco.net/
As to my Spanish, I am now able to speak (somewhat) about my past and my present. I am looking forward to learning how to talk about my future next week. So, one more week of Spanish & Salsa in Cuzco for me. I know, I know, I make no sense either...
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Hugs & Kisses, Vik