Tuesday, June 18, 2013

First Impressions 6/1/2013

 So, the first lesson I have learned about rural Peru is that internet access is very limited, especially if you are hoping to use your own device through WiFi, but I have been writing in a journal and will add the blogs when the opportunity arises and most likely add pictures later, but hopefully I can still share my experience…

The Beginning of a Peruvian Adventure
After five airports and essentially two days of limited sleep I arrived in the city of Cusco. My first experience in Cusco included meeting a Spanish only speaking ProPeru representative who was more than accommodating with regard to my lack of language skills and helped me to a cab just outside of the airport. (Travelers tip in Cusco airport: Taxi cabs are cheaper if you walk outside of the terminal versus the airport cab pick-up…a 5 minute walk could save you about 10 soles!). If you have never taken a taxi cab in Peru you will be in for an eye-opening experience and one in which you may possibly have a heart attack, so just hang on and hope for the best because the experience is absolutely terrifying! Once grounded, we walked into the office and met with the other volunteers that were ready to complete the final stretch of our travels, which included a combi (a shared taxi van) ride to Urubamba, Peru. I have to say that the ride to Urubamba had an extreme dichotomy that is hard to describe. On one hand the landscape is breathtaking, with large mountains, scenic views and clouds that seem to dance on the tips of the snowcapped mountains. On the other hand you notice the harsh living conditions with families sorting through piles of trash on the side of the road, and groups of people sitting along the rail road tracks trying to sell vegetables that are piled on the dusty ground. Almost every house on the way out of Cusco seemed to be crumbling and the poverty I saw along the road was like nothing I’ve ever seen. We see homeless in the shadows or hidden in alley ways, but here it was easily visible on the short drive I have been on thus far.  I arrived in Urubamba after contemplating the short stent I have had in the region so far, but arrived to an amazing Peruvian family waiting for my arrival. The hospitality that my host family greeted me with was a much needed moment of human contact compared to the two days of being surrounded by hundreds of people in an airport with zero human contact. They all gave me kisses, hugs, smiles, kindness, appreciation for attempting to speak the language, and of course food. There was a great deal of warmth from the family during our dinner in the cold house we were eating in and I can’t help but wonder what adventures lay before me in this epic Andean region…
Peru TidBits:
-Packets of instant coffee are not single use…one or two teaspoons per cups (whoops). 
-Electricity is very expensive, so shut lights off and don’t leave anything plugged in unless you are using it (Dad...I didn’t forget your words of wisdom from my youth and now really understand saving).
-There really is no heat in Peru (at least in rural Urubamba), so bring warm pajamas and during the day it is warmer outside of the house rather than inside of the house.
-All hand soap smells like baby powder, so you will notice the aroma everywhere!    

Riding in the cab in Cusco, Peru

Let the Peruvian adventure begin

Many lined up on the train tracks...I missed the larger crowd earlier.

Houses on the way to Urubamba, Peru


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