by Alison Baglien, Greenheart Travel Gap Year Participant
First and foremost, all the students who were stuck at Machu Pichhu are back safe and sound.They ended up being stuck for five days as that’s how long it took to evacuate everyone. Most of the area has dried out a bit, and the rebuilding of homes, businesses etc. has begun. The outlying homes on the hills were hit the worst. The school I’m attending is located in the heart of the city and fared much better, however, we still had homes ruined on our street. Whereas Cuzco is functioning somewhat normally again, electricity and water is readily available, in Aguas Calientes and Macchu Picchu it is not.I’m so glad I’d already visited Machu Picchu because it’s supposedly going to be closed off for up to two months for rebuilding and repairs.
Spanish class is going pretty well.The best way I can explain my progression in class is such: first week- elementary school Spanish, second week- high school Spanish, third week- college Spanish and this week is going to be full on intense Spanish….the program here at is rather fast paced. I feel as though I take two steps forward and one step back for the most part but by the end of last week I noticed a huge difference from when I first arrived. It’s a double-edged sword being at the school because the common language for all is English because of the varying Spanish levels so the Spanish can quickly go to the wayside at times, but it’s comforting being in a place where you can take a break from the Spanish from time to time. Thus I think my Spanish will improve even quicker when I’m in Ecuador working and living with people who only speak Spanish.
I continue to enjoy all of the new and different extracurricular activities the school offers. I had my second round of Peruvian pan flute lessons which went quite well. I wouldn’t say I’m ready to go pro just yet but I can almost play TWO songs! Regardless, all of us students had a great time playing and laughing with one another. I also tried a new class this week: salsa dancing! Oh, my goodness, salsa-ing, is a.) a fabulous workout and b.) rather difficult. The instructor taught us the five basic steps of salsa, being someone who thinks I’m a pretty fly dancer (got all my moves from my fab aunts) I was having a hard time keeping up at first. And I’m not sure I fully worked out the whole dance as the instructor offered to have me come into his school for more lessons…not sure if I was being hit on or if I was just that bad. Again, it was a fantastic hour and a half of great fun! They love to get their dance on in Cusco; I think I’ve danced more in the last three weeks than I have in the last year. One of our teachers organized a dinner for our group last week as well. We went to a lovely restaurant, with a great band, and had a really nice evening. Everyone in the group tried the Peruvian delicacy; cuy AKA guinea pig! As disgusting as I thought it, I did try a bite, not awful but way too salty and I’d never eat it again!
As I’d mentioned in my last blog, we were encouraged not to travel last week due to all the floods so I spent majority of my time outside of class/studying touring and exploring more of Cuzco. Museums, walks, hikes, dinners, dancing etc. There are roughly twenty of us that have been in school together the last few weeks so there’s always someone willing to go on an adventure. Yesterday, for example, myself and another decided we wanted to hike one of the mountains in Cuzco. We weren’t exactly where to go so we had a taxi drop us off “by the mountain”..kind of. Read more of Alison’s adventures…