Monday, February 8, 2010

Peru Day 3: Baby Jesus and the Black Eyed Peas

It's Sunday, and this is a very Catholic country. I came downstairs to find this (see below) on the coffee table. There's also a cross over my bed and a few religious "scenes" scattered throughout the house. Ok. I'm cool with that.

So I'd like to use today to thank the higher powers for my lavender oil. Sure, that might sound a bit silly, but walking around Cusco even in the cloudiness of the season you'll get some serious sun. As my host Laura said this morning at breakfast, "El sol en Cusco es mas fuerte." No shit. While I was getting ready for bed last night, I happened to look in the mirror and what looked back was one of the reddest faces I've seen since my trip to Africa. I just hadn't realized how much exposure I got yesterday (I'm sure my husband is tssking at me right now). Pale skin + high elevation + cloudy skies = sunburn for Marissa.

So I put the all-purpose, most-amazing lavender oil on my face before going to bed. When I woke up, nearly half the sunburn was gone and the heat from it was entirely gone. Fantastic. Maybe I'll buy some overpriced sunscreen today.

During breakfast one of Laura's friends stopped by to pick her up for church. While Laura was getting ready, I had the most fluent conversation with her friend in Spanish since I got here. I'm rarely at a loss for words, but trying to make conversation with people you don't know in a language you barely speak is un poquito challenging. So I talked about massage. Here, I'm a therapista de masaje and everyone I've met (after they ask me what I do) finds that muy interesante.

Can someone tell me how to say tight muscles and weak joints in Spanish? How about "medial border of the scapula"?

Laura and her friend took the large statue with them to church and Ali and I made our way to La Plaza de Armas after breakfast.

Armed with my backpack today, I filled it with a small clothing store, as the weather here is just a tiny bit unpredictable. Rain jacket is a must, and so is and underlayer ir two. We hiked to the main square. The walk is incrementally uphill and on day 1 it was the only time I felt the altitude (a little out of breath). Today was much easier and I'm pleased to say that Cusco's perch on top if the mountains has had no effect on me. Take that, altitude!

There was a little pomp and circumstance going on in the plaza. Men and women in uniform were marching in front of a bandstand of dignitaries while a rather loud band played on. I love a good parade.

Ali an I parted ways after that and now I'm pretty much on my own. I climbed up to the top of the city (whew!), got some great shots and made my way down slowly. 

I found a stoop in front of the discreetly advertised McDonalds because I can supposedly get free wifi. So far, no such luck. There was a small group of backpacking adolescents sitting near me and one of them was unsuccessfully plucking at a guitar. The only few chords he could strum were "Tonight's Gonna Be a Good Night" by the Black Eyed Peas. So NOT my favorite song (ridiculously unoriginal, boring melody, etc.). I asked them if they could play something else and I think they responded with a few words I didn't learn in high school Spanish. I guess that's what headphones are for, eh?

I was scheduled for a city tour around 2pm and had a couple of hours to kill. So I wandered in and out of shops, sat in the plaza and soaked up the sun (you should see my face now!)

I met up with my tour and befriended the only other two English-speaking people (two girls from Australia). The tour was amazing. We visited Incan sites in and around Cusco, most of which were in some way destroyed or built over by the Spaniards. The Incans had a way of building their temples and other buildings so that all they ever needed was stone and a little sand. Until I can post pictures from my camera, the best way I can describe their design is "very heavy Legos."

Apparently Cusco has had some massive earthquakes, the most recent being in the 1950s, and while many of the Spanish (Conquistadores) buildings crumbled, the Incan sites remained intact. Their building methods were waaaay ahead of their time (maybe it was all of the sacrificing).

I'll link to pictures when I get back home for those of you craving a history lesson (I know who you are).

I walked back home after the tour -- it took about 30 minutes and it was dark by then. I'll admit it was a little disconcerting walking alone at night, in an unfamiliar country and standing out like a pasty-white, sunburned thumb, but I think I'll get used to it.

Dinner was simple soup and fruit. I found a few English speaking channels on Laura's TV (including HBO and Showtime!) and settled in for a rerun of Lost. 

I start at the clinic at 10 am tomorrow. So excited!      

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