This summer I spent 2 months living in Cusco, Peru.
Here is the last email I sent home...
Hola for the last time!
Time has come for the last email... I'll be glad to stop spending hours writing these things!
I spent my last week going to my favourite markets, buying souvenirs, spending my days in Mantay and cramming in all the things I had been planning on doing since I got there.
In the few days that I had been in the Jungle the kids had changed so much, when I turned up Rosano (a little boy who was learning how to walk) ran up to me! well toddled excitedly, he has some new shoes which actually fit him rather than being twice the size of his feet! I also got to feed them what was obviously their first time with raisins. I could tell because of their shocked/concerned/confused faces as they felt it with their tongue and attempt to bite it with their one or two teeth - was pretty funny to watch! All the toddlers now have their teeth brushed after eating which is pretty funny because the little ones really like the taste of the the toothpaste so as hard as I try to get them to 'ESCUPEY' 'spit' they swallow it and beam up at me gleefully! I also had my first live water fountain..after finishing what I thought to be a pretty perfect nappy I let go of it for 2 seconds to grab a plastic outer liner and what happens the little dude pees up all over me, his new nappy and his baby friend to his left.....ahhhh lovely......start again! A little boy who used to have a clef lip, is clef lip no longer, I couldn't ever pronounce his name so used to call him clef lip so now its 'Clef lip no longer'. Don't worry non of them can speak english I wouldn't call a kid that here! But anyway back to the point, he has had an operation and is now all sewn up!
Carlitos now doesn't have to wear a nappy and is being potty trained (always a bit wary of when he sits on my knee now!) Sandy (the nurse) now reads to the kids most days with the books I bought with Granny's money. What I didn't realise is that the mothers can't read so when they come in to breast feed they usually pop over to try and read a line or watch Sandy read. Learnt a new feeding trick for when the babies clamp their mouths shut and shake their head really fast so food usually ends up everywhere...to put the spoon in and twist till they swallow! (sounds a bit harsh but they need to eat all their food and Sandy forces it down them as they cry if not). Sergio (Raquel's husband who runs the leather goods section) got a book from out of the library for me which is all the Peruvian fashions from the mountains to the coast etc.
On thursday I decided to go to learn how to weave. My instructions are to go to Chincehero and find a lady called Roxana Cusicuna. OK can't be too hard...First a taxi to the Chincehero collection point - basically a place where they wait for a full taxi of people and then share the cost because it's about 40 mins away. Me and 4 Peruvians squeeze in - I bet it looked hilarious because they were dressed really traditionally so I had the giggles the whole way there. People start getting out on the way to sell their corn, pick up their 3 fish etc. I have no idea where to get out just that I am meeting a woman called Roxana to teach me how to weave. Taxi driver drops me off on the middle of a road with a few houses and corner shops. Find a police man and ask him....he says this way so I walk with him and he asks various people on the way each one sending him in a different direction - oh dear! Eventually he finds a relative of Roxana who points us in a direction but says its a long way. Police man sends me on my way and I walk for about half an hour along this street in the middle of no where passing the odd cow or pig. Ask everyone I walk past for Roxana, some don't know, some say keep walking. An hour late after the arranged time I reach a woman standing outside a house with some wool in her hands, as I am about to ask again for Roxana, she says 'Anna?' YES I found her!!! Go into her house and sit in the garden where she teaches me to weave. At first I just sit and watch her - so complicated! - She learnt from her Grandma and could weave when she was 6. Her husband works in the jungle going to tribes and villages showing them how to grow crops etc. She teaches weaving and has a son who is 10.
1 take....2 drop.....6 take etc....passing the threads through her hands and then sliding the dradle across to hold, sliding the wood down, swapping colours! It took me 2 hours to do a piece 8cm long! But have now got the hang of it! They use different things to die the wool - an insect found inside the cactus, a yellow plant (the one from the jungle which makes your tongue go numb!), orchids and a type of grass.
At the end she pulls out everything she has made...'if you would like to buy' All very expensive but I now know how hard it is to make so I get a few things with the Chincehero weaving pattern on in exchange for a small fortune! Then pile back into a sharing taxi with 9 others! Such a squeeze - my face was against a native woman buried into her long plaits which I now know are not just hair but also wool!
My last day at Mantay was really sad, Roy came too so he could take some photo's for me and translate a bye message. All the little boys gave me a sloppy beso on my cheek, although I don't think they really knew what was going on! I gave Sandy a hug and she thanked me for all her hard work. Raquel and Sergio ask me to sign a book which I write a message in spanish and they promise to write every 3 months with updates on the children and how they are doing. They give me a little purse as a present from the the 'chicas' and say their thankyous. So sad to leave, I leave as the sun is setting , past the kids playing, a group of moms playing football, the market closing up, women carrying their stalls home etc. To celebrate that night with the 3 boys we went out for Argentinian steak and Sangria.
Spend the weekend going out in the evenings, going out for lunch and to markets and 2 hours before my flight just thought I'd have time to squeeze in a bungee jump!
Hadn't slept all weekend and was beginning to get a horrible hangover - perfect time for a bungee jump! Really sunny, music blasting, I sign the 'It's not our fault if you die' form and even have to give a finger print! Then get told there is a 2 hour wait which I tell them I can't do because my flights in 2 hours so they squeeze me in which means I'm next! arghhh! No time to even think about it, boys lie on the grass with the camera ready as my ankles get strapped up. Have to lie on the floor on a mattress as the guy straps my ankles up so tight it hurts (but I was quite glad!) and then I get in a cage with the peruvian guy and get winched up to the top. The cage is suspended on 4 wires which go into the valley, its about 130m in the sky I think. As we go up he checks my harness and tells me how to jump and keeps a video camera on my face but I'm not really sure what to say. It's the 3rd highest in the world, however if you include the altitude its the highest - but thats cheating! Ok enough babble its now time to jump....don't look down, I shuffle closer to the edge to feel the edge with my toes but still not looking down, clamp my toes over the end and he counts UNOS, DOS, TRES, AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!! I do an attempt of a swan dive off the top, at first its scary as you feel like your falling flat to the earth and then it feels like your flying so start to enjoy it. I thought you'd bounce up and down but you don't you bounce up down, side, spin, twist, upside down, etc. made me feel pretty sick! After a couple of minutes of bouncing they catch you and lie you on the mattress again to take off your harness - SO DIZZY!
Quickly back to the house, 15 mins to get my things together before I need to get a taxi to the airport! Say a teary goodbye to the boys and then cry all the way to the airport. Can't explain how sad it was to be leaving Cusco. It took me 3 horrible flights and 3 days to get home....horrendousness!!! and to add to it all I had whiplash all the way back and still have it now!
I am now back...feels very strange to have running water with no parasites swimming around in with also the option of hot or cold and what speed you would like, duvets, soft toilet roll which can actually go into the toilet not in a smelly bin on the side, and not be surrounded by boys all the time being generally gross.
Can't wait to see you all, I feel like I have cheated on Alfie with Spike...he keeps smelling me and sitting on my feet warily, he's still a bit unsure of wether to forgive me or not!
Hope you've enjoyed the emails, I wanted to try and paint the picture for you!
Now where are you all?!
Adios! and lots of Beso's...