Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Tough Night, Back to Cusco

September 1-3, 2011

Thursday I got some computer work done in the morning, and then headed down to Tunupa Lodge where Alex was in town working. He was in town because he had an important meeting in the morning in Pacha with the municipality. I mentioned a while back that they were willing to donate land on which they could build a permanent dorm next to the site for a new high school. Well, it turns out the city cannot give away public land; they can only sign off on it for 15 - 20 years at a time. So this becomes a difficult decision. Should we take the 20 years, raise money for and build a new dorm, and hope the city will renew down the road? Or, will the dorm end up in the same situation it is in now, a corrupt person in power could decide down the road to void the contract and take the building?

View of Veronika from Tunupa. That is more snow than usual.

The owner of the hotel offered lunch before I left. When he found out I was a math teacher, he asked if I would come back on Monday night to tutor his daughter. Haha, yes of course. I grabbed a haircut on the way back into town for afternoon tutoring. Now, I usually have a close fade to somewhat cover my all-to-quickly balding head. Well, this woman has clearly never cut a fade in her life. About halfway through a pretty bad haircut she said, “I think we should just shave it all off.” Yup, whatever. So I now have a shaved head. I guess it is easier and cheaper anyway. This day has been a long time coming, and if Mr. Kram, Mr. Case, and Mr. Londot can make it look good, then why not give it a shot. Haha.

At the dorm, all the first years were working on science, and the second years did not have much homework. So we just sat around and chatted for a bit. It was the first time I got to sit down and just hang out and talk. I still am having trouble, but it was better. It is really hard for me to not just talk about whatever with students. But toward the end of the conversation, I got some really bad news. I was told that the father of one of the families we worked with last summer was murdered. Actually, if you remember me writing in an earlier post about the emotional story of two little boys that ran up a mountain to say goodbye, it was their family. The mom is out of the picture and the four children are scattered amongst 3 families and 1 shelter. One of the kids is staying with the family of one of the girls from the dorm. This news hit me kind of hard. I couldn’t wait to go back to visit that family on the bike, and tell them news about the two guys from the Bay Area that worked on their galpone. Now, the house is empty.

That night I decided the best thing would be to go out and meet other volunteers in town. There is an English Pub on the edge of town where all the gringo volunteers go to hang out. There is a dart board and a wide selection of drinks. It was cool to meet people from all over the world and hear about the different projects going on to take my mind away from the news I had just heard.

Friday I headed back to Cusco for the weekend. That night Alex and I went over to Raul’s house to watch Bolivia vs Peru in an international friendly. I really appreciate these nights hanging out with a bunch of Peruvians, and hopefully I will add more than one or two sentences into conversation at some point. After the game, we watched 127 hours. It’s a pretty powerful tale of survival, and it made me think about how I will be traveling alone and could end up in a similar situation.

Saturday morning I went over to Raul’s house to head to a mechanic shop to fix the bracket. The mechanic noticed my front brakes needed replacing, and offered an oil change as well. I said sure and assumed that all repairs in Peru would be similar to what I have seen so far, which is quality, low-cost work. I also ordered passenger pegs so it is easier to give people rides, which I have doing a lot more lately. I possibly could also give the girls rides to and from the dorm in order to help them avoid the incredibly long walks. We also hit up the black market to look for new Chacos. I literally walked through mine and they are done. We didn't find any in my size, but it was crazy! The products were all legit, but looked like they might be last years models. There were so many shoes, clothes, etc.

Alex and I then went to this crazy gringo hotel to play ping-pong. It is called Loki. It is for backpackers, and has all the normal things a hotel in the States would have. It has a pool table, ping-pong, bar, flat screen with US sports, whatever. I don’t think you really get a good Peruvian experience there, but it is definitely nice to stop by once in awhile. (I might have to head there to watch the Lions…) Ping-pong was fun, and we played against some Australian guys who are moving to Ollanta for a month or so. It was fun.

After a few hours, the bike was done so I went back to pick it up. The bill was very high!! I was upset. I guess I learned I should always negotiate the price before they do anything. And as I rechecked everything, I noticed the oil screw was loose! I would rather do all the work on the bike myself from now on, it isn’t that hard except bending the brackets. Heading back we stopped at the delicious vegetarian restaurant by his apartment for a late lunch of sushi. The owner found out I was a math teacher, and I am going to tutor her daughter next Friday when I come back to Cusco. Haha.

That night I was really looking forward to a special dinner with a dentist from Cusco. She has cleaned and fixed teeth for the girls at the dorm several times completely for free. This was a huge amount of time and work. Alex and Elena wanted to do something nice for her to say thanks. We ate at a nice Thai food restaurant, played pool, listened to an awesome live band with crazy pan flutes, and went to a couple clubs. It was a great night, and once again it ended around 4 am. It just seems like everyone loves to dance down here, either it is my choice of friends or it is just the culture. Either way it is a lot of fun.

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