Saturday, March 25, 2006

watermelon gatorade

do we have watermelon gatorade in the united states? I tried it for the first time here and it is delicious! Anyway. I am in Lima, the capital of Peru. So far I really really like it. I was expecting the worst because everyone in Cusco says bad things about Lima. That it is dirty, dangerous, ugly... So I was pleasantly surprised by this big, bustling, beautiful city. It is such a refreshing change from Cusco. Cusco is small and beautiful, but also incredibly touristy. We are finally in a city that is just like, well, a city. Everyone is just going around doing their thing, not trying to sell us handicrafts or get us to eat in their trendy cafe. It´s nice. It is also on the coast, so it is warm and humid (which I have missed), and sunny. I sadly can´t go swimming in the ocean here due to the foot situation, but apparently I shouldn´t anyway because the part of the coast that we are near is incredibly polluted and choppy. I do have good news regarding my cast situation! I had it removed. Yep. I went to the doctor who put it on the day before we left for Lima (Thursday) and asked him if there was anyway I could get a walking cast instead. He said yes at first, and then told me that he has no idea where to get a walking cast in Cusco, and that no one uses them. Well. He told me he would cut it off anyway, and I told him to. It felt good to have my right foot liberated, but it also hurt still. My foot felt vunerable, and still unhealed. So I left the doctor with an ace bandage and my crutches, wondering if I made the right decision. We took a plane to Cusco yesterday, and arrived around 9:30 in the morning. We got situated in our swanky hotel, more like a house, called the Inka Wasi, run by this young guy who basically sits around and smokes pot all day and watches TV. I have no idea how he runs this cool place but he does, and it´s nice. We went out for a lunch of pure seafood, which was welcomed by all of us. Ceviche is the best, its raw fish that is cooked only in lemon juice. Delicioso. Halfway through lunch my foot starts hurting, and it increased to searing pain. By the time tears were running down my cheeks, Irma decided to take me to the hospital. I think most of the pain was due to my ace bandage being too tight (funny now, painful then) and I was given a shot. We talked to a doctor and he told me that yes, I could get a walking cast. Finally. So we went to an orthopedic store to check it out. I have never seen so many people with only one leg at one time. There were small children, adults, older people... it made me really happy and thankful that I have all of my parts working well, and reminded me that torn ligaments are nothing. So I am now sitting here with a massive black boot on my right foot. It has all of these buckles, think a large rollerblade, that´s what it looks like. It is really comfortable and most importantly REMOVABLE! Meaning I can shower and swim. Well still can´t swim here bc the beaches are rocky and not sand, but next week we are going to a nice beach and I can´t wait. Yess. I am supposed to still use crutches for the next 10 days, and then hopefully I can start walking on my cast. My goal is to be walking normally by the time we get back to Cusco in 2 and a half weeks. Wish me luck. Thankfully we have a wheelchair here so I have been travelling in style in the streets of Lima. Around the house and small distances crutches are fine, but for long distances I need the speed of my chair. It is really nice, but I still feel weird counting on people to push me, etc. Maybe I am just noticing now because I am in one, but there are a lot of people in wheelchairs here. Today we traveled around and saw the sights in Lima. We went to the Palacio de Govierno, it was pretty beautiful. I felt like I was on my eighth grade Washington D.C. trip all over again, but this was prettier. We also went to the Museum of the Inquisition, and saw torture chambers that the Spanish used. Scary. We then went to Chinatown and had a blast! Yummy chinese food lunch (Peruvian influenced and lots of fish), then looking around at all of the shops. We went to this hidden away shrine and lit incense and looking at chinese medicines, many illegal where we live. We tried to get something for the ligaments in my food, and the guy looked at us like we were crazy and asked if I wanted something to lose weight. Thanks sir. One thing that I like about most Peruvians (and what also took some getting used to,) is that they say it like it is. I have realized that we sugar coat a lot of things in regular conversation in the U.S., and tell a lot of white lies, usually to protect people´s feelings. At times I think that´s important, but I also like the straightforwardness in Peru. Anyway. We later had a class about the Chinese population in Peru in a chinese school. Very interesting, but also very hot and in a dim room and everyone was trying to not fall asleep. And here I am, about a block from our trendy hotel, in an internet cafe. Last night we had a class on the Afro Peruvian community in Lima, followed by a brief music and dance concert. It was great. Tonight we are going out for ice cream (apparently the best I will ever have...) and relaxing. Oh! Vanessa´s visit was so fun. We had lunch at home, and then later went out to San Blas to look around. We went to the amazing coca shop, and tried chocolates, toffees, and biscuits made with coca. Vanessa bought some chocolates and powder and apparently made it to the U.S. without any problems. It is so frustrating that we can´t bring coca leaves back home. It makes amazing tea, and has a bunch of other uses. There are obvious drug trafficking issues, but the amount of leaves a person would use for tea or cooking could not make cocaine. It is very frustrating, and coca rights are still being fought for here in Peru. Coca is such an important part of the traditional culture, and many people don´t recognize it. Stupid drug dealers. When we went to the island of Taquile, my host father was telling me about the importance of coca. He mentioned that he had a friend who brought him actual cocaine once, and how he tried it. It was so interesting hearing this from someone in such an isolated place. He had absolutely no stigma attached to taking the drug, and talked about it very openly. He didn´t like it, but he said it made him knit fast. Anyway... after the coca shop Vanessa and I went out for crepes at the German place, and then to the hooka bar. Our group had to go to the bar for a class. It was less of a class and more of an activity, listening to a rock group perform in Quechua. It was really good, and we all danced. And yes all includes me, in my former bright green cast. I was careful mom, don´t worry. Everyone was doing the cast dance, just like on Saved by the Bell when Screech and Lisa won the dance competiton! It was great. After the concert we went to a discoteca where a group was playing salsa music. We danced some more, I had to sit out a lot due to my foot, but it was fun. Random Quechua fact... Jaba the Hut speaks Quechua in Return of the Jedi. Yep! Some guys on the plane from Cusco to Lima told some people in my group, and the hotel that we are staying at happens to have a copy of the movie. We watched it, and it was mind blowing. We understood what Jabba was saying! It´s not a made up language! Unreal. Well I think that is it for now... We are going to be in Lima for a little over a week, and then we are making our way by bus to Arequipa, then Colca, and Nazca. We will be back in good old Cusco in a little less than three weeks. Expect updates later. Ciao!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006


woowooowoo! Vanessa is here (sitting next to me, actually...) and it is so nice to have her here. We met up in the Plaza de Armas today after my classes, and she came over to have lunch. She speaks Italian but not much Spanish, so she understands but I am little like her translator. It is fun. We had a delicious lunch of crema (puree soup made with pumpkin, yum...), choclo and queso, and rice and chicken with a great sauce. Right now we are relaxing after a massive lunch and we are going to go out soon for some coca ice cream and then off to Quechua rock! What a day. I will post pictures later. Bye!

Monday, March 20, 2006

T is for Traviesa

We had classes today, and I was relieved to get out of the house and actually do something. Walking around on crutches is tiring! We are leaving for Lima on Friday and I'm worried about how I am going to slow the group down. I feel stupid. Only 17 more days with the dumb cast! Feel free to count down with me. Another let down today... I realized that we will be in Arequipa when I get the cast off, meaning I will be in a cast for the entire Lima trip, which means no swimming in the coast for me. I can handle hobbling around, being slow and inconvenienced... but no swimming??? swimming is my favorite! Well, what can I do. I thought about cutting my cast off with my swiss army knife, but that clearly isnt a good plan. It especially isnt a good plan since I learned that I did not sprain ligaments, but I tore them. Fabulous. My family here keeps calling me "traviesa" which I had to look up in the dictionary. It is translated as "mischevious" or "naughty", but I like to look at it as sassy. My traviesa ways have caught up with me. I have never valued my foot so much! It is so useful. Anyway... ailments aside I doing alright. Tomorrow I get to see Vanessa! We are meeting up in the Plaza de Armas, and she is coming home to meet my family and have lunch. Tommorrow night we have a night time class at the local hooka bar to listen to some rock music in Quechua. Ooh, before I forget... this is a shout out for Shana's mom! Helloo! I had no idea you read my blog. Shana is a girl on my program, and she mentioned that she talked to her mom who like, poor taylor! even though Shana didn't tell her about my fall. Apparently her mom is a very skillful woman on the computer and found my blog. Hello, how are you! I think that is it for now... I am nervous about travelling for two weeks with a cast on, but I will tackle that when it comes. Kenyon people, update me. What is going on in Gambier. Everyone update me, emails always welcome. Love you all

Saturday, March 18, 2006

well well.

I guess an update is in order since I am sitting here looking at a bright green cast on my right leg. Yep. Let me explain. So we left for Manu (the Amazonian rainforest) early on Tuesday. I was tired and not in the best of moods for the 14 hour trip that was to follow. However, my spirits lifted and the trip didn´t seem bad at all. We had to go up a mountain (in squiggles) and back down one to get to the rainforest. After a long day of travelling, we arrived to our destination at about 7:30 at night. We were staying the first two nights at this small place by the side of a river (sorry my details aren´t that good because I didn´t stay for very long...) we slept in these wooden rooms on the floors in sleeping bags, and we also had a an eating area where we also had classes. We went to bed after a delicious dinner of trucha, to wake up early to explore the rainforest. We took a boat for about 40 minutes to a path in the forest. Our two guides, Dante and Max, were showing us around. We hiked a bit, trying delicious fruits, like the fruit that surrounds the cacoa seed, and fresh sugar cane. Yum. We had been walking for a while when we came upon this massive tree, again I can not remember the name. It is so big because it basically engulfs other trees and kills them. There was a large vine hanging from the tree(you can see where this is going...) and Dante decided to swing on it. It looked like fun, so everyone wanted to. Joe went, and then Dani. I decided I was next to brave the vine. Dum dum dummm. Before swinging I asked Dante if it was easy to hold on, and he said yes. I held on tight and swung, and immediately slipped off the vine. It was so slippery! I didn´t even get a full swing in. I feel on my feet, but with most of my weight on my right foot. I felt a pop, and the next thing I thought was ohhh shit. I tried to move my foot, and it hurt, but definetely was not broken. Charley and Max helped me up to the path, and then we had to figure out how I was going to get out of the damn rainforest with my right foot out of comission. Max and this other guy Jesus helped me hop on one foot, and they decided that it would take forever. So they picked me up, one guy holding one foot and me with my arms around my shoulders. We travelled like this on extremely treacherous paths, covered with vines and rocks, mud and streams etc. I felt bad for them, especially Jesus who was much smaller than me. We took lots of breaks, and at certain parts I would crawl or go down hills on my butt, keeping my foot in the air. It was quite the journey. We made it back to the boat, and Max put icy hot on my foot and wrapped it up. He said it looked like a sprain, and that I would be walking normally tomorrow. WRONG. We waited for everyone to get back from the hike, and we took the boat back to where we were staying. Again Max and Jesus had to carry me up a ton of stone steps to get where we were staying. Basically they are my heros. So I had to sit out while everyone went down and swam in the river, I was so jealous. They had to wear life jackets because the current was so strong, and Margaret got swept away while doing old lady backstroke, and a boat had to rescue her. When she came back she said she was trying to go to Bolivia. Hilarious. After lunch (which for some reason during I almost passed out during, pain maybe?) everyone went on another hike, and I stayed and tried to rest my foot. Everyone came back, it got dark, we had a class and then dinner. By now I am in a lot of pain. I was given two vicadin to take before bed, and they didn´t do a damn thing. I couldn´t sleep much, and I was really pissy by the next morning. We headed out to the small town nearby, and I was driven to another town about 30 minutes away. Irma, our Academic Director and Corina came with me. The roads in the Amazon are earth, and full of lots of holes and streams. Let´s just say that the trip wasn´t too comfortable. We arrive in a town that isnt lookin too hot, everyone is living in shacks, and I´m wondering what the hospital was going to be like. It wasn´t actually a hospital but a health center, and they took one look at my foot and told me that I had to go to Cusco, because they thought I had a fracture. Fabulous. So Cusco is really far away. They give me painkillers and tell me to take half a pill every eight hours. We waited at the center while Irma went looking for someone who has a car. The half pill did nothing and after a while the doctor told me I could take another half. This conked me out and I finally slept for about an hour in the center. Irma found a guy with a car, who was willing to drive to Cusco. Corina came with me, and we began our journey. I was a little out of it due to the painkillers as we wound around a mountain. We had to stop twice so I could throw up painkillers and banana chips, the only thing in my stomach at the time. Not fun. I slept a lot and somehow we miraculously made it to Cusco in eight hours, which is apparently record time. We went straight to the hospital, where people from SIT were waiting for me. I got xrayed (nothing wrong with my bones, wooo!) and the doctor told me that its just the ligaments. He then told me he would put me in a plastic cast, which I was excited about because I assumed plastic meant removable. Wrong again. Its just like a plaster cast but made out of plasticy material so I can walk on it if I want to, which doesn´t seem too possible. I have to wear this damn thing for 3 weeks, which could be a lot worse. So today is Saturday, my third day with the cast. Believe me I am counting down. I hate having crutches and being super dependent on everyone, but I have to get over it. I finally took a shower today, quite the event. I´m really in pretty high sprits considering the situation. Unfortunately I don´t have any pictures to show of the rainforest, seeing as I didn´t see much of it. Chris happened to take a video of my swinging on the vine and falling, no one knows why. It is hilarious and if I can get it on here, I will. I will take a picture of my cool cast later too. Tonight the group gets back from Manu, and I am excited to see them. Apparently we are going out tonight for Max (my hero´s) birthday. I havent ventured into downtown Cusco with my crutches yet, we´ll see how that goes. Oh, if anyone wants to send me mail, here is my address:

Taylor Watson
c/o SIT Peru
Centro Tinku
Casilla #666
Cusco, Peru

That´s it! Send me something because EVERYONE here gets mail but me and I feel like a dork when the only thing I have to open is the Kenyon Collegian. Lame. Love you all!

Friday, March 10, 2006

back from Taquile!

What a trip. I just got back from Taquile, an island in the middle of Lake Titicaca. We stayed for two nights with a Quechua speaking family, and it was very intense. No electricity or running water, and lots of awkward language barriers. So we left Cusco early on Tuesday morning. We traveled all day to Puno, a small city on the edge of Lake Titicaca. We stopped three times, once to look at a beautiful church, and two other times to see ruins. We had a really annoying tour guide who was just a little bit older than us who talked to much and said "Ehhh?" at the end of all of his sentences. We sort of ignored him. We got to Puno around 7 or 8 at night. We stayed in a pretty nice hotel for the night, which had hot showers!! It was very exciting. We went out for a pizza dinner, delicious. There is this one street in Puno at night that is all lit up and touristy, and the lights are so bright that it feels like you are on a movie set, not on a real street. Puno is reaaally high up, and it was a little hard to breathe. Lake Titicaca is in fact the highest navigable lake in the world. Wednesday we got up early and took a boat three hours to the island of Taquile. We made a stop at the islands of the Uros, which is a group of Aymara-speaking people who made their own islands out of grass, basically. It is amazing, and probably the coolest thing I have ever scene. The floating islands are so strong and well built, and everything is made out of this one type of grass. It was amazing. So we got to Taquile around mid day, and it was sunny and hot, but cold in the shade. That's what high altitude will do, its nuts and confusing for my body. So Taquile is a pretty small island, but pretty high. We had to hike up about 500 steps with our huge backpacks on, and it was haaaaaaard. We finally made it to this clearing with a table and we were served delicious trucha (trout) and vegetable soup with quinua. The diet is very basic in Taquile, the residents pretty much just eat what they produce. We met our families, and two of us stayed per family. Margaret and I stayed with a great family. The father's name is Alejo, and his wife, Maria, passed away three years ago. He has three daughters and a son, and the oldest daughter has a beautiful baby named Nili. They fed us good food and we communicated the best we could with our choppy Quechua and their choppy Spanish. Margaret and I stayed in the same room, and a candle was our only light late at night. We were eating a dinner of soup and rice and egg and potatoes by candlelight and the three girls came in and bombarded us with a large mass of clothing! We were supposed to dress up in traditional Taquile garb for a dance that night. It was a ton of clothing, and it all looked pretty cool. The dance was great. A group of of men played panpipes, and there were a couple of guitars. We danced in a big circle, and then we danced in pairs. I danced with a three year old named Robin who was adorable and he loved to dance. We went to bed early, around 10, and were woken up the next day around 7. Our host dad told us that he gets up every morning at 1!!! Increible. We had a breakfast of quinua bread and tea and napped. The altitude really affects you. Margaret and I then hiked up to the ruins with Alejo, and we stayed there a while, chatting about the island. Afterwards we had lunch (more fish, yum) and another nap. We helped harvest some potatoes and oca (I never really figured out what it was, a kind of root?) for our dinner. It was really fun and satifying, I seriously think I want to be a farmer now. After that Margaret and I walked down to the water, looking for one of the two beaches on the island. We couldnt find them, but walked down to rocks and got splashed with the cold lake water. We walked back, had dinner, and were in bed by 7:30! Definetely the earliest I had been to bed in awhile. We got up at 5:30 today, hiked up and then down the other side of the island (exhuasting) and took a boat three hours to Puno. The weather was cool and the water was choppy, and Alison got sick on the boat, pobrecita. Once we got to Puno we bought some snacks and got on a bus for a full day trip back to Cusco. So here I am, exhuasted, but good. I actually am going salsa dancing for about an hour tonight, with Corina, a girl who works at Centro Tinku, the building where we have our classes. She is taking a bunch of us out to learn some moves. Phew! What a week. We have the weekend to rest and then on Tuesday we are going to Manu, a town in the rainforest. That trip is apparently even longer. Lots of travel. After Manu we have some days of rest and Vanessa (from Darien) is going to visit! wooo! I'm so excited to show her and her friends around the lovely city of Cusco. I think that's it. I need to eat and rest before dancing. Here are some pics:

The weekend before we left for Taquile we went to a party thrown by Braddy, the artist who worked with us and helped us make teeshirts. He served fresh caught trucha, chicken, and really good potatoes.

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Joseph and I stayed later and hung out with some of Braddy's friends. They were really nice and I lot of them were artists so I talked to one girl about my idea for my ISP (Independent Study Project) about art in Cusco. She had a lot to say and was really interested in helping me.

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This is what the Island of the people of Uros looked like.

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Dressed up in traditional garb with the boys from the program:

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Me and Marge, representing and looking sexy:

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And finally, the beautiful view from our host family's house in Taquile:

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That's all! I hope I am not exhausting you all with stories and pictures. Are the photos showing up massive on your computers too? I'm trying to fix it. Well, more later! Ciao

Friday, March 03, 2006

rain rain rain

Raining again. It rains a lot here, but I'm okay with that. There are also incredibly gorgeous days that make my head explode. It's friday, and today was our last day of Quechua! I'm sad, but others are really happy about it. We were broken up into two groups and I had the most amazing teacher, and the other was literally a witch. For our last day we performed for the other group, and we all sang songs. Our group did our own version of Oedipus, but in Quechua. I was the mother, and it was very scandalous. I also did a solo act of a conversation with Katie (she was sick) so my hand was a standin for her. Lots of fun. This afternoon we have a pisco tasting and FSS class from 3-5. Later in the night we are going out for dinner and to a hooka bar for Grace's 21st birthday. I think I am going to walk around Cusco all Saturday, because there are lots of parts that I still don't know. Sunday we are going to Cachabama (spelling?) for a day trip. It's far away, about 2 hours. I taught Charley how to knit so we are going to stitch and bitch on the bus. I am making an alpaca scarf, very pretty. Ok, this is for mom.. Mom, yesterday I got another piercing but it is just in my ear and very tame. Everything was super clean and everything was packaged and only used once. Look:

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See it's pretty. Ok. What else... On Tuesday we are leaving for five days to go to Puno. Apparently it is very cold and my alpaca hat and wooly socks will come in handy. I am excited. We are going to stay with a Quechua family, which will be interesting. Most of our conversations will be very basic and hilarious in the textbook language way. I think that's it for now. Everyone who is going on spring break, have a FAAABULOUS time, and last minute trips to Peru are always welcomed!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

ash wednesday

Hello all. Today is Ash Wedesday, and I am not going to a service in the huge cathedral in the Plaza de Armas. I thought it would be interesting to go, but I am too exhausted from the day. The classes went as usual, two hours of Quechua and two hours of a lecture on literature, all in a row. Today we had an oral exam in Quechua, Katie and I had to converse in front of the class, I think it went well. The lecture was really interesting too because it was about gringo writers. The guy who gave the lecture was a gringo himself who has been living in Peru for many years. It was interesting to us gringos. After class I came home from lunch, and after lunch we had an excursion to a school of Taller, I'm not too sure of the translation in English. It is mostly stone masonry and woodworking, very interesting. We worked hard for two hours, chipping away massive stones and carving wood. The work that all of the students do is really beautiful, and done in a traditional Cusquena style. I really liked it. After that, came home, and I am exhausted.