Peru TravelBlog 08 Index

2.10.08 Arriving in Cusco

February 10, 2008 writing about February 6th

On Wednesday, February 6, we took a bus from Puno to Cusco. It was a 6 hour bus trip. Musi and I were in the 1st and 2nd rows on the right side of the bus—this way we could both have a window.

There were so many beautiful sights out the windows and on the right you see some of them. I have taken many shots out of bus and plane windows and they come out surprisingly well.

We arrived at our new casita around 3pm. Here we have a kitchen, shower with hot water, and each our own space. Musi has a bedroom downstairs and I have a loft upstairs. It is very sunny and bright with 2 balconies, a skylight, beautiful wooden floors and a lovely wooden staircase up to the loft. There is a lot of antigua art around, precious weavings, old trunks, pottery and the like.

Right outside the front door is a pc with high speed connect. There is wireless but it doesn't look like my little mac is going to be able to hook up. Easy enough to go out to the balcony and unplug the PC and plug in my mac to send and receive email and upload website work and this TravelBlog.

Now I must mention that there is one slight inconvenience with this place. Right now they are in the process of rebuilding a few of the rooms. When we arrived we headed to the market and I quickly became overwhelmed, overstimulated, overdosed with foreign things and I headed back to our casita. Much to my distress, there was hammering and sawing and not a moments peace. Oh no!

As it turns out, it was just time to go inside to seek peace. Nothing like being in a foreign place, where the language passes to quickly to be understood by a newbie and the markets are filled with animal carcases and all sorts of strange foods and tons of people trying to sell you things—to turn you inside out. I spent some time alone, cried some, looked for buttons pressed and came through stronger than ever.

I realized even tho I felt dependent on Musi, I had to forge my own way. I had to find food I could eat that my body would be happy with. Enough bread and cheese and potatoes etc. I had to try to have conversations without asking Musi to translate. I had to go exploring on my own and make my own choices. No one is going to take care of me, I still have to do that myself. What growth, always...

The next day, I rose from the depths. The tears washed away the stress. I had a newfound sence of self and a willingness to succeed as a traveler in Peru. After spending a nourshing morning of yoga and self-care, I ventured out into the streets of Cusco. Musi had already gone out and I was on my own. I encountered a young painter and bought one of his paintings. I looked at weavings and waited.

A young woman tried to sell me a gourd with designs etched and burned into the surface. I told her no, many times and we began to walk. I turned up a street and she came along. We talked about our families and many things in her native Spanish tongue.

An aside here: My high school spanish is coming back to me. And, I made a decision early on that I would be brave and that I would attempt to talk to people. I let them know that "Yo comprendo poquito y hablo poquito espanol, I understand very little and speak very little Spannish." After that, I do my best to communicate using the words I know and gestures when needed. I am very pleased with myself (and very surprised too), as I have had a few lengthly conversations and have understood most of what we have been talking about.

OK, back to the woman with the gourds. By the time our walk was over, she had convinced me to buy a gourd and a gourd rattle. "Oh, for my baby's lunch"...When translated into american dollars, it is so little. I paid 22 soles for the gourds which equals about 7.50 American. It's sometimes a matter of figuring out who you want to support because the same crafts are everywhere. It was a lovely exchange and enjoyable to walk and talk with her on my own.

Following this exchange, or maybe it was before, who knows? I walked into an area with a few indoor shops. Since arriving in Puno, I developed a great desire to have a manta to wear like the native women. This is the cloth that they wrap whatever they have to carry—including their baby if that is their cargo—and sling it around their back tying it in the front. It is also called a lliglia and I am still not sure how to spell that.

As with the textiles of all ancient cultures, the old ones are dissappearing as are the old ways. They are being replaced by synthetics. Hand spun wool dyed naturally is being replaced by synthetic textiles with synthetic dyes. The old natural cloths are harder to come by as time goes on. But of course, I had my heart set on an old one, a natural one.

I walked past the first stall full of the same old stuff and wound my way further in. There I came upon a woman with many older cloths and almost immediately my eyes fell upon an old manta made of sheep's wool in just the colors I love--a maroon base with colorful stripes of complimenting colors.

I began a conversation with the old woman. I was me, just there, talking to her. We went on and on in Spanish and she would pause and rephrase when I couldn't understand. She talked about pacha mama and pacho papa, of the earth. She told me of ceremony that happens in August where a certain type of special cloth with small figures of pacha mama and papa are burried en la tierra. We chewed coca leaves together and she shared with me in a very special way. At times there were tears with the depth of the connection with her and the earth. In the end I bought the cloth and she took a few soles off since we were now amigas.

It was so healing after my overwhelm-ment of the day before. I had such a quick rebound having looked for the answers inside. Through my introspection I was given the strength to trust myself and to align with my core. And the reward was connection with the people of Cusco and myself.

Looking back at Puno from the bus leaving