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Annik Musgrave's diary a spanish student at Amauta Spanish school

About Me
Annik Musgrave, Amauta Student
Annik Musgrave
It's my Diary of travel

Palm Sunday (04/04/04)

Date: 2004-04-24

It was a nice sunny day today. I woke up to the sound of the church bells ringing in the distance. As it was Palm Sunday, there was a procession around the main square (Plaza de Armas). A brass band was playing and there were lots of people about. All were coming from or going to mass, holding their palm crosses.

The tradition is here for the families to place the cross (made from palm, leaves and even rosemary) outside their front doors. I decided to buy one and was able to get one for 1 sol from an old lady who was selling them on the side of the street.

Its not unusual to see these ladies selling their bits and pieces here in Cusco. Everything from food, jewelry and even hand-woven belts, scarves and hats (some made of Alpaca) are delicately laid out on blankets for all to come and have a look at on the side of the streets.
This week, being Holy Week (semana santa) is quite important in the Peruvian calendar. Masses and processions continue all week and I've been told that on Thursday, its the tradition for most Peruvian families to have a look of twelve dishes!(I presume symbolising the twelve stations of the cross) That's one day I'm looking forward to!

On Monday I start my first day of the volunteer programme. I've now been in Cusco for eight weeks - when i first arrived I was at an intermediate level of Spanish and after the eight weeks of classes I reached Superior level!

Luckily for me, the classes were normally in the afternoon (which suits me because I like my sleep in the morning!) but the classes are quite flexible and can be suited to everyone's needs.

During the time that i was attending the classes, I stayed with a Peruvian family. They live literally less than 15 minutes walking from the school so it was quite central.

I'll miss living with them to be honest. I got to be quite close to them and they made me feel like I was part of their family.

But for the four weeks that I volunteer, I'm staying in a single room in the student residence. In some ways its very handy because the residence is in the same building as the school itself. Its pretty much in the centre of Cusco and there's loads of restaurants, bars and places to go out in the evenings.

Cusco completely changes at night! Its like another world! There's so much activity around the plaza - especially with people handing out flyers for their respective restaurant or bar - all trying to persuade you to go in and have a free "pisco sour" or "cuba libre"!! Let's see what happens tonight...



Date: 2004-04-20

Today; A semi-busy day (if such a thing can exist here!) - I find its quite easy to fall into the relaxed way of life here in Cusco! Then (relatively speaking) find it "stressful" if I have something to do!

Today (like every other day) my volunteer work didn't start until 3 in the afternoon, hence I had the entire morning free to do whatever I feel like... Often I chose to sit in one of the many cafés, some of which have a balcony looking over the square, allowing a person to just sit and observe all the activity going on down by the Plaza.

Little girls and women walk around dressed in brightly colored traditional costumes. Some holding tiny puppies or even baby llamas!; "Una foto?" they ask every gringo that goes by.

At the same time, little boys and men stay under the balconies, ready and waiting for anyone that might want their shoes shined!

Equally as abundant, at night time other children hang around the Plaza selling everything from cigarettes and postcards, to chocolate and sweets. They're extremely talkative, often asking a gringo from what country they came from and sometimes replying straight away that they know the name of the capitol city of that country!

So today I sat and observed such goings on... then had lunch in one of the little restaurants nearby.

My volunteer work is in an orphanage for girls. Its a little further out from the centre of the city but I like that fact because I get to see the other parts of Cusco and not just the commercial centre!

I take a 'collectivo' there... (this is basically a small minibus cram packed to the gills with people but it cost the equivalent of about 12 cent!) but I could always take a taxi as they also don't cost much either.

When I arrive at the hogar, the smaller girls run up to me immediately saying "señorita, señorita!They are so affectionate, often hugging and trying to sit on my knee, they love any attention they can get!

AT the moment, together with the help of another volunteer psychologist, we are planning a big "taller" on self-esteem. By the end of this week, the girls would've performed two little plays that they've made up themselves, we're having loads of games and dynamics including (my idea for the last day) a piñata!

I've bought them just some small things like plastic bracelets and things for their hair but I know that they'll like them because they really don't have many possessions! Like for example the other day, one of the smaller girls needed her nose to be cleaned so I gave her a tissue.

I couldn't believe what next happened... she proceeded to brake the tissue in half! One half she used (naturally) for her nose and the other half I watched as she very carefully folded it up in such a delicate way it made me laugh! Then the other girls saw it and immediately asked me if they could have one too!! The original girl was still carrying it around with her when i left that evening! But it just reminded me, just how different their value systems are! Sometimes I get a little upset when I realise this, but at the same time, I feel better knowing I'm helping them.

Even if its just a small thing like tickling them, they laugh and that's one less laugh they'd have in their life if I wasn't there.

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AMAUTA Spanish School
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Buenos Aires, Argentina
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