Monday, March 28, 2011

Getting toward the end of our adventure

For the people that still check this, I`m sorry for not writing as frequently as I used to.  But now I am here to redeem myself!  :)

Ok, well since I have not been writing in my journal (bad Vicki!) I will now write in even more of a hodgepodge than I usually do. 

Heather and I have had our fair share of trying times in the past month.  We have been robbed twice, Heather has been in and out of the hospital, and we got kicked out of the school by a drunk, over aggresive director.  We`ll start with the last thing I said...  yes, Heather and I have been kicked out of the school.  Heather was talking with Yuri and was expressing how some volunteers feel offended by what Yuri says sometimes and he was drunk and over emotional (he ususally is over emotional) and told her that she and I were not welcome back into the program.  I had a talk with him the next day and he did not take back him kicking us out of the program.  Throughout our stay here he has been over emotional, dramatic, and said hurtful things to us.  Aldea Yanapay, his program, is amazing and he is great with the kids, but I am not sure I would recommend this program to someone else that is looking for a drama free environment.  On the other hand, I do have to say that Yuri´s assistant directors are amazing.  They won´t be here forever, but while they are here they do make the project better.  They have the biggest hearts and are good friends.  It will be hard to say goodbye. 

And yes, Heather and I have been robbed twice.  I was pickpocketed at a festival in Puno (I realized within 30 seconds that someone had done it) and lost all my pictures of my time in Cuzco.  A couple weeks later, Heather and I got robbed out of our room by one of the people that was working for Señora Haydee.  Our room was locked and the girl, Feo, broke in and took money and Heather`s memory card.  So, now we sadly have no pictures of our stay in Cuzco.  We have to start from scratch. 

We have also experienced our fair amount of racism here.  I went to a store and was going to buy a little snack when the woman gave me a higher price than was on the package.  I told her that the package said something different and she replied ¨That price is for Cusqueñans.¨   I was furious.  In the United States we would get in so much trouble if we charged a certain race more.  Plus, most people know it`s just wrong to treat people differently because of what they look like. 

Okay, enough of the depressing crap. 
Every Tuesday there is Bingo at the Aldea Yanapay restaurant.  It`s jolly good fun.  I was able to win a bottle of wine!  It was very much worth the 4 rounds of Bingo (for 4 soles).  Bingo night also includes quiz questions and little competitions (for example, who can bring them a sock first) for prizes. 

In the jungle, playing ninja tag was a common after dinner game.  Finally, Heather and I spread the wonderful game to our friends here.  There we were, on the corner of Plaza de Armas, playing an intense game of ninja tag.  We had a little crowd watching us like we were crazy by the time we were done.  It was great.  We decided to use our ninja skills as we passed the clubs, too.  Outside of the clubs there are tons of people that will come to you and try to convince you (rather annoyingly) to go into their club even if you had no intention of going clubbing.  So as we passed the clubs and they tried to advertise their clubs, we just started ninja chopping and they immediately back off.  Good strategy, eh? :) Except one guy, from Inka Team, actually joined in the ninja chopping and since then Inka Team has been even more of my favorite place.

Houses in Cuzco don`t have heating like in the states, so to stay warm they have this pot with an empty tin can in it.  You pour rubbing alcohol in the can and light it so it heats up the room.  One of my first times using this I saw this little thing in the pot that I thought was a stick, so I decided to light the stick to throw in the alcohol so it would light.  The stick was apparently a firecracker (why on earth was it in the heater?) and went off in my hand.  Heather was almost asleep so I gave her a heart attack, but now that I look back it was really funny:)

They don`t have public parks here, well at least not ones with grass.  We have started a tradition of playing sports every Sunday at a park near us.  We have to pay a sole to get in, but it is well worth it.  They have 2 soccer courts (they are cement courts), a basketball court (well, basketball hoops attached to the tops of the soccer goals), and room for little kids toys and a volleyball court.  It`s nowhere near to anything that would every be allowed to be public in the states, but it`s still fun to go and get some exercise.

 I have continued to take spanish lessons and I am glad to say I can finally see improvement.  I`m still awful, but I`m getting better :)

For Valentine`s Day, Heather, our roommates: Jiles (Julia) and Camille, and I decided to make cookies for our friends.  Sugar cookies and oatmeal, chocolate chip were on the menu.  So the day before Valentine`s Day we went shopping for supplies.  I saw a bag that said ¨Azucar de Caña¨, so of course I assumed that this was sugar from sugar cane.  When we got home and started making the cookie dough, Heather luckily tried the dough.  It tasted like pure salt.  The Azucar de Caña is apparently MSG.  Nice right?  So by that time it was too late to go back to the store and buy other sugar so we waited until the morning of V-Day.  We bought the right sugar and started to make the cookie dough again, but the cookies were just not tasting right.  We ended up adding tons more sugar and vanilla than the recipe called for, but we hoped that they would turn out okay.  When we were finally satisfied with the taste of the dough, we headed to the public oven... yes, that is right... a public oven.  Many Peruvians do not have an oven of their own and so take their things to the public oven to be cooked.  So, it is raining outside of course, and Heather, Jiles, and I are wondering the streets for a public oven because no one seems to be quite sure where this thing actually is.  After about 10 minutes of looking and protecting our dough from the rain we finally stumble upon the public oven.  First, we walked into this kind of sketchy courtyard, but were told to continue farther back.  So then we enter an even more sketchy courtyard, but see a bunch of people going into this dark door.  The invited us in and we enter this small room with a giant brick oven.  They had pans we could use so we asked for some.  The woman, who was very nice, gave us these long 1` by 4` pans.  We started to role our cookies into balls and put them on the dark, and kind of scary looking, pans.  We first put our oatmeal chocolate chip cookies in.  When the woman opened the little door to the oven to put our pan in we saw tons of other things being cooked in the oven, too.  And to our surprise, she put them right next to all the meat that was being cooked, including a cuy (guinea pig).  So we watched as our cookies started baking next to the meat.  We continued to roll our sugar cookies as we waited for our others ones to cook.  Apparently, the oatmeal chocolate chip cookies were too wet to cook in the public oven because they all mushed together into one giant cookie.   We already felt like failures and were afraid our sugar cookies wouldn`t turn out either, but we had no choice but to put them in the oven.  It`s actually pretty cool because the lady had this huge spatula that was twice my height to get the food in and out of the oven.  It took awhile to cook all our cookies, so we hung out in the public oven, which we decided would be a good name for a bar.  We stayed in the dark, dank area while it continued to rain outside.  There was a bird in the corner and old shoes on a string above us.  It was quite the awesome experience.  After, when we tried our cookies, they had a different smokey and sometimes meaty flavor too them.  But our friends said they liked them (I think they didn´t realize that they were supposed to be sweet).  One of our British friends, Janek, commented that it was a proper biscuit :)

I am now going to publish this even though it is nowhere near being complete, but I think I should get´r´done! 

Lots of love!

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