|A walk round the market in Tupac Amaru Plaza today|
This is our last entry for Cusco for tomorrow we are heading off for travels anew. We have been very comfortable here, the homestay with Maribel has been great, both Maribel and her mother Nellie have been like mothers to us, making sure we have hats and sunscreen when it’s sunny and raincoats for when rain is forecast and have furnished us with medication for any ills we’ve had. The real treat here is little Maffie, the 15 month old daughter of Kathie, Maribels sister, who lives in the flat upstairs and comes down for breakfast and usually in the evenings. She is an absolute delight, always with a smile, always laughing, waving at us and blowing kisses, we’re going to miss her sweet smiling face!
|Speciality breads for sale in the market|
We finished our last Spanish lessons at FairServices language school yesterday and left feeling really sad. We’ve met some great new friends in other students studying Spanish as well as our language tutors Mimi and Mary who have been great. Mimi, the sister of Fanny the owner of the school along with husband John, has been our grammar teacher and very strict with us, not letting a missed accent on our written work or the mispronunciation of a word go amiss (I must remember to say the word ‘me’ – the ‘e’ sound as in ‘edge’ and not ‘mi’), but we have also had lots of laughs with her. Mary, our conversation teacher has also been very good and great fun, taking us out to markets, museums and churches to talk about everyday things as well as overseeing our homework from Mimi and giving us some useful insights into aspects of the language not covered in the grammar lesson.
|And lots of nuts and seeds|
|The statue of Tupac Amaru, the last Inca, killed by the Spanish in 1780|
The whole ethos of John and Fanny and all the staff at FairServices is to be admired and the whole spirit of the operation is one of learning whilst having fun. FairServices is a not for profit organisation and helps disadvantaged people in Cusco build stable, prosperous futures for themselves and we would urge anyone who is thinking about coming to Cusco to enrol for a course and take advantage of all that it has to offer in addition to learning Spanish, the Tuesday cooking class, Salsa dance classes on a Friday evening or the help and advice and discounts at the local medical clinic if a need arises (as it did for us). Here’s their website: http://www.fairservices-peru.org/en
|Justin saying goodbye as he headed off on his trek|
We said goodbye to Justin on Thursday who has been staying in our homestay for the last couple of weeks, he went off to do a 5 day trek to Machu Picchu, returning here on Monday night after we’ve gone, we’ve got contact details for him and an invite to visit him in California sometime. On Friday after class we said goodbye to Tina, who is from the UK and heads off to Patagonia in a week to cycle and camp with her friend. She stayed with us at the homestay before Justin so we became good friends with her and, if we don’t coincide in Patagonia (which is a possibility), we may catch up with her back in the UK. There are many other people we’ve got to know, such as Ben and Emma from New Zealand, plus others that we’re going to miss. After 5 weeks here it almost feels like home and it’s going to be a wrench to get back into travelling again.
|Emma from NZ having her lesson in the teaching/social area|
So tomorrow we pack again and catch an overnight sleeper bus to Nazca, via Arequipa, setting off at 19:00, arriving briefly in Arequipa at 5:30 am and then on to Nazca, arriving at 16:00 on Monday afternoon. The bus takes us up to a Nazca Lines viewing hill and then we stay in Nazca overnight. We’re considering taking a flight over the lines to get a proper look, but haven’t finally decided yet. From there we head to Ica and Huacachina, which is the only desert oasis in South America and we’ve booked into a hotel right on the oasis for the night. On Wednesday we head to Paracas on the coast for 3 nights, with the possibility of a trip out to the nearby Ballestas Islands, described by some as ‘The poor man’s Galapagos’. Finally we arrive in Lima on 5th November for three nights before flying down to Santiago in Chile on 8th November and then on to Punta Arenas right in the south of the continent on 9th November.
|And that's Mimi teaching Ben while Jackie sits with Bowie the cat waiting for our lesson with Mimi|
|It was a cold day and Bowie needed a bit of warmth!|
It’s a busy but exciting few weeks ahead for us and very different from the last five weeks. Jackie seems to be healthy finally having got over her nasty cold (I have it now, but only slightly, as have most of Maribel’s family in the homestay), her ultrasound scan at the clinic was a bit inconclusive but not bad, so the advice she was given was ‘carry on and enjoy your travels’. Maybe another scan in 3 to 6 months to check on things, but other than that it seems we can carry on.
|Mimi, Jackie and Brian just starting our class. Mimi speaks almost no English but we could still have a good laugh with her|
|Bowie thinks she owns the place!|
|And she knows just where to go to get a drink of water, despite having proper bowls of water and cat food!|