Monday, October 7, 2013

Farewell Cusco!

In the morning, I grabbed a quick fruit salad at the hostel and then headed to the airport. I arrived an hour and a half early, though I could have gotten there 5 minutes before my flight and it would have been fine. This airport was a breeze. There were no lines, having a full water bottle in my backpack wasn't cause for alarm, and I didn't even have to take off my shoes. It was wonderful. I even paid 5 soles for a ten minute massage outside of the terminal. Had I been less irrationally paranoid about the time, I definitely would have paid for a longer massage! It was much needed after carrying all of my bags the 5 feet from the cab to the free bag check.

The taxi people on the way to the airport are also worth talking about. I happened to hop into a cab that had not only a friendly driver, but also a wife and 8 month old baby! They were amazing people who were very interested in how much things cost in the US and in how much people make. I have found it slightly awkward and embarrassing when people ask me how much I make in the US. These taxi people were the 5th people who asked that question, and it  is clear that it is a completely normal topic of conversation here. Me telling them my teacher salary led to an interesting conversation about teacher salaries here in Cusco. According to the driver, teachers here earn about $450 US a month, but they only work 5 hours a day, 25 hours a week. And, the cost of living here is very different.

I was kind of shocked to learn the schools are only open for 5 hours a day. This brought up so many questions for me, but we soon arrived at the airport, so I never had a chance to ask...

Arriving in Lima was smooth. The hostel driver was holding a little plaque with my name, so he was easy to spot. My hostel, Pariwana, is small, but cute, with a rooftop deck. The beds are super comfy, and I am in a room with two other girls that I have yet to see. Across the street from the hostel is an excellent sandwich restaurant. I stopped there for lunch/dinner, and the food was amazing. Around my hostel there are a bunch of US fast food places - from Dunkin Donuts to Pizza Hut to KFC. There are also a couple of malls, and, of course, small boutique style places and normal Peruvian restaurants. Lima definitely has a very different feel from Cusco; Lima is a big, modern city while Cusco has hilly alleys, sacred ruins, and tourist shops.

In the evening, I coordinated with Ali's friend Sebas to meet at a club for a Spanish electronica concert. The music was excellent, but when it ended, it turned into salsa, which is not something I would say I am a natural at. Sebas's friends were all very nice, especially one girl with bright yellow hair who spends half her time living in Orlando and the other half in Lima. The club we went to was cool because it clearly wasn't geared toward tourists. It was nice to feel like I was experiencing what Peru is actually like vs. what it is like when you are an outsider.

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