It is 9:40 PM local time in Urubamba, and I have just spent the past 30 minutes writing my blog. Except the Wifi at my hotel just deleted my entry. So I guess I’ll write it again!
After being dropped off at the airport by my loving parents and having flown in to Miami via Nashville, I spent a 6 hour layover with Sammy and Melanie waiting for our flight to Lima. As I boarded the 767, I realized I got the middle row, and I was worried. I get motion sick very badly. After the first few minutes of the flight, we experienced heavy turbulence, but then my first conversation in Spanish with a Peruvian lady helped take my mind off the turbulence. We talked about Justise Winslow and Duke basketball (her favorite basketball team is the Miami Heat). Then, we landed and reunited with the rest of our group. We spent a four-hour layover waiting for our 3:50 AM flight to Cusco (I fell asleep on this flight, thankfully). We were then picked up by Alex and Mili, our program leaders, where they drove us to Urubamba to get acclimated to the altitude. I slept most of the drive, but I do remember driving by the Plaza de Armas in Urubamba and being shocked. It looked just like the plaza in Santa Maria de Dota in Costa Rica, where I had a homestay four years ago. With this in the back of my mind, we checked into the Hotel Amaru Valle, a beautiful hotel with clean rooms and a garden in the middle. Thankfully, we were permitted to sleep until 1 PM, but I slept only until 11 AM, whereafter I took a much-needed shower, read some Harry Potter, and found a Wifi spot where I was able to wish my brother Carter a happy birthday (he is 19 today). At 1 PM, we walked to lunch on the other side of the town, where I was first exposed to Peruvian food (chicken with garlic sauce, rice, garbanzos and various flans).
After lunch, I experienced serious culture shock. Our group decided to venture to the centro comercial, where we saw a very hustle-and-bustle scene; fruits and vegetables as far as the eye could see, meats butchered in front of our eyes, and stray dogs begging for scraps. I don’t know why, but I recoiled at this sight. I was so shocked that I had trouble keeping up with the group at the end. We returned to the hotel, where we had our first group meeting. We discussed various general information and money issues, where we even learned to spot counterfeit money.
After the meeting, we went to dinner at a pizza joint near the hotel. The pizza was okay (below average by my standards), but the highlight of the night came when I took my jacket off and accidentally cracked a lamp in half with my head. It didn’t hurt at all, but I was still embarrassed. We decided not to tell anyone and carried on with our meal. Then we walked back to the hotel (where we saw more stray dogs fighting over some garbage), I wrote the blog for the first time, and now I’m writing it for the second time.
I have a lot of concerns at this point. On the lighter side, I’m concerned about missing the NBA and NHL playoffs and the FA Cup Final tomorrow between Manchester United and Crystal Palace (I would appreciate score updates in the comments). But I’m also concerned about the culture shock I experienced. I’m guilty that I missed my brother’s birthday and that I will miss his high school graduation. I’m concerned mostly about the work ahead. I have nine weeks to work, but I have no idea what I’m going to do nor how I will get it done. Plus, the one-hour commute out of Cusco to the school on public transportation is daunting as well.
I’m starting to think that writing this blog will be therapeutic for me. It makes me feel a lot better to get my concerns out (though certainly not all better). I have also found that reading has helped me refocus as well.
Let’s hope this attempt at posting the blog works this time.