It is 9:14 PM in Urubamba. I am currently watching Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Toronto Raptors and the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Raptors are in control right now but Cleveland is catching up. I’m very proud of myself for being able to find this game on Peruvian TV. Anybody who knows me well knows I will do whatever it takes to find a game I want to watch on TV.
Today was a great day. I woke up to my 7:15 AM alarm after just over 9 hours of sleep, so I was well-rested for the day. Breakfast was excellent; fresh fruit, fresh bread with strawberry jam, and fresh, buttered scrambled eggs. Excellent. After breakfast, we had our sexual harassment training in English with Mili. Alex had to go back to Macchu Picchu to pick up a student from another program who got sick there, so Mili has in charge for the day. Another complication we were faced with was the lack of power and water during the morning. We were told by the hotel groundskeeper (a grizzled, strong man of 78) that every Saturday for the past 2 months, the power had gone out in all of Urubamba in the morning. After the sexual harassment training, we then proceeded to learn basic safety tips for Cusco. I found this session very enlightening. Looking back on it, the tips were basic common sense, but they were things that definitely needed to be reinforced.
Then, we walked to a nice restaurant in the city called 3 Kesos. I had a fettuccine alfredo with roquefort cheese that was excellent. The owner was a Michigan fan (although a native Peruvian) and joked with us about our basketball rivalry, seeming to forget that the Fab 5, the best basketball team Michigan ever had, never beat Duke; in fact, they lost to us 3 times. Mili then took us to buy ice cream in the Plaza de Armas. Then we had time to relax. I read more Harry Potter and made friends with the black cat that roamed the grounds. I named him Berlioz after the character from the Aristocats. We became fast friends. After my time with Berlioz, we learned of our homestay assignments. I received a very touching letter from them. They are an active family who hike and bike and have 2 dogs to boot. I’m excited to get to know them tomorrow.
After the homestay meeting, which ended early, I decided to go for a quick run. The weather was perfect, the sun was going down, and I figured it was the best time to run, especially because we would have to pack in the morning. Just one minute into the run, I noticed I couldn’t breathe very well. After three minutes, I had mucus stuck in my throat. After eleven minutes, I decided I was in the wrong part of town and it was getting dark a lot quicker than I expected, so I turned around and ran to the hotel, making my run last for just under 20 minutes, a record low for me. I learned a few lessons here: not to run at sunset, to know where I am running before I go, and to run with buddies. I am not invincible. In fact, I’m a bit of a chicken.
Speaking of chicken, for dinner we went to a pollería, a place known for quartered rotisserie chicken served with fries. I found it pretty good. Walking back to the hotel, I spent some quality bonding time with Alex. We talked about my previous experience in Costa Rica, sports, and band. Apparently he played soprano sax in high school (shout-out to Mr. Rundberg). I am starting to bond really well with Mili and Alex. They are good people who really care about our well-being. I look forward to leaning on them in the future.
My anxiety and culture shock has decreased significantly. Maybe I just needed a good night’s sleep to get over it.
Tomorrow I meet my homestay family in Cusco. I’m excited!