Thursday, 2 April 2009

20 hours of travel later...

And here I am. Sitting in an Internet cafe in the town of Pisac, in the Sacred Valley in Peru. It has been a completely overwhelming day.

This is largely to do with the fact that the journey in total was 20 hours, of which I slept about two. It had its positives - I had an interesting chat with a Frenchman off to the Amazon, and saw two very good films (Fight Club & Witness). I promised a friend I wouldn´t be pretentious on this, but I think I can get away with saying that Fight Club is pretty unique (and very, very violent). Edward Norton and Brad Pitt were totally enthralling, and I reckon the anti-consumerist slant now seems in a perverted way to be ahead of its time.

Anyway, I ended up at Cusco airport at 9am. Met people from Projects Abroad, then was taken on a whirlwind tour of the city in a rickety old taxi. The experience was a bit like watching parts of Slumdog Millionaire through a car window. The colours of people´s clothes and the buildings is unlike anything in Britain. But then many of the buildings and roads are crumbling, and it only seems picturesque until you realise people have to live in it. There is something uncomfortably voyeuristic about this sort of trip, perhaps. Though of course I´m here to do more than just look.

A combination of altitude and interesting driving left me feeling sick on the way to the Sacred Valley, where I´ll be living. The scenery was nonetheless astonishing: steep slopes of deep green capped with glaciers. This is a rural area in the sense we can barely imagine. It is really a different world. Farm animals roam the only main road at their free will, and children walk miles home from school. The old women really do wear the traditional Andean dress - colourful striped shawl with bowler hat. Again, the buildings are at once romantic and tragic.

The family with whom I´m staying seem cheerful and welcoming, though they of course do not have the whole world to share. My teaching looks as if it will be delayed a bit due to Holy Week (which supersedes everything), but there is apparently other community work to be done.

That´s all I can remember of what I wanted to say. Must try to stay awake this evening...

P.S. the flag of Cusco, the ancient Inca capital, is exactly the same as the Gay Pride flag. I will admit it puzzled me when I first saw it on the town hall...

P.P.S. At some stage I will work out how to upload photos to this thing. Haven´t actually taken any yet.

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