Yat's Big Trip travel blog

View of the Cathedral, when idling in the Plaza

...and the Cathedal at night...

...and the Plaza opposite

The balcony leading to my room...

...and the spiral staircase to the penthouse above...

My room (cover on second bed now removed by landlady)

My "studio" working space

Flor and Yasmin taking me to sample some Yemen food

Finally, "Heh-heh-heh" looking his best back in Guatemala

Well, I have moved into my little place for just over a week now. The other bed is still in the room, was going to request for it to be removed to give me more space, but have since found that it makes a good place to sit around the table and play "Shithead".

Any travellers who don't know how to play Shithead, I will teach you, as it is one of the most useful skills to have (next to speaking Spanish!). Yes, have had a few gatherings in my place, munching crisps, drinking rum and coke (or Bolivian red wine, thank you Claire and Manuel!) and playing lots of cards.

My Israeli friends Yasmin and Flor (met in Huaraz, again in Huacachina, Arequipa and Cusco) finally taught me how to play the infamous "Israeli game", which they have only recently learnt themselves. Called "Yanniv", we played two games until 1:30am the first night, as we all took turns being very lucky! Since then, we have played it in various places many many times. Our flights are booked to leave on the same day (to be changed to Buenos Aires for everyone), so we should be able to part in style with more "Yanniv", "Shithead", and "Slam!" in the airport lounge!

When I first moved - and many of the friends met travelling were either moving on, or returning home, I was sad, and anticipated periods of eating cold pastas alone in my room. Luckily have been meeting more "longer term" people, who are either studying Spanish for a month, or working on other voluntary projects. So there will still be people for me to speak English with in the evenings!

So almost every night this week, I have been out, or having them round at mine (almost always playing cards!). In fact, only managed to work more on the Paddington project when there was a mix up in the meeting place one evening!

Funnily enough, ran into Bernard (ex lawyer, Pennsylvania, USA) on Thursday night - who prefers to be known as "Lafe", but I called him "Heh-heh-heh" because of his dirty laugh. He was in my Spanish school in Antigua, Guatemala, who memorably rattled away in Spanish at me when we first met, and when I understood nothing. More visibly memorable though was a picture of him at Barbara's birthday party, which I will leave here for you to admire! :p Although he walked right past me, eight months after we had said goodbye, we haven't been very successful at arranging a meet-up to catch up, so won't be able to update any new additional gossip... sorry!

Another funny thing is the turn-around of my Mum's attitude to my travelling. Never enthusiastic about my going away for the year, she always tried her luck that I would come back earlier, whenever we spoke on the phone. When I finally broke the news to her that instead of coming back earlier (no way!), I was seriously considering extending my stay for an another half a year (going back to British winter, just when summer's about to begin again in South America??!), I asked if she would like to come and visit me instead?

A few days later, my sister told me Mum took two weeks off work, and wanted to come and visit me in a week's time! Wow! Problem was, flight is expensive at the height of summer (almost $2,000!), so now my sister and Mum may be visiting me at the end of August, when flights are cheaper. At the same time, my Mum asked me what it would be like to retire in South America?!?!?! She was drawn by the cheapness of everything, and the nice sunny weather (though I wouldn't exactly call it warm at the moment!!), and forgetting that she doesn't speak a word of Spanish... hehehe

Speaking of the weather, it is lovely here in Cusco. Warm in the day, but cold in the shade. As for the nights, definitely need all three layers of blankets, and possibly more, as still waking up with feet stone cold. Where is that nice French-Canadian made heater I saw earlier in Cusco??? More difficult when going out, as careful not wanting to lose any more items of clothings.

Domestically have tried out my new self-made kitchen. Have cooked a few times, but sometimes hunger drove me to a restuarant on the way home. But it is fun trying to be creative with the little I have... my best so far was some scrambled eggs I made in the rice cooker, though the flavouring of the instant noodles isn't that great. Must substitute with lots of soy sauce instead! A couple of attempts at making "proper food" were slightly bland, and left its smell all night... Also trying to eat less. There is something unnatural about eating two four-course meals a day... no matter how cheap and tempting!

The other thing I want to share with you, is watching "Hotel Rwanda" last Friday in one of the many numerous cine-cafes. There are many here in Cusco all showing pirate DVDs daily, and all with annoying leaflet distributors who all try to get you to watch at theirs - at the same time!!. Lobke (now travelling northwards in Peru) had seen most of the other ones already and would only stay for "Hotel Rwanda". There is a list of films for us to vote on which one to watch. Apart from the cover telling us that it won many awards and that it was based on a true story, I knew nothing about it. Hence was pleasantly surprised (if that's the right word to use?!) by the showing, which was totally mindblowing and heart wrenching. Looked around and found I wasn't the only one visibly touched by the film, and many were discreetly wiping something off their faces. Made the mind think lots afterwards.

And of course, the feeling of unity amongst people and nations came back again this week, with the bombings of London. Luckily with modern technology, it wasn't too difficult to keep in touch, not only with friends and family, but also with the British media. Have found it helpful to listen to Virgin radio, available over the internet, to be kept up-to-date with the latest news, as well as various messages from around the world, and how unanimous the international community is. Many echoed the tone from Sept 11, but I am glad that the scale is no way to the same extent. Also proud that London responded so well, the emergency service so well prepared, and how many of the Londoners were so calm. Emails from various friends show that quite a few people I know have had a narrow escape, and I am so relieved that they are fine.

Well, that is about all for this week... Hope you are all going well, thank you for checking up on my travels, and I hope to hear from you soon regarding the Paddington project! Cheers!

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