Peru: The First Couple of Days

18 05 2009
View from Plaza de Armas, the Main Square

View from Plaza de Armas, the Main Square

The Family House

The Family House

There´s lots going on right now, but I´ll start from the beginning.

The Flights

The flight from LAX to Lima was great. I sat next to a Peruvian man named Jorge who lives in California and was going back to visit his family. His English wasn´t very good, so I got to practice my Spanish a little bit before my arrival. We exchanged emails at the end of the flight. In front of me was another volunteer named Becky in my program who was going to Cusco as well.

After going through customs, Becky and I got some food at 1am and waited around/tried to sleep until our next flight left at 5:30am. During our wait, we met more volunteers. Turns out that our flight got cancelled due to major fog in the Lima airport. (By the way, the Lima airport is a lot nicer than I expected.) We were put on another flight, but we couldn´t leave until the fog cleared up several hours later. Let´s just say that I was really tired after over 24 hours of traveling.

The Arrival

After arriving in Cusco, I couldn´t find one of my bags in baggage claim. It finally showed up right before I was about to file a claim with the airline. Several volunteers lost their luggage, including my roommate. So happy it wasn´t me!

The Maximo Nivel staff picked us up from the airport and drove us to our homes. I´m living in a ¨family house,¨which means I live with about 10 to 11 volunteers. There are several bathrooms and several bedrooms, and it´s pretty nice since it´s newly renovated. Unfortunately, I am living in a triple, so I have two roommates. Apparently, I could have paid extra to live in a single, but I had no idea about that before. I can´t change anymore because everything is booked. Nonetheless, everyone is friendly and the beds are comfy.

There are housekeepers and cooks in the house, so I get very good food every day. Last night, they cooked a great meal of chicken and sauce with rice. On the side was a salad with beets and potatoes. Since everyone speaks English in the house except the cooks and housekeepers, I´m going to make an effort to talk to them to improve my Spanish.

Volunteer Work and Speaking Spanish

Our orientation was today, and I got placed in the construction program. I start tomorrow at 8:30am. I won´t do construction the whole time because I want to split my time doing different projects, perhaps teaching English or working in an orphanage. Maximo Nivel offers an intense TEFL program, where I would pay extra to get certified in teaching English. I am thinking about doing this, but it´s pricey.

After orientation, I took a Spanish placement test because I decided to sign up for Spanish classes. I was placed in the intermediate class, and I had my first lesson today. It was great! It´s with two other volunteers and the teacher, and we spoke Spanish the whole time. I have this class every week day for two hours. I also signed up to do a ¨tandem exchange¨where I talk in Spanish to someone and he/she talks to me in English. This starts tomorrow and wil be every day.

Going Out

I may go out tonight with some other volunteers. The night life is supposed to be very fun. People can wear whatever they want– some people wear jeans and a t-shirt and other get a little more dressy. Stay tuned!

P.S. Excuse any typos. This computer is set in Spanish, so it doesn´t auto correct. Took me forever to upload pics! Oh, and my Peruvian phone number is 084 984 037033. I think 084 might be the Cusco code, but I´m not sure. The country code might be 51. Try and call me from skype! It´s hard to call out using my cell phone.