When we first touched down in Cusco I was most definitely in shock. Looking out of the airplane window gave me the feeling of being in a movie. I wasn´t filling out my application anymore. I wasn´t waiting to see if I´d be accepted into the South America progam. I was, and am in Perú. Now I wouldn´t say that I´m not in shock anymore, but I also wouldn´t say that the feeling of terrified wonder isn´t welcome.
So far Urubamba has been the perfect place to settle into life as a student. The host families are affectionate, understanding and kind. The city itself is similar. It doesn´t wait on you of course, but it´s friendly towards us visitors. Park sweepers let you know if your jacket has fallen in a puddle. The mountains say goodmorning the moment you step out onto the street, and natives are glad to answer any questions you may have. Although I think it helps that, as a student you aren´t completely alone with your group.
The air feels different here (maybe it´s the altitude), and a lot of other details in the city feel different too. Dogs roam the streets but they truly don´t require much pity. They´re well fed and not as itchy as one would think. Some of them look like fully grown dogs with much too small legs, but that´s beside the point. They´re well fed, mostly happy dogs that take part in life as normally as we do. They live life as normally as one would, because it is normal for them. (This section of my ramblings are not meant to minimize the problem of the stray dog population, but possibly shed some light on, at least in my observations a not extremely negative side of it)
The pigeon with one leg (saw this minor enigma in the plaza, a square comparable to the idea of downtown in the united states ) threw me off and I felt pretty awful for a solid ten minutes, but then I realized something. The pigeon was not distressed, in fact it was rather unbothered. It never flinched while it walked on its stumpy substitute for a leg, and it was purely oblivious to how its body dropped an inch every time it took a step. It reacted to everything very similarly to the street dogs. It kept on moving forward, possibly minorly bothered by its set backs and problems, but not held back by them. I´m highly considering living my life like a one-legged pigeon. I could definitely use the time I spend worrying on eating good food, hanging out with my host family and bonding with my specific dragons´ group.
I came on this trip with the main goal of learning Spanish, but so far living freely has been one of the most important things I´ve learned so far.
Ortientation was truly what you´d think it´d be; getting to know the group, finding where one fits in the group and learning all the do´s and don´ts of living in Perú.
The trek was something else. The views were not like anything I had ever seen before. The plants grew in almost perfect circles the higher in elevation we trekked. The way these plants grew seemed to hold the ground and mountain in place. The water did the opposite. Rain and snow-melt fed large and small waterfalls that then ripped through the mountainsides. The way that these streams, waterfalls and plants worked together created a truly unique landscape. It wasn´t all waterfalls and rainbows though. At higher elevation I moved so much slower and had a lot of trouble breathing at some points. But by the third day I got the hang of it. It was a pretty steep learning curve but I´m so grateful for the personal lessons that trek gifted me.
Currently I´d describe this trip as exactly what I needed.
Thank you for reading