My twenty-minute walk to school this morning from my homestay in Santiago, an area of Cusco to the south of the main plaza, was eerily calm. Due to the country-wide transporation strike, "Paro," a protest of rising gas prices, among other complaints, I didn´t have to constantly guard my toes from speeding taxis, which swarm the city´s narrow, cobblestone streets with what seems like no sense of caution or pedestrians. Still, though, the city retains its constant buzz of merchants offering us cheap massages, paintings, yarn finger puppets, a rainbow of beautiful hats and sweaters..., and the many foreign languages that can be heard in this fairly tourist-centered place.

For the past two afternoons, our group has gone to three different locations around the expansive city for volunteer work: Caity, Devery, and Bre go to a home for young children and a few mothers, Brendan and Kenya to an afterschool program, and Chad, Julie and I to an orphange (Adam floats among all three). We all have had fun playing soccer, helping with homework, and seeing their joy at our cameras. Today, however, we can´t make the trek to our sites because of the strike, so plan to go on a hike in the hills above the city, a sort of warm up for our journey up the Incan Trail to Machu Picchu, which begins Saturday.

Yesterday, I made the trip up to "Cristo Blanco," a tall white statue of a Jesus figure, during some free time, and I was greeted by locals offering me trips on horses to different ruins, many llamas, and a spectacular view of the city. I´m sure we all will experience such things this afternoon, but before then, I´m off to the main plaza, "Plaza de Armas," to observe the protests.

Paz y Amor de Peru,


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Author Sara Schilling Posted

Program Peru Departure 2008