My mantra for this last week has been “another day, another parade”.
Cusco continues to be deep into celebrating the history and heritage of Peru. In June, the rainbow flag, widely referred to as the “Flag of the Incas”, flies from every viable balcony, flagpole, and windowsill. The flag represents the repatriation of indigenous customs into Peruvian culture. This week is the transition from Corpus Christi (a Roman Catholic tradition) to Inti Raymi (an Incan Empire tradition). This means that the celebrations will have less concentration on religious icons and move towards the Quechua colors, textiles, and customs. Inti Raymi is also known as the Festival of the Sun and is one of the largest and grandest traditions in Peru.
In this second week there has been a tremendous shift in growing my Spanish. All of the wonderful teachers at Latino School have been so patient and kind. I really feel like I’m starting to come out of my language shell. While increasing vocabulary has been a lovely contribution, it is speaking Spanish every day that has been the keystone to my confidence. I have been able to order food, purchase school supplies, pick out new shoes, and converse with locals and visitors without the crippling fear from before. I have enjoyed getting to further know my host family and stringing together more complex thoughts and questions.
Thus far, my advances in understanding numbers in Spanish is my favorite milestone. Prior to arriving in Cusco, I was petrified of trying to exchange money or shop in las tiendas for the dread of attempting to interpreting prices. While I still struggle with some number groups, the growth in this realm has been astronomical and has been enormously satisfying.
My favorite place to meander and eat is the San Pedro market. It’s a large indoor and outdoor market teeming with fresh fruit of all kinds, nuts, textiles, hot foods, flowers, and artisanal goods. After school, there is nothing better than a jugo de naranja, piña, and lúcuma. Add honey and pollen and ¡muy delicioso!
It has also been amazing to be so immersed in Peruvian life. To ride the crowded city bus is nothing like I’ve ever experienced. The same goes for navigating the traffic of Cusco. Here, the pedestrian is not the maestro of vehicles. At home, it is common to put in headphones and follow the flow of traffic lights and crosswalks. In Cusco and without experience, that same action would be a careless one. To navigate the streets, one must be bold and cautious; lest a wild taxi or bus take their claim of right of way. Lastly, it is inspiring to see how much Peru really loves being Peru. There is pride, beauty, and rituals to represent the vast and diverse love that the citizens of Peru have for their country.
Until next week, otro día, otro desfile.