The first week of my InterExchange Spanish Immersion Peru program in Cusco is coming to an end. My oh my, has it been an adventure!
Host Family Living
I live with two other girls, one from the States and the other from Dubai. Our routine has been something like this:
We go downstairs at 8:00 a.m. for breakfast. Sometimes our host mother will eat with us, and sometimes she is busy cleaning or preparing more food. Typically, we have an avocado with a hard boiled egg, bread with jam, and coffee or tea. Our host mother has been really great and flexible in making different foods, as one of the girls cannot eat gluten.
Our host family consists of three generations in one large four-story house: the parents, two unmarried daughters, and their brother with his wife and two children. The three of us studying here live on the third floor and the fourth floor is rented out to other travelers. Our host family's house has some of the most beautiful views I've ever seen.
After breakfast, we head to school. Two of the days it was pouring rain so we decided to take a taxi. We live approximately 1.5 miles from the school and it only costs 4-5 sols ($1.50 split 3-ways).
I take four hours per day of group lessons at the intermediate Spanish level, one roommate takes four hours at the beginner-intermediate level, and the other is volunteering and taking one hour of private lessons. All of us are beyond satisfied with our classes, our teachers, and the amount of Spanish we have learned in such a short period. Initially, I had thought that I didn't want to be living with other English speaking people and that it would limit me. I have found that the complete opposite is true: living with them really helps to improve my Spanish. We all remember different words and can bounce off each other so it has been a huge blessing and surprise how much I enjoy it and appreciate it.
Often, the three of us and a few other girls from school walk around the city and try new restaurants. The Plaza de Armas (the city center) is the home to every type of restaurant and shop imaginable. Once again, the prices are absolutely incredible. I have yet to spend over $3 on lunch. The best deal I've found is at a restaurant called Green Point. They have a salad bar for four sols (basically $1.33)!
Every night we eat dinner with our host family. Typical foods include white rice and chicken, sometimes with a delicious sauce made out of some type of squash. (They call all different types of squash "pumpkin," so we're never really sure what it is exactly, but it is yummy.) At all meals and at school, tea is always an option, so I have drank more tea than I ever have in my life! Typically we eat dinner at 8:00 p.m., which I thought was extremely late for them, but I've learned that eating dinner then is common.
One night the three of us decided to go out for dinner and dancing, so we let our host mother know that we didn't need dinner that night. We went out to one of the nicest restaurants in town called "Limo," where we all ordered two drinks, appetizers, an entre, and split a dessert. Our totals each were around $25.00. I am blown away every time I learn about the price of food here.
Next Stop: Machu Picchu
This weekend, the three of us have decided to go to Machu Picchu. We searched all over town with different agencies to find the best deal. Doing that is a must! The first prices we found started out around $340 US! Today, we are going to pay for our adventure and the total price is only $66. The difference in cost is our reward for shopping around (and also having a student ID). We all saved $20 for being students. I don't know why I thought to bring my student ID, but I am incredibly glad that I did! My next post will tell of the Machu Picchu Experience!