Archive for February, 2010

Ending ceremony, salsa and farm life

February 24, 2010

Hola corazones

Since last time, I have finished my project at a great ceremony and started doing community work. Socially, I have been busy too. An old friend from Denmark was in Cusco and it was weekend, so that always involves a lot of people. Thursday, we had the closing ceremony for the teacher training project, which turned out to be quite an emotional affair and at the same time great. The three levels(basic, intemediate and advanced) had all prepared performances. Henry and I’s class did a personalized verison of ?let it be? and it was actually quite successful, with the help of fingersnapping(Henry and I) we succeeded to have some rhythm and everybody enjoyed themselves which obviously wad the most important.  The advanced class did versions of Snow White and The Three Little Pigs, it was magnificent – the acting was really funny and good and their level of English is just incredible. The intermediate class did a play/musical thingy which was hilarious as the students’ acting was very tele-novela like, and there were some problems with pronounciation which made us teachers crack up.Us teachers, however, also had to perform and we had chosen the Italian song Volare, as there exist a versions in Spanish(the most famous actually) and in English. Sara and I then translated it into Danish as well (quite successfully if we may say so ourselves)  so Irene sang in Italian, Sara and I in Danish, Ashely, Henry and Christine in English and finally all of us in Spanish.  After all the performances came the serious part: the handing over of certificates to our students. This was amazing, I felt so proud of them and we all got a bit emotional. Afterwards, we were also handed certificates unexpectedly,  and our students gave us presents. My students had bought diaries for Henry and I, I was really touched. Afterwards, we all went out for lunch and then said good bye, it was so strange to see them disappearing down the street knowing that you probably will not ever see them again. So yes, that was the end and it was weird but I cannot express how much I loved my project and I am so happy I chose to that paritcular one, which is probably the most worthwhile and important one Projects Abroad have in Peru.

Feeling a  it sad, us teachers went and had coffee with soem strong stuff in. While, we were sitting there at Irene and I’s favorite cafe, my old OD friend Josefine walks in. What a coincidence! I knew she was in town as she had facebooked me(I ❤ > FACEBOOK) but waht are the chances of that cafe at exactly that moment. It was great to see her, and her friend Cecilie(also OD) was lovely. So Irene and I met up with them at night and showed them some of our favorite spots – mirador, mojitos at Siete Anglitos and then some table football at Bullfrogs. I feel like such a local, its awesome.

Friday, we did community work in the Sacred Valley and we played around with the kids. For example, we had a pillow fight and came up with dance moves in our groups(elements). However, Irene and I got the leftover kids whodid understand that you had to divide into groups, so we had our problems with making them concentrate, haha. In the evening, teaching team and Josefine and Cecilie had dinner at Km O again, as we love their thai food and saw the band again. We are becoming groupies of a really bad looking band, haha, says something about how much you appreciate people how play their instrumets well in Peru, South American music revolution literally skipped this country. Afterwards, we went clubbing and were home at like 4.

Next morning we got up at 7, puh, and went to to more community work in Calca. The children painted a piece of white linen so that it looked like the river, and then did activites where they moved the river up and down and at different tempos. This was, of course, all an allusion to the river that took their houses and I thought it was really beautiful and they were so happy to get all dirtied up with paint. Saturday eve ing Irene and I and two other voluteers(a French and A Dutch girl) wnet to a club where there were salsa lessons and we had so much fun, now that we are really getting a hang of it. However, we went home early as we had to get up early next morning to go to our host family’s field in the countryside.

So Sunday morning, we got up early again again, and left with Maria, our host mother, to her native villange Zurite. After a trip to the market and a lot of combi driving we arrived in the stunning countryside. We walked to Maria’s little cottage in her fields, where we picked corn from the fields. It was a glorious day weather-wise and we spent time just de-peeling corn and laying around in the sun. We devoured a great meal of corn, cheese, tomate, chili and avocado that Maria prepared at an open fire. I totally overate, haha. We then walked up to the village through the fields and reached the tent settlements. Zurite has been hit very badly by the rains, and as the village is up a mountain, they have had to evacuate the whole village as the danger of more landslides is too imminent. We spemt some time with Maria’s brother who is the father of two adorable twins and wnet for a wlak in the wrecked town. It was shocking. Massive landslides had cut their way through the town, and the school and lot of houses were completely destroyed.

This week, we are doing community week and yesterday we ent to Yucay(Sacred Valley) and played with kids. Today, we did a dental health campaign, which was awesome. Basically we were given face masks, tooth brushes, gloves and fluoride. We then drove to differnt locations, and applied fluoride to the kids’ teeth and explained them how to brush their teeth and supplied them with toothbrushes. The state of the childrens’ teeth was  appalling, full of cavities and just destroyed. was quite horrible, but I am happy tha twe are doing somehtimng, it is obviously needed. Tomorrow, we are also doing this campaign. i am looking forward to it, it is fun and we look like mad scientists 🙂

You might not hear from me for a while, as this Sunday I am flying to the jungle with Irene and we are staying for a week, yeeeahhh. I cant wait!!! So chao chao and take care chicos

In general the coming weeks(4-5) I will be backpacking with Irene. We have planned an awesome Peru tour, and it will be incredible. It does mean that my internet access will not be as regular, but I aim to keep you as updated as possible.


Let it be, community workshops and early morning ruins

February 17, 2010

Hello lovelies

Here I am again. Last week went by so quickly that I did not get a chance to write a post at all. Project-wise, things are drawing to a close, which is scary, time has really flown by. In some ways, it is nice as I can’t wait to go travelling. On the other hand, I have grown soo fond of my class and I am not ready to let them go at all. There is so much I want them to learn and I will really miss them. After six weeks of seeing each other almost 4 hours a day, you form bonds and we have had so many laughs.  So this Thursday will be very bittersweet. We are going to have a sort of ceremony, where we will perform with the different classes and hand our students their completion diplomas.  My class will be performing an adapted version of Let it be, that Henry and I wrote, sitting in the clinic waiting for blood work 🙂

Let it be -Laerke and Henry edit [Short version]

When I find myself in times of trouble,

Laerke and Henry come to me.

Speaking words in English.

Let it be.

And in my hour of darkness,

they are standing right in front of me.

Speaking words in English.

Let it be.

Teaching words in English.

Let it be.

And when the broken-hearted students,

living in Peru agree.

We will get the answers.

Let it be.

For though they may be parted,

There is still a chance that they will see:

Subject, verb then object.

Let it be.

Yeah, there will be answers.

Let it be.

Teaching words in English.

Let it be.

And when the night is cloudy

And the homework’s quite tricky

Hand it in tomorrow.

Let it be.

I wake up to the sounds of voices,

Practicing vocabulary

Speaking words in English.

Let it be.

So for the last week, Henry and I have been trying to teach them this song. However it has not been as easy as we thought, because our students proved to be quite tone-deaf, and everyone insist on singing in their own personal rhythm and lets say that even after a 6 weeks course, their pronounciation leaves much to be desired,hahha. So it will be a lot of fun on Thursday and afterwards we are all going out to eat again, so a really nice ending to the course. Last Thursday, we also had a lovely time. We had a small pre-Sct. Valentine’s Day thingy. Henry and I bought cake and two of the girls from our class had cooked guinea pig(marsvin) which is a local speciality, and we had a little lunch. It was wonderful, and after eating the guinea pig you have to drink this home-made rum with little tiny bones in it, and the cup was passed until the last bone was gone. Really weird, but hilarious, and as Henry was on anti-biotics I had to take quite a few for the team, haha.

Friday,  I had my last Spanish class and afterwards Irene and I went into town and spent our afternoon wandering around San Blas and found info for our travels. It was a sunny day, so at 6 o’clock we purchased some beers, a coca brownie and coca cookie and went up to our favorite mirador (A place in San Blas with an enchanting view of the city.) When it got dark, we went to a lovely little bar where they served Thai food(!!!) and great Pisco sours. Here we spent the next couple of hours eating, drinking and listening to a live band, which could actually play their instruments well and they played all the good ol’ classics. It was maginficent. We went home early, intoxicated and happy, as the next morning we had to do community work in the Sacred Valley.

So Saturday morning, we went to Calca to do a workshop with kids whose families have lost their homes to the rain. After a troublesome busride(bus left 30 hour late, then we had to get off halfway because electricity cables were laying across the road, Peru really makes you patient. ) we arrived in Calca and had a great time playing with the kids, who are adorable. We played with face paint and papmache. It was fun! The workshop was organised by a child psychologist who is trying to take the kids’ minds off their current situation and by playing games where we are the the elements, she is trying to re-establish the kids’ trust in “nature” who betrayed them, and also just to help them express their emotions. So, we will be working with these kids every Friday and Saturday morning the next two weeks. I am happy to do this project, because the kids really need us, it is exhausting, but so important.

After the workshop, we returned to Cusco and after a 3 hour disco-nap, Irene and I set out for at wild night in Cusco. We had a great dinner, and then toured quite a few bars, and afterwards even more clubs. We met lots of cool people, and ended up hanging our with some Kiwis. At 6 0’clock in the morning, we climbed the 200 steps up to the local ruins Sacsayhuaman where the entrance is free before 7 o’clock. So quite drunk and exhausted we went around, chewing coca lefs and enjoying the beautiful ruins which are comprised of the biggest stones I have ever seen. Eventually, we fell asleep on one of those gigantic stones, and when we woke up we went to have breakfast at a cafe in Plaza de las Armas, what an incredible night and morning. The rest of the Sunday we spent sleeping and watching girlie movies. Life is good.


Lake Titicaca [Titirrarra], Puno and dead sheep.

February 9, 2010


Its time for a new update: A lot has happened, both good and bad, but mainly awesome. My salmonella and paracites are GONE, yes! I have renewed faith in my immune system, basically after starting on anti-biotics I felt fine and today I went for my check up and was completely cleared. The diet, however, was a fucking killer. I have never craved real food so much before, being in a supermarket was literally torture – all I could think about was “the forbidden fruits”. The worst part was Thursday, when we all went to a ceviche(raw seafood mariated in chili and lemon) restaurant with our students. Henry and I had to eat plain rice and boiled sweet potato, while having to watch the others devour the most delicoius looking food I have ever seen. Frustration!!!!However, we are coming back to that restaurant to take our revenge some time this week.

Thursday evening, we( Henry, Christine, Sara, Ashley, Irene and I) went to the bus station in Cusco to take the bus to Puno.  We mounted the bus and all was well, until some Peruvians insisted that we were sitting their seats. We discovered horrified, that we had paid for first class seats instead of the regular we had asked for. So we had to move to first class, it might not sound so bad, but we had been tricked into paying double price  when we had specifically asked for regular seats. So yea, after some shouting and swearing, we were on our way. We arrived in Puno next day at 5 in the morning, and went to our lovely hostel, which had a great roof terrace, nice breakfast and rooms. After a bit of sleep, we went out to see  Puno which turned out to be a charming place with lots of tuk-tuks, bikes and of course the great Lake Titicaca. Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world, which basically means that you cant put a boat higher than this (4000 meters). The lake is immense,  like an ocean and the Peru-Bolivian border runs through it.  We walked around Puno for some hours and had lunch at  a restaurant which showed us the standard of service in Puno. Ashely, who is vegetarian, had to send her dish out 3 times because, first they brought soemthing which had ham in it, then soemthing which had chicken, and lñastly the wrong thing. As a waitress, Puno was incredibly painful to be in. The service was sooooo slow, drinks took about 1/2 hour – dinner was a 2 hour affair.  I felt so good at my job, and if anyone from Wagamama reads this: You rock at your job, the people in Puno would last just about 30 seconds! Friday afternoon it was raining heavily so we retreated to the hostel and played cards for hours (I am getting a serious addiction) and then took a walk along the lake and had dinner in town. After dinner, we went to the main square, where traditional dancing and fireworks marked the beginning of the festival: Virgin de la Candelaria, which is the largest folklore festival in Peru. There were bands(78!) and parades all over town, and everybody were dancing the same dance. On our way home, we joined a parade of old women who were dancing. It was awesome, and so much fun. The locals were so astonished, that several people filmed us on their phones etc. Hilarious! just after this, I was standing in a crowd, when and old women past me and she grabbed my hair between her fingers and touched it with wonder – first I froze as a proper Scandinavian with intimacy problems would, but then we just laughed. All in all, great night.

Saturday was actionpacked, we started off at 9 in the mornign with a tour to the Uros floating islands. The Uros are islands in the lake which are made purely of reed and the Uro Indians have been living here for about 500 years. Originally, they  built the islands to escape the Incas, but somehow just stayed there. It is a very turisty experience, but nevertheless amazing, as the islands and boats are beautiful (Pictures will follow shortly). In the afternoon, we went to Puno’s other main attraction: Sillustani. Sillustani is a burial place for the pre- Inca tribes and Incas also. It consists of overground burial towers, overlooking the breathtaking Lake Umayo. The tallest tower, which was built by the Incas had perfectly carved stone, which had holes in the sides of them, so that when they were put together a space was created. The Incas filled the space with earth so that in case of earthquakes the vibrations would be absorbed, the the tower would remain. I am in such awe of these Incas, talk to me about white guilt when you have been to South America. The extent of damage that the conquistadores did is just unimaginable!

After Sillustani, a Quecha farm, naps and dinner. We joined the madness which was going on, on the streets. The city was filled with dance troups, all in costumes dancing about. However, at one point we retreated to a bar where we were subjected to an awful bad. The idea that South americans are good at playing instrumets and singing was turned into an urban legend – especially a cover of ‘Where is the love’ (Black Eyed Peas)  was so terrible that we could not do anything but laugh our arses of. Sunday, we went home after seeing more parades of dancers in the morning. The bus journey was a bit gruelling. Not only did it last 8 and half hours, we were also blessed with a fucking lunatic driver. In the middle of a game of 20 questions(for the professor- we were so bored, haha) we suddenly(had front row seats) saw the bus heading towards a flock of sheep crossing the road, and NOT slowing down. The next thing we heard was bum-bum-bum, the sound of animal bodies being crashed against the bus. We were so shocked, particularly as the driver just kept on going and did not stop until about 10 km after, to clean the bus. Most likely, he waited until we were far enough away so that no one would come after us. It was such disgusting behaviour, not only he had had the chance to slow down, it was a compeltely strainght road, it was also a complete disregard of the poor farmer, to who the loss of 3 sheep is detrimental, it is so much money – both wool and meat. Horrifying! Anyway, we made it to Cusco and today life is back to normal, except for the fact that our host mother told Irene and I that her village was completely destroyed this weekend when massive landslides came down as a consequence of the rain.The situation is still bad, therefore we are doing community work to help the farmers in the Sacred Valley next weekend.  So yes, you cannot say life is boring in Peru.

Quiet week, weather madness and sickness

February 2, 2010

Hola chica y chicos

A little update, the last week was in some ways very quite and in others a bit extreme. First of all, do not know if you have heard, but we had the worst rain falls in recorded Peruvian history. This led to collapsed bridges, land slides, rock slides etc. The train rails in Machupicchu were destroyed when the road washed over them, so 2000 turists were evacuated out of Aguas Calientes (the city next to Machupicchu). In Cusco however we did not feel it too much, it was mainly the Sacred Valley and small pueblos where houses disappeared and crops were destroyed, so the whole area was declared in a state of emergency. The rain fell mainly over three days, and it was insane, it rained all day long. The streets were small rivers, so we stayed indoors most of the time. I have been perfectly fine however, we went about teaching as normal and I enjoyed a week, where I watched my students make good progress. Henry and I felt like proud parents. Our students were, for example, able to explain simple English grammar in spanish to us in small presentations, where they used game and props. It seems that our untraditional and creative way of teaching is rubbing off, which is awesome to see! On the weekend, we had planned to go to Machupicchu, but obviously that was cancelled! So instead, Irene and I spent our Friday on eating lunch out, walking about getting to know Cusco even better, did a bit of shopping and then found a sunny spot in a park where we vegged and tried to get a tan. Saturday, we(the teaching team) climbed up to the local Inca ruins, but appalled by the entry price, we decided to wait to another day, where by going early, we can get in for free. Instead, we went to the local gringo hang-out and had pancakes and played simpsons cluedo, while enjoying the all day happy hour( fantastic caiprinhas, daiquires etc. for 2 euros, not bad I tell you) However, this was the end of merriment. I started feeling sick and had really bad stomach cramps. It came to the point where I had to take a taxi home, after not been able to finish my dinner. Sunday, I continued feeling sick and this morning, Henry, my teaching partner, told me he had the exact same symptoms as me, and we therefore went to the clinic after teaching. Here, we spent the next 5 hours. They ran some tests on us, and I was diagnosed with salmonella and paracites! Henry was also diagnosed with paracites. We think it came from a bad steak which we had at a restaurant, so of course this really really sucks and it has not been pleasant, but under the circumstances I am fine. I have been prescribed about 5 different kinds of meds, in funky colours, and I should be fine in a couple of days. I do have to go on a sort of diet the next three days, which means no dairy, no fried food, no spicy food, no fresh vegetables and fruits. This is the worst part, haha…so yea, plain rice, pasta and some cereales is all I am allowed 😦 However, I am just glad that we caught it now, and I will be fine. So do not worry, I know it sounds a bit overwhelming, I am a bit overwhelmed myself, salmonella AND paracites seems a bit excessive, but really I will be just fine in a matter of days!