I am in Cusco, it is about 10am in the morning.
I arrived here yesterday afternoon, absolutely hammered from more than 40 hours on planes and in airports without any more than 3-hours in a row of sleep (however, on my flight between Santiago and Lima, I had a row of three chairs all to myself to I was out like a light from take-off to landing it was awesome) I slept from when I arrived at the accomodation to about 8pm, then again from about 10pm till 7am this morning, which is breakfast time here.
I’m staying at a place called the Family House, and it’s basically a mini-hostel with room for about 15 people. Its quite lovely, facilities are very good, beds comfortable, ridiculously clean (beds get made with new sheets every day), and they provide three meals and free tea and stuff. Breakfast this morning was fresh fruit, cereals with yoghurt, bread and eggs however you like them – it was awesome ya’ll know how much breakfast means to me! I was kinda hoping to get homestay accommodation because I felt like getting loved on by a family would really help my adjusting here, but I’m pretty happy here. It’s even better than my dorm accommodation in Korea – heaps better actually. Except it doesn’t have Nancy – who has forever ruined me in terms of roomates because I don’t think I’ll ever find anyone I get along with as well as I did with her. It also has wireless which is a massive *thumbs up*
Everyone I’ve met here is pretty much who you’d expect – free-wheeling, free-spirited, gypsy backpacker types from all over the world – they’re friendly but friendly in a “lets get drunk together” way rather than a “lets become bosom friends” way. I’ve figured out the reason why I find it so difficult to make friends in these kinds of environments is because generally people like me don’t travel to these kinds of places. Female, asian, indoor-person, non-drinker, non-partyer, homebody, nerdy – I belong in an office somewhere typing up memos. And even if I don’t make friends I thought I’d be pretty comfortable just walking around by myself but man, the only place I’ve ever done that is Korean and this is NOT Korea. I seriously overestimated my courageousness. I mean the whole point of this trip anyway was to put myself somewhere completely foreign and out of my comfort zone, so in that regard – MASSIVE SUCCESS. I have never been this out of my comfort zone, have never felt SO foreign. Like just the drive from Cusco airport to the volunteering office – I thought I had gone back in time or jumped into a movie or something because there is absolutely nothing western or modern about this place. Little houses sitting on mountains, cobbletone roads more suited to horses than cars, everything is made from brick, wood and stone… fascinating but I wasn’t able to appreciate it because I was so exahausted the only thing on my mind was “GET ME INTO A BED RIGHT NOW OR I’M GOING TO PASS OUT”
I haven’t actually been outside the house since then. I will though, I’ll go for a walk or something today but this is my rest weekend. I still don’t know where I’ve been placed as a volunteer – the people at Maximo Nivel ( the organisation) are very efficient and give you a feeling of being ‘processed’ – but with a smile of course.
Please excuse however many mistakes in spelling and just… missing words in this entry – my brain is seriously lacking oxygen resulting in constant dull headache. I totally understimated the effects of altitude… I was just like “pffft… a few hundred metres above sea level, what could that possibly do to a strong girl like me?!” But yeah, lack of oxygen basically just makes your body and brain feel drained, not to mention the dehydration – didn’t get a very good night’s sleep last night. Dehydration + dry cough = NO SLEEP. My head feels like it would feel on a day that I forgot my glasses to work… like only half with-it? I really should spend all my spare time right now learning spanish but my head REALLY isn’t in “learning” form right now. All I want to do is sleep but I really shouldn’t coz I need to get my body clock adjusted. Drinking somthing called “Coca tea” which is meant to help with altitude sickness, it’s quite pleasant just tastes like a mild green tea and it actually did make me feel better.
My way here was okay and pretty free of dramas. Santiago airport was a pretty good one to do a 18 hour stopover, I stayed in the VIP lounge for a while (cost me $25US but with free wireless, unlimited juice and snacks and just the feeling of NOT being in an airport, it was worth it) and then got very well acquainted with a row of chairs that had no hand rests. Also, PRAISE THE LORD for my inflatable travel pillow – my new best friend. The only semi-drama was at Lima airport where I had to collect my luggage and then check it in again, and in my still half-asleep state from mad nap on the plane, I forgot that there are two seperate counters for Check In and Departures at airports, and went straight to departures, went through security, paid my $6 airport tax and realised I should have checked in somewhere else and had to repeat the whole process. It was fine because I had plenty of time, but just running around the airport with a 16kg pack on my back was not pleasant. My back muscles are not used to that kind of weight!! Dreading the many more flights I have on this trip – am SO OVER AIRPLANES AND AIRPORTS RIGHT NOW.
Cusco is a lot warmer than expected, so feeling like I over-packed on the winter clothes a bit. Yesterday night, in my exhaustion, I had a bit of an emotional meltdown … like a “WHAT THE HELL AM I DOING HERE I WANNA GO HOME RIGHT NOW!!!!” kind of meltdown. I knew I’d have these, but yeah, I was feeling quite depressed. And I’m having heart palpitations!? okay maybe not heart palpitations, but just heart beating to the point where I could feel it in my chest – probably another altitude thing. Anyway, was feeling terrible, so prayed and ask God to strengthen my heart. Listened to the Jesusculture “Your Love Never Fails” album on my iPod, which is where the subject line of this entry comes from, from the title track. And I do feel better – I feel more at peace, less afflicted, less emotionally distraught. Why do I need to worry about being alone when the One who loves me most is always with me, right? As much as I would like to make friends, I know my loneliness will bring me closer to God so it’s okay. And also, as much as I don’t want to be the ‘boring, introverted Christian girl who’s no fun’, I’m not going to try to be anyone other than myself.
I got up quite early today (because I was desperate to eat breakfast) so I seem to be the only person in the house who’s awake, or who hasn’t gone away for a weekend trip. Very quiet, quite pleasant. I’m going to spend the day reading and resting – tomorrow I’m going to go to a church I found online, I think the only English speaking church in Cusco which I’m SUPER pysched about, but that’s in the evening so I think I’ll head to the markets or the main plaza to get stuff like sim card for my phone and exchange money and all that.
Wow I’ve written more than 1000 words. I think that’s a very comprehensive update on what has happened in the last two days … wow I’ve been sitting here for 1.5 hours! it’s almost lunch time in fact. mmm the weather looks very nice I’m going to go read a book. Still coughing… hopefully that’ll calm down over the next few days. I miss everyone, I’ve never missed people so much in my life. Well, when I get back there’ll be a whole lotta Heather-love heading your way!
Asta lluegos amigos