Groggy after my flight from Miami to Lima. Arrived at 4:35am local time, had to go through immigration, collect my bags, & recheck in for my flight to Cusco. I met a young woman, Emily, who happened to be in front of me in line at the airport and we found out that we were doing the same program volunteering and would both be in the medical placement. She is 22 from San Diego and hopes to go to PA school and is headed to NYU for her master´s next fall. The flight from Lima to Cusco was beautiful. We flew just above the mountains and landed safely in the beautiful Cusco. Emily & I collected our luggage and walked outside to meet the person greeting us at the airport. Seven other volunteers were there as well & we hopped in a local van taxi where our luggage was chucked onto the roof and we squeezed very tightly.
We toured Maximo Nivel, the volunteer program here, immediately got some Mate de Coca tea (helps with altitude problems almost instantly), and headed off to our respective houses. Emily and I ended up in the same house, which was nice, along with two Canadians, Lauren (22) & Annie (21). We are staying in La Florida with about 15 other volunteers. The house staff cooks us breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They make our beds every day, give us fresh towels, boil our water so it´s safe to drink, and are very friendly. Obviously, I´m totally roughing it... I didn´t feel too tired the first day, so I went to the market with my two roommates Briony (from Australia and who left yesterday), and Michelle (from Michigan, who has been here since February). After the market we went to lunch at Los Perros (a couch cafe/bar) where I ordered a delicious sandwich. Crunchy chicken, avocado, butter lettuce, tomato, and toasted sesame seeds (heavenly) for 16 soles (about $5). It hit the spot! I then walked with Lauren and Annie back to La Florida and finally took a nap at 16:00 for an hour and a half. Woke up for dinner and chatting with the housemates and watched a few episodes of The Office some other girls. I hit the hay by 21:40 and got a nice rest in. Woke up at 6:30 to be at Maximo Nivel by 7:15. Emily and I planned on taking a cab, but the line for taxis was about 20 people long, so we walked. It´s about a 20 minute walk, uphill, and I barely made it. We were a bit late for orientation, but that´s okay. Met a guy from London who is super proper, I love it. He´s 19 and here to teach English and he refers to college as "uni," which is awesome. I glanced up at the TV after orientation, with a cup of Coca in my hand and saw that Osama bin Laden died. Very interesting!
My project was a lot of fun. I helped a guy (EMT from Michigan, pre-med) buy scrubs at a medical supply store. They only had green scrubs in medium... so they're a bit tight on him... oh well! I was assigned to "Topico" meaning the topical department. I saw some pretty sweet open-wounds & saw a few shots of penicillin go in the butt. Most of the time, though, I helped unroll cotton to make cotton balls (made my nose itch like crazy) & cut up and fold layers of gauze. All the things we take for granted! I also was involved in a real life telenovela! Marilou (the lady that I was working with) saw her ex in the waiting room & she got all flustered and tried to hide. A few minutes later, we drew the curtain and the man knocked on the door asking for "Mari." She was hiding, of course. Hilarious! Oh, and one of the patient's asked me what Colorado is famous for making (or at least I thought), so I answered beer (like Coors). He was really asking what my favorite thing to eat from home was... and I answered beer. Whoops. There are bound to be a few things lost in translation, and that's okay.
All the volunteers in the house are super nice. It's about an even ratio between Canadians and Americans & the lone Brit. I'm quite enjoying all my adventures (including but not limited to trash pick up this morning where the trash man rang a bell up and down the entire street at 4am). More, of course, to come.
Here are some beautiful pictures from the last few days. I haven´t met any llamas yet (but a local did give me a run down on the differences between llamas, alpacas, and another word for the like, all the while trying to sell me a wooden llama for 30 soles or $10). My first purchases were of warm socks (it gets chilly at night), a water bottle holder, and llama bracelets!
Gliding over the Andes.
Snacks & coffee from Lima to Cusco.
One of the many markets.
My first purchases (a total of about $4).
View out my front & back windows