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Here is a day in the life of Jillian in Peru...

First, I wake up at about 7.15 in the morning.  I go and switch on the little switch by the shower to make sure I get hot water, and have to remember to turn the knob the opposite direction than normal to get hot water (this was quite an experience the first time, the water kept getting colder and colder the more I turned it to the left).

Once I'm all dressed (usually in jeans, because nobody wears skirts here, but I was told by one of the guys at my school that it is because the women don't have as nice of legs as I do- they do tend to be a bit
thick here), I go downstairs, where I say "Buenos Dias, Como estas" to whoever is around (usually Sonia) and give them the customary kiss on the cheek, as I sit down to eat my breakfast.  This usually consists
of a type of bread specific to Cuzco, which is kind of like a roll, with jam, coffee, and whatever else they decide to serve me.  Sometimes it is eggs, sometimes french fries, once chicken, and today it was jello and cake, which was quite interesting. 

After visiting with them in Spanish for quite a while, I take off for the bus.  I walk about a block, down sidewalks that are heavily eroded (acid rain from the pollution ??) and smile at passerbyers who stare at me (what is a gringa doing here?).  I pass by many dogs that run wild through the streets, eating trash, and look like they have had about 20 litters, and wait for the bus "El Dorado", which is the size of a large van. I cram myself on the bus, and if I'm lucky, I get a seat.  If not, I stand, and once again receive looks, because I'm always the only gringa on the bus.  Eventually the guy who hangs out the door and shouts the direction of the bus at the stops like an auctioner, comes around to collect my 50 centivos (about 15 cents).  Eventually, we come to my stop, and I shout "abaja", and climb down to the street below, where I don't get as much odd looks, because now I'm in tourista territory, and I'm not so odd.

I make my way up the little alleyway, that has a gutter running down the middle of it, and sometimes smells like urine, to the little archway that leads to the courtyard of my school.  I listen to the two parrots that live in the courtyard, as I climb the big thick steps that are from colonial times.  I have to catch my breath a little at the top, and then make my way down to the door that says Macchu Pichu Spanish
School.  There I greet my fellow students (there are about 8 of us), and evenually find my way into a little classroom with my "professor" and the other girl from Germany who is at the same level I am.  For the next two hours, we practice the eight million ways to conjugate spanish verbs, while listening to the professor's machismo jokes, and do other exercises, like describe our perfect man, or who are favorite
male actors are, or tell the professor how he should treat a woman.  Do you see a theme?

Then we have a fifteen minute break, where I try to get on the internet a bit, or sometimes visit with others, before we are shuffled into the class for the next two hours with a different professor.  Basically
the same stuff, but no machismo jokes, instead we usually talk about the differences of cultures, which of course I love.

Afterward I make my way to the plaza and pass by all the people that want to shine my shoes, sell me phone cards, dolls, pieces of cloth, post cards, trips to macchu picchu, or sometimes just ask for money.  Often the people are only just kids.  I usually just say "no gracious" or "yo estoy bien".  Then I go through another archway, climb more stairs, and find myself in a little cafe, where I say "buenos tardes" because by now it is after 1.  I'm handed a menu, that has everything in english and spanish, although often the english translation is a little quirky.  I usually order a cafe americano, agua con gas (mineral water), and a little something to eat, like chicken empenadas. The waiters then chat with me a bit in spanish, ask me where I'm from.  I notice the other people in the cafe usually order in english, so I'm always proud that I can visit in Spanish.  The other day the young
woman who was my waitress sat down and visited with me for quite a while.  She talked quite fast, but luckily I didn't have any problems.  I noticed the other white patrons stared at me a bit.  I'm getting used to this whole staring bit.

Afterwards, sometimes I return to the school to type on the internet some more, or hang out with a friend (Cassandre).  Then, around 6, before it gets to dark, I shuffle my way onto the bus, and repeat the morning experience.  I find my way back to my casa, where I have to remember to turn the key to the right to open the door (I broke the lock the first time by turning it to the left and they had to call a guy to fix it).  I say buenos noches to whoever is around, giving a kiss on the cheek, and turn down dinner, because I'm usually still full from lunch (my stomache has shrunk a bit).  I'll often visit in spanish for a few hours, and then return to my room up three flights of stairs.

I turn on the tv, hoping to find some show in english, but am always disappointed.  I do find the wonder years in spanish, as well as this odd game show that is just a big advertisement for everything from toothpaste to bank cards.  Also, Clueless and a movie with Arnold Schwarzenneger dubbed in spanish.  A little odd for me.  I turn off the tv, and do some of my school reading for my independent classes, or my homework for the language school, and listen to the dogs bark outside.  I turn on my music, and then go to bed at around 9.30, because there isn't much else to do.

So there you are.

Jillian
 





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