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(Another e-mail from my trip to Peru)

Since those first crazy days, things have settled
down, and I finally have started getting the feel of
things here.  I have a card with my address on it,
which I can just hand the taxi driver, and I recognize
the area where I live.

I also have been taking the bus, which is quite an
experience.  Most of them are just basically vans, but
old and dirty, and they cram as many people in there
as possible.  They cost 50 centivos, which is about 15
cents.  Nothing.  It is really really really
different.  A guy hangs out the door, and shouts out
where the bus is headed to the people there.  When you
want to get out, you say "abajo" which means down,
basically.  

I got to experience a bit of the Easter celebrations. 
On good Friday, the whole family gets together, and
they eat "doce platos" (twelve dishes) with the whole
family.  I sat with them and ate what I could (they
had fried fish, soup with whole chunks of corn on the
cob in it, a bread special to the Cusco area, and a
sweet cornbread, amongs other things).  I have also
learned that the wine in Peru is not my thing. 
Apparently, in some families, there is also a custom
where the dad wakes up the children at 5 in the
morning, and hits them with his belt, to recreate the
suffering of christ carrying the cross.  OOookay.  I´m
glad this is not a tradition in the US!

Easter itself I went on a tour of a lot of the towns
and archeological sites, and it was so beautiful.  I
am really up in the mountains, we got out and took
pictures of a glacier.  It was amazing.

Life is really different here.  Everyone is so poor! 
And they live on tourism, so constantly people come up
to you to try to sell you things.

My Spanish is doing great, though, and many are amazed
at how well I speak it.  I´m amazed myself!  Speaking
Spanish here is the difference between being a tourist
and being a friend.

Sonja told me last night that when she worked in a
hotel, she always hated to see Germans come in,
because they are rude and racist, and other Europeans,
because they are cold, but they love Americans,
because they are so friendly.  After my tour on
Sunday, I would have to agree.  It was mostly
Australians and Brits, and they were so unfriendly.  I
feel so bad to see all these buses filled with
tourists descend on these tiny towns, only to take
pictures and leave again.  How do you learn the
culture that way?  It is crazy.

Alright, I think you all have read plenty from me for
the next week!  

Take care!!!

Jillian
 





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