TamarGasko's Travel Journals


  • 24 years old
  • From Maryland, United States
  • Currently in Urubamba, Peru

Leaving the Nest- Destination, Peru!

I'm going to be keeping an online journal in order for my friends and family to have a taste of my adventures (you wish you were here, Aba!). I'm going to write about my host family, the friends I meet, the places I go, my volunteer work... everything! Unless I'm having too much fun- then I might ignore my duties for a while. :-)

Feb 15th- finally up!

Peru Urubamba, Peru  |  Feb 15, 2013
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Hi everyone! I know this has been a long time coming, but now you will get to hear all about my first week (plus) in Urubamba. Where to begin....?Let’s start with where I’m living. Urubamba is a town of about 11,000 people. It’s nestled in the Sacred Valley, and is completely surrounded by green, luscious, mountains (it’s the rainy season! Apparently a few weeks before I came, everything was brown). But seriously, Peru in the rainy season gives a whole new definition to the word green; if you think you know what green looks like... you don’t.I can walk across town in less than 30 minutes, though there are covered, modified motorcycles with a seat in the back that will take you anywhere in town for one sole (exchange rate here is 1 dollar to 2.54 soles).The streets are lined with long walls with doors nestled in them, and behind each door is a courtyard with multiple rooms extending off of it. Typically, an extended family occupies each courtyard; one might find a mother, father, and kids in one unit, a grandmother in another, and a brother in law in the third. I love this design, which is historically Spanish, because it creates a very communal space; courtyards are filled with flowers, trees, clothlines, little tables, etc, and people are always passing in and out. You’d never know if from the street, but behind the walls and doors are little paradises. It’s beautiful.I have a room in a corner of our courtyard, right next to the bathroom. My mama, Anita (who I call Mamanita), papa, Fenacho and younger brother Mauricio (who’s 7, and a handful) live diagonally across the courtyard-- they have a bedroom and kitchen/dining/living space where I spend most of my time when I’m at home. Three other units in the courtyard belong to Fenacho’s mama, his uncle, and.... another related family, though I’m not quite sure how... Typical. My older host brother Enzo, who’s 20 and speaks amazing English, is staying in his grandma’s house until he goes back to university in Lima in March. Some customs, sights, weird things, cultural differences, and awesome things about Peru:There are hundreds of dogs roaming the streets. It´s like the equivalent of cats in Israel. They get really nasty at night, so it´s good to walk in the middle of the street and carry a rock; there've been a few cases where people have been bitten. Once, a volunteer named Jen and I were walking down the mountain from a birthday fiesta, and a dog came yapping at us. The dog´s owner called him off, but Jen and I both grabbed a stone, almost in unison, just in case. Good thing we did, because a minute later, three big dogs came barreling up the path, straight toward us. When one dog was a few feet away, I pretended to throw the rock at him, and they all fled. Tamar 1, Dogs 0. Bam. But it can be scary if you´re not careful.In Chicon, where I volunteer with a women´s group, animals run wild. They wander in and out of the houses as well; at the fiesta there were three chickens, two dozen cuy (guinea pigs), a cat, a duck, and three dogs in the house at any given time. Unfortunately, it´s normal to come back with picas de pulgas (flea bites). Awesome things: 1. Saw a woman calling to her pig in the streets. When the little thing wouldn´t come, she reached down, picked it up, and held it on her shoulder as she walked, just like a baby.2. On the way from Cusco to Urubamba today we saw four rainbows, all bold, all perfect; one was even a double rainbow! So technically we saw five. It was really cool because we could see where they started and stopped. A perfect arc over Urubamba!3. Saw a shooting star the third night I was here! Awesome.4. My favorite food is plantanos fritos (fried plantains) with manjar (mahn-har), which is a thick, sweet, caramel-esque spread made of condensed milk.5. There are SO many different kinds of hats here! Native women wear different hats depending on which village they´re from, and some men´s hats tell you their marital status! Each region and town has different clothing and customs, which I find fascinating.6. Things are cheap here- one roll of bread is $0.20! It makes it easy to overspend..... cough cough cough.That´s all for now, but I´ll write again soon- if you have anything you want to know about, comment, and I´ll try to answer!¡Ciao!

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