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. :-)

March 2nd- Update!

Peru Urubamba, Peru  |  Mar 02, 2013
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 Doggy farts from Peru everybody! 

I realized a few days ago that I hadn´t written in a while, and why that was- I was waiting for something to happen to write about, something big and worthwhile, like my trip to Lake Titicaca or Carnaval, even though small, amazing things happen every day. Then I thought about since I only write about ¨special things,¨ that means that I haven´t told you yet about my day to day life!

¨Yeah, Tamar, tell us!¨

¨THANK YOU for finally realizing!¨

I know, I know. Sorry. So here goes!

Daily Life

8:00- Wake up (although that´s moved to 6 o´clock, because summer vacation´s over and Mauricio now wakes up for school at 6 and starts yelling...) I eat breakfast, which consists of tea (I drink an average of two cups a day now- I swear I´ve drank more tea here in a month than I have my entire life, not a joke), and any combination of fried plantanos, bread with jam, cheese, scrambled eggs, banana, yogurt, and sometimes leftovers from the previous day.

9:00- Arrive at the office, which is down a really long road that is currently the bane of my existence. It takes eight whole minutes to walk down it (this coming from a long-legged-fast- walker), and bores me so much. Luckily, we won the bid for another office space, which is a block away from the main plaza and has a store front to sell the things our women´s groups knit, as opposed to the location the we have now which is so removed from the main part of town that no one will stumble upon it unless they´re drunk.

9:00-12:00- Work at the office on lesson plans for school and for Jen and my women´s group in Chicon. More on that later.

12:00-1:00- Now is ¨later!¨ I teach English at a school called 711, which teaches kids from some of the poorer families in town and in the surrounding villages. Before I joined the team, Jen, Aubrey, Charlotte and Maddy each had their own class which they taught for one hour three days a week. By the time I arrived they had taught the kids (ages 5-12) colors, numbers, and body parts. It being summer school, not many kids came to English class, and so we´re trying to figure out a way to catch everybody up once school comences for everyone on Monday. In preparation, I´ve prepared lessons on basic grammar, emotions, hygiene and germs (in Spanish- another thing we´re going to be adding to the school are soap dispensers and towels, along with a few lessons on how to wash hands, what are germs, etc). It´s pretty difficult to teach in 711, and after one hour we´re pooped. Classes include a lot of coloring, games and yelling.  The class rooms are very dark, dirty, and a little wet for various reasons. We provide paper, crayons, markers, and any other creative materials the class will need for our lessons.

1:00- Lunch! Almuerzo in my house is normally a plate of choclo (giant corn on the cob) and Andean cheese, which is salty, and rice and a segundo (translated as ¨second¨ and essentially means ¨side dish that´s not really a side dish because it takes up half the plate¨) Segundos ALWAYS include potatoes and cheese, and are made from things like quinoa, lentils, vegetables, or tarwi,  which is a kind of grain that turns white and porridgey when cooked. Mamanita is an amzing cook- she actually went to cooking school for a year- and she hasn´t made one thing that I haven´t liked so far, except for the juices she purees (too thick for me). Sometimes we´ll have a soup (either crema de zapallo, which has milk in it, and bits of melting cheese, or a soup that is made of half a dozen different vegetables, cheese, and is a main dish in itself) and/or salad, normally made of sliced/diced tomatos and red onion, lime (lemon and lime are the same here), and salt and pepper. It´s heaven. 

Lunch often means that Mauricio will be whining or crying about something or other, so there´s not much room for civilized conversation, besides admonishing him or instructing him on how to eat. Parenting is a lot different here. I´ve witnessed two scenarios: Number 1. Kids will often get on their parents´ nerves to such an extent that the kid will be yelled at, and they´ll whine a bit, but they´ll walk off as if nothing happened, and there are no hard feelings from either side. Number 2. Kids will get really upset about the smallest thing, have a tantrum, stalk off for ten minutes, scream, and then come back as if nothing happened. Same outcome both times, notice? Sometimes I think that no progress will be made, but then I meet teens and young adults, and they are the most polite young people I´ve ever met. I don´t know how it works, but it does.

1:30- After lunch I´ll either walk around town, do some errands, go work more in the office, chill in my room, skype with the family, play with the cat Minina (LOVE her) or puppy, read, nap, explore, meet up with some other volunteers.... the possibilities are endless.

2:30-5- If it´s a Monday or a Friday, Jen and I will hop in a taxi or combi (communal van-taxi) and go up to Chicon to meet with our women´s group. This group of women meets twice a week to knit sweaters, scarves, hats, make jewelery, cards, whatever, that are then sold in our Urubamba and Cusco offices, along with in two other places in Cusco. Monday is our day to teach a bit of English to them; so far we´ve taught colors, numbers, knitting terms, and directions. Friday a teacher from Cusco comes (or is supposed to come) to help them with their knitting. We have 11 women in  our group, and about 5 of their kids come every time as well. I taught all of them how to crochet flowers recently, and bought them all crochet hooks, so I think sewing the flowers onto headbands, hair scrunchies, and clips will be our next project

5:00-6:00 on Mondays and Fridays- Walk down the mountain back to Urubamba. 

If it´s a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Friday, please refer to the ¨1:30¨paragraph. :-)

Spanish Class! All of us have really random class times. Mine is 10:30 on Monday, 4:30 on Tuesday, 6:00 on Wednesday, and 4:30 on Thursday. Each class is an hour and a half, and is a pretty good time. Reyner, my teacher, and I have awesome discussions/arguments about sexism in America, homosexuality and religion, Judaism, and other stuff. Reyner´s really open minded and interested in other cultures and the world, as well as really knowledgeable and interesting himself. He´s a really good teacher- dynamic and engaging and out of the box. It´s more like an hour and a half of bonding with a friend as opposed to Spanish class.

Sorry to interrupt the flow of things, but I have a sleeping puppy on my lap and he just emitted the most vile doggy fart ever. Just thoght I should share that with you, and make your day even better. Doggy farts from Peru everybody! Spread the joy.


6:00- In the evenings I normally hang out in my house, with my family. We talk, eat, skype with my fake family back home, dance... If I eat dinner at home, it usually looks a lot like breakfast: tea, bread and cheese, leftovers, fried plantanos with manjar. Small, but delicious.

If I go out at night (movie night, meet up at a cafe, volunteer dinner at the office), I´m normally out until 10 or 11. 

10 or 11- Crash in my bed. But first take a shower. Sometimes. And then write in my journal. And then clean my room. And then read. And then brush my teeth. And then crash. 

Sooooo... that´s my day. Normally minus the puppy farts though...

Tomorrow brings an all day trip to Pisac and Ollantaytambo! Yay! Today was Maras and Moray. Check it out. Cool Stuff.

Going to go... do something.


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  • User Profile Photo
    Yael Gasko wrote: Sun Mar 3, 2013
    Hi Tamar,
    Reading your posts as preparing for our tour. Love it! Hope to see you soon.
    Enjoy your time there.
    Love, Yael
  • User Profile Photo
    Bonni wrote: Sat Mar 2, 2013
    Love reading your stuff.
    xxoo, your fake mama
  • User Profile Photo
    aba wrote: Sat Mar 2, 2013
    Hi Tamari! Love your post! Thanks for sharing ALL the details of your day. Doggy farts for ALL!

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