Cusco, Peru is our chosen home for the remainder of the year. Cusco was once the principal city of the South American Inca Empire and is now the undisputed archaeological capital of the Americas, as well as the continent’s oldest continuously inhabited city. It is known as the gateway to Machu Picchu and its location makes it accessible to the Andean Highlands, Lake Titicaca and Bolivia as well as the Peruvian Amazon.
Since our family meeting in April 2008, much has been done to get us unplugged from Marin County, California and plugged into Cusco. Almost all of what we envisioned has come to fruition.
I work at CTTC, the Centro Textiles Tradionales de Cusco, an NGO whose mission is to preserve and promote indigenous Andean weaving traditions. The center was started in 1996 by Nilda Callañaupa, an indigenous woman from the local village of Chinchero, who has organized collectives in nine towns, which support about 400 weavers, and helps to market their work for a fair price. Most days I tap away on my laptop while Indian women, who smell like they’ve slept in a cornfield, simultaneously weave and care for their babies. The second weekend after my arrival, everyone from the center went to a local shrine to have a priest “bless” the Center’s new SUV. Afterwards we had a picnic and played volleyball.
My wife will teach English at one of the many language schools here in Cusco. She recently acquired her CELTA certificate and should have no problem finding a job teaching English as a second language.
The kids are studying at Amauta Spanish Language School and are taking one-on-one Spanish lessons four hours per day. We chose Amauta because of the breadth of services they offered for families: Spanish school, volunteer placement, host family placement, travel agency, free salsa dancing lessons, cultural talks and tours, as well as satellite schools in Buenos Aires (Argentina), the Sacred Valley and the Manu Biosphere. The kids will volunteer at Colibrí, an afternoon program run by the Cusco Police Department that helps keep street kids entertained and out of trouble.
The kids are on the Cusco Swim Team, which holds nightly practices at the Piscina Municipal, next to one of the main train stations. Their coach is Cristian Ancari and the team has monthly swim meets in various Peruvian cities. Twice a year, the best swimmers from Peru, Bolivia, Argentian and Chile compete in the Transandina Youth Games. The next games are in Argentina in November and both kids hope to qualify.
Currently we are staying with a host family in the Santa Monica district of Cusco. Zulma and Alfredo Chavez have been wonderful hosts and we feel like part of their family. My daughter and I went to their corn farm in the Sacred Valley a few weeks ago and helped them with the corn harvest and Alfredo and his son took me to the cockfights one Sunday afternoon.
Last week I signed a rental agreement for a furnished apartment bordering the San Blas district and we will move there within 10 days. Once this is done, we will be completely settled in Cusco.