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Welcome back to Peru May 1, 2007

Posted by Cheryl in culture, Peru, South America.
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Plaza De Armas, Cusco 

We arrived back in Peru and quickly became reaccustomed to the fact that nobody ever has any change EVER.  The ATMs take great delight in only spitting out 100 soles notes, but it is almost impossible to break a 100 soles note anywhere.  In fact even paying for something that costs 8.50 soles with a 10 soles note means you are usually met with looks of disbelief.  You will then be asked for the correct change and failing to have it, the person will then scurry off to try and get change from all the nearby shops and stalls.  This can sometimes take a very long time, whilst you are left fretting that your bus is due to leave in 2 minutes. 

Another strange Peruvian fad is to cover your house in a splattering of political slogans.  I really can´t imagine this taking off back home. 

But, it´s good to be back in Peru nonetheless, where you can buy a 2 course meal in a local restaurant for about 30p (at risk of your stomach).  We are doing some Spanish lessons in Cusco whilst biding our time before going on the Inca Trail.  We dropped in at the excellent South American Explorers Club, looking for maps and information.  They have “club houses” in Cusco, Lima, Buenos Aires and Quito where you can chill out, use the internet, drink coffee and peruse their very useful books and resources. 

One of their side projects is a Spanish School called Fairplay which is set up to train young single mothers to teach Spanish to gringoes.  Young single mothers are often ostracized in Peru, and lead a hard life trying to look after their children in a country which is rife with poverty and unemployment.  This means that quite often their children will be given up and may end up living on the streets.  Fairplay gives single mothers the chance to work whilst looking after their children and builds their self esteem.  Our Spanish lessons through Fairplay were exceptionally good value in comparison to the big schools in Cusco, the teaching was excellent and the classes were divided into “grammar” classes and “practical” classes which took place on the streets, at local tourist sites, the market, or basically anywhere we wanted to go in Cusco.  The lessons were very well structured and I would recommend their classes to anyone.  Ask for Marta, Sonia or Esther for excellent tutoring.  The great thing is that your money, rather than going into the coffers of a big school, goes directly to the teachers.

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