Aldea Yanapay, Cusco, Peru

So, long time no blog. Namely as I’ve been in one place for a while.

In total I will have been here for 12 days (with a quick jaunt to Macchu Pichu in the middle.) That’s practically a lifetime in travelerville. Up till now the longest  will have been B.A or La Paz, and only each for 5 days. However Cusco is an absolutely lovely place spend a little time. It’s full of pretty churches, cobbled streets, and artisan markets. People definitely get stuck here.
It turned out to be a city of two halves.  The first; my lost party weekend of Wild Rover hostel. Best not to elaborate. Second; my knuckling down to some do-gooding.
Aldea Yanapay is a social project and after-school centre set up for disadvantaged Cusco street kids from 3 – 13 years. (Cue some X Factor sob story music, but it’s all true….) Many of the kids face all sorts of problems from their parents like machismo, alcoholism, domestic violence. Quite perversely, families often have enough money to buy cable TV, but are not necessarily educated enough to buy fridges to keep food fresh and their kids nutritioned, so the povety problem is quite a complex one.
The school tries to provide a safe haven where the kids feel loved for a few hours and day, and teaches them all to be extremely tactile; they start each class by kissing and hugging us for example. This sounds cute at first, till they cough and slobber all over you. My immune system has definitely taken a hit. 
The little lady in the (3rd) pic is my absolute fave. She waltzed in on my first day, and when asked ‘nombre’ (name), replied “Jeremy Wilson.”
“Jeremy” or Jar-A-Mie (girl) as it turns out to be, made us smile by refusing to say anything but her full name. Very formal. Another kid; Santos, nearly made us cry with laughter in ‘the circle of expression’ – a daily hour when all classes come together to talk, sing, answer questions for little prizes. When asked to name a famous French actor, (they like to teach cultural exchange) he came out with “lady gaga?!”
My highlight came on Thursday when I got a break from playing non-stop Connect4, skipping, jigsaws, monopoly (in spanish.) Janik, the co-director, comes into class and asks my friend Rachel and I if we would like a special job. Apparently we look creative. We are not sure how to take this, but still say yes. He leads us to a room, FULL of fancy dress costumes. We think we have died and gone to heaven. Possibly one of the cutest things you can do in life, or with 50 cute Peruvuan kids, is spend the afternoon dressing them as tigers, dogs, trees, unicorns, and in Jeramie’s case in a silver rain mac. We decided she was a mini Kylie Minogue. Even funnier was Santos, who grabbed a red hat and jumpsuit and decided he was ‘Santos Claus.’ Geddit? In the middle of May.
This was all in aid of a huge annual festival that Yanapay organise. Which is how I ended up spending my Saturday in a park , facepainted as a tiger, manning a trampoline. Well, part manning, part rolling around, getting jumped on by adorable 3 year olds. If this is what the circus is like, I want to join. 
That said, reading this back  I realise I’m writing very much through rose-tinted glasses. I did of course learn that a) Despite their cuteness, I’m totally sticking to saving animals in my future do-gooding charity work. b) If you ever want to detox from your busy social life, spend time with some kids – you won’t be awake past 8pm, it’s exhausting. C) I don’t for one second envy anyone that actually dedicates their time to real life teaching. Respect.

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Connecting to %s : The Anantasin is the name of a shipwreck just of the coast of the Sensi Parasise, Mae Haad Bay, Koh Tao, Thailand. It’s one of my many favorite places.

Lit.tle: Just because it’s cute.

Blasts From The Past…

May 2011

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