WHILE ON MY WAY BACK TO OLLANTAYTAMBO, WE WERE ALL BOMBARDED BY A BIG GROUP OF 10 YEAR-OLDS AT THE TRAIN STATION. At first, it was simply chaos when the teachers had to assemble and organise these students, probably from USA (due to their English), but once settled, the kids are actually quite disciplined.
I was seated beside a fellow mother and chaperone during my ride. She explained to me this interesting experimental school that her two children are attending. The Middleton International School in Atlanta, Georgia is only 3 years old. From what I know, the headmistress is a visionary who set up a school for teaching gifted students. These students are taught with unconventional methods, allowing them to showcase their talents. For example, this lady’s son is dyslexic but very intelligent. He struggles with writing, but in his school, he can present his ideas through graphs, pictures etc. As long as the teacher knows that he understands the lesson, he gets good grades.
Every year, they have a outing where the students have a chance to learn. They had to organise the trip, budget the flights and accommodation, work together to find out the culture and social issues of that particular country, before actually leaving for the trip. Listening to all these, I kind of wished that I had the chance to be educated like that. However, this is truly hard work, even for adults. Look how i struggled with my travel plans and budget!
ONCE IN OLLANTAYTAMBO, I GOT ON A COLLECTIVO TO URUBAMBA FOR S/6. And then a local bus for S/3. The prices of the local transport in Peru is still a mystery to me. At times, it can get unbelievably cheap. For example, an hour ride from Urubamba to Ollantaytambo is S/1.50. When it was the other way round, it became S/6. Still cheap for a foreigner’s standard, but I wonder what is the difference.
Pisac is well known for two things. An artisanal market for all types of handicrafts, and a archaeological ruin that is said to be the largest fortress complex built by the Incans. I was there on a Saturday. There were still quite some vendors but it must be pale in comparison to the full blown markets on Sunday. I had already planned to visit Pisac from Cusco before going on to Ollantaytambo, but a tourist information staff told me they were closed for 2 days. This time, the sites are still closed due to “an accident”. (I could not find out what kind of accident from my poor Spanish).
Anyways, disappointed and hungry, I did find a great place and had a great meal. The lady owner was really nice and accommodating. My salad has one of the freshest vegetables that I’ve tried in Peru. The sandwich was so big I can only finish half of it.
BACK TO CUSCO, I went back to a market that my Mexican friends, Alejandro and Claudia recommended. This shop’s owner and her daughter were very honest about the things they sell. I wanted to buy me and my family matching alpaca sweaters, and this is the best place to be.
After splurging, I went walking on the streets of Cusco. It is nice to see such a beautiful city light up at night. Cusco may not be my favourite city in Peru (Arequipa still is), it is definitely the most diverse. It has the charms of a small city and the convenience factor of a large one. It is frequented by so many local and foreign tourists, yet retaining an ode to its tradition. If there is one thing I’ve learned from my travels, exposure to diversity helps open up our hearts. (We have high hopes for you, lucky Middleton kids…)
One last night in Cusco