Week 21: Working in Cusco. Peru

With my debit card cloned in Bolivia, I am currently living off a few dollars for the foreseeable future. The money situation has been really tough. Spotify even had to be cancelled and I’ve had to resort to listening to Spanish radio instead which is fairly bleek.  Most people bring a few backup cards but obviously I did not. The new debit card is currently intransit to Cusco from Ireland (Ta Brian).

I decided to give work away another go. This is the site where you work and get bed and breakie for free. I figured it would be the perfect solution to my money problems. The postal service is painfully slow in South America. Una sent me a Christmas pressie to Chile and it only arrived yesterday (3 months later…..). I pray to god the card decides to show up sooner than that.  My first work away experience was exceptionally bad with me chopping up trees with an axe in the woods with a lunatic called Yuan so I figured anything would be a step up from that.

A throw back to Yuan with his machete in Argentina

Myself and my new-found son, Kayden decided to travel to Cusco together. We arrived at the terminal by the skin of our teeth but just in time to get the bags checked onto the bus and even time to enjoy the lounge!!! (Cruz del Sur are like the Emirates of buses). We  got to pick if we wanted chicken or beef, I couldn’t believe the luxury of it all. After a while they called for our bus and when they looked at our tickets they refused to let us on and kindly informed us that the bus had gone (with both our backpacks). They told us we would both have to buy another ticket for the last bus of the night.  I pulled the nino card again and even managed a few tears explaining about my recent robbery thinking they would do the trick and they would have some sympathy. They were as cold as ice.

Kayden had  wisely left all of his money in his backpack which was now en route to Cusco . While all the arguing was going on the last bus had left, leaving us stranded. I had also stupidly left all of my remaining dollars in my backpack too.  A local women heard about our situation and advised us to sprint onto the nearby  dual carriageway to try to flag down this local bus. She has contacted the bus driver to come back. We were eventually  thrown onto this local bus and the prospects of a beef or chicken dinner were quickly diminished. Thank you so much to that kind stranger. We were both relieved and pissed off to be on the bus and prayed our bags wouldn’t be robbed in Cusco. I immediately felt sick and spent most of the 12 hours pucking.  I had to wear all of Kayden’s clothes on the bus because I got some fever, similar to what he had in Colca Canyon. When we arrived in Cusco we had to go on a goose chase to hunt down the bags , thankfully they were all in tact.

Anyone going to Peru please NEVER use Cruz Del Sur, an expensive and horrible company.

Myself and my apparent son (Kayden), traumatic bus survivors in Cusco. Ignore my horrific sunglasses they were the only ones on sale!!! (Dom if they make it home they will be your pressie they are right down your street)
Beautiful streets of Cusco

The following morning I was put straight to work at 5.30 am for breakfast duty.  All of the volunteers in the hostel are from Mexico, Argentina, Uruguay and Peru so  its was pretty tough at the beginning understanding what was going on but obviously good for the espanol. First day of work  was a disaster. Karen, 19-year-old Peruvian girl who works in the hostel made life miserable from the get go. She blatantly ignores me when I say hello. The next issue was when on breakfast duty I had to make pancake batter and used 3 eggs instead of 2.  I also  made the batter with milk as opposed to water (shocking). There were killings when she saw the size of the pancakes I was serving. She warned me only to give mini pancakes to people because the ingredients were expensive. I wanted to throw the batter on her and fry her up. You would swear she was milking the cow herself. The breakie is so scabby it would actually make you hungry. So when eagle eye wasnt  watching I would  slip people an extra few pancakes. I think its safe to say Karen isn’t my biggest fan (at this stage the feeling is certainly mutual). In between flipping pancakes I had to sprint to the bathroom to be sick the altitude really has me in bits. Back on the mauldy coca leaves.

Feeling a little sorry for myself I was just went to bed and spent the evening eating chocolate, what I didn’t realise is that I ended up sitting on a bar of chocolate melted the entire bar and it looked like explosive diarrhoea in the bed. I made a botched up attempt of getting rid of the evidence, failed and made it worse. . Karen my new best friend got the honours of cleaning up the mess.

There was world war 3 over the milk one of the mornings. Karen likes to keep a judgemental eye on me especially when it comes to the food (God forbid I ate too much). I asked Karen to buy more milk  because we ran out. She blatantly told me that there were rations on milk. I was absolutely mortified telling people we had no more milk. I was half tempted to legged out and buy it myself only eagle eye was watching!! Later that morning I saw Karen milling into a miky hot chocolate!!! Another one of the girls went mental at me because I threw out some of the batter  (obviously under Karen’s instructions). I will ever look at a pancake  in the same way again.

One of the days I met up Kayden, the kid from Canada. It was such a relief meeting a friendly face. We had a great day together. Two of our main tasks of the day were buying matching sunglasses and paying a visit to Cusco’s Mc Donald’s (usually my worst nightmare but I made an exception on this occasion). I have never seen anyone more mesmerized by a Mc Donald’s menu. We were the guts of a half an hour investigating it. The staff loved us.  I had to ask in Spanish to the manager was there any chance Kayden could buy one of the staff’s Mc Donald’s hats. After a few compulsory photos the staff were happy to see the back of us. The nino has guaranteed me a free big Mac and chocolate sundae in Vancouver good enough reason to go.

Stunning cathedral in Cusco
Who would have thought that 18 year old Kayden was the one to keep me sane
Take care my son!

People watching in the square is one my favourite things to do.  I got chatting to this hippy  Peruvian lad and we bonded over chewing coca leaves. Ekkie has been travelling the world for the past 5 years funded by his guitar playing. We got into a fairly heavy convo about mediation and the likes (not exactly my scene). So after hours of talking and explaining my lack of money situation Ekkie suggested I start making truffles to sell on the street. He said one of his mates could  hit me up with the chocolate. The second suggestion sounded like  a winner I could play the tambourine with him and go busking in the restaurants!! So the jewellery making was short-lived but maybe the music industry could be my calling.

People watching in the Plaza de la Armes
This gent glued my last remaining shoes together! A life saver
This gals face summarises how I feel about work

I got promoted to working on reception. I had to provide tourist information in Spanish to everyone, a bit of a joke really. I hadn’t a breeze! That being said It was miles better than having eagle eye criticise my pancakes so I wasnt complaining. Cusco really is a gorgeous spot with beautiful architecture and an amazing eating scene. It is very touristy but still has lots of character.  I’ve been spending most of my time around San Pedro market where you find the cheapest most delicious eats.

Local Cusco Shops
Maize is absolutely everywhere here
The pomegranate’s are out of this world here!
This local fruit is called Tuna and comes from the Cactus plant; It’s divine

Easter Sunday consisted of a black Jesus being paraded around the city for the entire day and locals throwing flower petals at him. If you had been selling flower petals on Sunday you would have made an absolute mint. The people in Peru are very religious so it was a huge affair.

Easter Sunday, Cusco
Local women selling rose petals to sell on the streets of Cusco
The parade went on almost all day and night

Meeting Ekkie couldn’t have come at a better time he has been showing me all of the cheapest eats. He too is on a v tight budget. We found this amazing vegetarian restaurant which has become my local. You eat like  a queen for 1 euro.  He’s definitely one of the funniest fish I’ve met on the trip so far!

Ekkie doing his thing! (3 instruments at once)

Hopefully work mext week is a little bit more forgiving. I’m booked in for training with Karen where she is going to show me how to make the beds so that should be fun. Something to look forward to I suppose. My goal by the end of the work gig is to get a smile out of Karen and a shower out of Ekkie (he’s v v smelly).






4 thoughts on “Week 21: Working in Cusco. Peru

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