So, I survived the buses (a very good thing, as I forsee many more bus journeys here) and am currently still enjoying Cusco.
I'm so glad to have chosen this city to spend four weeks studying Spanish. Cusco has a beautiful historical centre with pretty cobbly streets and plazas, zillions of colonial churches, and a tour operator on every corner (next to the poncho shops); but despite the many tourists here - its by far the most touristy place I've visited so far - its still very traditionally Peruvian at the same time, the people are friendly, and the pisco sours are highly recommended! (they tell me the alpaca is very good too, but I'm not a huge fan of 'cuy' - guinea pigs which they sell live in the markets, crammed 15+ to a cage).
The altitude is taking some time to get used to - even though its the middle of winter over here, the days are still baking hot! At 3300m above sea level however, as soon as the sun drops behind a cloud for five minutes, it can turn freezing (seriously, its worse than Cape Town). Considering purchasing more woolly goods, but trying to keep in mind those lazy days on the Brazilian beach to come. The altitude also means that I'm tired quickly. That plus the lack of exercise these past three months does not bode well for my trek to machu Picchu, which fingers crossed, I will start next week.
What have i been up to? Well, the days have been busy with classes (8-12 everyday - hideous early start!) Followed by lunch at my home stay (where I and my fellow volunteer/student housemates are being very well fed by 'mamasita' Carmen). For my first two weeks, I also volunteered at a children's after school project in the afternoons. I'm not a big fan of kids, as most people probably know, but actually they really grew on me so it was sad to say goodbye! But it was such a long day (volunteering 2.30 - 7pm) that i decided to stop - it was either that or fall asleep in my Spanish class, which would be super embarrassing as they're one to one (and talking 1-2-1 for 4 hrs is very intense!), so no fooling my tutor!
All that means I haven't had a huge amount of time to be a real tourist, but I have been out to visit some nearby towns and Inca sites, including Moray, three ampitheatre-like agricultural terraces believed to have been used by the Incas, each with their own microclimate; the surreal but stunning salt pans at Salineras, and the Sunday market at Pisac. Last Thursday we visited Sacsayhuaman, where a ceremony was held to celebrate the Inca new year (pic above), and this week I am visiting more ruins at Tipon and
There's so much to see and do, and so relaxing being in one place I instead of on the constant move, that I could easily end up staying here a lot longer. Think thats probably a sign that its time I took the guidebook out again.