My third and final month on the continent ended up being by far the most enjoyable. Having finally come to terms with my decision to quit Colombia and head home, I felt as if a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. It was also the month I made it back into the heart of the Andes: from San Pedro de Atacama through to Bolivia then onto Peru, this was part the South America I had in mind all along…
Just because you know English does not make you qualified to teach it.
Many volunteer programs involve teaching English in schools, but there is a difference between knowing a language and knowing how to teach it. Chucking some youngsters into a classroom with your fingers crossed will not result in able English speakers after 1 month. It’s not that you’re bad for trying, but really it is just a waste of time. Continue reading “OPINION: Teaching English as a Volunteer”
The short answer? Yes. I know it’s cliché, but how could it not? When you spend a month alone in a developing country, you learn a lot about yourself and your abilities. Apparently when I returned from Peru I was noticeably calmer and happier. Not that I was seriously anxious or sad before, but I hadn’t been feeling myself for quite sometime for a number of reasons. I just needed to do something for me, and in doing so I realised that, as much as I like to tell myself I am independent and I thrive on my own, the times when I was really alone were ironically the moments where I felt most unhappy. Not that I would say I’m evidently not independent, just that my understanding of what that means to me has developed. I like to organise things for myself, fund my own adventures, and go places I want go, but that doesn’t necessarily mean spending time totally by myself. I also like meeting new people and talk for hours about both nonsense and academic babble. Essentially I just like to be in control of myself, whether that means deciding where I’m going in the morning or whether I want to spend time with someone or not.
After my Week 3 adventures, I spent my final week taking it easy. A fellow volunteer (who was about to spend 3 months living in Cusco) came with me on my mini-tour to Pisaq and Ollantaytambo, two picturesque towns nestled in the heart of the Sacred Valley.
Continue reading “Part 4: Qusqu, Qosqo, Cusco! ~ My 25 days in the capital of the Incas.”
By this point I was well into the swing of living in Cusco and had developed a familiar routine. The arrival of other volunteers meant I was having a far better time with companions to hang out with. My Spanish had also drastically improved, which made simple things like getting on and off the bus to work that little bit cooler and meant I was able to communicate with the kids at Picaflor a bit better. It was during this week I trekked to Machu Picchu and ended up in hospital, so apart from swanning around Cusco some more I essentially just spent my time soaking it all in and enjoying myself….
Truth be told, after my first week in Cusco and a week and a half in Peru, the cons of solo-travel was starting to hit home. I had briefly (and oddly) ran into an old friend from college on my first night, but otherwise I only had the children at Picaflor to interact with during the day. Seeing as they didn’t speak English and my Spanish went as far as telling them how old I was, I started to feel pretty darn lonely.
Continue reading “Part 2: Part 1: Qusqu, Qosqo, Cusco! ~ My 25 days in the capital of the Incas.”
It was a Thursday morning when I finally said adios to the “Strangest, saddest city” and headed south east to Cusco, the capital city of the legendary Incas. The plane ride was pretty bumpy, but I was too dosed up on diazipan to give a damn!
When we eventually touched ground I was immediately curious to see how being at a high altitude would affect me. If you didn’t already know, Cusco is around 3,400m above sea level – mild symptoms of altitude sickness can start at just 2200m, and there is no way of predicting how bad you’ll be hit as it has little to do with your fitness level, sex, or age. At first I didn’t really notice much of a difference, but I did feel a bit spaced out waiting for my airport pick-up to arrive. It wasn’t until I tried to climb 4 flights of stairs that the level oxygen in the air felt noticeably low.
Continue reading “Part 1: Qusqu, Qosqo, Cusco! ~ My 25 days in the capital of the Incas.”