Cusco: my first day at school

At 8:00 precisely on Monday morning, September the 19th, Adela and I set out for school. It was a short walk, only 15 minutes long. As we were walking the couple of yards, we came across Adela’s mom’s host student, Rachael, a college senior from NY. I bid Adela “hasta luego” and entered the school with Rachael.

We seated ourselves in the courtyard, which gradually filled with people. The first person I noticed was a German man with a unique face who was smoking. And the smoke was wafting up my nostrils. Ugh. Rachael and I exchanged basic life information, such as where we were from, et cetera. Upon hearing us talking in English, a lady with obviously dyed red hair exclaimed something to the effect of, “Oh! Someone who speaks English! Finally!” Then an older woman spoke up, stating that she spoke English, too.

Eventually, I was called to take the placement test. A Brazilian guy, who spoke excellent Spanish but no English, took the placement test at the same time as me. He finished in half an hour, while I took about 45 minutes and still managed to forget the entire conditional verb tense.

After our placement test the redheaded lady and the older lady joined the Brazilian guy and me for the orientation session. We introduced ourselves. I cannot remember the Brazilian guy’s name, but he stated that he was in Cusco with his girlfriend to learn more Spanish and that he worked as some sort of journalist, I think. Though I could not remember either of their names at first, the redheaded lady’s name was Lindsay and the older lady’s name was Elizabeth. They informed us in very broken Spanish that they were from England and Australia, respectively. The orientation session lasted at least an hour, during which time we were reminded to take taxis home at night, to not drink the water, to not put toilet paper in the toilet, and to be careful of pickpockets, amongst other things. The session also provided us with some less obvious information, such as the location of the most reliable banks and information about a general ticket to gain entrance to many popular tourist locations.

As our final orientation day activity, we took an hour and forty-minute tour of Cusco. Our tour guide pointed out various historical places as well as those most reliable banks. On a few occaions our guide would request I help translate something he had said into English for the sake of my British and Australian companions, whose Spanish is only slightly worse than mine. Of course, nearly every time he wished me to help them understand something, usually during a rather lengthy explanation of something historical, I had zoned out and was drifting around in the hinterlands of my brain, thinking of other things. Despite my inability to focus on occasions and our mutual hunger for lunch during the last half hour of the tour, I think everyone enjoyed the tour.

I found my way home by myself with reasonable ease, confident I could figure it out even if I got lost, since I had my map and cell phone in my backpack.

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