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13 feb201813

Cusco, Cusco es tu nombre sagrado!

Cusco, PeruCusco, Peru
Cusco, Cusco es tu nombre sagrado
Como el Sol de Incario immortal,
todo el mundo te lleva en el pecho
como canto y bandera triunfal.

This is the first verse of the Cusco anthem, which in short four lines show how proud people were and are of their native land.

Your name is sacred like the immortal sun of the Incan Empire, whole world carries you in their hearts while signing and waving the flag of triumph.

I think there wasn't a day when I didn't think at least once what this place would have looked and sounded like had the Spaniards never been granted a permission from Queen Isabella of Portugal to conquer Peru. I imagine Quechua would still be a primary language, maybe (a big one) Huáscar and Atahulpa would get along to preserve the empire instead getting into the Inca Civil War, smallpox would probably never have come to South America to which Incas were never immune. On the other hand some researchers think the empire was in the period of decline anyway.  I won't go into too much detail but I wanted to point out that despite everything Cusco thrives and remembers its past. 

Quechua language is still in use, perhaps not as much as 20 years ago, especially by the younger population, but there are concrete efforts to keep it alive. My Spanish teacher Martha can also teach Quechua and tried to teach me few words and phrases - and you know me, never pass an opportunity to learn something in a foreign language.  Recently I learned two useful phrases (thanks to Chris' book he brought with hum from the UK). First Tususun! - means "let's dance!" Second one is Anchatan kusikuni riqsikus payki - means "It's been great meeting you".

But that's not all I've been doing. My stay in Cusco has been nothing short of extraordinary and eventful, positively and negatively - I guess the balance has been preserved :) 
After my visit to the hospital I was preparing myself for the journey to Medellín to meet the Moving Worlds team and see if they'd think I would be a good fit.  I already wrote a whole story about it, you can read it here. I can say it now that I have been offered 6-month contract as Data Analyst/Salesforce Admin-Dev and I'm feeling like my life is more back on track than ever. It is a great opportunity to work for an amazing company that doesn't just care about the profits but creates a genuine social good and I want to be a part of it!

That month I also decided to buy a plant. In the UK Edward had a company of a plant that I bought while moving houses in 2006 and when I realised that a plant would definitely make me feel more like home.  Everybody meets Pulpu (Quechua for Octopus):
Left: Pulpu on his first day, Right: Taken on 8th Feb, so proud he grew so much!
There is one market in Cusco where everybody comes to buy plants and flowers. Plaza de Tupac Amaru is abundant in all sorts of flora starting from cacti, different types of flowers, seeds, and ending with pots, bonsai trees, or plants where you can grow your own strawberries, and other wonders...
In December we also had to say goodbye to one of our co-workers from LAFF. Anushka stayed with us for three months but her time has come to go onto another adventure during her year abroad from the University. It has been a pleasure working with you Anushka and I hope you're on your way of becoming professional tango dancer :)
In the past few months I have also been playing a lot of pool. One of the two things I miss the most about my life in the UK is tap dancing and playing snooker. My table nr 6 surely feels abandon but I couldn't even take my cue with me not to mention a table ;) The best part of playing snooker was not just the game itself but where I played and the friends I made while doing it. In 2016 the JavaScript guru Jeremy Rajan came to the UK to be trained at the company I used to work for and we found this place in Newcastle that had snooker tables. We always wanted to try so we did. It was only two months after Michael Batty kindly took me to Durham Snooker Club for my very first game - unfortunately they closed the club, therefore Newcastle was the only option. 

Spot White will always be a special place to me. Not just a place where people could play ping-pong, snooker, English pool, American 8-ball, have the best falafel ever, watch games, or even party with Mark Selby and Steven Bingham. Most of all it was a place where if you treat people well - you will be treated even better. I became a regular quite quickly, spending literally 10h every Saturday playing snooker, talking to Ann, Ghandi, Dan, Jack, and others, and tasting new kinds of rums. 

Here in Cusco, or pretty much anywhere outside of few countries where snooker becomes popular, I found American pool table at Norton's Rat Tavern. I needed to adjust a lot to a small table, bigger and heavier balls, different cues, but after all it is still enjoyable, especially when you play with way-better-than-you people like Heberst Giancarlo Ibérico, who has also become my very best mate here in Cusco. 

I promise you I am not usually that angry at myself when I'm losing!
Fot: Kevin Newman
New Year's Eve
If one year ago somebody would have told me that I would spend my NYE 2017/18 party at the centre of Plaza de Armas in Cusco, Peru - I would have laughed at them passionately and repeatedly. It happened nonetheless and there was no better way than spending it playing pool for 5 hours, going to the Plaza at midnight and running around it, and then to party with my German friends Bianca and Violetta, and Heberst. I'm hoping the 2018 will be as good as the actual first hours were!
Unfortunately the New Year hasn't started in the most glorifying way for me. Having thought I had a cold I ignored "sore" throat, which in the end turned out to be a severe bacterial infections that made my lymph nodes on the right side of my neck the size of golf balls. After few days of living with a pain during each bite and sip, I decided to go to the hospital but without using their accommodation. Thankfully the antibiotics and anti-inflammatory injections helped wonders. I didn't only come back to normal but I had my energy back, strength, willing to cook, and eat properly (you'd be surprised for how long a human can survive on noodles).
The New Beginning
After having come back to life I realised I only had a month left in Cusco. There was no time to waste and I made it my purpose to make sure I would spend it wisely!
Started attending my Spanish and salsa lessons again, played more pool, but most of all spend more time with friends with occasional small damage to my work routine :)  But as everybody who knows me even a little bit better I would never jeopradise my work. Actually I became so energetic again that it would be a waste not to use it to finish many projects that accumulated over the weeks. Thanks to this mysterious energy I can defiitely say I have taken the most of the end of my cusquenan journey.. 

The account of last few weeks will come soon!
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