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21 feb201821

Farewell Cusco, it's been great knowing you!

Cusco, PeruCusco, Peru
165 days, that's 14 256 00 seconds I spent in the sacred city of Cusco. I didn't know I would be going here until late February last year. After haing agreed to go to Honduras first my availability changed and I didn't know if LAFF would wait for me that long. When I received a positive answer I was so happy. It meant I had 9 continuous months of volunteering secured, which I hoped would get me closer to my life goals. Get to know Latin and South America, learn Spanish, improve my salsa, meet great people, but also advance with my professional ambitions that stopped advancing a while ago. 

As you may know I am in Colombia now where I will be working as Data Analyst/Salesforce Admin (Dev). An opportunity that would never happen without LAFF. When I started volunteering in Cusco it quickly became obvious that my Saleforce skills are more important than those of M&E and therefore the whole idea of my placement changed. I am glad it did. Without it I would never have felt like I had 6.5 years ago when I began working with SaleCycle. The best part of it was doing pretty much everything you could, was helpful, and not necessarily written in stone in your contract.

Cusco will always be considered a pivotal period of my professional career but apart from working I promised myself to get out the most of the last weeks.

First thing I had to do after recovering at the beginning of January was to visit my favourite market of all: Huancaro!

SItuated 1.5km South-West from where I lived and almost 3km from the centre - the sole reason why I would usually be the only gringo visiting this place. Why would I go there despite having so many markets closer to me? San Pedro, San Blas, Rosaspata, Tupac Amaru, Wanchaq, they're all great but Huancaro happens only on Saturdays and people from the villages around Cusco come to the city and sell their own crops. It would also be the primary place where I practiced my Spanish. On 13th of January it happened to be 20th anniversary of the market, which made it even more beautiful thanks to all festivitites and how they decorated the whole place.. 
And we also met the spirit of Huancaro (or at least I decided to call him like that)
In between the days were filled with a lot of work, preparations for my departure, some partying I haven't had time or energy to do before, and playing pool. I even managed to finally go on a trek thanks to Eli and Cristian who invited me to join them and a group of Australians on a trip to Rainbow Mountain - my first and only mountain I conquered while in Cusco (and the recount of which you can read here).

The time in Cusco would not be the same without one person hho made it very special, yes Heberst - I'm talking about you! Endless pool games, parties, and falafels - I can't wait till you come and visit me in Medellín! Here during one of the best nights we had, surprisingly in Chango, with Bettina, a friend I met during the trek to Rainbow Mountain who was part of the Australian group trekking with us. Ahh there was so much salsa!
Few days later I was privileged to see some of traditional Andead dance called CAPORALES. My good friend Angela took part in it and it was very interesting to see hours of dance tht originated from La Paz, in Bolivia. It was all in preparation for a festival during the carnival in Puno 
Just look at this video fro the actual competition in Puno. Those outfits! I want those boots with balls so badly you can't even imagine



After I had witnessed what has become my favourite traditional dance, I realised I only had two weeks left in Cusco. Needed to start saying goodbyes and plan my transition to a warmer climate in Medellin :) Before my departure we were "celebrating" our boss' last day at LAFF, with last Pub Quiz, some drinks, and a lot of spontaneous dancing.  I have to say I learned a lot from Melissa who will be on her way to do even greater things after having worked as a LAFF's Programme Manager for many many months. Thank you Melissa for all the knowledge you've enlighthened me with and can't wait to hear what you'll do next! Of course mandatory vodka shots were in order aka estilo de polaco!
The rest of the days had gone quickly but filled with great memories. I managed to go for one more day-trip, this time with Bettina and we chose (okay it was Bettina's idea) a small town located one hour away from Cusco - Urcos. Beautiful and not filled with tourists, it gave me last glimpse of the Sacred Valley - will be writing about it later! 

My goodbye party happened on Friday in Green Point Restaurant, which is vegan of course but nobody minded to have one vegan meal. That night the music hasn't really helped the night to be great  but I made the most of it. Saturday - my last day in Cusco went very quickly and because of sleeping like 10h in the previous week I was hanging on to my opened eyes like never. First of all, since he missed the vegan dinner night before, I kind of forced Heberst to come with me and visit the vegan lady at San Blas. Honestly for 7 soles she makes you taste heaven every day and in my last weeks, due to lack of time, I had visited her many times. Vegan soups, full plates of food, chocolate cake, and of course delicious falafel - one of the best places to eat in Cusco. Afterwords Heberst and I played some long overdue pool - it's always great to play with people better than you, as even while losing you can still learn a lot! 

That wasn't the end of the pool in Cusco. After 3-hour nap, which normally would never happen, I went back one last time to Norton's to play some pool with Steph, one of the bosses of another interesting organisation in Cusco - Mosqoy. But since I had to go to the airport at 4 o'clock I could not play forever. It was time to say my last goodbyes, head home, have three-hour sleep and wake up to the thought of 15 hours of travelling, in order to move my life to another city.

Cusco and its unpredictable weather patterns, beautiful mountains surrounding it from all directions, crazy drivers who do not care about pedestrians, many wonderful markets, and many more things will always have a special placce in my always-moving heart. Right now I've started new chapter of my life in Medellin but as usual the first few weeks are filled with a lot of writing and missing the great people I've met. Remembering moments, drinks, dances, Spanish lessons, salsa classes, and my new favourite drink Té Macho!

Farewell Cusco, until we meet again!
 
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