Monday, August 22, 2011

Happy Anniversary!

Today marks my one year anniversary for being in Cusco. I technically got to Peru on the 21st of August but I didn't get into Cusco until the 22nd. So, you are probably wondering what I am going to do to celebrate! Well, for starters, I got up and took a shower. I headed to a corner store to drop off a beer bottle that I got a sol for bringing back. I went to the casa de cambio and got my rent money changed into dollars. I was a little pissed about the rent being paid in dollars when we first started but since the dollar has decreased in value I am now paying less money for rent. If I were a landlady I would have my rent fixed in soles. I am not going to bet on the value of the dollar, especially not right now. Anyway, back to the day. After the money exchange I bought another pillow for my bed. I only had one which isn't enough for a big bed, especially if someone shares it with you. Before heading home I stopped into Sebastian Salon on the corner next to the post office and got my hair cut. It was my anniversary present to myself. It had been more than 6 months since my last real haircut. It was time. Here is a photobooth photo of the new do!

I headed back home and stopped at Don Justo, my new favorite 3 sole menu joint down the street from my house. The food isn't bad and it's only 3 soles!

As for the rest of my day I have a full afternoon of lessons with students and then maybe, I will go out for a drink with Marco. I haven't decided yet. Originally I was thinking I would party it up but I don't have that desire anymore. I have to be up super early tomorrow to teach an 8:30am lesson and go to my own violin lesson at 10am. I am not in the mood to be nursing any kind of hang over or just tiredness tomorrow. Call it maturity or call it boring but I am perfectly content with a quiet evening and maybe a movie.

It is crazy to think that one year has gone by though! I have learned soooo much in this past year and I completely content with the life I have made for myself in Cusco. It's insane to think about how different my life was even just 6 months ago. I keep getting messages from God that tell me that this is where I am supposed to be and I am going to follow his advice!

I celebrated another anniversary last week too. Marco and I have been dating for 6 months now which is half the time I have been in Cusco. It seems like the first six months here took a lot longer to pass than the second six months. I think part of the reason has to do with being with Marco. I couldn't be happier. I never thought I would feel this way about someone while on my journey in South America but I do and it's wonderful and I wouldn't give it up for anything. I hope we have an amazing time over the next 6 months like we had during the first six!

I am beyond excited about the upcoming months. I turn 25 in less than three months...what?! Quarter century here I come! Also, my wonderful mother is coming on the 15th of November to celebrate Thanksgiving and my birthday with me. I can't wait! South America and Peru are going to blow her mind! :)

To any of my followers out there who are celebrating anniversaries or sorts, mazel tov and congratulations as well as felicitaciones! I hope they rock just like mine have!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Pago a la Tierra

It’s quite a trip thinking of oneself as a tool of God or the spirits or whatever deity one might believe in. I recently had a revelation that has made me think really hard about my spirituality and relationship with what I consider to be God.

On Thursday night we had a Pago a la Tierra (payment to the Earth) at Qantu. Every August many Andean people pay hommage to PacchaMama (mother earth) with this type of ceremony. It is thought that she gets hungry so she must be satisfied with this things the people have to offer her and in return she will grant the people their wishes. It was just the profes, a shaman, and an interpreter. First, coca leaves were spread out on a manta (a blanket) and we all looked for full leaves to make quintas, or groups of three leaves placed in the shape of a clover. We gave them to each other as offerings or respect and friendship and every quinta I received I was to put in my mouth and chew. Well, for anyone who has chewed coca leaves, after a while your tongue falls asleep because of the alkaloids in the plants. The interpreter passed around ceniza which you are only supposed to take a very small bit of. It’s super strong but when it is mixed with the coca leaves it creates a sweet taste. Unfortunately, all the coca and ceniza left my tongue with 5 canker sore. Oh well, it was worth it if what we asked for comes to fruition.

We sat in a circle and kept making quintas, making a pile of them for every intention we wanted to share and offer to Pacchamama (mother earth). Many people asked for the prosperity of Qantu, a larger house for the association, the health and well being of students and professors, but what affected me the most was the request for a new violin teacher to come quickly before Angela leaves for school next January. Had they asked for a violin teacher last time they did a pago a la tierra? I asked Flor afterward and she said yes, they had asked for a violin teacher and here I was. Whoa, was I somehow sent by the Apus (mountain gods) to Qantu? We continued on and after everyone had asked for what they wanted we watched as the shaman put all sorts of trinkets and toys into the package along with all our coca leaves. Each item represented something. For example, there was fake money to represent wealth, there was a plastic house to represent a home, food, cloth, lots of cereals such as quinoa and anis. Once the package was complete it was put over a fire to be burned to ashes which would then be buried in the ground the following day. Only when the offering is in the ground with Pacchamama take action. One thing I thought was kind of funny was how as women, a lot of us were not able to actually look directly as the burning homage. Why? Who know, probably some machista bs but whatever, I wasn’t going to jinx anything by watching it.

So, the whole ceremony got me thinking about myself as a tool sent by the spirits but what really got me thinking more was later that night when I was talking to Marco about everything. He told me that a year and a half ago he had asked Señor de Huanca or Señor de los Milagros in Lima, for happiness. He wasn’t specific about it so it left the possibilities wide open but he told me that his happiness came when I came into his life. He wasn’t a depressed, down in the dumps, kind of person before but he has been through a lot the past 8 years and he just wanted some happiness to come about. What a feeling knowing that I was what made him believe in his faith even more than before. Did Señor de Huanca bring me to Marco? Was it just coincidence? I honestly can’t say but ever since I got to Cusco I have felt a change in the way I feel about my faith in a higher spirit. I honestly think that sometimes it isn’t coincidence that certain things happen and at other moments I am absolutely positive it is coincidence. With these two I am leaning more towards faith and the possibility that I do have a destiny. However, I am not entirely convinced that I have no control over my destiny. I think that on the one hand we have choices and if we are in situations that seem hopeless there is always the option of changing our attitudes which in turn can drastically change the outcome of a situation. The rational part of me keeps saying that I should think logically about things but the more I think about it, the more I am convinced that some things are meant to be and and not meant to be pondered so intensely. I have to say, it’s a wonderful feeling!