Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Belated Christmas!

This year was a very different Christmas for me. Last year I spent it with my Ecuador family in Santo Domingo Ecuador in nice hot tropical weather. This year I spent it with my man and my dog in freezing rain! Haha. It was lots of fun though.

Christmas Eve was busy and the day before Marco and I went shopping for Nativity scene supplies. We built one out of cardboard boxes and paper. It was really fun and it turned out pretty well. What do you think? I had various errands to run on Saturday but in the evening I sang with The Guardians at Dragon's Palate and we celebrated the holiday with a toast with champagne and paneton. Now, like I mentioned in my last blog, paneton is Latin America's version of fruitcake and unlike American fruitcake, it's DELICIOUS! The custom here is to eat paneton with hot chocolate. Talk about a great custom and a wonderful way to get nice and chubby during the holiday season. Marco and I shared some paneton and hot chocolate when we got home and watched all the fireworks that kids set off at midnight. It's another great tradition here. The noise from fireworks fills the night at midnight and lasts about half an hour. It was beautiful. Marco has a great view of the city all the way down to the airport. I spent the afternoon cooking Eggplant Parmasean for Marco and myself. He had never tried eggplant before so I thought it fitting to make a delcious eggplant meal. He liked it and I enjoyed making it. I didn't have time to make the pumpkin pie I wanted to but I am going to make it tomorrow so that I have one for Carole's baby shower (she is a piano teacher at Qantu) and one for Marco, Gabriel and I to share when they get back from Lima this weekend.

Christmas day was super lazy. We didn't get out of bed until 11am and later we ate takeout roasted chicken from El Tablon. Around 5:45 I headed over to help with moving our equipment to The Frogs and do the sound check. It went well and I had about 2 hours before I had to be back so I decided to check out the new Starbucks in the plaza de armas. Yup, there is now a Starbucks in Cusco. It wasn't enough to have a McDonald's and KFC. No bustling international city is complete without a Starbucks right? I really can't complain. Starbucks is totally my guilty pleasure and since a drink costs at the least 10 soles here it will have to be a once in a while treat for me. It's actually a good thing that the wi-fi doesn't work on my computer for some reason. It means I will be less tempted to go there and stay or decide to choose it as the place where I want to get work done on the internet. Fortunately, we will soon have internet at Marco's place so I won't have to waste any more money going to cafe's to use the internet. I can always use Maximo Nivel which is what I am doing right now but sometimes I don't feel like being at Maximo. I want a more comfortable atmosphere. Anyway, the show went off without a hitch and we had a great time. Christian liked the show so I think we will be back again. I sure hope so!

I was a little bummed that I wasn't able to skype with everyone on Christmas Eve at the Servillo Christmas Eve party but it's all good. I sent everyone a facebook message to let them know I was thinking about them. I am sure I will be home for Christmas in the next few years or so. The Servillo's Christmas Eve party is something I really really miss. It is always so much fun and being surrounded by all the people I grew up around is comforting. I know there are new traditions to be had and of course, eventually everyone will be married and off doing different Christmas time things so I can't be too sad about it. I will always have great memories!

I am super excited to meet Gabriel, Marco's son. He will be here in about 5 days and will stay for a month and a half. I am nervous because I really want him to like me and I want him to know that I will never try and be his mom. He has a mom. I will be more like the fun girlfriend who he likes to hang out with and whose dog he will love. :)

I hope everyone had a great Christmas and Hannukah!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Tis the Season for Concerts

This week was one crazy full week of concerts for Qantu but it was a lot of fun and full of pride even if there were some mess ups here and there.

The first concert I took part in was the soloists’ concert on Monday night. Other than the little choque Marco and I had the evening went very well and the students played very well even though the local was not the best acoustically speaking. It was also fun playing in a little orchestra after a really long time of not playing in one. We had a lot of practices and pulled it off quite nicely. I enjoyed playing with Ernesto Zamora as well, a violinist from Lima. He is helping me out with getting my bow re-strung in Lima. All in all, it was a good concert.

On Tuesday night we had the violin concert which went quite well other than a few mess-ups at the end with the entire group but that was a result of a lot of students not coming to the final practice. I can’t even begin to tell you how proud of my students I was, especially one who I had worked with so hard on changing her bow hold and getting her to relax her palm while putting her fingers down. She played beautifully! We had a special treat from some Canadian boys who were here on vacation and dropped off a ton of donations from different stores and a former teacher of Qantu who now lives in Canada. They played traditional fiddle tunes from Yukon and Cape Breton. One of them accompanied himself with foot percussion. The audience loved it! I am so happy to have had such a successful concert. The first concert I took part in back in July was fun but I wasn’t as invested in it as I was with this one. 8 months of working with students will definitely add some interest and pride. We gave Angela flowers at the end of the concert to conclude her final concert with Qantu. She got emotional which was totally understandable. She puts so much energy into her students and I know she is going to miss them terribly when she is in Lima. She is going to the conservatory where she will only further her music career. I wish her the best of luck!

Finally, on Friday night we had the ensamble concert at the centro de convenciones which is basically the municipality’s conference center. The acoustics were terrible and it was really hard to get everyone to play together in time. It was cold and a lot of hard work was done in vain because it really didn’t turn out too well. It’s unfortunate but that is what we have to deal with here. There are very few areas in Cusco that have really nice acoustics and can fit all of the kids in the ensamble.

Also, we have the great fun of moving clavinovas and cajones to all parts of town for the concerts since no one has a piano here. Seriously, there is not one single place in Cusco that has a really nice grand piano. It is sad and it is something that Flor, our director is always asking for at concerts to let everyone know that we really really need one here for the betterment of our students and so we don’t have to move clavinovas all over the place! It’s really not that bad but it does get tiring after a while. Ideally, we would have a bigger place to teach and to have concerts. It would be wonderful but we need a lot of funding for it. Maybe there is someone out there reading this blog that has the resources to send donations or help us out! That would be genial as they say here.

Today, we celebrated the end of the semester with a chocolatada. It is a tradition here during Christmas time to celebrate with hot chocolate and paneton which is like fruit cake but much lighter and more delicious than what we are used to in the States. The hot chocolate is delicious and the paneton is also scrumptious. I have already had three cups of hot chocolate and two pieces of Paneton. Tis the season to engoradarme (get fat). ☺

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Choque de Costumbre

Well, it finally happened! Marco and I had our first real culture clash on Monday. I invited him to come to a soloist concert since I was playing in the orchestra which was accompanying the soloists. I knew it was going to be a nice concert and I really wanted him to hear it. Anyway, he came and sat down in the row that I had put my things and I saw him so I blew him a kiss and waved hello thinking that it was a sufficient way to say hello and acknowledge him. In the mean time we went down off the stage to sit in the back and wait for the first song to be played so we could all go up together as an orchestra. Meanwhile, Marco was waiting for me to come and say hello until finally he got a call from a friend asking if he could do him a favor. Marco, thinking that I didn't really want him to be there, accepted and left the concert before it started. He did wave to me and let me know that my stuff was still in the chair where I had put it. I, not knowing any better, thought he had left to go talk to someone on the phone and that he would be back soon. The concert started and Marco was no where to be found. We played some more and still no Marco. Finally, I knew he wasn't coming back and decided to call him after the concert was over.

When I called him I asked him what happened thinking that maybe there had been an emergency or something work related. He responded with, I had other things to do. What do you mean other things to do? Honestly, he said, I was upset and uncomfortable that you never came over to say hello to me. I saw other people from the orchestra doing that and you just sat in the back with your friends and talked while I waited. Finally I left because I figured I might as well put my time where it was needed and wanted. I, of course, broke down and started crying while trying to explain to him that typically when someone goes to a concert they don't expect to get a greeting from the person that is in the show or concert until afterward when everyone comes down and thanks all the guests for coming. It didn't even occur to me that I would be offending him by not saying hello. I thought the kiss I blew him was sufficient. Obviously, I was wrong. I understand that he felt uncomfortable but to leave? I felt hurt by that. I was supposed to go out to La Romana to share pizza with my coworkers and the soloists but I didn't feel like it. I needed to get home to resolve the issue. When I got home I cried some more and we talked it out in about 20 minutes. Both of us realize that when it comes to miscommunication it is not something that we should feel bad about for too long because we didn't know any better. No one is to blame and no one should feel hurt because it wasn't intentional. The night ended nicely and we watched a movie cuddling.

I am sure that there will be more occasions in which miscommunication will occur but I feel so fortunate to have such a wonderful man who immediately and calmly expresses himself without blowing up or allowing anything to brew. I am so glad he isn't passive aggressive. That is the worst. Seriously, I am super lucky and it is a great that little challenges like this show me that we just need a little bit of time to explain ourselves and to apologize and come to an understanding. We both agree that we have to meet each other half way and that neither one should just do everything so that the other one feels completely comfortable. It gives me faith that this relationship is going to last. :)

My mom says that me not saying hello to him shows that he is still nervous about me possibly not loving him as much as he loves me and that he might lose me. I poo poo that but she may have a point. Either way, I love him dearly and more than I have ever loved any man in my life.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Great News!!

All the hard work put into sending off a video of me playing the Vivaldi Concerto in A Minor 3rd movement and the Seitz 2nd movement from book four PAID OFF!! I received an email from the Suzuki Association of the Americas telling me that I was granted the scholarship and what's more is that it not only covers the costs of the classes but it also pays for almost the entire cost of the round trip flight I bought. YIPPEEE!! I am really surprised but my dad tells me I should be. Psh, I never expect anything (too much) so that when things don't go my way I am not disappointed. However, after talking to Marco I realized that a lot of people down here don't take the time to do everything necessary to get the scholarship. It doesn't take a lot of work but the video did take some time. I probably took about 10 takes of each song. Most people around here won't even bother. Hey, works for me!! YAY! I am so excited. I am going to use the money I get at the festival (the reimbursement) to help pay for food and transportation and possibly getting a bow re-strung. Maybe I will get another set of strings too! I can't wait!

I am also going to get Marco his birthday present. We went to Maestro, the Peruvian Home Depot and saw an awesome desk and chair set for 279 soles! What a steal! He totally wanted it and I would love to give it to him. I was going to get a 70 sole t-shirt from a Peruvian designer but I think this will serve him much more since he has a lot of studying to do this upcoming year.

I am putting in two photos of me and my new doggy Pepe! Enjoy!