Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year 2013

I don't have any photos for this entry but I wanted to say HAPPY NEW YEAR to everyone since I most likely will not have internet tomorrow. I have had an amazing 2012 and I promise to write a re-cap soon.

We are waiting to get the orders from the people in Lima telling us that we can move. Until we get it we have to wait. It could be as late at the 5th of January before we leave Cusco but in the mean time we are all packed up. Last night we wrapped all of our boxes in seran-wrap which is kind of ridiculous to me but apparently the moving company won't accept our boxes if they are not all wrapped up in plastic, including our luggage. It seems like a waste of plastic to me but this is Peru so what are you going to do? I guess the upside is that if it rains and our stuff is outside it won't get damaged.

I am going to be playing at the Hotel Palacio Nazarenas tonight from 8pm to 2am. I have various breaks in there but it is going to be a long night by all means. We are getting paid very nicely though and I am happy that Marco will be able to enter around 11:30pm and we can ring in the new year together! We plan on setting off fireworks when we get home later. Marco had a box full of them. The villa is the perfect place for them since we have a lot of open space.

I hope everyone have a very safe and fun New Year!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas Time!

Merry Christmas!
Feliz Navidad!

 This is our Christmas Card photo. :)

On Christmas Eve day I got lots of blogs written and pictures put up. I also started the packing process. I had to go to band practice at 11am (which actually started at 11:45am or so), and then had lunch with Marco. I also showed Marco his Christmas gift. He really like it. He is excited to put the painting up in his office when he has one eventually after this year of being in class. Elena still needs another week or so to finish it because she is going out of town. We will definitely have it before we move though. She is such an amazing artist. She only asked for 300 soles for it which is totally doable for me. I am beyond happy to have some of her art.

After lunch (that was super freaking long due to only two waiters serving at least 50 people), we headed to Santurantikuy which is the traditional art fair featuring pieces for the nativity scene. It is custom to make a big nativity scene and add to it every year. People dress their baby Jesus' up in different clothing and they also buy new animals to add to the nativity every year. Marco and I didn't make one because it didn't make sense to build a nativity when we are trying to move. The one at Claudio's apartment was cute and simple. Of course, Berta, his mom, complained that it wasn't that big this year. When we got home I made mashed sweet potato and took a nap. Marco took a two hour nap! We made our way over to Larapa (half an hour drive which seemed like a really long time but in reality isn't since Lima is going to be worse!). Marco and Claudio went to pick up the turkey from a local oven and Emily and Alexa proceeded to break a pyrex pan that had stuffing in it because they put it on a cold surface. Neither had seen an explosion like that and while Alexa thought it was cool Emily had to deal with Berta complaining about her pyrex breaking. Oh well, it is replaceable!

We all settled down to a huge turkey dinner (Thank you Peruvian Military!) with waldorf salad, potatoes, mashed sweet potato, apple sauce, sweet pork, and rice. It was most excellent and I am so happy for such a delicious meal. It was like Thanksgiving but late at night on Christmas Eve. I like the tradition only that turkey makes you sleepy and when you add red wine into the mix everyone is ready to pass out before midnight. Some people wait til midnight to pass out gifts but we didn't. Emily and Claudio got Marco and me a ceramic jug from Inkaria, a local bar that makes its own liquor. It has the face of a guinea pig as the spout so the drink comes out of its mouth. It's great and goes perfectly with our Cusqueñan dishware that we got as a wedding gift from my co-workers at Qantu. I gave Claudio a little devil angel playing the guitar and he loved it. He also loved the punk encyclopedia that Emily gave him.

After dinner we played Cranium. It was hilarious and the best part was Alexa, a friend of Emily's, trying to read/understand everything in Spanish. She was a sport and we had a great time.

After midnight when all the fireworks had almost finished, we headed over to Mayra's, Claudio's daughter's mother's, house and Claudio lit off fireworks with names such as Bin Ladin. Needless to say it made a huge bang and caused three different car alarms to go off. I was exhausted and didn't really feel like being too close to the fireworks. We said good-byes to everyone and headed home. It was a great Christmas Eve and even though I missed my family, I have Marco and he is my family. Claudio, Emily, and Carla are like family too! I had a great night.

Christmas day literally consisted of me packing up my life. I went to Qantu to pick up my stuff from my room but other than that I spent the day at home listening to Dr. Robert Greenberg lectures on Western Music. It was a productive day and since Marco was in service at work I was even more productive. I also had tasty leftovers to keep my stomach happy.

I have an absurd amount of things to do over the next few days. I tried to donate stuff to South American Explorers today but they were closed! That is so unfair. I definitely checked and it said they would be open on the 26th. Oh well. I dropped the donations off at Qantu and will bring them to the clubhouse tomorrow of Friday. I also need to pay my cell phone bill, get paid from Qantu, get a copy of my insurance and a duets book made, practice a ton with the band, close my bank account, pick up my boots, and finish packing the rest of the house.


It is customary to have a chocolatada at Christmas time if you work for a school. Everyone gets together and stuffs their faces with paneton (a much tastier version of fruitcake) and hot chocolate. We had one at Qantu last Saturday and it was wonderful. I saw a few of my students and took some pictures. One of my students gave me a super cute Mamacha doll holding a potato. I can add it to my collection now since I got one holding a baby from Corey when he left. Here are some pictures of the party!

 Diego put on Suzanne's concert with her mother. It was well received. 

 Joanna is here to visit. We met her when we were taking our teacher training courses last year in Lima.

My lovely student Antonella with her dad (who plays violin in the Cusco Sypmhony), her mother, and Suzanne.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Concierto de Ensambles Grandes 22 de Diciembre 2012

What a fantastic way to finish out the semester! On Friday night we had the final concert which consisted of the ensambles for more advanced students. It started with the group of sikuris and then another group lead by Kike Pinto, Flor's ex-husband and former violin teacher at Qantu. They both sounded great. It was followed by the camerata de guitarras. They played a really nice rendition of Dust in the Wind with the help of two violin students, Io and Gabriela. We were put into the festive mood with a version of Silent Night played by a guitar student who's name I don't know, Maria, a cellist, and Angela on voice. It was cute and totally impromptu. Afterward the Camerata de cuerdas played a a Bartok and Piazzolla piece before the chorus and orchestra took the stage for the finale. It was super fun and the music is really enjoyable. Suzanne and I enjoyed trying to pronounce all the Quechua words right for some of the songs. The last song we played is called Za Za Za and it is a festejo which means it is super upbeat and really fun. Fil and Melissa played cajon and Suzanne and I danced. The kids didn't seem as enthusiastic about it though. Maybe it is because they have grown up with it. Either way I enjoyed myself a lot.

At the end of the concert Flor called Suzanne and me to the front and asked for an applause for all the work we did. It was extremely touching and brought both Suzanne and I to tears. It was a lot of love a and a very extended applause. I am forever grateful for all that Qantu has given me. I came to Cusco as an English teacher and I am leaving for Lima as a violin teacher. What a crazy cool thing to happen. Qantu will never be forgotten and I will definitely be visiting next year to check on my students!

Here are some pictures for you to enjoy. There are more under the Final Concerts album on the left side bar of this page.

 Sikuri group class

 Kike Pinto's sikuri group

 Camerata de Guitarras

 Silent Night Trio

 Coro 1 y Coro 2

Another angle to see how many children were up on stage.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Concierto de Violines 20 de Diciembre 2012

The violin concert was a success! It went a little long and we had to cut out a few songs from the pyramid at the end to make sure the little ones were still awake to play, but overall it went really well. We have over 60 students among Melissa, Suzanne, and me and we had over 20 solos so it was bound to be a bit longer than usual. I am super proud of all of my student that played solos and all of the others that played as well. Three of my students didn't make it, two because they forgot. Not really sure how it slipped by them or their mother but it's all good. They got to play in the trio concert earlier this month and did a nice job. 

I was very impressed by how everyone dressed up as well. We didn't go with the traditional Suzuki attire of white shirts and black pants but told everyone to dress up nicely. Most of the girls wore really pretty dresses, many of them first communion dresses (all white). There were lots of boys in suits as well. It was great to see and it made for some really nice pictures.

I am going to miss my students so much. They were really wonderful, all of them, in their own ways. I am so happy that I was able to spread some music and violin knowledge to them in my short time with all of them. It is especially gratifying to see the littlest ones playing the monkey song or twinkle twinkle after a good year of work if not a bit more. The foundation is so important and I hope that I have given them a good one so they can continue on and become not only wonderful violinist but great people as well, just as Suzuki would have wanted.

Here are some pictures from Thursday night.

 Me and my two littlest students Luciana and Antonella

Suzanne leading Concerto in E with her group class students

Supporting Sebasthian as he played Twinkle Variation Gran Mami Gran Papi

I ended up printing this photo out for each one of the wonderful ladies in this photo. I think it is super cute and I put mine in a frame that will go up in my studio when I am in Lima. :)

Friday, December 21, 2012

Concierto de Profesores 19 de Diciembre 2012

 Wednesday was fantastic! I am so relieved and really impressed with myself. I played much better than I thought I did and while I lacked some confidence in the beginning, I made up for it in the end. Marco got some video footage of the last 5 minutes and I listened to it today. I was much happier with the outcome than I thought I would be! He also took video of the quartet that Melissa, Suzanne, Angela and I played. It was really fun playing with the three of them. I really hope that I can find some people to play with when I am in Lima. Maybe Angela and I can play for some parties and things when I am in Lima next year. I know she is super busy with school but it might be a possibility. Anyway, the concert itself lasted 2 hours! I couldn't believe that it went that long. We did add the camerata with two pieces in the middle but that was only 15 minutes or so. Arioska played a solo piece, I played my solo, there was the violin quartet, a trio, Elder played a solo, Nayat played a Haydn piano solo, there was the Bach piano quartet and camerata. Oh yes, and Fil and Flor finished out the concert with a beautiful rendition of Siwarsituy, a quechua Christmas carol. It was a very successful concert. I am most appreciative of Marco for coming out too because he was not feeling well and very much wanted to stay in bed but he came out to support me and that means so much to me. I worked really hard on this concert and I really wanted him to be there. What a great guy!
 Us ladies after the Telemann Quartet!

Concierto de Camerata de Cuerdas 18 de Diciembre 2012

On Tuesday night we had the camerata concert in the Wanchaq Municipality auditorium and I have to say that I am super proud of all the students. They played so well and watched Fil as he cut everyone off. They had some problems keeping an eye on him and would keep playing long after he cut us off in rehearsals. It is really great to see all the hard work pay off in the end and play really fun music and make other people happy with it. I know Marco enjoyed it. 

Gotta love Fil's expressiveness. :)
I am going to look into playing in an orchestra when I am in Lima. It would be super fun!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Concierto de Ensambles 17 de Diciembre 2012

I started the week with the ensambles concert and Io took some great photos of me dancing and singing with our cajon and canto class. It was super fun. I am really glad she took a video of "You are my sunshine". I taught the kids the lyrics in English and accompanied it with my violin. It was great! I was happy to bring back memories of my dad singing it to me when I was a kid.

The auditorium was quite full and the parents were out in full swing with their cameras. I am sure it is going to be super exciting for me and Marco when we see our kids stomping around and banging on instruments in early stimulation and especially when they play instruments. At one point Diego, our camera guy/secretary asked the parent of the kid dressed up as a duck to get control of her child since he was running around all over the place and interrupting the show. Haha!

 I adore the early stimulation kids. They made my night. The bunny rabbit running around with his carrot and the butterfly chasing him around like a lovestruck girl. Haha. It was super cute. 

 Singing An Old Austrian went yodeling in Spanish


 Cajon 1


Sunday, December 9, 2012

Something a Little Different This Sunday

I had a great Sunday. It was not the typical Sunday I have. I went to Flor's (my director's) apartment around 11am and we hung out for a bit before getting up the energy to go to the market and buy all the ingredients we needed to make causa rellena and aji de gallina. Melissa joined us later and made some last minute runs to the market herself for things we forgot. It took us two hours to do everything even with 4 people helping but it was totally worth it and we enjoyed every last bit of the food. It was accompanied by caipirinhas which are a brazilian drink with Cachaça, a Brazilian liquor. We also made fresh lemonade. It was really great and I enjoyed hanging out and cooking with the ladies of Qantu. It could be really stressful to do depending on the type of person in the kitchen. Everyone knows that person who cannot let others do things for themselves in the kitchen because they won't do it correctly. Fortunately, there was none of that in our case and we had a great relaxing day.

After eating we digested a bit and laid around until it was time for us to go to Qantu for a rehearsal with students on the Bach piano quartet. We have a few students helping out by playing in the orchestra part. The entire product will be presented in the Teachers' Concert next Wednesday. Yikes! Next Wednesday! I have such a short amount of time before I perform my solo! I am performing Accolay's Concerto in A Minor 1st movement. It has a ton of technical stuff in it but it is a fun romantic piece so I can go all out with the emotion. I am looking forward to it even though I am also terrified of playing my violin in public as a soloist. Give me Claudio any day to play with and I am fine but put me next to a piano and have me play a classical solo piece, I want to explode from nervousness. I don't know why it happens to me but I think it has something to do with control. I feel like I have complete control over my voice while the violin is something outside of me. I technically control it too but it isn't something that is a part of me like my voice and for that reason I get more nervous. It also requires a lot more practice than my voice does. Oh well, I will survive and it will be good for me. I want to show that I can play too. Suzanne has played a few concerts since she has been here, just her or with Katie and I have not done any. I owe it to my students and myself to play a solo.

Anyway, back to the rehearsal. It went really well and I am looking forward to playing the piece with the students and the 4 pianists in the concert. Suzanne, Melissa and I then practiced a bit of the Telemann violin quartet that they, myself and Angela Thompson (a former Qantu violin teacher who got me my job), are going to play for the Teachers' Concert as well. We have lots to play and only a week and a half to go so we will definitely have to have another rehearsal or two before the big day!

Things are getting hectic around here. The week of the 17th of December I am in a concert every single night of the week. It goes as follows:

Monday: Ensambles cajon, sikuri, kodaly
Tuesday: Camerata
Wednesday: Teachers' Concert
Thursday: Violin Concert
Friday: Chorus and Orchestra

Crazy right? I know. I am going to run out of black to wear. I am going to wear a pretty dress for Wednesday but the other days have to be all black. Good thing I have been stocking up this year on black clothing. A musician can never have enough black!

I am only two weeks away from being completely done working at Qantu. I can't believe how quickly the time has flown. I only have two or three classes left with all of my students. I am planning on giving them a candy bar called Tuyo and writing La Musica es... next to the name. It means the music is yours. I think it is cute. I am also going to write a personal note to all of them that will be attached to the candy bar. I have appreciated every single one of my students and I am so thankful that I have had the opportunity to teach all of them and learn so much from each one of them. That is probably one of the best things about being a teacher. I learn just as much from them, if not more, than they do from me. It is also extremely rewarding to see how far all of them have come, especially those who have been with my since the very beginning. I have a few little ones who are all playing twinkle now and that makes me sooooo happy. I can't wait for them to perform at the concert in a week and a half. It is going to be great. I am going to try not to cry. :)

Life is super great and as I finish another year I can't help but become overwhelmed with emotions and mostly thanks and a feeling of incredible luck that I have the life I do and the people in my life that I do. I am beyond happy and I hope that Lima will bring even more. I am sure that with an open mind and positive attitude it will be.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Typical entry in

So for those of you that don't know, I write on a daily basis on a website called . It's pretty self explanatory. You write 750 words on a daily basis which racks up to 22,000 words in a month. There are badges and incentives for writing every day if getting a little x in the box for the day isn't enough. For me it definitely is. I am on a 31 day streak and plan to keep it up. I am also in the December challenge which means I need to write every day in December. I decided that if I achieve the goal I will buy myself a new ebook on my kindle and if I miss a day I will donate 2 dollars to the website. They rely on patrons to keep the site running. A guy named Buster started it in Bedlam Coffee in Seattle Washington. Go figure, a hip writing site developed by a guy in Seattle! Seattle just might be catching up to Portland in hipsterness. Anyway, I decided that I am going to post what I wrote today on the site just to give you an idea of what it is like. I am seriously considering writing a book about my adventures in Cusco. I may wait til next November for National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo. 50,000 words in one month!

So here goes! This is what I wrote today.

I have had a very successful day so far. I got up at 8am and got ready to go to my piano lesson. Flor forgot that we were going to have class on Monday and scheduled someone else so we recuperated it this morning. The lesson went well and we went over a ton of stuff. I have a lot to practice this week. After my lesson I sent the picture I want Elena to paint for Marco's Christmas present to her. I am going to drop off a hard copy today in about an hour or so. I then walked down to an internet place because I forgot to look up my dad's address. While I was there I accidentally left my planner. Oops! I am going to see if I can get it back when I walk back up to Qantu from Dragon's Palate. I made my way down to Movistar to pay for our internet and then walked down to Serpost where I sent back the stamps that my dad accidentally sent to me with my birthday gift.

Ok, so after serpost I stopped in next door to the Salon San Sebastian and got my hair washed, cut and dried. I was totally expecting it to be at least 50 soles because the last time I got my hair done there it was at least 45. They only charged me 30! That is so crazy. I left my stylist a 5 sole tip because she did a good job and because I saved 20 soles so why not!

I decided to get lunch at Yola. I was in the mood for causa and arroz con pollo and lemonade. That is exactly what I ate. I couldn't eat it all of course, so I took the rest of the arroz con pollo home and will eat the rest of it tonight for dinner after singing at the Marriott. I made my way down the street to the Imprenta I went into the other day to ask about business cards. The girl said she needed to keep my USB for the day in order to do everything. That was weird so I went to another one down the street and we switched the design in the program Coral so that he could work on it easier. There wasn't much to work with though. It is a super simple design and just black and white with a few pictures from google on it. A violin and a note with a treble clef. He originally said 40 soles but I told him the lady down the street was charging 30 soles for the exact same thing so he agreed to it. Later he said I could have color if I wanted but I didn't. I like simple. It is to the point and easy to read. I finally stopped in Maxi for some groceries and bought some dog food for Pepe at the agroveterinaria that I always go to for his food. I was going to take a combi back but of course Huancaro went right by me. That is two times today! I was going to take a combi to Qantu this morning but my bus went right by me because there were other buses in front of it. Fucker. It makes me sooooo mad when they do that!! I apologize for the strong words but man it makes me mad! They don't care at all about the passengers.

I ended up walking.

On my way I picked up some pan de coco for Marco. I have decided that I am going to try and get rid of most bread from my diet. I think I am going to feel a lot better. It's not gluten but yeast that isn't so great for me.

I finally made it back home and now I am going to probably take a quick nap before heading out to do more errands. I am very content with how the day has gone so far and I only have two students today, cajon class and then singing at the Marriott.

Last night went well. We played at 10:30pm and there was a huge group of Chilean men. I have no idea why there were so many of them or why they were all men but they liked us and clapped a lot. It is always nice to have a really lively audience that responds when you are finished with a song.

When I got home Marco and I ended up chatting for a good hour in bed. We talked about wedding possibilities and how he wants to have a great mixture of everything. We think we are going to have a buffet for all my friends and family that come from the States because it will be great for them to try typical food from Peru. My mom wanted to have a dinner the night before so that would be the perfect way. That way, we would spend less on food for the reception. A sit down dinner with courses is apparently less that a buffet at the reception. For some reason that doesn't seem right. I would think that it would be more expensive to have a course meal but who knows. We will figure out all of this and more details when we are in Lima. It's nice to be thinking about everything. I saw this great post on pinterest with two wine glasses and on one was the name of the bride and the other groom. The one whose cup is more full at the end of the night gets cake in the face. I like it! It's some extra soles (or maybe dollars from the US people!) for us. We also chatted about moving logistics since we are doing that in less than a month! Apparently we will be moving everything to the center of the room in boxes so that it can painted before the 24th of December because after that date it is hard to contract workers or something like that. I trust Marco's ideas. He is a rational logical thinker.

Monday, December 3, 2012

A Wedding in San Jeronimo, Cusco

I was told by David and Alvaro that I would be playing in a quartet on Friday instead of singing at Monasterio and Marriott like I have been doing the past couple of week. Great! When were we going to practice? We ended up finding some time in the morning yesterday to practice the 5 pieces. The repertoire included Pachabel's Canon in D Major, Shostakovich's Waltz no. 2, and arrangement of Coldplay's Yellow, Te Amaré, O Sole Mio, and Besame Mucho. I rehearsed with Yuset, the cellist and Brickman(?) the second violinist. I can't deny, it was pretty cool being 1st violin for the first time. I am never first violin. Anyway, we finished up and I went on my way to start my incredibly full Friday. There was a slight crisis that was averted in the afternoon. I accidentally left the pocket open on my violin case that holds me music. Three pieces fell out during my trip from Qantu to the bus stop. It wasn't until the cobrador handed me a few sheets of music that were falling out of my case while I was in the combi did I realize what happened. After some phone calls I was able to get in contact with Yuset who printed out more copies. Phew!

In order to save some money I decided to take the San Jeronimo bus. It took an hour to get to Larapa. Typical.

I had no trouble finding the room we would be playing in. It was draped in white and pink cloth. There were 14 tables each set to seat 10 guests and the chairs were draped with white and pink tool. Each table had a vase that was about a meter high and at the top of each one was a bouquet of pink and white flowers. In the center back there was a table set up for the bride and groom to have their civil ceremony and next to the table was an itty bitty 4 layer cake with a very cheesy plastic bride and groom on top. There was also a fake fire machine that had a light glowing and air blowing orange colored paper. It was attached to pink cloth that went up to the ceiling where it continued along the ceiling towards the front of the room. There was another one on the other side but with no fake fire attached. This was quite the display and to top it all off there were silver beads hanging from the middle light fixture like the ones you would put in your doorway as a teenager or that separate a fortune teller's front room from her work room. They were shiny though!

The wedding planner from Cusco Eventos explained to us how the music would go and when we would be playing. The canon was for the bride and groom's entry, Waltz for the second dance (the first dance of the bride and groom will get its own paragraph.), O sole Mio for cutting the cake, Yellow for after the ceremony was over, and that pretty much summed it up.

We got to the room with plenty of time for a sound check. Claudio played guitar with us and quickly reviewed what he would be playing. It was all pretty simple. There was a man handing out pisco sours. Claudio took no time in grabbing a few for all of us. Haha! We waited for the bride and groom to make their entrance while simultaneously waiting for the second violinist who was still on a bus when the bride and groom did make their entrance. Yuset and I made do and playing the entrance to Pachabel's Canon. We only ended up playing 4 bars of so but it was not as pretty as it could have been with a second violin.

The event coordinator urged everything along and the couple made their way to the table where someone from the municipality of San Jeronimo was waiting to marry the couple in their civil ceremony.

The ceremony itself didn't take too long but the toasts afterward were quite the opposite. Each parent of the bride and groom had some time to talk. First the father of the groom said his thanks to everyone, then the mother of the bride. Each of theirs was quite short and sweet. When the father of the bride got on the mic it was apparent that he liked to hear himself talk and when the reverb on a mic is such that every word echos for half a second afterward he made sure to talk nice and slow. I think he really liked hearing himself like the voice of god from heaven. The event coordinator had to cut him off when he tried to make a toast though. The mother of the groom still had to say her words. She made sure to make them quick. Back to the father of the bride. The toast was finally made and he seemed content with himself afterward. We played the Waltz by Shostakovich for the second dance that included all the close family members. We repeated it three times and then continued on to play Coldplay's Yellow while the couple cut the cake and then made ourselves comfortable for the most incredibly long and depressing speech made by the godfather of the bride.

"And you must be ready for the fights and the struggles that come your way and when your kids are yelling mommy and daddy don't get frustrated but you will. Life is not easy but you will have each other. Don't let satan take your marriage down..."

You get the point. It was ridiculous and went on for 10 minutes! played a little more of Yellow and then we were done. In total it was about an hour but we only ended up playing 15 minutes or so. As we were leaving another quartet started playing and getting ready for Keren, a well known opera singer here in Cusco, to start singing. There would eventually be a big salsa/cumbia band to play. What really got me about all of it is how late the entire thing started and how late it would most likely go. A reception starts at 9pm and I imagine ended up going til the wee hours of the morning.

What I know for sure from all of it is that I don't want to have ridiculously long speeches from anyone and that I will not be using pink as one of the themes for my wedding. It was a bit tacky for me. I wouldn't mind green though. :)