I was happily (as happy as possible for a job) working,
saving money and getting to a point of financial comfort that I had not felt for a while. I was optimistically considering going to visit my sponsored child in CuscoPeru. The last time I saw her in 2010 was too long ago, it was a beautiful moment for me and I wanted to do it again. I filled out the forms for the required police records checks.
I was planning my holiday and seeing friends in South America again and having a new adventure. I knew I had a few more things to take care of before I was completely comfortable and I started to consider options.
I have been informed that my tenant will be moving out of my house. I feel it is good and that I am about ready to make the move but, (there is nearly always a but). Although it is good to be financially ready there are a few things that I am not sure about. In some ways this slows me down but I feel it is a necessary evil. I have to face a few demons before I am free.
I woke up late this morning after a nice night out. I lazed around my room emailing friends and chatting to “K” about Christmas. I worked on some photos and went back to bed.
I decided to go and do something a little different tonight, I took myself to dinner, I walked along the street looking for somewhere to catch my eye and found a small restaurant, I realised from the menu and then the décor that it was a Peruvian restaurant. I ordered dinner and reminisced about my time in Cusco, meeting my sponsored child and ‘the stairs’.
I went to a dance night tonight, I was going to visit a friend that was a waitress there and experience a different night at somewhere new. It was on the other side of the freeway near the city, I have been told to be careful on this side of the freeway; even the taxi driver reminded me as I paid for the ride.
I said hi to the waitress, was given a good table and sat down to experience the night, it was a nice venue, the size and ambience were nice. I listened to tango while people were still coming in and watching people. It was a very old club hall from what I could understand on the walls and the organiser looked like he may have actually been there when it was first opened, he was having fun walking around holding a microphone and talking now and again.
The night started about normal with a few tandas of tango and vals, people were sitting back and relaxing, chatting to their friends and others were dancing. I noticed that the people were wearing normal street shoes even platforms while dancing, (hmm, very relaxed), then the music changed they played tandas of Cumbia and then Merengue, more Tango and then more Cumbia, it seems that the people love the Cumbia and most got up for a dance, I imagined how this would have been a street dance or party years ago and the people went out to have fun with friends and socialise while enjoying their company, the only thing missing were the cobblestones.
There was one man asking people women to dance all night, he just wouldn’t stop, (he was like a kid on red cordial). Then the rock and roll came on, at least six men got into character, they unbuttoned their shirts to their navels and went wild on the dance floor, it was amazing to see the energy and stamina these men had (I hope I have half as much when I am there). I went home after this and had a good night sleep.
I woke early!, (Bugger! Oh well lets check email and say to some friends online).
I went down to the hotel dining room for breakfast, I noticed there were no warm dishes, the spirit burners under the bane Marie were not lit, actually they were not there. I chose the fruit selection, some guava juice, melon pieces, I think it was rock melon (cantaloupe), water melon and guava. I also had may morning cup of Coca leaf tea, it really does help with breathing at the higher altitude. I waited eagerly for my ride to come “7.30 am“, today was the day, my main reason for coming to Cusco was to visit a child I had sponsored through World Vision, I wanted to see her part of the world , her community and try my best to understand what World Vision was doing to help. Here we go! It is 7.30am south American time, real time (my time) 8.00am, this is a phenomenon which occurs regularly south America, once you accept this natural law it is exciting, it is all part of the adventure. We drive out of town a few minutes and the streets change, they are now regular sealed roads, there are normally dressed people (non traditional so to speak) they are busy going about their day, there are school kids everywhere, lots of smiles and laughter and some foot dragging, (sounds like a boy I once knew, hmmm) but the main thing is they are off to school.
The town thins out as we go further away from the centre, (I guess this is normal, jaja), the back drop for these buildings young and old some so decrepit that I was curious if they were condemned but was assured these were houses and they were all occupied, (how dare I complain about my humble three bedroom home in the big city again), the mountains became more visible in the distance, forming a beautiful backdrop of colours and character I do not see often.
We are finally in the country. (do you mean that the last 15 minutes was a town?), there is a small river and field with mountains, we pass the occasional person grazing cattle on the side of the road, when I say side of the road I mean that if you opened the car window you could kiss the cows on the lips, (don‘t try that stunt at home kids I am a professional and maybe a little sick), there are mud brick homes, they are rich red brown in colour, some are half finished with some kind of covering other are two story homes, you can see the logs that make the floor protruding from the walls these are later used to form a roof for shade and also to hang things from, broken fences some were mud and had fallen over time and other were rustic log fences, dirt roads and a few lakes dotted with some green patches of vegetation create this magnificent view. This softens the journey inducing a sense of serenity.
Following the road upwards I see in the background a mountain with a river at its feet and a field with houses, they were damaged in a recent flood and were no longer used, it does not rain often I was told but he rain at this time was so excessive that the valley flooded and lots of damage was done. The government did step in to help the community by helping to relocate the town and rebuild it on higher ground.
Looking around in wonder at the surrounding mountains with weathered features carved into their faces, like the faces of many of the locals they all have a story to tell, the sun bringing them to life as the shadows dance on every ridge and crevice showing off the amazing colours of the rock, nature is truly an artist. A few of the towns we pass are tiny, very tiny, the are so small you could throw a guinea pig from one end to another,,,, (they are a food source in this part of the world, you must never throw or play with your food!, this is a figure of speech, “do not harm animals“), they are so tightly built that the road goes right up to the front step, if you step out without looking you could be hit by car mirrors, (I thought Sydneys inner west was bad until today).
A bit more than an hour later we finally arrive at the World Vision office, I am greeted by the staff and made to feel important, (O.K. I did enjoy it for a few seconds), I am given introductions to the staff, then the big moment, I am introduced to this small dark skinned girl dressed in her finest with hair tied back, big eyes and a contagious smile, we give each other the customary embrace and kiss, lastly I am introduced to the big sister, she was the family representative and chaperone as mum was away on business.
Then there was the official welcome speech, and shown the official video of the project. Now it was time for fun, the World Vision staff and sister were encouraging the child to ask questions but all she could do was look down cupping her hands between her knees and look shy, I guess she was also scared a little, (I am sure I would be if I met me). I resorted to what I am told by many parents works a treat, “bribes” I reached for a bag I had with me and said to her in Spanish, “I have some gifts for you” maybe it was bad Spanish but I think you could say gifts and toys to a child in any language and they would understand, I at least got her attention, her head tilts a little and starts to move in my direction, I put my hand in the bag and pull out a few gifts, her head raises and she starts to look in my direction, (hey this bribe thing works), she becomes animated with her big eyes growing even larger, she accepts the gifts and even smiles, I gave her simple gifts, a few hair clips, pencils an note pad and finally a sparkly purple bracelet with diamond studded letters spelling her name, this did it she finally spoke and said thanks, the ice has begun to crack. The family also received some gifts, meat, a big ball of cheese, chocolate and some chocolate biscuits, (oops, the biscuits were actually for me but I grabbed them by accident, NO not true only kidding). She asked a tem member to fit the bracelet for her, she loved it.
We now head out to the fist stop, we drive to a small home, we are greeted by the owner with a smile and we are welcomed in, he explains how World Vision has helped him, they gave building material that have helped him to build a large guinea pig shed, as I said this is part of the local diet, he has also been give plant stock, several varieties of fruit trees, this has helped him to feed his family and also allows him to sell excess stock at the markets so he can also make an income, he also now gives back to the community by growing small fruit trees for others. he was also given materials to build an outhouse and a laundry tub outside, this has given the family a place to wash and has improved hygiene, disease has always been a problem for the communities here. It may not sound like a lot to us but it is a huge amount to these people.
I am taken across the road, there is a lovely small mud brick church with large arched wooden doors, in the background are these mountains, what a site, behind this church I get shown a small school., it is small, a large room for children of different ages, outside there are some basic toys like a merry go round, slippery dip a tunnel made of old tyres and old drums. The children greet us and we are told about what World vision has done for them, The room now has a roof so the kids can come to school when it rains, they also have a little lunch room and one of the mothers comes in to help with lunch, the kids especially like the lunchtime, they now have pencils, paper, tables and chairs to sit on, a locker, they even have a fence now and a play area a small concrete area also.
The children asked questions about me and where I am from, when I said Australia they all said “Koala” a few said “Canguru” (kangaroo), they then did a small dance and sang a song and they all ran out to show me how the playground worked, any excuse jaja.
We started to head back to the office, stopping beside the road at a stone bridge we had a few photos taken, we sat together for a few of then, she was much more relaxed now but she hadn’t laughed yet, so I pulled a few faces and was very silly, I managed to get a smile from her and the camera man got photos of me doing this, (I hope they are not online, there goes my stone cold reputation). At the office I am given a print of one of the photos and asked to write a few parting words to my child, I don’t remember what I wrote exactly but I do remember write “Stay shy, be confident and always smile, it will change the world” ,,,, (not bad for me, I was in the moment), she wrote some very lovely things to me which moved me a little. Well this is the time to say bye, “bye”. we headed back to the city, it was a nice experience there were people working on the side of the road and in paddocks with animals, the was one man that had his cow laying under a tree and he was laying with it.
I had an amazing day meeting my sponsored child was rewarding and I would recommend on my experience that if you have the opportunity to do it, go visit. I normally don’t like kids but this experienced has changed me a little, maybe for the better. I am happy to have given myself the chance to follow the dream.
The story of David (Storm) Allison, a man that has decided to follow the dream he has had for 40 years.
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