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  • Now you´ve made it to Peru! Bienvenidos! Here are 5 tips for keeping safe, getting a great bargain and enjoying the exciting cultural nuances of Peru that may be completely new to you. Enjoy your study Spanish in Cusco Peru experience and your trip to Peru and all the new experiences it brings!!

    1. Look both ways!
      When you are crossing the street, be aware! Traffic rules don´t always apply here in Peru the way they do in the countries that you may be used to. Just because the semáforo (traffic light) is red, it does not necessarily mean the car will stop. Just because the vehicle is using it´s right turn signal does not necessarily mean the driver plans to make a right turn… keep your eyes open and pay attention as you navigate your way through Peruvian traffic on foot!
    2. Traffic in Cusco

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    Las Enigmáticas Calles del Cusco

    Recorrer las calles del Cusco es una experiencia, si bien extenuante, repleta de magia y encanto: una ciudad construida a 3.430m de altura, rodeada de verdes montañas y coloridos habitantes que aún pasean con sus llamas y burros por las zigzagueantes escalinatas y las impresionantes construcciones de lo que fue el antiguo imperio incaico.

    Quizás sea la denominación de sus calles, la mejor forma de comprender la fusión entre la cosmovisión del imperio andino y la influencia cultural y arquitectónica de la España conquistadora.

    Es por esto que entre los nombres de las calles cusqueñas, encontramos algunas que aluden a misteriosas creencias relacionadas con el número siete, que para los quechuas representa los siete entes metafísicos – entre ellos el sol, la luna y la madre tierra- número que suele ir acompañado de representaciones mitológicas (Siete Angelitos, Siete Diablitos, Siete Serpientes), formas arquitectónicas (Siete Ventanas, Siete Cuartones) o de animales que solían transitar por las calles (Siete Borreguitos).

    The Mysterious Streets of Cusco city
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    The Mysterious Streets of Cusco city

    Strolling the streets of Cusco is quite an experience; strenuous but full of magic and charm. The city of Cusco in Peru is built 3.430m high, surrounded by green mountains and colorful inhabitants who still walk with their llamas and donkeys up winding staircases passing magnificent constructions indicative of what the ancient Incan empire used to be like.

    Maybe the best way to understand the fusion between the Andean civilization and the influences of the culture and architecture of conquering Spain is by observing Cusco’s street names.
    Among the Cuzco street names, we find a series that allude to the mysterious meaning of the number seven, which for the Quechua speaking population refers to the seven metaphysic entities including the sun, moon and earth. The number is usually accompanied by mythological representations of deities such as ‘Siete Angelitos’ (angels), ‘Siete Diablitos’ (devils), ‘Siete Serpientes’ (snakes – one of the 3 Incan sacred animals) as well as architectural shapes in ‘Siete Ventanas’ (windows), ‘Siete Cuartones’ (squares or scantlings) or animals that used to roam the streets: ‘Siete Borreguitos’ (lambs).

    The Mysterious Streets of Cusco city
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    Like every year, Buenos Aires is getting dressed up for the occasion illuminating its principal arteries and plazas throughout the city with the traditional lights, decorations and big Christmas trees.

    This month the main topics of conversation are not tango or football, but what to do for Christmas in Buenos Aires. Due to the warm summer climate, the city invites its neighbors and visitors to spend a different type of Christmas, and at the same time keeping alive the classic season’s spirit and the joy that Santa brings to all.

    AMAUTA Spanish School in Buenos Aires has the following tips to kick off the festive season in Argentinean style:

    Christmas in Buenos Aires
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    Santurantikuy is a Christmas fair which happens in Cusco ever since the vice-regency in the 16th Century. The fair lasts all day from 4am when the artisans start to arrive with their coloured blankets full of crafts to sell, until well into the night of the 24th of December at the central Plaza de Armas.

    Santurantikuy literally means ‘Selling of the Saints’ in the Quechua language. In Cusco, a city characterized with deep Andean roots, the image of baby Jesus is adored throughout the whole year especially during Christmas Eve. Ceramics of this religious nature dominate the market, which according to the artisans, requires around 6 months of preparation. The spiritual devotion is best described in the words of this Santurantikuy spokesman: “to create one has to believe, and this faith of the Andean community is fomenting the hope to keep alive traditions, culture and even humanity”.

    The Santurantikuy market in Cusco, an Andean Christmas affair
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    Santurantikuy es una feria de Navideña que se lleva a cabo en Cusco desde el virreinato en el siglo 16. La feria dura todo el día desde las 4am cuando los artesanos empiezan a llegar con sus mantas de colores llenas de artesanías para vender, hasta bien entrada la noche del 24 de diciembre en la céntrica Plaza de Armas.

    Santurantikuy significa literalmente ‘Venta de los Santos “en el idioma quechua. En Cusco, una ciudad que se caracteriza por sus profundas raíces andinas, la imagen del niño Jesús es adorado durante todo el año, especialmente durante la Nochebuena. Las cerámicas de naturaleza religiosa dominan el mercado, que de acuerdo a los artesanos, requiere alrededor de 6 meses de preparación. La devoción espiritual se describe mejor en las palabras de un portavoz del Santurantikuy: “para crear uno tiene que creer, y esta fe de la comunidad andina está fomentando la esperanza de mantener vivas las tradiciones, la cultura y la humanidad “.

    The Santurantikuy market in Cusco, an Andean Christmas affair
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    When I started my internship about 3 months ago I knew already I was going to spend Christmas in Peru. I did have aims of eating ‘peru’ in Peru, until I realised that this Portuguese word for turkey is not the same in Spanish. Instead, I need to find ‘pavo’ in Peru. With all the invites I have received from my colleagues at Dos Manos travel agency in Cusco and their ‘big’ sister AMAUTA Spanish School in Cusco, that shouldn’t be an impossible quest. In between now and then, however, there is much festivity to be had in and around the school’s premises.

    A Brit’s perspective on Christmas time in Cusco!

    The first item on the festive agenda is the company’s Christmas party, known as a posada or in this case a ‘pollada’. Whilst online dictionaries haven’t helped me, I have deduced that this is a big chicken feast which is almost the same as turkey anyway. The staff, teachers and employees of AMAUTA and Dos Manos have been put in charge with selling tickets to the students at 10 Soles a pop. This has caused a number of interesting sales tactics between staff (mock-bribing by withholding food not excluded!) to avoid having to pay for the difference in tickets that aren’t sold by the end of the week. Surely if I have 5 tickets left over and I pay for them, I will be entitled to 5 courses of chicken! Whilst I would be the fattest man in Cusco if this came to pass, at least I could pull off a half-convincing Father Christmas!

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    Con la llegada de la época de lluvias en Cusco y una reducción en el número de estudiantes aquí en comparación con mis primeras semanas, se acerca la Navidad. ¿Cómo celebramos la Navidad aquí en Cusco? Yo quería  saborear  “Perú” en el Perú, hasta  que me di cuenta de que “Perú” es una palabra portuguesa para “pavo”, pero claro no tiene el mismo significado en Español.  Sin embargo,  tengo que encontrar ‘pavo’ en  Perú. Con todas los invitaciones que   he recibido de mis colegas en la agencia de viajes a Dos Manos en el Cusco y su " hermana  la Escuela de Español AMAUTA  en Cusco,  no debe ser una búsqueda imposible.  Entre hoy día y la Navidad,  se tienen muchas fiestas en los alrededores de las instalaciones de la escuela, así que estoy seguro que lo encontraré.

    A Brit's perspective on Christmas time in Cusco!

    El primer evento es la fiesta de fin de año, la “pollada”. El plan original fue tener una noche de juerga en una discoteca, alquilada por la escuela, pero esta idea habría sido más complicada. No hay una palabra  “pollada” en inglés. ¡Así he deducido que es una fiesta de pollo…! Los empleados y profesores están encargados de la venta de los boletos de entrada a la pollada, que son 10 soles cada uno, y esto ha causado unas tácticas interesantes entre nosotros.

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    1. 6.    For those seeking adventures a bit more extreme. Don’t worry. Very close to Cusco you can live it up by going rock-climbing or off-road quad racing through some truly spectacular scenery. Perhaps you feel like soaring around like a condor while paragliding or take on some of the meanest rapids in the world of white water rafting. Whatever your challenge of choice, it will sure get your adrenalin pumping!
    2. 7.    The food of Peru is worldwide known for its diversity and richness in flavor. Indulge yourself with some true Peruvian dishes (comida criolla) such as Aji de Gallina (spicy chicken stew), Anticuchos (marinated beef heart), Lomo Saltado (stir-fried beef) and local Andean delicacies such as roasted Cuy (guinea pig). Other favorites are Escabeche de pescado (boiled fish seasoned with onions, aji and lemon juice), Rocoto Relleno (beef and veggie filled pepper) and for a good digestion a ‘Chicha de Jora’. Highly recommended!
    3. Top 10 what to do in and around Cusco

    4. 8.    Join a salsa class and get acquainted with this sensual and very entertaining dance. Every Friday afternoon after lessons, AMAUTA Spanish School offers its students to participate in this free activity. And just in case you need some encouragement to get your hips moving, first taste a Pisco Sour; the traditional cocktail that has become the Cultural Patrimony of the nation of Peru.
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