A weekend to remember!!
As hinted to in my first blog this was an interesting and very strange weekend with the results running into the following weeks.
It is amazing how things can change so suddenly but have a way of working out if you pay attention to the signs....read on.....
I was all set to move to Urubamba. With things the way they had been I really felt I couldn’t cope with the sleepless nights and emotional rollercoaster brought about by the energies in Cusco. After a number of visits to Urubamba looking at properties I had decided by the Saturday afternoon (6th April) that this is where I would move to. As suggested to me some time ago by Sonia if you really want something you can write down everything you must have in it, and even draw a picture. Put it under your pillow and every night ask for your ideal whatever (in my case a house) to become available for you through your prayers. Give it a try. It really works if you really want it. I had seen this house (House of Ingrid). It was lovely and light and quiet. It ticked every box I had asked it to. It didn’t give me that real wow factor but was definitely peaceful and out of Cusco centre. I had spoken to the potential new president about it and he didn’t seem to mind. In fact had tried to help me find somewhere in the valley. There were a few things I'd have to watch about the house. It had been robbed in December as it was out on its own, outside Urubamba in a beautifully quiet spot, but the landlord was going to put in security lights which would help. I was going to buy a bike to help as the motos don't all go up that far and it was quite a walk, especially if you have bought groceries. The road on the way to the house was all dug up so it would have been difficult to move in. I had started to hear a few things about the new landlord that might have made things difficult for me. He wasn’t going to allow me to move my stuff in or even store it in an outbuilding until he had stayed there and completed the improvements he wanted to make. He was arriving before the move so we could have met. He also wanted 2 references. In Peru that was a first!! Also everytime I went to Urubamba I came back with lots of mosquito bites!! Itchy little buggars!! Anyway this is all in hindsight. On the Saturday afternoon I had decided I could see myself there and felt the rest could have been worked around so agreed to go ahead.... then on Sunday morning everything changed...doubts were planted and all seemed less clear cut!
At 6.45am my phone rang...ridiculous hour on a Sunday.....it was Rita in quite a state and refusing to work with the new NGO and president. After calming her down we talked a little longer but she was absolutely adamant. I wasn’t altogether surprised and it had been a concern of mine that Rita might react in some way following a meeting we had on Friday with him. The meeting had been more open about certain things. Until then it had all been very polite and vague. The potential new president, a lovely man but had used quite a strong management style with Rita. I was quite surprised as this kind of conversation is usually when you don’t care if the person quits and the people here and especially Rita have never been spoken to in such a strong way pushing her for answers and her commitment...no softly softly approach here! I e mailed him later that day and said I had concerns and that Rita had been quite upset. I had smoothed it over but obviously she had thought about it over the weekend and made up her mind to quit! Well without Rita LH didn’t work! She was essential to the work in the communities and had that relationship. She had been working with LH from day 1. I decided to phone Sonia in Lima a little later. She had heard from Rita but didn’t know what the problem was. I filled her in on the Friday meeting. Following our conversation she too began to have her concerns. I thought we were making a bit too many assumptions without facts so we agreed to have a meeting when she got back later in the week. Rita and I would have an emergency meeting on the Monday to prepare more detailed questions for the other NGO to understand their position. The food program was to be reinstated and so this changed things.
With all this happening doubts started regarding my move to Urubamba. Was this the right thing for me at that time, signing into another 6 month contract? I began to wonder if I should be moving to Urubamba. I decided to talk to a friend and get some advice and guidance. It came through very strongly that this was not the right move for me and I should definitely not move to Urubamba! I needed to be closer to Cusco. I hadn't heard too much from the agent (again new to the valley) I had been dealing with and it was less than a day since I had text him so just emailed him to cancel. For a supposedly enlightened person the following e mails I got from him didn't sound like it!! I just ditched them. I had told him at the time I was not happy with the way he conducted his so called business. It took 2 attempts to see the house which was a completed wasted day for me as we sat outside waiting for someone to come with the keys. The agent didn’t have them! Also the particulars were inaccurate. He tired to give me some lame excuse but how do you miss that there is no bath!! An interesting feature in the garden at the house was a huge marijuana plant!!!
Considering the circumstances I was reasonably calm on Sunday considering I had handed in my notice to my current place in Pumocurco and wanted out in 2 weeks! I really couldn’t stay there any longer. Over and above the issues in the house I had been having problems with my landlady’s husband Guillermo who seemed to think that trying it on with the lady renting next door was OK!! I couldn’t believe it and made it very clear that this was unacceptable. Ridiculous really when he had such a beautiful young wife and children! As he was struggling to take no for an answer I was making sure I stayed well out of his way. With Sonia out of the house I was even more wary.
My friend and I started discussing where I could go that was nearer Cusco, and when she realized I would be OK living outside she remembered a lady called Lilo who lived in Santa Teresa in a very quiet spot about 45 minutes in a taxi from the centre of Cusco. I had actually heard Sonia talking about this lady before Xmas. At that time I got a feeling I should meet her at some point. We called her a little later and she asked to see me the next day (Monday) so I took some time off work to go. It felt important. The minute I walked through her door to her garden the tears just started rolling down my face. It felt like home! I could feel the energy of the place. It felt soo right. It is a retreat and quite a big place. After a lot of talking, so she could get to know me, she showed me around the guest house (which she would rent out to me), her house and the grounds including a meditation temple. The place was just lovely, with a deep healing energy and an amazing mountain just behind. It was very safe as it was at the furthest point and part of a gated community. The most prestigious area of Cusco now. Lilo had been here in the early days but the land was now eagerly sought after. Anyway after a little negotiation she agreed I could rent the top half of the guest house which has 2 bedrooms and bathroom. I was obviously going to use the kitchen and sit in the lounge at times. I would set up the office in the other bedroom as Lilo didn’t want me using the wonderfully light landing which was fair enough. She was still running a business (a healing retreat) and was hoping to sell the property at some point so there may have been potential clients or interested parties. It was much more expensive to travel in and out if you used the taxis , at 12 /s each way. I use the combis which are a bit of a walk down to first bus stop but at 70 centimos worth while. The taxis also proved to be quite a problem with many not turning up! If I travelled with Lilo then we shared the taxi cost as she found the combis too difficult to use. She is a little older and has a few problems with her legs so getting in and out would have been difficult. They don’t hang about long either. They are more patient for elderly Peruvians than Gringas. The climb back up is always a hard one especially if you have bought a few things. If I had a lot I got a taxi, if they would go up. It is pretty steep so some of the smaller ones really struggled and the drivers complained. Lilo wanted to go travelling so needed someone she could trust to look after the place, the cats and dog while she is away. She had a housekeeper but she would probably only come in a couple of days a week.
...So in one day I had a complete shift of where I was going to stay! The change was the right one for me though. I knew absolutely this was where I needed to be. The internet connection was a bit of an issue but I was confident we could find a work around.
That wasn’t the end of the weekend antics though!
On the Sunday when going to meet my friend I noticed people in black suits outside my landlady’s house and wondered what had happened. I assumed they were going somewhere to commemorate the anniversary of someone dying...a common event here. In the plaza we noticed a lot of people but there are always fiestas on so dismissed it. There were a lot in black suits as well which was unusual. On the Monday Rita was coming over and I was running late with Lilo so she just waited on me. She tried to explain something to me on the phone but I wasn’t altogether getting it. She said she would wait outside on the rock. I assumed there must ave been a problem getting in. They all knew Rita so that wasn’t the issue. When I got back she told me Liz (my landlady's husband) had died! He’d been killed at the weekend!....I couldn't believe it!! He was a youngish fit guy, playing football every week - around 45 yrs old. After a few rumours we heard what we think was the right story from my Spanish teacher. Seemingly one of the teachers is a friend of Liz’s (my landlady). He had been out celebrating with friends as it was the start of the Easter break. He worked in the schools. Guillermo had put his beer down and gone to the loo. When he got back a group of “delinquents” ,is the word Renzo , my Spanish teacher used, were hanging out and one was drinking his beer. Guillermo had asked him what he thought he was doing and told him to put it down. At this point two of the group grabbed Guillermo pulling his arms behind his back and the other smashed the bottle and went to slash his face. Guillermo turned further to prevent his face being cut and the guy had slashed his jugular in his neck which of course he bled out instantly! Seemingly they had tried to get a taxi but no-one would take him because of al the blood!! Horrific really!! We think the guys are in police custody. This is quite an unusual and tragic event for the city centre and it therefore made the news headlines so everyone was talking about it..even Lilo where I was moving to.
Liz is quite a bit younger than Guillermo and they have 2 lovely girls around 5 and 7 years old. I saw the girls later on the Monday looking very relaxed and lying around and thought "You haven't been told yet". Later that day I heard the screams and sobbing and realized Liz had finally told them. The energy of the whole place felt very oppressive as you can imagine. There were a lot of people coming and going; even at night over the next few days meaning it was pretty noisy. There was lots of people overflowing into the areas around the house , with all the children running around screaming. All our houses are very close so it was difficult to stay detached from it all. Rita told me these things go on for about 8 days. I tried to give them as much space as I could. I finally managed to see Liz to give her my condolences. As you can imagine she looked incredibly tired and drawn. I never did figure out who was who re the parents of each but if I was right Liz’s mother looked more upset than the man I thought to be Guillermo’s father. Maybe he just accepted these things easier. A few days later I got back to discover my keys didn’t work! I had to buzz and fortunately someone came down to let me in and had a spare set of keys I cold have. I assume Guillermo’s keys must have got lost during the night.
A tragic situation really. I just felt so sorry for Liz and the children.
So as you can see quite an incredible weekend!! One I won’t forget for quite some time!
...until my next blog mis amigos....hasta luego!