Testimonials - Spanish in Cusco
“Excellent experience! The host family was great and really exposed me to real Peruvian life. I met heaps of people and made friends for a lifetime! The school was great. I would highly recommend the whole experience! However, a month is definitely not long enough!”
(Julie, age 25)
“Studying in a classroom is one thing, but studying in another country opens up a whole new educational experience. My Spanish improved far beyond what I could have ever achieved here in America in the same amount of time. This experience was a once in a lifetime opportunity that will stay with me forever. I didn t think I d become as fluent in Spanish as I am now. The people were great and everything simply amazed me!
The staff was there for me to answer questions and help me out if I ever needed it. I enjoyed the experience because everything went smoothly from start to finish. I liked the school and the small classes for learning.
I felt as if I were a member of the family. They included me in their daily activities. Their son, Alejandro was the best. He d help me with Spanish and I d help him with English. He made learning Spanish fun!”
(Cynthia, age 21)
Travel Report Courtesy of Christine from Canada
It all started very early in the morning when the bus arrived early to pick us up at 4:30 am. We had been in Cusco for a few days before this morning but this is where our trip was really beginning.
We met up with the rest of the group who would be with us for the next four days as we hiked over Peruvian mountains on the way to one of the most famous South American ruins. The bus ride to the start of the travel was a chance to catch up on a bit of sleep or prepare yourself for the adventure ahead, that is if your stomach was not revolting from the bumpy and twisty ride.
The hike itself started with a briefing from the guides and a quick breakfast, then we were off on the trail. For the first day we hiked through and passed farmers fields, competing for space on the narrow trail with roosters and friendly dogs hoping for a handout. The weather, as it had been the whole trip so far, was very changeable so we made sure our sunglasses and rain gear were within reach. I had decided to carry my own pack and was surprised, how quickly the bag became heavy...It was going to be an interesting four days.
Our first campsite that night was waiting for us upon our arrival. All the tents were set up on a series of plateaus overlooking a valley. As we were arriving the chef was busy preparing tea and the last of the tents was being set-up. We spent the evening getting to know each other, with stories of our ‘real’ lives. We were a group of 15 from around the world. From Columbia, Britain, Canada, the US and we covered a wide range of experiences but seemed to share a lot in common. The conversations the first night never faltered.
Early the next morning we woke to the friendly neighborhood roosters visiting our camp and hot tea in bed. After a great breakfast, all the food was great, they really knew how to keep our energy up, we headed off on the hardest part of the trail. The climb to Dead Woman s Pass really shows you were the name came from.
It was a climb that took us 4 hours of hard climbing. I was really glad I had given my bag to a porter for the day. It may have cost a bit more, but at least I was able to enjoy the wonderful views. At 4200 meters, Dead Woman s Pass is the highest point on the trail to Machu Picchu and offers the greatest challenge for the hikers. At this altitude the air is very light and you can see and hear for great distances. The feeling of accomplishment felt when you reach the top is indescribable. I really felt I was on top of the world!
The climb down to our next campsite was almost a let down but we were really looking forward to day three which we had been promised provided the best views of the mountains and some amazing Incan ruins. Unfortunately, as we began our day with another climb it started to rain. We were not worried about the rain, by this time we had come to recognize that rain was an integral part of Peru in November. It had rained each and every day so far, so why should day three be any different. However, day three would prove to be very different. The rain did not stop until mid afternoon. By that time most of us had gone through two pairs of socks and were wet and cold through to the skin. So much for great views! All we really saw were the clouds we were hiking through.
The day ended at our final campsite for the trip. All of the various groups we had met along the way met up at the last possible site before entering the National Site of Machu Picchu. With warm showers and a building in which to eat, the last night was basically one big party. We danced and celebrated having made it this far.
The next morning, however, it was time for the real celebration. After another early morning wake-up call, we headed out to try and beat the sun to the Sun Gate. However, it was an overcast morning and we ended up looking down on Machu Picchu through the clouds.
The first views we had of the site were magnificent. From above you could not see any other people. It looked as if we were the first humans to see this magnificent city since it was deserted hundreds of years ago. As we made our way carefully down narrow mountain trails the city came into focus. You could make out the different types of buildings, the areas set aside for farming and the religious section high above the rest of the town.
After a thorough introduction to the site by our guide, we headed off to explore on our own. Finding the time to get away from the many people now arriving at the site, I was able to enjoy the raw majesty of this town in the clouds. Everywhere you looked were mountain peaks and clouds. The river roared below but the sound barely made it up the slopes to where I stood. It was very easy to see why this place was special to the ancient Incas and very hard to imagine why they would have deserted it so completely.
On the winding train ride home, I had the chance to think back over the last four days. I had challenged both my physical and spiritual selves. There had been moments when I questioned my sanity when I decided to walk for four days with a 20lb bag on my back and times when I wondered why not everyone wanted to experience the thrill of making it to the top.
In the end Machu Picchu itself proved to be reward enough for the hard work of getting here. As it appears out of the clouds you cant help but imagine what the sight of this town in the clouds must have been like for the ancient Incans, who walked this path and then the realization that the view really hasn t changed much, nor have the people.