29 September 2013
Oh, the horror
27 September 2013
20 September 2013
Learn English to learn Spanish (part 2)
From the teaching material at school...
The verb ser (to be) is irregular, intransitive and auxiliary. It is conjugated from the infinitive ser according to the subject. It can be used for people, animals or things.
I know what an irregular verb is, but I had to look up intransitive and auxiliary in context of verbs.
If you want to learn Spanish, learn English grammar first.
Friday night out
Update: we did hit a club after and an utterly awesome time was had.
We also found that the place was almost empty and thus the problem - when the days of the week have no meaning to you getting a "Friday" night out can be tricky. There simply hasn't been anywhere to go for some lively fun.
A short cab ride across the city later and we arrive at a much more suitable place (half knackered Ladas, not blinged-up (nice) cars) and we settled in for the night).
(My parents were helping me no end by talking to the passport office on my behalf, letting me use the time difference to my advantage and helping me work around less than great voice coms. One call from mum and they agreed to send it to the Embassy in Lima, something they were previously not all that keen on. Thanks, mum.)
The map looks wrong
Reporting theft in Cusco
And now back to the original post....
Last Saturday I had to report the theft of my passport and phone to the police, if for no other reason than my insurance company requires the theft reported within 24 hours - something I easily did.
Using a combination of my practically non existent Spanish, their English and a few choice phrases I'd got from Gil - where "me robaron de mi pasaporte" was, and still is, the most useful one - I managed to explain that I'd had my passport and phone stolen.
At which point they indicate for me to get in to the back of their police car, something I do. Here starts my first, and I hope only, ride in the back of a (Peruvian) police car.
On route we'd chatted in a mixture of English, Spanish and sign language (I really need to write something on how effective sign language is) about what had happened, all of which was repeated at the police station. (given that there is a big poster in the police station about how unhappy the police are with false theft reports I suspect he was just checking my story.)
15 September 2013
The art of the pickpocket
The art of misdirection
14 September 2013
Learn English to learn Spanish (and probably most other languages)
I'm 7 lessons in and I'm happy with my choice, even if each lesson makes me feel like I've been hit by a (Spanish speaking) truck. 4 hours of communicating totally in Spanish, doing a mixture of classroom based learning and practical lessons around Cusco. It is intense, immersive and whilst it makes me feel like I know nothing, it is actually working. I think.
(I did 1 year's of French and Spanish at school, but that really didn't work out for me - they are too close to each other for the 13 year old me to not get the too languages confused. The thirtymumble year old me still gets the two mixed at times too.)
If I were staying longer at the school to do (more of) the complete course, something I've toyed with, then I'd have to start dealing with past perfect and the such like - but I'm just going to do my 2 weeks at the school and then start exploring Peru and actually trying to use and live off the Spanish I've learned and what I'll continue to learn as I go.
8 September 2013
Odd photography moments
Plaza de Armas on Cusco is a pretty enough plaza, where the Cathedral and Churches are really quite pretty and worthy of a snapshot or three - I'll take a few when I bring my camera around town.
Wandering through the square earlier today and saw a chap shooting the churches using a Hasselblad.
I know photography has an element of "use the light that is there" about it, but I was surprised to see what I suspect is a pro tog (the camera, his assistant) shooting a building which is crying out for nice light in the middle of the day, when the square is full of people.
Not what I'd have picked, but I'm no pro.
Note to self (flags)
The giant rainbow flags flying throughout Cusco doesn't mean what it would elsewhere. :)
It was going to happen at some point
On speaking to the airline's baggage people at the airport they first tried to claim it was due to the bag getting caught on the conveyors, but the bag (zip) itself isn't damaged in anyway. They then confessed that they've got a bit of a problem with their luggage guys having a bit of a poke around in luggage. Joy.
It is almost impressive in the ability of the thief to remove it from me without me noticing anything at all, especially as it was in a zipped hidden pocket (ie not an open, obvious, pocket, like all trousers have).
My travel plans, especially those in South America, are all currently up for renegotiation, as my ability to travel is dependent on what the Consulate (Cusco) and Embassy (Lima) can do in terms of an Emergency Travel Document (an emergency passport) and the limitations this puts on me within country (i.e. the ability to take internal flights), along with what options I haven for getting a replacement "real" passport whilst out of the country and the timescale for doing so.
6 September 2013
Worthy of a read
The first day at school
5 September 2013
Back to school
Many years after leaving school, a few less years since I graduated and a couple less still since I did my last professional qualification, I head back to school tomorrow. My first formal study in a long time and my first study of language since I finished my GCSEs more than half my lifetime ago.
I'm currently in Cusco to do a 2 week intensive, immersive, Spanish course. It won't make me fluent, but I hope it will give me something useful and something to build on for the next three months.
As something I've arranged via the school I have a home stay, where our host doesn't speak English - everything at home is in Spanish, a language I currently have a few dozen words in.
It made dinner conversation interesting, where thankfully the other two students staying here are weeks ahead of me (and one has just got her A-level in Spanish and is off to study it at Cambridge, so she's quite good) and helped me.
So I'm back to school tomorrow. Wish me luck.
Signs you are tired
Not a nap, not a little bit a sleep, but out cold. Gil woke me after 5 hours as she was worried I'd mess-up my already broken body clock, where she had to really shake me to wake me. I just went straight back to sleep and was out cold for another 2 hours.
Not exactly a traditional Peruvian dinner, but it was quick, easy, tasty and what we needed - pizza. And wine.
Arrival in Lima
Apologies to my other friends in the USA, the flight routing to Lima just took me that way.
One of the things I haven really learnt about myself over the last 4 months of travelling, of being away from home, is what is important to me. Whilst I've always know that My People were important to me, it's only when you are away from them for 4 months does its really hit home. Alas you can't live The Dream of travelling the world without leaving home.
Having arrived doing a fair impression of a zombie I had to deal with immigration. This was a very simple process and one which should have caused no issues - had I been something other than a zombie there wouldn't have been any issues.
Immigration Officer: "how long are you in Peru for?"
At this point I need to introduce my thought process...
I'm in South America for 3 months and I'm probably visiting 3 countries, although it might be 4. It's about a month per country. Easy.
Me: ".... I oh, about 30-40 days"
Immigration Officer: "ok"
The immigration officer stamps me into the country and gives me 30 days. I wonder off from the desk towards Duty Free when I realised what an idiot I'd been.... I am in South America for 3 months, but most of that time is in Peru; 6-7 weeks in total - far more than 30 days. Bugger.
She then spends a good 10-15 min talking with people about what can be done, as apparently this hasn't happened before.
In the end she takes my passport and adds a 1 to the existing 30, giving me 130 days in country (and updated the computer).
4 September 2013
What's that sound?
There was a strange sound yesterday, one that I'd not heard in a long time - since leaving London.
It was my phone ringing.
I'm in Peru long enough that having a local SIM makes sense; having mobile comms makes travelling easier.
So for the first time in just over 4 months my phone rang. It was Gil.
3 September 2013
Dear Miami International Airport
I know this isn't the usual opening to something about Miami International, an airport famed for how long it takes to get through Immigration, but well done.
20 minutes is the time it took from getting off the plane to wait for my baggage, having passed through immigration!
Another 20 minutes later and I'm practically waved through Customs with no bother (him "how long are you here for?" me: "a day; I go to Lima tomorrow"; him: "welcome to America. Next.").
Well done, Miami, you've really surprised me.
Dear Dulles... Sort it out! It took 2 hours the last time!