Cuzco (7)


Tuesday 29/05

Isabelle and I didn’t sleep too well, with at least one hour of insomnia in the middle of the night.

We put an alarm clock at 7am. We indeed have a (WhatsApp) phone call at 8am with the secretary of the Assomption school for the registration of Florence and Ludivine.

The call is quick and nice. We get a very good news: at the end of the conversation, when I ask about the girls’ chances of admission, the secretary says that the school director committed to take both of them in their respective grades for next year. Great! It’s a relief for us: our kids will have a school next year (Jules is already accepted in 3 schools). It’s a really good news since I’ve liked their positive approach to our situation since I met the director last year; moreover the other schools didn’t give us much hope so far (“we’ll let you know by the end of June but we recommend you to check with other schools”…). We still need to find jobs for us and a house but at least we have a school for our kids. First thing first…

Isabelle and I go to the nearby ‘Orion’ supermarket, which is not too bad, especially for the fruits and vegetables. We come back by taxi.

We take a nice breakfast and the kids start their 2 homeschooling sessions. It has been more than 10 days than they haven’t work for school.

We eat a salad around 2pm (it has also been 10 days than we haven’t prepared our traditional salad).

After lunch, we talk to Ludivine and show her (school) progress so far, which is far from satisfactory. It’s scary and we are envisaging the option of putting her in 3rd (‘secondary) year – instead of her “normal” (for her age) 4th year. We’re afraid that next year will be too difficult for her: she will not only have to catch up a big part of the 3rd year, but also do her “normal” 4th year and prepare her (CE2D) exam, which subject covers 2 years. Difficult choice… We ask her to do 4 homeschooling sessions per day until our departure from Peru, on 10 June, i.e. during 11 days. It’s tough but possible since we’ll have good internet connection (during our 4 days here and the next 8 days in Lima) and also our programme is not too heavy for these next 11 days. We hope she understands and realizes that she has to do a big effort.

We spend the afternoon in the apartment. It’s not warm; we ask the owner to bring a second heater (which he asks us to pay).

Isabelle and I work on our laptops. Isabelle continues preparing the US and also organizes her trip to see the Nazca lines next week, where she will go alone: the kids and I will stay in Lima since we’re not that interested in this visit but it also seems quite tiring (minimum 1 night bus) while we’re happy to rest one week in Lima. I catch up with emails, organize a bit the US trip (I’ll take care of the cities: LA, SF, LV, Chicago and NY) and start sorting out the pictures of the last 2 weeks in Peru. I did more than 5,000 pictures since our arrival in Peru, one month ago.

Around 7:15pm, we take a taxi to the city centre (less than 10’) to eat.

The restaurant that I spotted no longer exists, so we go to a local eatery (‘Los Toldos’) to eat a very good chicken. The national football team, which qualified for this year World Cup for the first time in 36 years, is playing a friendly game and everybody watches the match on TV.

We take a taxi to go back.

At 9pm, the kids are in bed.

Isabelle and I continue working later (Isabelle until 11pm and I until 12:30am).



Wednesday 30/05

We wake up around 7am.

Normal morning in Airbnb: first breakfast of cereals and fruits, and then 2 homeschooling sessions.

Then the usual salad. Kids love when we add pasta (or, even better, chicken) in it, like today.

We stay in the apartment until 4pm. Florence and Jules chill (Florence watching YouTube videos and Jules watching a movie on Netflix), Ludivine does extra homeschooling sessions (that’s my girl!) while Isabelle and I work on our laptop. I contact a few friends of mine to try to organize visits of tech companies (such as Apple, Google, Facebook, Tesla, Uber…) during our trip in LA and in the Silicon Valley. Let’s hope!

At 4pm, we go to town. We first go to San Pedro market to buy extra dried fruits and nuts. Kids love going there. Isabelle buys also some fabrics.

We then walk to Plaza de Armas. I’m trying to get some info about the Corpus Christi festival of tomorrow but it’s difficult to know where and when to go to see the procession. I can understand that it will be very busy (some people apparently sleep on the Plaza to get a good spot). I will probably go early tomorrow morning and Isabelle will join me with the kids later on.

We then go to buy a colourful pendant (representing the Inca Cross or chakana) for Isabelle.

A bit after 6pm we go to eat very good (and beautiful) burgers at Papacho’s, a Gaston Acurio outlet (Gaston Acurio is a star Peruvian chef and ambassador of Peruvian cuisine). We eat early because we need to be at 7pm at the meeting point to go to Planetarium.

Introduction: Astronomy was one of the most important studies for the Inca civilization, and they developed it very well. They were able to define constellations, stars, the passage of time, the change of seasons, etc. The Inca city of Machu Picchu is completely built according to the sun; the same happens with the old buildings of the city of Cusco, whose streets were designed to imitate the constellations on them.

The visit in the Planetarium is a unique experience, divided into 3 different stages.

The first part is “The Dome”, where we see a starry sky projection to learn the “official” constellations as well as the southern skies constellations, and the Incas´ constellation. It’s very interesting. We learn that the Incas were the only culture in the world to define constellations of darkness; they looked up and focused on the dark spaces in between the bright dots of the Milky Way. When they looked up at the Milky Way, they saw a celestial river that they called Mayu that ultimately provided all the water on earth and corresponded to the nurturing Urubamba, the river flowing through the Sacred Valley just outside today’s Cusco. They identified that stretches of darkness with animals stopping by the great river of life to drink their fill. Not surprisingly, the animals were the ones with which the Inca were familiar: The Yacana consists of a mother llama and her baby (and the two eyes of the mother are Alpha and Beta Centauri in our Western astronomy), the former being the nearest star to our sun. Then there are the Serpent, the Toad, the Partridge, the Fox, and Micheq the Shepherd, likely a female figure, overlooking the menagerie. Dark constellations all.

The second part is a cultural “interpretation” of the Inca astronomy, where an astronomer shares stories and interesting facts that help us understand why the Incas observed the skies as they did, and understand the relationship between the universe and  the very practical day to day life during the Inca Empire. He explains to us how it relates to their agriculture

The third part is the exterior part where we can watch through powerful binoculars and professional telescopes. We can see, among others, Jupiter and 4 of its 60 moons. We can see the light of the stars that travelled years and years just to get to our eyes.

The planetarium is a family business. We had the privilege to take the car back to Cuzco with the family owner. They are very passionate and nice people. They even dropped us at our apartment.

Kids go directly to bed (it’s already 9:45pm) while we continue working until 11pm. I post 2 posts for the first time in 15 days. I’m 4 weeks behind.



Thursday 31/05

Vlog by Jules: see below.


By me:

I put the alarm clock at 6am to go and attend the Corpus Christi festival.

About this festival: The celebration of Corpus Christi used to be celebrated in the whole country, but the Fiesta is most impressive in Cusco. The festival starts when statues of 15 highly decorated saints and virgins are taken from their respective parishes to Cuzco Cathedral where they come to “greet” the body of Christ, sixty days after Easter Sunday. Specially chosen bearers carry the saints upon their shoulders in procession that often lasts an entire day. Blocking the busy streets of Cuzco, the saints are followed by large bands, crowds and the devoutly religious. The statues are carried on litters or thrones by brotherhoods (or ‘cofradias’) who have spent the entire year preparing for the procession.

I take a taxi to the Plaza de Armas. To my surprise, there are only few people. It’s cold. I go to the mass, inside the Cathedral. All the different saints are inside.

I try to grasp some information about the procession. It seems that it will only start around 1pm, after the big outdoor mass in front of the Cathedral.

I don’t know what to do; I don’t even know where to sit, in order to “book” a good spot to watch the procession.

I call my parents. Then I wait on the stairs of the square in front of the Cathedral. There’s not much happening. I’m most of the time on my phone…

People start flocking to the Plaza de Armas, to attend the mass. As usual, there’s much fervour.

Isabelle and the kids join me around 1pm.

We go and eat at ‘Las Frescas’. They serve very good salads as well as poke bowls. Isabelle and I take the Andean bowl, with smoked trout, quinoa with furikake, and avocado. Very good.

We go back to the Plaza de Armas. The main procession has started; 10 saints and 5 virgins leave the Cathedral one by one and are paraded around the main square. We don’t stay in town to attend it. I lost my spot and there are a lot of people on the Plaza de Armas to watch the procession.

We take a taxi back home. Florence and Jules chillax while Ludivine does an extra homeschooling session, Isabelle prepares the US and I work on the blog (2 more posts).

We eat pasta at home.

Kids are in bed by 9:30pm. We go to bed around 10:30pm.



Friday 01/06

By Ludivine:

The morning we worked like usual and that afternoon we went out to get ice cream. There we could pick a flavor then they would spread the flavor out on a frozen plaque and make it into an ice cream. We could also add topping and it turned out delicious. Then we went souvenir shopping, mom got a necklace and for dinner we ate a “raclette”, where we had a small metal plaque where we put cheese then make it melt then put it on potatoes with ham. Mmm.


By me:

Normal morning with 2 homeschooling sessions for the kids while I work on the blog.

After lunch (salad), we stay home until 4:30pm. Florence and Jules chill while Ludivine does an extra homeschooling session. Isabelle prepares the US trip, focusing mainly on the 2-week itinerant (car) trip within the national parks. And I keep on catching on with the blog.

We go to the town centre by taxi. We eat a nice ice cream at Qu’charilla (where we can see the making of our scoops, on a frozen “plate”). We then buy a shawl for Isabelle (and eventually a scarf for me as well).

After that, we go to eat a cheese raclette for dinner at ‘Le Buffet Francais’, in San Blas. Good idea: it’s fun and quite good.

We go back home by taxi.

Isabelle and I work until midnight.



Saturday 02/06 (1/2)

Vlog by Florence: see below.


By me:

Wake up, naturally, at 6:30am. Last day in Cuzco. We take the plane to Lima at 2:30pm.

We do a homeschooling session and then pack our bags.

We arrive at the airport around noon (we made a mistake with the time; we thought it was one hour later…).

We eat a sandwich at the airport.

Our (Avianca) flight lasts one hour only.


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