Life in Cusco has been quite a change. My first days here alone were some of the hardest yet. I had a breakdown every day for a while. The biggest problem was where I lived - I was living in the home of a man from Cusco and felt extremely dirty, without my personal space and far from the center of town where I spend the majority of my time. I have now moved to a room in a hostal where I have my own space and privacy, clean bathroom and lovely staff who let me use their kitchen. I would say moving has made be feel 70% better.
The other part of the struggle was feeling very alone in a new city. I don't know anyone here. My family had just left from visiting to go back home and all of a sudden I was on my own. In the mornings I would wander around the city aimlessly looking for something without knowing what I was looking for and not being able to find what I though I might be looking for. This is one of the coolest cities in the world with so much to offer and so many interesting people to meet but I could not even find a place to sit and read a book and drink a coffee. I have now come to terms that this may be an introspective time for me and a time to focus on my research. It is interesting for me to see and feel the changes in my emotions as I make adjustments in my life. I am clearly very affected by my surroundings - being in a small, dark, messy space in an area of town that sold car parts made me feel very uncomfortable while having my own clean space with lots of windows makes me feel more at home and far happier.
I struggled with the decision to leave the apartment for several days. Why should I get to live in a comfortable living situation when the majority of the people in this country live in far worse conditions than that apartment? I should live among the people who live in the country where I am living. I also really liked Anthony (the man) and his 11 year old son Gonzalo. One night Gonzalo taught me how to make banana wrapped in a pancake with condensed milk. We all watched a movie together and I felt that maybe I could handle living there. However, the next afternoon when I returned after spending the morning in the center, armed with cleaning supplies, I could not keep it together and immediately decided to take a couple of days at the hostal to make my decision as to whether or not to leave. As soon as I got there I cried for a long time and then began to feel a lot better. That night I went to a cafe lounge right beside my hostal to read and relax a bit. I met a couple of Argentinians with whom I sat and talked for quite a while. We went out for dinner and dancing that night. My first friends. Unfortunately they will be leaving Peru soon to go home. I think that I will meet a lot of people passing through Cusco as it's definately a tourist destination and a stop that most people make before visiting Machu Picchu. But I'm feeling ok about it since I am not exactly permanent here either and it will give me a chance to really focus on research. At least once in a while I will have people to go out with.
I decided after a couple days of staying at the hostal that this was going to work out much better for me. While I feel that I can handle living in a humble space, I would not choose to live where Anthony lives. I would not choose to live the way that he does and while he may be comfortable there, I was not. Now I have joined a gym, am getting to know the combi system and I'm enjoying the crazy markets where I buy my fresh fruits and veggies. I am planning to take yoga classes and get out into spaces where I can meet cool people and make some friends.