The Spaces I Inhabit in Cusco

While I was in Cusco, there were a couple of main spaces that I would inhabit daily. The first space would be the city center, mainly including the area around the Plaza de Armas. This is a big square with lots of restaurants and shops. During the month of June, there were parades around the Plaza almost every day leading up to Inti Raymi, the Incan celebration of the winter solstice. My Spanish school was a short 5-minute walk from the Plaza, and every day I would go to class and eat lunch in the city center. There is one large avenue that stretches all across Cusco, called la Avenida de la Cultura. From the city center, I would take the bus down la Avenida to the neighborhood of San Jeronimo, where Casa Mantay, my volunteering place, was located. This bus ride was around 40 minutes and was always packed with children coming home from school at the same time I was going to volunteer. This was a completely new experience for me since I do not use public transportation a lot in the U.S., but it was a good opportunity for me to become acquainted with the community and participate in parts of daily life. San Jeronimo is different from the main city, as there are no tourists there and it is a more impoverished area. Casa Mantay is like a fortress with mountains surrounding the walls of the shelter. I spent a lot of time playing on the playground, which was made of recycled tires, as well as in the classroom. At night, I would walk to the bus station and ride the bus home to my host family. They lived in Santa Ursula, a neighborhood about halfway in between the city center and San Jeronimo. This neighborhood was also in the middle of the center and San Jeronimo economically speaking. The area was largely residential, but there were lots of restaurants and stores in this area. Overall, the map of the spaces I inhabited in Cusco is very linear, going down la Avenida de la Cultura, but I was able to experience a lot of different communities within this city.

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