Once I returned from Machu Picchu I had about 4 days left in Cusco, but ended up extending it to 5 because I wanted to see the local team play some football. The day after Machu Picchu I ended up hanging out with Vini in Cusco, getting an alpaca wool jumper, which of course is obligatory, chilling on the roof of his hostel which had a pretty stunning view of the city, and then going to a picnic with some of the volunteers from the orphanage next to the Cristo Blanco which overlooks the city. I think we also managed to go out 5/5 of my last nights, to various bars and clubs and restaurants we hadn’t been to before, which was fun.
The day after that I also met the two Canadians again completely by chance, seeing on in a cafe window, and ended up spending the entire day and well into the night with them, going to places I’d already been merely because hanging out with them was so fun. They’re the sort of funny people that make other people funny around them, rather than those who just take the piss out of others (although of course they can be just as funny) so being around them was and is always a pleasure. I actually ended up going back to their hostel and having a final beer with them before their night bus to La Paz, Bolivia, and met an American guy, strange because he was on a spiritual cleanse where he ate nothing but fruit for 3 days, but also cool because he was a nigger fan of Fulham FC than me. Sometimes I’ve found you meet people who have the strangest yet most relevant connections to you, and you feel you could easily be incredibly close friends if you were at home together. This guy I should be meeting back in La Paz this week anyway.
After the Canadians left on the Friday, a church from New Orleans arrived on the Saturday and showed us the worst film I have ever seen, in every aspect, about God, hell and following the ten commandments to the letter. It made many of us sick to our stomach, especially as afterwards they forced the kids to be cleansed and forgave them of their sins in a preachy, evangelical way. Curious, I tried some of their stuff, including speaking in tongues, but it was all bullshit. We complained about them afterwards to the leader of Elim (where see were working) and I think he agreed with us.
The day after most of the volunteers headed up for a football game at the worse of the two local teams, Ciencialo. We bought traditional (not to Peruvian football) guy faukes like masks in crazy colours, shirts, scarves and headbands and set off on a 45 minute taxi ride to the 5,000 sweater stadium in a beautiful valley nestled in some mountains. Surely the most picturesque stadium I’ve ever been to was the backdrop for one of the best football games I’ve ever been to. The first half was dull, and we sat with some rather dull fans, all in our crazy masks and getting weird looks from the fans in both sides of the stadium, evidently thinking go themselves what these loco gringos were doing. However when we, over in with some Ultras in the second half, things got better. We joined in with their songs (ciencialo, ciencialo, que corazon, que corazon, ciencialo, ciencialo, que paccion, que paccion – what heart, what passion) had streamers, confetti, giant flags and banners and we jumping around and going crazy the whole game. This was drawing a lot more attention from the crowd, many of whom got up and watched us and took pictures. We were obviously a novelty. Anyway, the game finished 3-0 to Ciencialo, and was amazing. First a penalty, then a scruffy goal, then an absolute screamer from the player with my shirt’s number (8), causing me to run to the front and take off my shirt. It was crazy, and after the game, one of us, Pierre, a Belgian, was interviewed by the radio commentator on his thoughts. I have pictures of it on Facebook, plus videos that will make it into my overall compilation. It was an amazing last day.
Knowing that I was coming back, the goodbyes we’re heartfelt but subdued from the kids, and for the volunteers, we went out for Chinese with my backpacks, ready for my overnight bus to Puno and Lake Titicaca. Eventually we also managed to foot in a trip to McDonalds for a Mcflurry and a games of pool at Norton’s English pub. I left Cusco at 10 that night knowing I would return to a place that had come to feel like a home away from home (especially with so many Brits!).