The first time my parents visited Cusco was in 1989, four years before I was born and twenty-six years before I would find myself embarking on the journey of a lifetime as I moved to this city just under a year ago. Knowing that the city would invariably be quite different from what it was like twenty-seven years ago, I was very excited to show them not just ‘the city’ but more specifically my city. It was really nice that they’d already seen much of the unchanged parts of Cusco (Plaza de Armas, San Pedro Market, all the assorted churches) which meant that we got to spend a lot more time in the more nuanced parts Cusco—the parts of it which have characterized my life here.
We went to meet Betty and Marlenny (the women we buy juice and sandwiches from at our local market), we wandered down the ancient Incan trail which takes us home through fields of quinoa and patches of eucalyptus trees from our school Virgen del Rosario, we visited the café I volunteer at in the Plaza San Blas, and we came in second place (sadly breaking a multi-week winning streak) at a weekly Pub Quiz that is organized by our friends at Latin American Foundation for the Future and Picaflor House (two local NGOs).
Over the weekend we went out and had a beautiful day visiting many of the ruins in the Sacred Valley (something that travelers weren’t able to do when my parents had first visited), and then hopped on a train to revisit Machu Picchu. It was round two for all of us, although when my parents first visited Machu Picchu, Aguas Calientes was nothing more than a train station and people could sleep inside the park and wander through all its parts without being herded along by the park attendants whose job is to keep you moving on the pre-assigned route…Although crowded, our visit to the site was wonderful, and we particularly enjoyed hiking out to both the Intipunku (sun gate) and the Incan bridge, which was built into a cliff-face. We ended our weekend with a visit to the Sacred Valley Brewery, where GirlSportWorks hosted an awesome fundraising event a month ago. We also spent a day in the peaceful town of Pisac where we visited some impressive ruins and wandered through the famous artisanal market.
So many parts of my week with my parents were both memorable and special (not to mention the fact that I finally got to try out some of the nice restaurants in Cusco that I’d been eyeing for many months), but the one experience which I am certain I will always remember most fondly was when I got to teach street hockey to our Nogales girls with my dad. Hockey is ‘the family sport,’ so to speak. I have been skating since I could walk and played competitively for fifteen years, as did my brother. My uncles and cousins played hockey too, and my dad taught me to play and coached me for several years. He never failed to watch my games from behind the net and away from the other parents because I played defense and so that was where all the action was.
Our Monday class at Los Nogales was the first class of our street hockey unit, and the girls were thrilled to have my parents visiting. After a quick warm up and stretching followed by a brief discussion of stick-related safety, we began to work on dribbling. My dad doesn’t speak much Spanish, so I assisted with some vocabulary. But the great thing about teaching sports is that you can demonstrate anything, even if you can’t explain it. We got the girls dribbling and, as we went up and down the line, we were impressed by how quickly they’d picked up the new skill. Working on passing went equally well. Not only did the girls enjoy it, but I just couldn’t stop smiling as I thought about how fortunate I was to be able to share this experience with my dad. The girls absolutely loved playing with the two of us, and when we ended the class working on shooting, they couldn’t get over how funny it was that he had reappropriated a shovel into a stick while I used the actual goalie stick.
It was undoubtedly a perfect week that I got to share with my parents and one that I will forever cherish. Although I’m sad to be leaving Cusco in just a month, there’s a lot to look forward to in the coming months that I’ll be spending at home, and I am so happy that they got to come and be a part of my life here before my time with GirlSportWorks draws to a close.