21 May 2012

The best birthday ever!

The celebrations started 3 days before my actual birthday when we held a birthday party at Picaflor House, our Peru Kids Project, for me and volunteer Jordan and those kids with birthdays in May. Sometimes we have a piñata filled with lollies, this time we had birthday cake – and not just one cake, but FIVE! Work bought two, then three of the volunteers turned up with one each. And what delectable-looking cakes they were – Peruvians are very good at cake decoration, as you can see. It almost seemed like cruelty to slice through those cute bears and sweet swans … almost.

Luίs, our Picaflor House manager, had organised a delightful programme of entertainment … children recited poems and sang ‘You are my sunshine’ and danced traditional dances, and then I was mobbed by little people wanting to hug me. 

I also received several hand-made birthday cards from the older kids – apparently I’m a “pretty teacher” – either they don’t understand the meaning of pretty or I need to arrange a visit to the optometrist for all of them! It was a very special day.

The next day my dear friend Marianne arrived from France for a 3-week holiday here in Peru – a birthday present in itself – and the following day, on my actual birthday, we caught the bus to Pisac for a wander and a shop and a lunchtime feast. It was almost 2½ years since I had seen Marianne the last time I volunteered in Cambodia but we picked up as if scarcely a day had passed. I really appreciate having good friends like her in my life and we had a lovely day together.

Glowing after a day in the sun and a couple of beers ...

My birthday brownie

And then the following day we set off on a week’s holiday, starting with Marianne’s birthday present to me, a wonderfully luxurious trip from Cusco to Puno on the Andean Explorer, a 10-hour train journey in the style of the Pullman trains of the 1920s. The carriages were well-appointed and our seats plush and comfortable. There was an open-air observation car at the rear of the train, where we spent quite a bit of the journey enjoying the fresh air and the scenery. And the refreshments were delicious, beginning with a Pisco Sour for morning tea, followed by a 3-course luncheon, and finishing with a Bellini (peach juice and champagne) and chocolates in the late afternoon. Such a civilised way to travel - it was divine, and those four days must surely count as the best birthday ever!

If you want read more about travelling on the Andean Explorer, click on the link to read my article for tour company Totally Latin America. 

Our carriage
Marianne enjoying the observation car

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