School's Out

Amauta Spanish School in Cusco

I could have learned more Spanish.

I've been at the Amauta Spanish School in Cusco for the last three weeks, mingling with students, scribbling in a notebook, and generally fumbling around with a language I can now mas o menos hold a broken conversation in.

I could have stayed longer, quite happily (in fact, I stayed a week longer than originally planned).

Whenever I'm at an academic institution, I'm invariably disappointed that it isn't a Hogwarts-esque castle full of precocious brats and enchanting teachers. Amauta certainly isn't Hogwarts--it's a squat little building tucked away in a sidestreet, filled with dorms and classrooms. But it has a charming faculty that could be straight out of any novel.

There's a perennially stylish lady named Dessy who teaches in an array of colourful hats; a curiously evasive outdoorsman who leads field-trips and bears a startling resemblance to Nick Offerman; and of course Rudolfo, a sprightly white-haired man of small stature who all the students agree is the kindliest person in the universe.

During my time at Amauta, I made friends with fellow students from across the world--normal practice was for us to study in the week, and use the weekends for expeditions to the surrounding countryside.  I spent a couple of weeks staying with a loving host family located in Cusco's Wanchaq area--a household headed by a basketball-loving lawyer named Maria, who became my Peruvian Mum.

And I danced, of course.

It's been a long time since I was in a school. I forgot how nice they could be (High Schools exempted). A good school is basically a cult of people sharing a conspiracy to learn.

I was glad to put my travelling hat down for a while, and pick a few phrases up.

But there's a lake with a funny name to see, though I've heard it's rather chilly. Apparently Lake Titicaca is so cold right now, even the alpacas are uncomfortable...

A mí me gusta Amauta.

Nos vamos. 


>In practice, putting down my travelling hat just meant passing it around all the other students to try on. I'm surprised I got it back...