Ah yes, the first entry from the new country: PERU! I know what is expected, those exciting tales of adventure: how my guitar was stolen at the airport by a pair of thieving taxi drivers, how i navigate my way perfectly around the bustling city in spanish, how i have taken up drinking brandy and eggwhites, how my sleeping bag is currently my favorite possession, how my current host family dines me on delicious peruvian food. Yes, I know what is expected, and perhaps I can deliver all this and more. But first I will write of less interesting things, like the Museo de Nacion that I visited yesterday.
I´m staying in Surco which, it turns out, is a 20 minute taxi cab ($3) or bus ($.40) ride from the city center. Getting to museum was no problem because Brian, my hosts´ son, helped my catch the bus. Here the buses are very similar to the ones in Mexico except here they drive like New York taxis and there is a guy hanging out the door trying to drum up business. (“Downtown! Downtown!” he yells, “You want to go downtown!”) Buses are privatized which I guess is good and bad. I assume it keeps prices low so it´s good. But then again, there´s no bus schedules, just bus drivers on the same route trying to cut eachother off and steal eachother´s business. It´s so decentralized that there are guys who sit on main intersections and and count the numbers of the buses that go by and mark the time. For a tip he will tell the bus drivers who then tell their controllers as they pass them on the route. I assume that in this way the controllers can keep an eye on the competition and know which bus routes are becomming saturated.
Anyways, I took the bus to the National Museum and saw lots of fairly boring artifacts all relating to the cultures that existed here throughout history. There were a few really interesting ones though. There was a particular mural where many of the cultural artifacts are rising up and attacking the people. The symbols we create rise up against us. The culture that was our child comes to kill the father. Similar perhaps to the way we currently love and fear our computers, perhaps the old cultures of Peru feared their bowls and hunting instruments.
For the most part the museum was good for wrapping my head around the country´s many cultural births and deaths that culminated in the short lived Incan civilization which so many Peruvians claim as their heritage today.
I have no specific pattern set out yet and am still getting my bearings. This is like no other trip I´ve undertaken in that I´m not in any rush, per se, to “get on with it” though I fear I may leave Lima pretty soon. Unfortunately the country, especially in the Andes, is cold right now: very much like Seattle in the winter (the irony is killing me). Lima is good though because I have joined the South American explorer´s club here and they have a massive amount of information on travel for me to dig through. I think a week here doing research would be well spent and allow me to acclimatize to the language and culture (as well as to phone servas hosts along the way in advance). However, I am pretty much set on the plan to go through La Paz (which is supposed to be freezing in the winter) and then down through to the coast of Brazil, then up. More on this later. For now I am heading off to Pachamachaq, old adobe ruins outside of Lima.