Estados Unidos… es Peru…

 

“It comes so soon, the moment that there is nothing left to wait for….” -Marcel Proust

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.

MY VERY FIRST SERVAS HOSTS

MY VERY FIRST SERVAS HOSTS

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.

backpack

I’m obsessive about backpacks. Completely obsessive. I have the same backpack that I bought when i was 13 and starting high school. It’s an Eagle Creek bag rucksack. Nothing special, meant to hold books. I’ve had it for 12 years now and it’s covered with scars the scars of memories. I travelled with it for a month and a half in South Africa and Lesotho. It was wonderful to travel so light but it was embarrassing that every time I went to open it there was a loud “pop” as the contents of my bag exploded over the floor. I essentially wanted a small backpack that had side pockets for water. Well, I found it. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the Porter 30L. It’s only 30 liters which means… not much room. Packing my backpack is almost like organizing very complicated military manouver and, sadly, it still makes a popping sound when I try to open it. It’s about the same size as my old one but has an internal frame for back support, tons of little straps, and side pockets for water so i don’t have to open my pack to drink something.

The following is going in the backpack:

TOILETRIES

  • toothbrush and paste
  • some anti diarhia medicines
  • mosquito repellent (100% DEET)
  • soap
  • razor and blades
  • shaving cream
  • grapefruit extract
  • dr bronners magic soap (dilute!!!! dilute!!!! dilute!!!!)
  • deodorant

CLOTHES (in backpack)

  • 1 pair pants
  • flipflops
  • 3 pairs socks
  • 4 pairs underwear
  • 3 shirts
  • swimsuit
  • jacket

MISC

  • sarong
  • sewing kit
  • sleeping bag
  • ziplock bags

RECORDING AND ENTERTAINMENT

  • tape recorder
  • one music tape and 3 blank tapes
  • camera and camera supplies
  • lonely planet guide to south america
  • pen and ink supplies
  • cards
  • 2 books
  • guitar strings

PAPERS

  • passport
  • shots record
  • important phone numbers and addresses
  • SERVAS papers and lists
  • envelopes
  • pens and pencils

and of course… my guitar

All of this obsessing about stuff strikes me as a little obsessive for someone who is bringing less cause he doesn’t want to be weighed down by stuff. And it’s really interesting how travelling can do that to you. A lot of what travelling about is finding a sense of home where you are and with what you have. With some luck (and a lot of time) I hope I can learn to do without. My bag is full now but my sleeping bag takes up about 1/3 of the room so when I leave the Andes and ditch my sleeping bag, I’ll have a lot of room, which is very exciting to me. It’s very odd thinking about packing for 6 months. It’s hard to fathom.

Oh, and I talked to my first SERVAS people on the phone. They’re in Lima. It was super exciting and I’ll write more about it later. I’m looking for ideas of some small something to bring to people I stay with. Any ideas?

I think a little about stuff I should pack but it’s all pretty much covered I think. No worries though, I still have one more day.

the long hard swim to the middle


This last weekend I went to San Francisco and hung out with Mary and Ben. Mary has an awesome new apartment in the Haight. I bought a camera off craigslist to replace the broken one and took a bunch of pictures to try it out.

On the way to get the camera Mary and I went to Ikea got a bookcase and a chest of drawers to put in her new room. In this picture Mary contemplates the strange relationship with my friends: I help them move into new places, to get more established, and live vicariously through them. Then I get mobile and travel and they live vicariously through me. The grass is always greener I guess.

I believe that it’s easy to become settled, to start a life, to go down one road that leads to a million more and on and on. Your resume leads you to jobs you have experience in. You become established, entrenched in your environment. Most of my friends, the ones who’re happy, have found something they love doing and have dedicated themselves towards it. Perhaps they don’t even realize that they have yet, but they have a directions and goals and with those come comfort.

Sacramento has been good to me in my time here. Especially working at Choices has been very healthy for me: giving me something to focus on before I go. I never realized how much I enjoy working on excel spreadsheets and solving math problems before I worked at that school.


It’s been really hard posting publically. Many of my thoughts and insights are about the people i’ve been interacting with daily and it’s hard to walk the tightrope of appeasing all my readers and myself and I’m looking forward to a much easier job in South America, where no one knows me and I can write about whatever I want without any reprecussions. The best I can hope for is that people who are interested in my life and want to know what I think and feel will come and read about the blog. I’m reminded of the HoboTraveler Blog where Andy takes some friends to Machu Pichu and then writes about how Machu Pichu is actually a big lame tourist trap. No doubt word got back.
Anyways, this is a picture of me in Utah, but it’s the picture I’m sending out with all my SERVAS emails.

Thanks Zack!


zack has been my guitar teacher here in sacramento. everything i know about the boogie, i owe to him. 🙂

camping and graduation

this last weekend i went car camping with ben and jake. the first night we went to this great place, aroyo seco. we hopped down to the river and i got in some guitar and swimming.

The next night we camped at the Andrew Malera State Park campsite, an old college stomping ground. It’s great cause it’s got flush toilets and all that, but you have to go about a quarter mile from the parking lot. This means no RVs and not a lot of people bringing in too much junk. It’s right on the coast.

I came back for the Choices graduation which turned out to be awesome. A few students I had had were graduating and it was great to see. Then off to the Choices dinner at El Torito. It was a set price, of course, and we each had little placemats which contained our orders. Kippie, the office manager, was organizing all the little logistical intricacies, Marie hobnobbed with the district brass, and the sportsloving men got loaded and raucous. Everything seemed in its place, like a little world where everyone has their own role. Friendships, hierarchies and alliances changed and shifted, like a little ecosystem. It’s reassuring, reminds me of my visit last fall.

it’s the waiting that gets ya…

i just ate a small piece of typhoid. or at least i think it was a small piece of typhoid. last couple days i got all my shots out of the way. all i have left are these pills which i can only assume are made from live typhoid. all they told me was that i have to take one every two days so as not to overdose. and the box says that there are living things in it. the whole concept of innoculations is weird. it’s like you get one of the enemy soldiers all tied up and blindfolded and give him over to the defense forces and they just beat the shit out of him. then apparently you’re immune.

i’m on this crazy sleep cycle. i have to get a handle on my schedule. i’m either tired or i can’t sleep; i’m doing nothing at all and then all of a sudden i’m rushing to keep up. it’s all a symptom of not having a home base or structure. no calendar, no regular meals, no place to store my clothes. my parents have essentially converted their childrens’ rooms into storage rooms, piling up the things they never use but won’t throw away. because no one uses the stuff in the rooms everything is overstocked, things falling off the shelves. it becomes a game of my moving stuff from shelf to shelf or out of one room and putting it in another. My clothes litter the floor because the dresser is filled with sheets, blankets and nicknacks and the clothes rack overflows with suits my dad hasn’t worn in 10 years. books are piled two deep in the bookshelves. it’s too much for me. i lost my phone today and had to search for over an hour to find it disguised on a shelf with a million objects that made no sense together. i swear i will clean this room out. make it safe for civilization.

i can’t wait till the end of the month. i was thinking of ways to keep occupied. since spending all the money on the plane ticket i feel crunched for cash. so then i figured i might do some kind of job for a week or two. but what kind of job could i get for that amount of time? sharon tells me that i should get excited about something. i think i may get excited about making a travel website. that’ll keep me occupied for a few days…