travelling light

So when I left for this trip I was surprised at how OCD I became about the size and weight of my backpack, weighing out everything that was to enter it. I was obsessed with “travelling light”.

People travel heavy because they do not trust the world to be there for them tomorrow. Perhaps they don’t trust that the place they visit will have things like coffee or tea and they bring their own. Perhaps the place they visit will not have people to talk to so they bring books. Perhaps the world will be hot or cold and the world will not provide shelter so they bring clothes for all situations. Many people travel by bringing their worlds with them, frequently on their shoulders. The typical story is that of course the world provides things and the instant coffee brought from home never gets made. The heavy packers end up either hanging onto their stuff for the trip (too scared to throw it away because perhaps they might need it some day) or they throw it out (and make the conversion to light packer).

ZEN

ZEN

But there’s also another kind of heavy packing. I recently found that I would frequently preoccupy myself with plans and eventualities that simply never got used. I carry many thoughts (“What job will I have when I get back to the States?”, etc.) like a 60 liter backpack! It’s uncomfortable to carry my worries but it’s hard to let go and not worry, allow the world to provide and enjoy the weightlessness.

Treehouse Haircut

BELIN, IQUITOS – Here many houses are built on stilts because the Amazon floods half the year and the city becomes like Venice, except imagine your Venecian Coke costing ten cents rather than two euros. Soda is definately cheaper and more readily available than water.

MR TREEHOUSE

MR TREEHOUSE

I needed a haircut and got one in a stilt house. Really cool.

I'M HAPPIER WITH MY SIXTY CENT HAIRCUT THAN I LOOK

I’M HAPPIER WITH MY SIXTY CENT HAIRCUT THAN I LOOK

So just realized that I’m in the same location as Blanka from Street Fighter II.

HERE BLANKA DEFEATS KEN AT MY HAIR SALON

HERE BLANKA DEFEATS KEN AT MY HAIR SALON

Iquitos

I missed the boat. But I got a plane and consequently…

Greetings from Iquitos, the world’s largest city which is not connected by any roads! Instead it is sort of an island surrounded by the Amazon River and then doubly isolated by being surrounded by hundreds of miles of dense rainforest with nary a city or town inbetween. Outrageous really. What is the city like? It has about 500,000 people (though when I asked, the mototaxi driver said 20,000) and it is loud and bustling. It’s super hot and humid year round. Way too hot for shoes. Also it is expensive because almost all regular items have to arrive by plane. To be honest, I’m not sure why so many people live here. Though perhaps I’ll find out.

THIS CAFE OVERLOOKS THE AMAZON RIVER

Right now I’m full of delicious caiman, which I had for lunch in a buttery sauce that would make the Cheesecake Factory blush. I was just walking back to my SERVAS host’s house to get my travel wallet, which I seem to have left here. Perhaps I will also take a nap and go out later.

My initial impression of the city is one of drama and crazyness: a party city in the middle of the jungle. Many tourists. Many locals wanting to get laid. In fact, outside of Iquitos the only thing Peruvians could tell me about the jungle was that there were many “mujeres callientes”. And they don’t mean “calliente” in the way that a cup of coffee or fresh bread is hot. Time after time I would mention I was going to the jungle and Peruvians would advise me to use protection. “Maleria?” I would ask innocently. “Condoms” they would reply. One particularly macho Peruvian looked at me with fear in his eyes: “Sometimes I am not wanting to have sex and I say to stop and they do not stop.”

So needless to say, Iquitos has a somewhat sleazy reputation. But what do the locals think about their city? I asked my SERVAS host who owns a taxi rental business: What makes the jungle different from other places in Peru? She answered that without a doubt it was the “mujeres callientes” that gave it the local flavor. Cheerfully she pointed out a liquor on the shelf of a store: “This is called ‘Breaking the Panties’!” Apparently a local favorite.

 

SIGN THAT YOU ARE IN A SLEAZY CITY

SIGN THAT YOU ARE IN A SLEAZY CITY

Every time I hear about this I ask if this cultural phenomenon is true, if it’s dangerous because of deseases, if it’s new and why it exists? The answers are 100% consistant and they are:

TRUE? yes, everyone says it’s true.
DANGEROUS? yes, everyone says it’s good to be ultra safe though no one says the place is desease ridden.
NEW? not a single person has any idea whatsoever about how long it’s been like this (though I’m guessing it’s old as the trees)
WHY? 2 explanations: 1) no one wears any clothes around here, which is partly true. Most people are half naked. and 2) there’s nothing to do in the afternoon because after 1pm it’s really warm and people just kind of lay around.

Synopsis: I have never been to a city where the promescuity of the local population is attached to a sense of pride.

JUNGLE TOWN

JUNGLE TOWN

Finally the pictures are up to speed with my trip. Mostly. I’ll be going back and doing more pictures as I get them uploaded. There are many many but if you want to see them, check the gallery my brother set up for me.

Global Challenge

While trying to price out trips to Lagunas de Los Condores in Leymabamba I came across what looked like a group of 15 British teen tourists. I figured they’d know about tour companies but it turned out to be a British group called Global Challenge, volunteers who come to Peru to help out Peru. This seems good because Peru has plenty of problems. They were filled with youthful optimism but they weren’t quite sure where to start. Having looked around the town they found that the most pressing job they could do was to paint the market and when I encountered them they were looking for paint.

Yesterday I came across the same group, this time in Tarapoto. They were eating at the best restaurant in town. I asked them how the painting went. “Not good” they said. The first problem was there was no paint in the town. Only a couple buckets so they had to leave the job half finished. The second problem was that the paint was ugly: red and green. “Christmas colors?” I asked. But the guy said no. The third problem was that the local Leymabambans kept telling them that they were painting incorrectly and wasting paint. This was infuriating to them and they sort of had the attitude of “hey! we’re doing this out of the KINDNESS OF OUR HEARTS! We’ve just payed about $3000, maybe as much as you make in a year, to come on a trip to HELP you guys by painting your market. You could be more appreciative!” What was most interesting to me was that while there was confusion, no one had really grappled with the main questions: Why was there no paint to be had? And why hadn’t the Peruvians taken care enough to paint their own market?

The cost of transporting this British labor was tremendous, if it was about getting the market painted they could have sent a cheque for about $30 but what it was really about was feeling charitable and teaching Britain’s youth to be good global citizens. Happily they told me that now that the market painting was over the group was off to spear pirhanas. I told them I thought that that sounded difficult. “What do you use?” I asked. They didn’t know but they were sure it was going to be easier than painting that market.

up the river

My aunt died yesterday and it’s hard not to be there for the funeral. The best way The only way I can really comprehend it is to imagine my brothers getting on the plane and my mom and dad at my aunt and uncle’s house. Dear family, when you read this, my thoughts are with you and I love you all and wish I were there.

I remember a conversation with Mrs. Culpepper I had before I left about loss. She said one way to view life is as a permenant condition of loss. Every moment we lose something and as we change we lose our old selves. We define ourselves in how we accept this loss and change. I believe travelling for long periods is a case study in accepting loss, a lesson in saying goodbye. Every day I meet new interesting people, close connections, and must say goodbye. Every day I find amazing places that I love and but there’s always the next bus.

To misquote somone:
life is but a memory and a forgetting…
trailing clouds of glory do we come.

Tomorrow I plan to set sail from the port town of Yurimaguas to the big jungle city of Iquitos. I’ll be leaving Tarapoto at 4am in a car going over super nasty dirt roads. It’s supposed to be 4-5 hours and I hope I make it before the departure time of 10am. Otherwise there isn’t another boat for 2 days. Tough stuff.

At the SAE office I took some unused maleria pills (Chloroquine & Proguanil) but in Tarapoto you can only buy Chloroquine. I did. 20 tablets of 250mg. On the plus side it’s cheap, on the minus side there’s some choloroquine resistance in the Amazon. Not good. Also the woman told me to take 500mg a day while CDC tells me 500mg a week. Confusing. Will look for Doxycycline in Iquitos.

I am tired and must now go to the market to look for clothes for the trip.

laguna de los condores

Leymabamba is a tiny town of a couple thousand, most famous for it’s museum of fairly grotesque mummies. Or at least grotesque to me. In Cajamarca the family I was staying with told me to go there and showed me pictures of the mummies.

MUMMIES IN THE SACK

MUMMIES IN THE SACK

MUMMIES OUT OF THE SACK

MUMMIES OUT OF THE SACK

MUMMIES LOOK BETTER STILL IN THE SACK

What the Chachapoyans (the mummy guys) did was suck out everything that wasn’t skin and bones, crumple it up and put it in a really pretty sack. Then they would draw what was essentially a cute happy face on it. Then they built a small building behind a waterfall and shoved in about 250 of these guys. It’s actually in plain view and you can see it if you know what to look for but no one really did. Not for at least a thousand years. Locals had a good idea of where it was but wouldn’t tell anyone for fear of grave robbers. It was eventually discovered when a European (I want to say Dutch) archeologist’s wife insulted a local saying that he would never find it and the local guy brought them straight to it. It’s tough to get to – essentially a cliff overhanging a black lagoon.

 

BLACK LAGOON

BLACK LAGOON

It’s an 8-12 hour horsey ride in and then an additional 2 and a half hours from the hut we stayed in.

8 HOURS INTO THE HORSEY RIDE

8 HOURS INTO THE HORSEY RIDE

HARD TO GET TO

HARD TO GET TO

HARD TO GET TO

I am led to believe it always rains there as when we set out it was raining and our guide looked up and said “good day for hiking! It’s hardly raining!”

GOOD WEATHER

GOOD WEATHER

I’m not usually into the concept of guides but this one was amazing and was highly involved in the project from discovery to removal of the artifacts. It was an amazing experience though it was cold and I got to take a little cold home with me as a souvenier.

Celendin to Leymabamba

On the combi from Cajamarca to Celendin I sat next to one of the guys who stops cars and searches them for drugs. He’s on vacation and visiting Celendin because they’re having an ongoing celebration for the next month. I asked him about the route I want to take through the jungle. Apparently there is some narcotrafficking. He said it was no problem. I arrived in the Plaza de Armas in Celendin alone with no plans and nothing to do until the next bus left for Chachapoyas 4 days later on Sunday (tomorrow).

Tired, I wandered around the center looking for a hostal. I had a great one for 15 sols ($5) with private bathroom with hot water at all hours. But the management was shady and kicked me out because they found people who would pay more. I ended up finding one for 10 sols and a more rustic feel. I was made aware that there was a fiesta in progress by the sound of fireworks being fired off the roof. We are not talking about the kind of fireworks that remind you of 4th of July. They´re the kind of fireworks that remind you that your insurance doesn’t cover acts of war.

THIS BAMBOO STRUCTURE IS RIGGED TO GO OFF OFF THE HOOK THAT IS...

THIS BAMBOO STRUCTURE IS RIGGED TO GO OFF
OFF THE HOOK THAT IS…

I decided to check out the plaza. There were thousands of people and in a town with 5000 people that’s really saying something. But being alone in the midst of a crowd where everyone knows eachother makes you feel alone, like an outsider. i began feeling a little sorry for myself, telling myself that travelling alone is tough and scary. But the fact is that it actually requires some effort to be alone. People are only alone by choice. By nature we’re social animals, seeking eachother out. And after about 10 minutes of feeling lost and alone ion a new city I got up some nerve, scouted out an appropriate throng of youngsters and began conversation.

Like most Peruvians they were incredibly friendly and asked me the usual questions about where I was from and what I was doing around. Then in a little bit the men ran off and bought some rum to mix with sprite. And it was here that I began to notice the differences in culture. They had a 2 litre of Sprite and a litre of rum and a dixie cup. The object is to pass around the dixie cup, the sprite and the rum and mix yourself a 1/8 of a drink. This progresses rapidly and in half an hour the bottle was done and and we proceeded to a bar where they began to drink heavily.

THAT AIN'T THE CAMERA THAT'S BLURRY IT'S MY VISION

THAT AIN’T THE CAMERA THAT’S BLURRY
IT’S MY VISION

In the next few days, the local 20 year olds adopted me and took me around the town and to visit the local hotsprings. It was nice.

MMM HOTSPRINGS...

MMM HOTSPRINGS…

I coordinated with Tanalees from SAE back in Lima. She’s on vacation with her sister and I cought a combi to Leymabamba to meet her. I arrived the day before and had a chance to explore the town. I met with two nice European ladies who were visiting the local weaving and milk products factories. Peru is my training grounds for checking out new travel styles and it’s cool to see different traveller types. These guys go into every store and ask “hey, where do you get this stuff”. Then they visit the factory. Pretty cool.

Cajamarca

I arrived in Cajamarca at 4:30 in the morning and waited till 6:30 in the bus station to show up at the host´s house. Made some progress in “Roughing It” (Mark Twain). The hosts were very welcoming and treated me to a lovely breakfast and afterwards the daughter, Sandra (16), took me around the town and I bought a shirt for 5 soles ($1.30).

In the afternoon I hung out in the town plaza. Every town over a thousand has a Plaza de Armas. Really cool concept. It’s a beautiful place surrounded by wonderful colonial buildings. A place where people come and stroll in a little circle to see and be seen and lovers come and cuddle in the cool evenings. I felt a little apprehensive. Peru seems more “normal” now, like Nevada.

Something interesting is that SERVAS hosts seem to think it is more interesting that I’m Jewish than it is that I´m from another country. Lots of questions and confusion. For most people I’m the first Jew they’ve met and in a Catholic country it’s pretty interesting for them. I had incredibly interesting conversations with my hosts about politics and culture. SERVAS is really amazing. Everyone has been so kind and generous.

Also most SERVAS Peruvians have heard of David Copperfield but have never seen a cardtrick before. People are very appreciative. Also it’s interesting to see how my tricks become more physical as I lose command of the language. But I can finally make jokes.

Here’s a bad one I just made up:

Por que personas piensan que vacas son perezososa?
Porque todo el tiempo estan en VACAciones!!!

JOKE INSPIRATION

JOKE INSPIRATION

Sadly (actually probably happily) it does not translate…

MULE TRANSPORT IN ACTION

MULE TRANSPORT IN ACTION

The next day I went on a long hike to Cumbe Maya with Sandra and one of her friends, Sarah. It was about 4.5 hrs uphill (2 hrs back) and it kicked my butt in parts and if you don’t ask directions you’re liable to get lost.

THIS GUY HELPED US FIND OUR WAY

THIS GUY HELPED US FIND OUR WAY

But it was super fun. Humorously none of us knew that Cumbe Maya is a famous ancient aqueduct so we showed up, ate lunch, and walked back without actually seeing the site. We returned and I took the family out to dinner at Super Chicken, a restaurant which serves… guess what… CHICKEN!!! Super tasty broaster style chicken with fries. Very popular here.

The next day I continued the hiking around Cajamarca with Sandra theme. First we visited some built up hotsprings with an historical twist: this is where Atahualpa bathed. Atahualpa is famous for being the last Inca leader and for being kidnapped about 10 minutes after the Spanish showed their white faces on the shore. In the small museum there was a the mummified corpse of a 20 year old woman who was sacrificed by the water cult. I wonder: was she beautiful? Full of life? How did she face her immenent death? Did they sacrifice the best or worst of the community? Or randomly? What stories did they tell the sacrificed before to get them to go along with it? And all to believe in a meaning. Something to keep away the darkness of disorder? Anything so long as it isn’t nothing… It is better to leave a scary world that makes sense than a meaningless one… or so people believe…

SANDRA AT BAÑOS DEL INCAS

SANDRA AT BAÑOS DEL INCAS

After the baños we went hiking for four or five hours to some 1000 year old cave paintings. If this seems recent, keep in mind South Americans never invented writing. In terms of recording data, llama drawings were high tech in South America.

LLAMA PAINTINGS

LLAMA PAINTINGS

I THINK THIS IS PART OF THE EAR!

I THINK THIS IS PART OF THE EAR!

On the way I got to sample my first piece of tounge and head meat in a delicious soup. It was scary looking but tasty. We returned and went to a very late lunch at Sarah’s parent’s restaurant. Upscale. Tasty.

That night I entertained the troops with some improv card magic and the next morning I left for Celendin.

Lima a Trujillo

So much to tell and I keep putting it off and it just builds up and I forget it. But here goes for some of it.

My last night in Lima I went to a marinera dance class with Tanalees, an girl from the US working in the SAE. She was amazingly helpful during my two solid days spent there plotting my course and researching. The dance class was just what I needed to loosen up for my overnight bus ride to Trujillo (a coastal city in the north).

 

HUANCHACO BEACH NEAR TRUJILLO

HUANCHACO BEACH NEAR TRUJILLO

Trujillo is a lovely city, much more relaxed than Lima but it still bustling with about a million people. It was the economy bus and I didn’t sleep much but it was worth the $8 savings. I arrived and stayed in spartan quarters. It was nice of the hosts to take me in too because I called a day in advance and they only signed up to have girls stay with them. They were, however, an awesome family and were incredibly welcoming. They took me around to check out the city. There were a mother, father and five daughters. I was visiting one of the daughters: Elva, a firecracker of a schoolteacher and activities director. She reminded me a lot of the Choices counsellors. The first day I visited some ruins with one of the sisters, Rosana, who is a archeology buff. The Huaca de la Sol y la Luna was awesome. It’s an old pre-inca city with lots of colorful painting.

PERUVIAN DOGS HAVE NO HAIR... EXCEPT THE MOHAWK...

PERUVIAN DOGS HAVE NO HAIR… EXCEPT THE MOHAWK…

 

HUACA DE LA LUNA

HUACA DE LA LUNA

More interesting was that on the way we passed a sign which says: Chicha de Hora which turns out to be a drink. As best I could understand it’s a corn based beer/alcohol made in plastic buckets and left in the sun for a few weeks. Like many recent food experiences it was tasty but scary. It also threw my stomach for a loop. Best so far is the ceviche: raw fish with lemon and garlic. Unbelievably tasty and on my last day in Trujillo I even tried Ceviche Mixta which comes with raw octopus, squid, and conches. Good but the fish is the best part.

CEVICHE MIXTA: WORLD'S PERFECT FOOD

CEVICHE MIXTA: WORLD’S PERFECT FOOD

8 YEAR OLDS PERFORM TAIKOWONDO

8 YEAR OLDS PERFORM TAIKOWONDO

I visited Elva’s school and watched a mid year show of their artistic talents. Pretty cute watching 8 year olds do a taikwondo workout. But it was cool and the flutes demonstration in the evening was awesome. I ended up leaving with a party on my last night, drinking more than I expected at Elva’s friend’s birthday party. Her friends are mostly English speakers because her school is an English speaking school, Flemming High School.

DIA DE PATRIA CELEBRATIONS

DIA DE PATRIA CELEBRATIONS

Trujillo sports its military pride by having the local school bands practice for Fiesta De Las Patrias, Peruvian Independance Day.

Elva’s family followed the typical pattern of bread with butter and Nescafe for breakfast, a huge lunch with meat in it followed by more bread with butter and Nescafe for dinner. Elva was really shocked that I wanted to help with the dinner dishes (not that there were many). “Men don’t do that here” she exclaimed.

ELVA (TOP LEFT) AND FAMILY

ELVA (TOP LEFT) AND FAMILY

Elvas sisters make awesome crafts but it’s weird because they’re all USA style “country” crafts: the kind of stuff that goes with potpourri. I don’t think Peru has learned about potpourri but I think it’s be all the rage with Elva’s family.

My fourth and final day in the city I met a fellow SERVAS traveller. He had hurt is foot and didn’t want to go hiking in Cajamarca so I got to stay with the host where he was planning on staying. Seeing a fellow SERVAS traveller gave me a lot of good reinforcement. We gave each other a little advice. Mine was on calling hosts. He had been emailing them weeks before. My system so far has been to call them up on the phone at the wrong hours and stuttering out “I am traveller from SERVAS. Sleep you please?” Talking on the phone is infinitely harder than in person, quite possibly because the people on the other end can’t see my apologetic looks as I stumble through tying to tell them that I only want to meet them if it’s convenient for them. When I called the host in Cajamarca I spoke to a child. Or I thought I did. It was confusing. I called back later though and braved it again and spoke to the mother. I think.

Anyways, that night I took a bus to Cajamarca. It was fancy: we had beds and were served tasty sandwiches and hot drinks and I arrived rested.

tourist culture

Having never surfed, let me say that I think travelling is in some respects like surfing. You get up a certain amount of speed and ride the wave, which eventually ends and you need to paddle out again to catch the next one. It’s billed as a cool relaxed lifestyle but when you’re actually doing it it’s exhausting. There are a million things to think about and everything is just a little more difficult.

Staying at the hostal reminded me that there is a whole culture built around providing services for people with too much money: drugs, sex, companionship, etc. It´s crazy though cause local people infected with this culture act overly friendly and then lay their agenda on you, then act shocked when you are suspicious. I assume that as long as there’s been tourism there’s been this odd culture of service but it always catches me by surprise, perhaps because it involves a certain amount of deception. These people aren’t your friends any more than a prostitute is your lover. In this fairly magical culture people use phrases like “you’re my good friend” and “just for you” and “oh… there’s just one thing i have to do on the way” to hide clearly suspicious activity ranging from trying to get me to buy something to bring home to trying to getting a money loan so they can buy drugs.

There’s a sad cycle involved. The vendors push trinkets and things for you to buy because people do buy them. If there were no buyers they would not try so hard. But they do it because they know they might succeed. People want the service.

THE PARADOX OF TOURIST CULTURE
But the other (and perhaps more insidious) side of the coin is that there is a huge demand for this type of attention. People want to go somewhere far, have a one night stand with a local who tells them they´re the greatest lover in the world, engage in semidangerous situations that end with them losing their money and gear. Apparrently for a lot of people that’s what travelling is all about. If the sites were free, who would go look at them? These days people like to pay for fun otherwise how will they know if they’re enjoying themselves and having an “authentic” experience.

Everyone wants the illusive “authentic” experience and looks jealously at other travellers because everyone else is having the more “authentic” experience. Two hardcore trekkers in the SAE made a rookie remark: “We want to go where there are there are no white faces: there are too many white faces in this room.” Irritated and trying to be clever I retorted: “well, there’s really only one way to fix that! though I really ought to have said “I think you’re going to have that problem wherever your go”.

So many people travel to escape themselves only to find a million people just like them. It’s very What the Bleep Do We Know? but until they change their own lens, very little will change for them.

REAL INFORMATION: ARREQUIPA STRIKE
At the same time there are lot of services that are not provided. In fact actual information like the fact that you can’t get to Arrequipa (and consequently the Southern part of the country) is blocked off by strikes and no buses or cars can enter the city. Most people are unconcerned about this. Saying “I think a might head off to Arrequipa” will ellicit a response of “oh, lovely weather” not “hmmm… I think Arrequipa might be difficult because there’s a lot of burning tires and broken glass (not that I’m saying there is, it’s impossible to tell). It’s a normal phenomenon like clouds in the sky and no one is going to go do tough reporting on clouds in the sky even when it involves violent confrontations with the police.

Puño

Yesterday I left my first host family in Servas and set off for my next one, which I connected with back in Sacramento when my Spanish was completely unintelligible (currently people understand the words I say but they´re fairly meaningless: “yes i like fish nights”). Anyways, typical of my 3 year old SERVAS list, the guy who is actually in SERVAS now lives in Berkeley but his family was more than happy to put me up. More than that, they got really excited about showing me around and hanging out. Last night some of my host´s friends took me out to a Peña, a kind of bar where they play the traditional music of black peruvians. Between sets, they play music and everyone dances but during the sets, people sit at long tables and appreciate the official dancers. At some point in the night there was a dancing competition between everyone who was not Peruvian. I was hauled up in front of probably 150 people and had to dance by myself for about a minute in a spotlight with a live band while everyone clapped along in time. There were about 10 other people and I ended up winning wby audience applause and got a big trophy filled with beer. Apparently I can dance now.

Today I went to the beach with my hosts. The beachfront is a lot like Tel Aviv´s (but cold) and has many modern looking buildings. It´s weird how some amenities are available and some not. For instance the very affluent house that I´m staying in has unlimited internet but no hot water. I think hot water is rare and no one seems very excited about the concept.

Every day there is new fruit to discover. Many are the same but larger. For instance: 4 kilo papayas. But there are just some crazy fruits that are hard to describe. Many of these are used as popular ice cream flavors.

Tomorrow I will leave these hosts (2 night rule) and check into a hostal. It will be good to talk to other travellers and get tips. Maybe meet people who´re also travelling. I´ve stopped into two hostals so far just to check them out. I get a funny feeling from them. There´s a really interesting aura surrounding them that it’s hard to put my finger on. I´m sure I{ll start writing about it as soon as I start staying in them. I remember feeling a little isolated and alone in hostels of South Africa. It´s infinitely better to stay with people: I constantly practice my Spanish, which has still not regained its former glory. It´s like being a tourist is my job and when I come home from work I can just be a visitor for awhile. When you stay at hostels you´re a tourist all the time. It´s a nice feeling to be able to switch it up a little.

PERUVIAN FOOD REPORT

All righty. Had some requests to tell about the food.

BREAKFAST

BREAKFAST

Good food abounds in this tasty country of goodness. Lessons learned? This is a list of stuff I already suspected but had reconfirmed by delicious Peru.

1. Everything can be made better with eggs. Including mixed drinks.
2. American food is generally toxic and should be avoided.
3. You can make a pate out of most things. Peru invented Anchovette fish paste.
4. The world needs more spicy cheese sauce on everything.

and the list goes on…

On my first day here I crawled out of bed at 11:30am and was welcomed to what would become my staple breakfast her: ham on bread. Delicious. I´ve always hated ham and still pretend to. Maybe I was just hungry. I don´t know. It was delicous. Bread is good here. Also there are two types of oranges. The orange kind that we have are only for eating. Here there is a second kind only for juicing. And let me tell you now: they juice well. Also this is a country where Nescafe reigns king in middle class households.

But then we come to lunch:
A delectable conconction beginning with yellow potatoes in a spicy cheese sauce that keeps popping up. Everything is made fresh, none of this prepackaged stuff from US of A. After the potatoes came Chicken top of Spanish rice with a little salad.

Perhaps it´s the hosts I´m staying with but they don´t seem to eat dessert. Only coffee or tea.

Today I arrived back at 6:00pm long after lunch (the main meal) but they apparrently made and saved me food: beans, rice and a modest portion of rich meat. Once again, delicious. I ate it while drinking: Inca Cola. It tastes kind of bubbly otter pops. which is frighteningly appealing. Peruvians are very proud of it. “it´s from 1935” says Brian. They point to it as a part of their cultural heritage which is helping them resist imperialism. Coca Cola will never catch on in all of Peru, Brian tells me: Inca Cola complements more Peruvian food.

Pachacamaq

THE RUINS OF PACHACAMAQ WITH CITY OF PACHACAMAQ IN BACKGROUND

THE RUINS OF PACHACAMAQ WITH CITY OF PACHACAMAQ IN BACKGROUND

I´m back from Pachacamaq and taking full advantage of the free email at my host´s house and taking this oppurtunity from my day to NOT speak Spanish. The last time I experienced this kind of immersion was in Israel when I spoke Hebrew all day. But that was in class. Before i came i was worried that perhaps people wouldn´t want to speak spanish to me, just respond in english so they could practice. Luckily it turns out: no one really speaks english! Until now it was really hard to speak either Spanish or Hebrew because I would just get confused between the two. But now my spanish is finally winning the war against the hebrew. there are still many things i cannot say but that´s probably for the best 🙂 On the minus side it means that leaving my room means thinking constantly, which is exhausting.

And I joined the South American Explorers´ Club. The name sounds really dumb but the club is a superb and impressive resource. They have every book on travelling South America, free tea and coffee and brownies, maps, information from the workers, free internet, etc. really cool. i think i´m going to spend some good time there in the next week planning my trip.

Tonight I´m going to get an early night. I kept everyone up till 1am last night regaling my hosts with magic tricks in broken spanish: “Oh but seven hearts is also magician and it is causing things and ohhhh this your… deck?” Luckily magic is visual and they told me they enjoyed it. At least I think they did…