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where is laura? Live your questions now, and perhaps even without knowing it, you will live along some distant day into your answers. Rainer Maria Rilke

journey to lima, part 2

PERU | Tuesday, 11 April 2006 | Views [1472]



After a one day delay due to the ever present bus strikes, I head out of Cusco with my friend Joey (whose real name is jose anthony trujillo poma quispe--joey is the hendrix sobre nombre)... on our way to lima. We decide to take the economical scenic route by bus. So, the first day is nothing short of 12 hours winding up and down over and out of the andes to the central coast of  Nasca. The bus ride was full of the usual, steven Segal movies, a decent movie about chicano life in LA, nausea induced when we tried to play a game of chess on what were possibly the curviest roads I´ve encountered in Peru. A stop for lunch at noon, landslides, the passing out of plastic bags? for the naseau perhaps?, some english lessons, Steppenwolf, etc. Until we arrive by night, 14 hours later in Nasca. The bus continued on without us to Lima, another 8 hours, but we were thankful to get off when we did. Ate some chinese food by the roadside and made our way into town... to the hostal aculpulco at the recommendation of our taxi driver. What a nightmare. Our neighbors fell asleep with the TV blaring, chatter reverberated through the walls until about 1am, and then started up again, TV and all at 530am. It was  cheap, and we got what we paid for. We hurriedly got out of there by 8am, found a jugeria for juice, brought some fruit at the market, and ate ceviche for breakfast. By 9am we were waiting patiently on the next bus to depart for Ica, an easy 2 hour drive.

We arrive in hot and hazy Ica by noon, taxi over 5 km to Huacachina, a tiny sand dune oasis, with a central lagoon, surrounded by a few hostals and cafes, nada mas. The highlights include sandboarding and sand buggie riding... we went the old fashioned way.. on foot (once the sun started to set). Upon arriving, we found a more peaceful hostal, chatted with some of joey´s fellow artisan friends, and I hunked down in the sand by the lagoon to finish by book and rest up. It was very very peaceful. I imagine on the weekends, its flooded with families, etc, but at this time, it was quite and the necessary calm was present. the lagoon water is supposed to have medicinal value, but it was too murky for me to venture into. there is a legend that goes.. if you are a man and swim into the middle of the lake at night, you will get pulled under by the mermaid who lives in the lake.... something like that.

At 4pm I joined in a game of soccer with the local kids, joey and his buddy, and a fellow gringo brit. 5 on 5 it was, on the concrete court. Of course we endured the usual pregame hazing (we being the gringos, and me being the gringa girl), but that came to a quick halt when I scored the first goal... and continued to hold up my title, as american who knows what she´s doing. It was the first time I had played since CA, and I felt the usual rush. We played for about an hour, I had 2 goals, final score was about 7 to 3, the gringo team winning, of course. what an exhausting, foot blistering blast. After which, we climbed up one of the easier sand dunes to take photos before the sun set. Climbing in sand is not easy, let it be said. It´s a downright struggle, full of illusions of, almost being to the top´.. none theless, we made it. and looked across the lagoon to the other side, where much braver souls were still climbing up up up, to the highest vista. It reminded me of being  in Death Vallley, the only comparison I have.

The evening was full of Pisco, lime, friendly ramblings and crazy locals.

Th next morning we took a taxi to a nearby Bodega, Lazo, the oldest artesanal Pisco manufacturer in Peru, since1807. To talk about the region of Ica, is too talk about wine and Pisco. Similiar to the Napa Valley, because of the climate, it´s ideal territory for growing grapes. Our taxi driver doubles as our tour guide, and when we arrive, walks us through the house, factory, etc. The still use the foot stomping method to get the juices flowing from the wine, from there it´s filtered in earthern jugs to ferment for 8 days (the young stuff) and 15 days for the other types of wine. At this point, the wine is wine, and to tranform into Pisco, it undergoes a process of heating and distillation, losing the color, and gaining it´s sharp high alcolhol content flavor. We sample a number of different types, wines and piscos. Pure pisco has a whisky taste to it, and the good stuff can be swilld straight up, smooth and strong. or mixed with sprite and lime to dull the potency of the lesser tasting stuff., or combined with .. something to make the popular pisco sour.  It was a great little bodega, and of couse I left with a bottle for $5, pisco puro.. we´ll see if it makes it home or not.

From Ica we catch a bus to Lima, 4 more hours, 2 more stupid movies. The ride is coasal desert, we munch on choclo along the way. I finish my book for real this time, steppenwolf, by herman hesse.. way different that his others, highly recommended if you can deal with characters cynical and curious about life´s comforts and challenges.

Lima we arrive in time for dinner to his house, about 40 min by bus from the center of town. It´s dusty and hot, as I remember Lima to be. My experience here, is possibly the exact opposite perspective of life in lima, compared to our last beachhouse romp with the educated upperclass limenos. This is the real deal, poor, grit, with a big heart. I meet the family little by little, brothers elvis and walter, and his mom. We eat some chicken (very very fresh) and rice and go to bed early. Tha t night I am plagued by stomach pains and nausea. His mom is convinced it´s because I´m in a new place, with lots of attention and questions thrown toward me, and the way to release this nervous energy is to crack my back... which they proceded to do at 1am when I still couldnt fall asleep. didnt´help, sadly.... strangely enough the last time  was on the coast in trujillo, the same thing happened, the first and only time. For this, I think it´s strongly related to a combination of the hear, water and food? that´s all I can come up with, bc like last time, after 2 days it passed, and I was back to normal.

Election day, Sunday. A big day for Peru. Everyone is out crowding the streets and the buses, going to vote, so as not to get penalized. purple stained thumb to prove youve done the deed. The fri and sat night before, there is a dry law in peru that you are not permitted to drink alcohol.. police patrol the popular bars to enforce this, and give out tickts if necessary... the hope is that clear headed people will make wise decisions, no? interesting rule. so sunday afternoon the house is full of brothers, sisters, aunts, nieces and nephews. One of Joeys sisters has 6 kids, all under the age of 11. practically a colegio. when asked why so many kids, she replies that she was getting shots, but they didnt work.. hmmmmm. pobracita.but basically its a perfect case study of uneducated, machismo driven irresponsibility..innocent at heart.

 I was like the messenger from the powerful planet, USA. The day and evening were full of exhausting, interesting and innocent questions about life in the states, most of which fueled by their desire to seperate or confirm what they see on TV from reality. Are there really houses made of wood? why do people have garages? why dont we take the mother´s last name, as well as the fathers (most latinos have at least 4 names, caring along both their mothers and fathers), do I work, or do my parents support me? can I cook? only child?!!! jew?!! what is that all about (not quite like that, but the only child, jewish traits are always sticklers for questions). do you have animals in the house, or do you buy them? are you going to marry my brother? have kids? say something in english, sing, speak, anything.... translyvania, like dracula? (this is actually very common, when I say im from pennsylvania)? does dracula really exist? the questions came from all angles, all ages ... it was invigorating and exhausting.

We took a break from election coverag to watch the movie crash, which I had purchased the day before in the blackmarket row of lima, $1, with subtitles and all.... interesting movie, most of which didnt really translate, but served as a springboard for interesting discussions.

soup, rice, chicken, soda.

4pm polls close, and first wave of results come in. SOmewhat predictably, Ollanta takes the lead at about 52% with alan and lourdes splitting the rest. Lima is Lourdes strong, while the northern business folks lean toward alan.. everyone else in the south and central campo strongly favored ollanta, the red socialist masked figure. by 10pm similiar results stood. . ... one week later, ollanta is in with a little more than 30% lourdes and alan are battling for second place. the top two contenders duke it out in round 2 in JUne. the president starts his term in July.

THE  next few days were spent relaxing, watching cable, taking the bus into town and cruising around central smoggy, but interesting lima. spent one afternoon in Barranco, the artsy intellectual neighborhood to the south of miraflores, outside of central lima, charming colonial buildings overlooking the beach, lots of cafes, parks, the town had a different feel, tranquil, like a calm brooklyn suburb of NY. We walked to miraflores, about an hour, and bused back by night time. I tasted Picarrones, a lima speciality, which is basically like funnelcake, made from sweet potatoes fried in donut shapes and served with clove flavored honey. oh my god! yum. I must say eating in lima is a good time. there is a lot of selection, and lots of good sweets..

tues was our last big day hauling around the city. we topped the evening off with a beer in Quierolo, an old corner bar in central lima, full of people seeming to have interesting conversations, young, and old. I´m sure its quite a sight after midnight, bc it´s def a drinking bar. reminded me of an old school north beach bar in SF. very lima, at its truest. from there we walked down political alley.. full of people on soapboxes ranting, arguing, and preaching to eager groups of young men. radical books and such were for sale along the street. women kept the energy high serving up meat, potatoes and empanadas. politcal themed graffiti remained the appropriate backdrop.

wed for  lunch I prepared a meal of vegetables, with a garlic, ginger, soy marinade.. it was a big hit. wed we took the 6pm bus direct to Cusco, scheduled to arrive at 3pm the next day, which it did, on the dot. It was a hell of a ride, little sleep, annoying chair that wouldnt stay reclined, though the full moon kept my attention focussed out the window. beautiful scenery, of course. 3 movies in a row thurs morning, a kidnapping movie starring denzel washington, tibetan bank heist thriller with segal, and an action climbing film set in the himalyans. when the moment finally arrived, and we winded down the ridge to cusco, i was very happy to be back ¨home.¨

Tags: Culture

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