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Peru Diaries, Part I

I love to travel. Being in a place I've never been and having the pleasure of not knowing what's around the next corner or over the next hill is one of the great thrills in life. Right now it doesn't look like there's much travel for me in the near future so I'm forced to live vicariously through this blog's Latin American correspondent. He sends this (mostly) unedited report from Peru:

The best way to get a good first impression of any Latin American city is to ignore the airport taxi ripoff mafia and walk down to the highway and flag down any old rickshack. Nothing starts the day off right like haphazardly grabbing a taxi that doesn't rob you blind, besides I would't have been able to meet Julio otherwise. Well Julio isn't his real name, he's an indian from Peru´s Amazonian basin and I can't pronounce his other name so we called him Julio. Don Julio took me from the Lima airport to my hotel for 25 sols...less than a fifth of his starting price of 30 USD, I gotta say I'm getting good at haggling. Basicaly when the first offer comes out you spit your coke out of your mouth in a loud spiifffff, sending a brown sugar water mist into the air -- this shows you mean business. Then you slap the guy on the back, grin, offer him a tenth of his offer and quickly jump in the car, eventualy you land somewhere in the middle. Julio gave me a crash course on Peru. The economy is chugging along, but the president's popularity rating sucks because the rich seem to be getting richer and the poor are getting poorer and the middle class...well there really isn't a middle class. Julio then said he was bored of working and took a detour to the beach where we sat drinking 7UP and watched the surfers glide back to shore. You can't get stressed in Latam, if the taxi wants a rest, well you just have to go along with the plan.

Peru is split up into three regions: the coastline, the Andes and the amazonian basin. The mountains are home to some of the tallest peaks in South American and definately some of the most spectacular. I plan to on Monday go and check out some of the snowcapped peaks, though prolly won't climb them. Seems my climbing days are far behind me. This seems like a good enough moment to announce that I'm taking golf lessons now. I know I know, don't rub it in. Golf is a bit like climbing though, only without the mountains and the without the danger and without the excitment. Otherwise they are basically the same.

Back to Lima, which is pegadito (stuck) on the coast and that's good news for surfers and pigs. I mean surfers and sea-food lovers. I started off with octopus in a sauce of its own ink, olives and avacado, then had the best cebiche on this earth, where about six different fish lazily swam in a lemon juice soup that flowed right into my mouth, that was followed by a tucu tucu seafood mix and finally shrimp on rice, which was all washed down with mashed, boiled and chilled red corn juice. MMMMM!

About 2 blocks from my lousy hotel, which has a toilet six doors down from my room to the left and the sink six doors down to the right, I stopped at a park to stare at the ocean a while. Anyone who has ever ben to Latin America knows that you don't make out with your girlfriend at home. Nope, the place to get down and swap spit is the country's public parks. Lima is no exception. In fact there is a big park near my hotel called LOVERS SQUARE. It's a patch of grass on the top of a giant cliff that looks down over the ocean and the surfers. City councelors thought it was necessary to instruct the kids on what they should do in the park and built a HUGE sculpture of this guy making out with a girl in the grass. The kids took note. I had to steep over about six couples just to get to take a photo of the beach. Ahhh romance... I leave Lima on Monday and will head up into the Andes to Cusco (the actual spelling of it is QosQo) and then up to Machu Pichu.


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I recognize that photo. Very kewl indeed. I'm in what has to be one of the most remote towns in Peru, it's about 1500 kilometers from Lima, 2 plane rides away and then 500 kilometers up and over the altiplano and down into the Colca Canyon. This canyon is home to Andean Condors, well I'm told only three were seen today because of the snow. It is perhap the deepest canyon in the world some 3-4 kilometers deep, though some people say another canyon nearby is deeper, could be. Anyway, off to the condors tomorrow. Un abrazo.

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