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"You don't have to suffer to be a poet; adolescence is enough suffering for anyone." -- John Ciardi
|Episode 4: The Next Chapter in Peru|
@ Where`s Cherie?
Aug 05 2002 - 16:05 PST
|cherie writes: January 1999|
I am traveling through time, visiting ancient villages, historic ruins, and glimpsing into the life of cultures whose traditions have weathered the years of time.
I\'d like to say that Kristi is doing great but I have learned that she is a Petri dish for bacteria to grow in. Last doctor\'s visit she found out she had an amoeba and an infection. She has bumps, bites, scratches, and a giant pizza sized bruise on her leg from falling off a horse. Her last fight was against Altitude Sickness: she lost.
We have spent the last few days in Colca Canyon, a 10,000 ft deep and 60 mile long canyon: the deepest in the world. A quarter of the world\'s population of Condors live in the canyon. The scavenger birds are drawn their because the ancient people bury their dead in the sheer cliffs of the mountains. That is one of those facts that is interesting and gross at the same time. Only about 200 of the giant Condors *wing span up to 10 ft* exist in the world. I saw two, either that, or I saw one Condor, two times. I have the pictures to prove it--all sky with a tiny dark speck in the middle. But I know it is a Condor.
While infection and sickness have befriended Kristi, animals have befriended me. I became a model for amateur tourist photographers when an eagle decided its favorite resting place was my head. I have also received my first Peruvian kiss. It was from an Alpaca. The fluffy sheep-camel thing came right up and licked my face. I did not feel guilty about eating Alpaca until I saw how cute they were. But then Kristi told me she ate Monkey brains, and I felt a lot better.
Next we visited villages where my pictures may lead you to believe that I became ensconced in the culture of these traditional Indians. Don\'t be fooled--in the true spirit of capitalism, I paid them to take pictures with me. We did learn a lot about the rich history of these magical people. Here, the line between reality and myth is constantly blurred.
We have also visited the Fountain of Youth. It didn\'t work, I am still 27 years old and they wouldn\'t give me a refund. We also saw a place between two volcanoes where you go to stack rocks in a straight line and make a wish. There are thousands of rock stacks, each one looking like the blocks of Jenga the moment before the blocks topple over. As I closed my eyes to make a wish, someone pelted me with a snowball. Yes, I said snow. I never know what to expect next in this country. I need a word somewhere between \'wonder\' and \'frustration\' to describe this helpless feeling. Add to that the pleasure of when you finally ask a question, never being sure if you understood the Spanish answer correctly. I\'ll end this chapter with my most often spoken words:\'What did I just agree to?\' CHERIE
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