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"Earth's crammed with heaven." -- Elizabeth Barrett Browning
|Episode 6: El Pared Calle Periodico (The Wall Street Journal)|
@ Where`s Cherie?
Aug 05 2002 - 16:07 PST
|cherie writes: February 1999|
Where we are:South America--the land where everything is the oldest, highest, longest, deepest, strangest, or somethingest in the world. I just left Cusco, Peru, a charming city of red-tiled roofs tucked between rolling green hills. It is the OLDEST continuously inhabited city on the planet, and its streets are still lined with Inca built walls. (Translation for American travelers: Inca built walls = no heat.) Tourists world wide are drawn here seeking the spiritual energy of Machu Picchu.
Either that, or they come here for the free movies everyday at 5:00pm. A few days ago a storm tore up the tracks of the only train to the ¨the lost city of the Inca´s¨. We had resigned ourselves to walking there, when after much persistence, we landed ourselves on a Russian Spy Helicopter which condensed a 4 day rainy hike into a 20 minute thrill ride. We hovered over the huge mountain peaks, they sat in powerful silence, like a giant green family of Jabba The Huts. Then it seemed as if Salvador Dahli came to paint surreal rainbows across the sky connecting the twisting river below to its neighboring mountains. Amidst this majesty lies Machu Picchu, in unexplainable proud and solemn grandeur. It is a phenomena of architectural genius that has weathered the devastating earthquakes that have demolished the modern buildings of nearby cities.
What´s it like here in Peru:Our blonde hair and fair skin has made us famous here. The children stare, the taxi drivers have memorized our hotel, and the native people ask us to model for their pictures more often than I ask them to pose for me. As I write I have still not gotten used to the food, but I did find an alternative to drinking milk out os a can. Its milk in a box, and its called ¨Drinky Milky¨ and even to this moment it is hard to write ¨Drinky Milky¨ with out laughing. Each kernel of corn here is as big as a grape, while the apples are as small as plumbs. I am also a pro at ordering fish ¨sin cabeza, por favor¨, or ¨without the head, please¨. The spices here are hotter than anything I have ever tasted, with colors you´d swear were chemically-produced Easter Egg dyes. Pinks, Blues, Purples, as if the chefs were like artists, painting the flavor onto their food. Yesterday Kristi liberally sprinkled a red pepper called Ricotto on her pasta. In a moment her face flushed, eyes watered, she bounced around and she opened her mouth and fanned in air--she looked like a child imitating an Indian. With the same passion she drowned her plate with the peppers, she feverishly took them off, inspecting each piece like a biologist for any trace of the demonic vegetable.
Stories from Hell:Speaking of things that are hot, I have realized that hell has many different levels, and once you think you have reached the bottom, someone one up´s you with their own horror story. Kristi and I retold our bus story of crying baby and stinky snory man when our friend informed us that on his last bus ride his seat companion peed on him. He had to stand the remaining 5 hours soaked in someone else´s pee. His story wins.Included with the magic of this land is some gross stuff. Yesterday I saw a dead man. He was dead on the sidewalk. People walked by him with a shrug of indifference, as if he were discarded trash. The only respect he was afforded was not to step on him. We told the police, and a few hours later the only improvement was that someone had covered him with a blanket of cardboard boxes--his hands and feet sprawled out, like a turtles limbs unprotected by its shell. It has really disturbed me, and I cannot stop thinking about him.On a similarly happy note, on two separate occasions people have tried to pick-pocket Kristi. Though unsuccessful, later Kristi managed to inadvertently forget on a cab the very same purse she so adamantly guarded. Later she innocently inquired if there were a ¨Lost and Found¨ in the city, I thought she could find one next to the valet, and the coat check.You name it it is legal here. The other day were offered tea that ¨reduces fatigue and decreases appetite¨. That would be tea made from Coca Leaves. That along with speeding, gambling, digging up dead people and putting them in your home...the list goes on.
We had to amend out itinerary yet again to include Uruguay after meeting the professional soccer team who was traveling in Peru for a match. As they began to regale us with stories of their homeland, we began scratching out previously scheduled towns and places. Atop the crossed out destinations--which were abandoned before we even arrived-- we wrote one word URUGUAY... Who knew?Stay tuned, the next edition will be The Bolivian Times.Love, Cherie
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