It’s amazing how quickly one adjusts to new surroundings. Only one month ago the sight of a child with gold teeth would have shocked me or the idea of paying $1.25 for a three-course meal with meat would have scared me, but that shit is old hat. I have mentally prepared to see a person get hit by a car and fully expect to see it by the time we are gone and have adjusted to most of the things that once were a bit shocking. Alpacas are a thing and sometimes cute, but I rarely pee my pants now when I see a real cute one. However, I will never, ever get over the sheer amount of stray dogs in Cusco. There are sincerely more stray dogs than you can possibly fathom and they rove in packs, picking fights with one another like the Jets and whatever the other gang was in “Westside Story.” One night they went so crazy that a fed-up citizen charged at the pack and threw a rock sending them all running for the hills sans one dumb dog who stood arfing his dumb little face off for a half hour. For the most part, they are friendly and cute, but they are also the filthiest creatures on the planet. One dog, who I saw every day on the way to school, rubbed his dirty ass on my leg which forced me to abandon Jean and find the nearest washroom to clean up.
We have taken to the peripatetic lifestyle like a stray dog takes to shitting in the middle of the street, but were more than happy to take a break and stay in one spot for nearly two-weeks and developed a more-or-less regimented lifestyle; we took Spanish classes, woke up at the same time every day, etc. etc. boring oh my god we gotta get out of Cusco or we are going to never leave because this place is great. Long story short, I have written this blog post two times and it has been deleted each time, so I kind of forgot what to say and just simply don’t want to format it all again, so, screw it— BULLET POINTS:
- I got an email letting me know that my Grandpa is now following this blog. I told Jean about this at dinner tonight and was urged to not change the tone since my voice is my voice and it is dirty. So, Grandpa: I’m kind of sorry this is how I talk, but I don’t trust people who don’t swear (at least a little). My mother-in-law even swears, sometimes (“shit-poop-damn”).
- There’s a silly amount of ruins scattered around Cusco. I read a quote today from a good author who said that he generally tries to skip writing about things that people are going to skip over, so I am going to skip describing places that people go out of their way to travel to and will just say that visiting ruins is, at worst, a workout and, at best, humbling.
- Our favorite ruin was just outside of Cusco and called “Saqsaywayman” but I think that we like it most because it is pronounced “Sexywoman” and it is fun to say. If you don’t enjoy saying that, then you need to lighten up.
- The food situation has improved remarkably or our standards have dropped. Of particular note are the churros filled with dulce-de-leche. Having finally gotten used to the altitude and have an appetite, I am up to my old tricks and snuck away from Jean one day and ate churros by myself in the park until I got a stomachache.
- Like Mark Twain with Halley’s comet, we arrived and left Peru at the beginning and end of their national team’s run to the World Cup. The team was vying for a berth and had to play Argentina, Colombia and finally two games against New Zealand. In total, we saw four games, three of which were ties. We viewed the penultimate game in the biggest plaza in Cusco and were treated to yet another tie. We watched the final game in the same square surrounded by at least 60,000 people and were treated to a 2-0 win*. Although I think soccer is the least interesting of sports, you would have to be one scroogey son of a bitch to not have fun in this hoopla.
- The asterisk above is a reference to the fact that the Peruvian military flew their jets over the Kiwi’s hotel at 3 AM and then finished them off with a firework show. Poor sportsmanship is never OK in my book but that doesn’t mean it isn’t funny.
- Spanish school was a treat. We made friends with the owner of the school, Jesus, a character in every way. He was prone to talking about “when he was young and beautiful” and had one of the best laughs I have ever heard. We spent a couple of evenings with him and his friend/student who he calls “Arsch Waschen.” I can now say my name in Spanish.
- Although I started this post by saying that it is easy to get used to things, we were unable to get used to what was undoubtedly the worst AirBnB in the history of the company. We were led to believe by the posting that it would be an inhabitable home, but quickly discovered that it was actually a torture chamber. Sincerely, the mattress was the same one that you find in a basement with a sex-slave chained to it complete with squeaky springs and probably blood stains but we wouldn’t know because it had brown sheets. The only thing about the house that seemed to make sense was the small gas oven with easy access to kill yourself since you’re so damn miserable.
- The “Sacred Valley” just outside of Cusco is unreal… more on that another day.
- Outside of a small town called “Maras” in the sacred valley are some salt pools which didn’t sound interesting but ended up being unforgettable. Anyone who lives in the town can have their own pool to tend to, but the newest owners get the shittiest location. I would guess there are 700 pools and it was a slog to get to the bottom and salt is heavy. Pictures probably don’t do it justice.
- We said goodbye to our Canadian friends who we have taken to calling “the girls” and will miss them. Traveling can be a lonely business and it was a real blessing to have them around from time-to-time.
Another baby is being born in Seattle right now and we’re looking forward to seeing him/her/it when we return. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and we will spend it on a bus traveling to the middle of Bolivia. I am painfully behind on these posts and still need to write about Machu Picchu (best experience of my life, so far) and Sucre.