Friday, October 26, 2012


Well, I got real close to completing that post without error, but alas, nothing is perfect. I believe I was about to mention the amazing digs we reserved via a website I have tried to use before while traveling, but never worked out. Out room was in the open-air apartment of Gaby and Gawain, a beautiful and extremely quiet second floor apartment equipped with a roof clad in wicker and 360 views of the city and mountains. Not only was it cheaper than a hotel, it felt so homey that Ben and I found ourselves sleeping in, taking daily afternoon naps, and eating dinner on the rooftop. And now my hand is falling asleep, so I must retire for the evening. More on Puno in a few days!

Nasca, Arequipa, y Puno

This is something new for me. I am going to attempt to type a post via my iPod touch. Mostly stemming from my current laziness, I have decided to curl up on the deep foam mattress of our 'matimonial' bed at the Hostal Uros in Puno, Peru and see what comes of my fingers on this tiny keypad. As a fervent anti-supporter of a lot of modern technologies, there is something luxurious about being able to type with my pajamas on. After all, nearly every other blog post in my history had been from a shady international Internet cafe, where some I am either surrounded by teenagers on role playing games or creeps on porn sites (that being said, I've never actually seen anyone on a porn site, but in both Asia and Africa, the Internet cafes tended to consist of small, curtained cubicles...leaving intentions up to question).

We have continued on the aptly named 'Gringo Trail' into the heart of southern Peru this past week. It's not a trail as much as a path through Peru that all the white tourists seem to follow, as it covers the most ground and delves into all the famous sights. From Lima to Paracas to Nazca, which was a sweltering town (the town of the horrible sunburn, which only today has abated and is starting to peel) . Nazca was a desert oasis of little interest save for the famous Nazca lines, and a couple other Inca and pre-Inca leftovers. As the only way to see the famous lines is from the sky, we took an early morning flight on our second day. The flight itself was a tour-de-force in a 4 seat Cessna, total flight time being about 30 minutes, we banked circles around each of the 20 or so lines and characters. If you do the math, that equals about a minute a circle; remember to keep your eyes on the horizon, it keeps you partially sane.

A 500+ year old Inca cemetery was just outside of town, so we visited one afternoon with our friendly guide, and marveled at the fact that, though completely exposed to the elements, the 20-odd mummies in the area were almost completely the same as when they had been found, less some gold jewelry stolen by grave robbers. The air is so horridly dry in the area, that the mummies haven't changed a bit during their post-mortems! Fantastic, if you ask me. However, even more fascinating to me was our two consequent side trips. Usually I'm kind of against tour guides stringing you along to their friends' establishments post-tour, as it usually ends awkwardly with a lot if refusals to buy trinkets. Our guide, on the other hand, wanted to show us both the processes of gold mining in the area, and how traditional Inca pottery was made. Being into the arts and culture aspect of anything, I was all for it. The former gold miner turned out to be a hilarious old man who sang whilst demonstrating gold mining in miniature. He made Mr. Rogers land of make believe look like a side show. While he provided a good laugh, the woman who showed us how to make traditional pottery was just extremely sweet. Her studio, which appeared to be the entire backside if her house, reminded me of any other artists'studio, complete with a little old man in the corner painting a n Inca mask. The process was equally fascinating, as the colors are extracted from minerals, painted on the green ware, and then buffed to a shine with a polished stone. The piece is then fired, and the colors remain glossy.

Though Nazca had some cool aspects, as did Paracas and Lima, I didn't really love anything here until we got to Arequipa. It was in this city, glittering with buildings of volcanic stone, perched at about 7,000 ft, in the shadows of 5 volcanoes (only 3 are active!) that I thought, "Okay, this is awesome" for the first time. Sorry desert Peru, you are just too vast for my comprehension. I had no idea there was that much sand, and I've been to Africa. Arequipa was a lush oasis, where we strolled the streets by day, popping in and out of museums, and by night we cooked up delicious fresh foods purchased at the market. We were lucky enough to get a great room through 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Ceviche and Ancient Mummies

Remembering what a sunburn feels like is not the most comforting memory in the world. Though it brings back thoughts of beaches and vacations past, it also brings back the instensely horrible feeling of sunset chills (simultaneously freezing and scalding) and a reminder that you do have nerve endings on every square centimeter of your body. ¡Yo es idiota! I did, in fact, give myself the worst sunburn I have had in years today when I fell asleep in the sun, wearing only a bikini and staring into the shimmering pool-reflection of a crystal blue sky. However, to that I attest that 1) I was wearing only a bikini for the first time in over a year, 2) I was sitting by a pool, and 3) there was a crystal blue sky above. Take that, Alaska! Spending the summer freezing my butt off, wearing layers- LAYERS- of clothing every single day of this past "summer", and having the sun shine on my face a maximum of 8 days the entire 5-month period, I willingly accept the curse of my poolside choice. I guess I could have applied sunscreen. And not fallen asleep.

Our first week in Peru has consisted of eating accented by sleep, with a dash of touring. We started in Lima, where we spent a couple of days sleeping more than being awake. The past month (or more?) has been a rush of driving, organizing, seeing friends, and then- OH!- getting married. We were exhausted. I think I took 4 naps during our first two days in Peru. This, of course, was only aided by the fact that I over-ate, some of the first bites of deliciousness on our journey. Every single meal thus far in Peru has been delicious. My Spanish is improving from nothing to minimal, but I continue to randomly pick something off of each menu I am handed.

I have always determined that this is the best way to order in a country you are unfamiliar with, and in turn you learn a new word! I mean, the worst thing that could happen would be to get some ghastly organ on your plate, and even then, you would be none the wiser and eat it anyway! From chicken to seafood, ceviche to chupa, A-MAZ-ING. Perhaps my favorite dish thus far (besides ceviche which is simply the best way to enjoy fish or seafood, if you ask me) has been "chupa de langostinos". Neither Ben nor I had any idea what chupa was, so I went for it (or langostinos for that matter). It was not in our wholly Spain-Spanish language book. Well, it turns out that chupa is a soup involving everything you could possibly imagine. The one I received was a thick broth, perhaps a puree of sweet potato and spicy pepper (it was orangeish) and it´s contents were not limited to: shrimp/crawfish, mozzarella, peas, potatoes, 1/2 cob of white corn, carrots, egg (like in egg drop soup), and peppers. I am probably missing something here, but don´t ask me what. It was spicy, vegetably, and like moving to a different room at a discotec with every bite. At one point I remember saying something like, "I think I just got a piece of mozarella...wait, I think it was GOAT mozzarella!"

And so it has been with most meals, though offerings have changed quite a bit as we have traveled down the coast. We started in Lima and then bussed it down to Paracas, a small town on the coast where we toured the Islas Ballestas, a series of islands that produces something like 1 million tons of guano every year. Yes, there are some poor souls that go to this island twice yearly to "harvest" said guano for use as fertilizer. Talk about a dirty job, Dirty Jobs guy. Nonetheless, we were not allowed off the boat, and instead spent our time gawking at seals, penguins, seabirds and narrowly escaping "guano rain" (actually Ben was fortunate enough to not escape the rain...hehe). The town itself was rather small, so we roamed the streets and more in our spare time. It was here that I had my first Pisco Sour, the national beverage, which was to my taste buds a fantastic margarita. In fact, the drink is something like grape brandy, lime juice, sugar, and egg whites, but margarita with a foamy top it was to me!