20141222

We walked together down the path

When I was too young to know that smoking was dangerous, condoms existed, and guns killed people, my father and I were walking through the woods. We were on a camping trip, and, as was his custom when camping, he had some chewing tobacco tucked into his cheek, spitting every now and then onto the path we walked.

He called chewing tobacco chaw, and on this particular walk, I asked him if I could have some. If I could try some chaw. He said to me, he said sure, he said, just don't swallow it. And he gave me a couple of sticky leaves from the pouch. I wanted more, but I didn't ask, figuring I could always sneak more later if I wanted.

I put it in my mouth and started to chew. My father, he says, "don't chew, just stuff it into your cheek and let it sit there. Just keep it there and spit the saliva out every once in a while. Do not swallow the saliva."

Prior to this, all I knew about chewing tobacco I learnt from Big League Chew chewing gum. Grape flavoured gum that came in a pouch that looked like a chewing tobacco pouch and had an image of a baseball player on it.

We walked together down the path, the two of us spitting every now and again, and the headache formed. The dizziness started. And when we walked out from under the forest canopy into the sunlight, the sweat streamed from my scalp and I threw up the eggs I had had for breakfast that morning.

I did not sneak any chaw later.

20140904

Thursday

When I dropped my third class to put me at two, I also switched my Wednesday schedule to Thursday. Same class. Same teacher. Same time slot. Just spacing out my week to maximize my time between courses.

Walking in from the east hall, I see, coming from the west hall, Audray.

How odd. She only has classes on Tuesday and Wednesday. Why is she here today?

She informs me that she only has classes on Wednesday and Thursday.

"Do we sit next to each other?"

"I think it would be weird if we didn't."

20140901

After

Perú was foreseen two years ago when Audray and I left Bolivia. We said we would continue along suramérica together.

She was not with me in Perú.

Instead, I travelled alone.

Having now come back I know that travelling alone means having no one who draws the same connections as you between places. No one to share their point of view. To help you see things differently. No one to talk to about everything during. After. No one to verify that it really happened. No one to make sure you never forget.

The lines at Nazca, sandboarding, the kids who wanted a picture with me at Machu Picchu, the chess set I didn't buy, the Jack Layton quote, campaign posters, the god of futból, the rainbow flag, bungee jumping, street sweepers in Nazca, lomo saltado, how rice and potatoes are served with casi every meal, how everyone got hot showers in Cusco except me, hostile hostel sex, the aqueducts of Nazca, Cañon del Colca, el monasterio, Ollantaytambo,Scooby snacks, never seeing las salinas, the overnight ride from Cuzco to Nazca, tipping, that awesome big green sour cactus fruit, how the women sold me my Real Garcilaso t-shi

20140828

Machu Picchu

In Machu Picchu, acts of desecration are forbidden. It is considered to have been a sacred place to the Incans, and thus, a sacred place to the modern people of Perú.

To visit this place, I paid four hundred and fifty soles in train tickets, sixty soles for bus tickets, and a hundred and forty soles in order to get in the gates. In total, six hundred and fifty soles. The average Peruano earns one thousand five hundred soles per month.

The UN estimates that Machu Picchu can sustain up to five hundred visitors a day. The Peruano government has agreed to limit access to two thousand five hundred people a day. Two thousand five hundred tickets to Machu Picchu.

However, they also sell four hundred tickets to Machu Picchu mountain and four hundred to Huanu Picchu mountain. Both tickets also include the right to visit Machu Picchu.

Finally, if you purchase your train tickets before your ticket to Machu Picchu, the Oficina de la Cultura will sell you a ticket for a later date, stamp the ticket, and then scratch it out, writing in a date to match the one on your train ticket.

A local conservationist, he estimated to me that there are approximately five thousand visitors a day during high season. Ten times as many people as Machu Picchu can support without risking its future.

Originally, I wrote a humorous piece about how to get some alone time with Machu Picchu when it attracts more visitors every day than Disney World. How to take pictures without hordes of picture snapping tourists in each one of them.

But, I suppose, one desecration from me is enough.

20140827

Cuzco

Perú is not Bolivia. Cuzco is not La Paz.

Someone I travelled with in Perú, we held a conversation about places that really affected us. That even though they aren't where we live, we feel a connection to them. This because of my reaction to hearing the news that Valpairiso partially burnt down.

My reaction being that I said I was devastated. I was devastated because a place I saw once, that I may never see again, that, for me, exists as a memory, changed in a negative fashion. For me, my memory was affected, and I felt devastated. Meanwhile, people who actually live there, well, many of them lost their homes. And I was devastated.

When I arrived in Cusco, I felt comfortable. At first glance, it looked like La Paz, Bolivia. But then, where is all the street food? Why is it so expensive? Why am I being hounded by young women offering massages? Why are there so many tourists around? Where is the api?

Yes, it's Andean. Yes, they can speak Quechua in the region. Yes, even the souvenirs are pretty much the same thing. But, I am not in La Paz.

Here, I can eat cuy. Drink chicha morada. Get a masaje for veinte soles. There's a parrillada up the calle from la plaza de armas with great anticuchos. And, let us not forget, one of the wonders of the world located a train ride away.

My last night there, I finally took a picture of the beautiful night skyline, when the casas running up the mountainside are illuminated.

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Photographic evidence of Cuzco is located on facebook in the album entitled Cuzco.