Thursday, September 15, 2011

I have sand in my Colca Canyon...

Since we last spoke I have left Lima and am now in Cusco, where every day is Saturday! Leaving Lima was hard because Christian and Kelly are such phenomenal hosts. If anyone is ever going to stay in Lima don’t hesitate to stay at their place, I HIGHLY recommend it! My time in Lima I spent exploring the city, I did some photography for a bar, some photography for a graffiti artist and a lot of drinking and dancing. On that note, I am terrible at the salsa. But a word to all Latin men: saying, “just follow me” while trying to get me to salsa means NOTHING to a person who has only ever had salsa with chips.. Another note to all Latin men: saying, “I love you I love you! I’m so in love with you!” and then barfing all over the ground in front of you will NOT make me sleep with you.

I took a bus on to a city called Ica and a taxi to a smaller town called Huacachina which is a tiny oasis surrounded by massive sand dunes. At about midnight and after a few pisco sours with the front desk guy we scrambled up some sand dunes to a place where we could overlook the entire city under a full moon. After more pisco we scrambled/slid/fell back down. As he said, I now have sand in my Colca Canyon…
The next day I went sandboarding and dune buggying. Sandboarding was sick and I only thought I was going to die twice. We went down some HUGE sand dunes. Wow. Dune Buggying was a different story, I saw my life flash before my eyes every few minutes. It was a 12 person buggy that he was taking full speed off dunes that, I swear to God, HAD to be vertical drops. Ok, I admit, I screamed more than once; and therefore, I also got sand in my teeth…. And my ears, and my nose…I think it would actually be harder to find a place where I didn’t get sand.

You know you’re in Cusco when the cars don’t have enough oxygen to start and neither do you. And maybe your lips turn a bit purple. But at least it’s beautiful. Oh Cusco, you are quaint but the bus ride to get me to you was anything but. We took off at 7:30pm and it wasn’t 10 minutes into the ride that I realized the death trap I was belted into. The thing about it was the bus itself was fabulous, it was a double decker and I had front row seats to the 16 hour shit show that was about to happen before my eyes. In the upper-deck-front-row-seat you’ve got nothing but a floor to ceiling picture window 2 feet in front of you. My first thought was “OOOOOOH HELL YES!” 20 minutes later, I realized I didn’t want to know what it would take to get us to Cusco. It was 16 hours of hair pin curves, and not just a couple. It was turn after turn after turn…after turn, at lightning speed….in the left hand lane. In the LEFT HAND LANE. Every fuckin time in the left lane. I realize that in a 2 story, 50 foot hazardous tin can you have to make some sacrifices, maybe safety around tight turns is one of them. I kept telling myself, “Oh Lindsay, this is PERFECTLY normal for buses to do this! Don’t worry!” That was until the Peruvian guy next to me started stomping his feet at an impressive pace with a noteworthy strength yelling (in spanish), “YOURE FUCKING CRAZY. WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!?!” It was at this moment that I popped a couple Dramamine and out I went. My favorite part was that they had a digital display of his speed on a monitor at the front of the bus and a “this bus can only reach 90kmh” sign on the back. Ha. Ha. Ha.

So I obviously survived the bus ride, one of many to come I am sure. And now I am in Cusco and it’s kind of hard to breath, every once in a while I get the feeling that I’m going to puke. On the bright side, I constantly feel like I’m running a marathon which makes me feel kind of accomplished.

I got in another fight with a taxi driver tonight. Can fighting in Spanish be a favorite pastime? it always sounds so heated and it makes me laugh on the inside. Fuckin guy says 5 soles, I get in the car and he says 7! Oh no. no no no. that’s not how this works. In retrospect I think he may have had some….problems. Every time we stopped at a light he would get really close to his steering wheel, studying the little stickers he had put there. He asked me if I was going to do some site seeing and then pointed to a GIANT plastic eagle he had hanging from his rear view mirror. He turned around and said “we have eagles here” with a big toothy grin, then he pointed to a furry lion on his dash and with the same toothy grin just said, “lioonnnnn.” Oh god. He ended up taking me to the wrong hostel, but no matter how many times I pointed at the life-size cardboard cutouts of half naked women and said “I'm not going to stay here and THAT’S NOT THE NAME OF THE HOSTEL” he insisted I go in and ask if it was the right one. It wasn’t. I’m not trying to pay by the hour. When we finally did get to the right hostel I asked how much for him to wait a second and then take me back to the same place he picked me up, he almost tripled the price so I laughed and said no. he yelled after me, “don’t worry! It’ll be easy to find a taxi back! Don’t pay more than 4 soles!” dick.

More photos to come, in the meantime I will leave you with a photo of a REALLY ugly Peruvian dog...

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Ok I’ve been avoiding this, but I said I'd do it so here it goes:

August 31 2011

Oh God Lima is a piece of work. This place is fucking nuts, every section of every building is different than the one next to it, that may sound stupid but its really crazy looking. There are people everywhere and the driving is nothing less than psychotic. I mean, I’ve seen big city driving, I’ve driven in big cities…But. I am telling you – do NOT under estimate the power of a Peruvian driver. I have NEVER seen driving like this. In my first day out here I saw a bus full of people (think sardines in a can but with more sardines and a smaller can) that just crashed into a minivan and nobody batted an eye. Stop lights seem to be based solely on suggestion and the constant abuse of your car’s horn is entirely mandatory.

I got my moment of paralyzing anxiety out of the way within the first few hours of being here. I have never felt that alone before. Literally having just lain down to sleep off that awful excuse for a flight I realized where I was and what the FUCK I had just gotten myself into. I don’t know a SOUL in this ENTIRE country, God that’s intimidating. In that moment of panic my logical side knows I’m in this 100% and I’m going to stick it out even though I’m about to shit my pants, but the only thing I could think was “ WHAT the FUCK are you doing here!? You’ve got to get the FUCK OUT OF HERE! ohshitohitohshitohOHSHITshitohshitOHSHITohshitohshitohshit. I need water.” Long story short I go get water and I finally meet Kelly, who owns the house, and instantly felt at home. Both she and her boyfriend Christian treat me like they’ve known me for years. We drove around all of Wednesday and I got to see a lot of different areas of Lima. We ended the day buying a dryer and eating cake with Christian’s mom and family…I love cake.

It’s harder than I thought it would be to use my camera in the city, and for good reason. Let’s face facts here: I’m a gringa. I’m a gringa all by herself in the big city with a big camera, I basically have a huge target on my back; And no matter how many times I tell the police officer with a gold tooth that I am NOT lost and I am NOT alone and my friend is definitely somewhere around here, I still look lost and alone with a big camera. Great. I am NOT lost I am HAGGELING a deal with a stubborn TAXI DRIVER! Ok I’m getting off track, that taxi driver was ridiculous. 20 soles for a 12 sole ride at best. I may be a gringa but I am not a stupid gringa.

September 3 2011

Ok I love it here. There’s always something to do in a big city, and I’m finding more positive things about being a gringa. For instance, two nights ago after eating all you can eat sushi (oh my god.) the bartender lets me come behind the bar and make my own drink, something EXTREMELY peruvian (maybe a Peruvianismo?) that has pisco and raw eggs in it. I bit my tongue and didn’t tell the bartender that it wasn’t sanitary or safe to eat raw eggs (be proud. Very proud), I just poured them into my drink like a champ. Like a CHAMP.

The next morning I ate the biggest fucking pile of ceviche I’ve ever seen (ok I’ve never seen ceviche before but I’ve also never eaten such a massive pile of raw fish). Apparently that and a beer is the national hangover cure….because what more could you want than a pile of raw fish when you feel like youre going to fucking toss your cookies? (note: it totally works).

The beauty of taxis: I walk and walk and walk and walk and it doesn’t matter if I have no fucking idea where I am (short of knowing not to cross “the bridge” because if I cross “the bridge” I’m in “big trouble”.) in a city of 10 million people, I hail a cab and I’m on the right track again. Getting lost while still avoiding awful ghettos: check.

Taught a taxi driver how to use the manual setting of his camera. In Spanish. Like a CHAMP. Oh God, ok I’m going to stop saying that now forever.