Saturday, May 22, 1999

Greetings from Arequipa Peru!

When I last wrote, we had just crossed the border into Peru and were in a place called Trujillo.
It seams like we’ve been on the bus almost the whole time. After Trujillo, we went up into the Cordillera Blanca (Huarez) where we had planned to do some river rafting:
Well it was WAY TOO F-ing cold, so we opted to climb one of the local peaks instead. 17000 feet plus. SKINNY air. WAY Skinny air. Good thing the guide came equipped with Coca leaves or we would have likely passed out. For those of you who are curious, yes they are legal, and no they don’t get you high (any more than a cup of coffee does) and they look like bay leaves, but taste like shit.
After I trudged (SGK rented a horse) up to the snow line (some of the locals brought skis!!!) We then hiked to a cave in the Glacier - way cool.
The next day, we went to a town that had been destroyed in an earthquake, killing 25,000 inhabitants, sparing only 90 souls. You see, this town is right between the Cordillera Blanca and the Cordillera Negra, and the earthquake happened during a world cup soccer match, so every one was inside listening to the game. Well, it only took 3 minutes for a huge landslide to cross the 35 miles or so from one mountain range to the other, burying the town some 40 feet under mud, snow and rocks. 3 MINUTES! that’s just barely enough time to get up from in front of the TV, walk outside to see what
the noise is, then realize that you are DEAD. Wow. We met one of the survivors, and the passion with which he told the story would put an evangelical minister to shame.
That day for lunch I finally had Cuy – that’s right, I ate Guinea pig! It was actually very tasty, and I enjoyed it immensely. Pet lovers in San Francisco do not have anything to fear once I return though, as I didn’t find enough meat on the darn thing to make it worth eating.
After Huarez we took the night bus to Lima. What a nightmare of a bus! It was a new Pullman bus, but they had stuck way too many seats in it - My calves were too big to fit between my seat and the one in front of it! So I ended up sitting sideways. SGK also had difficulty - the man behind her kept kicking her seat until I had to threaten him with my superior size and louder voice and better Spanish. (the last bit mattered when the bus personnel wanted to know what the problem was) No sleep at all so we opted to skip Lima and just jump on the next 6 hour bus to Nasca.
Nasca - Home of the mysterious lines. When I was 12 years old, a friend of mine named Tom Chavez (who has since become a priest) brought to school a book called “Chariots of the Gods” which was a hair brained book by some drunk Norwegian who believed among other things that Space aliens had painted these huge geometric figures on the desert floor in southern Peru. Well, Ever since reading it, I have wanted to see these things. You can’t see them from the ground: not only are they just too big, but the color of the lines is virtually indistinguishable from the surrounding dirt unless you are directly overhead!! AMAZING!
These things are really cool. The flight over the desert in a Cessna 152 made SGK a wee bit sick to her stomach (The people at the hotel: knowing that this was our honeymoon, kept asking if the sour stomach was because she was newly pregnant!(which she’s not) So, while SGK slept, I headed out into the desert with Fiona, (Our Scottish friend who had been following us ever since we met her in Ecuador)to a Nazcan graveyard. Morbid! The Desert floor is covered with 1000 year old textiles, hair and bones from these mummies that have been sitting here from ever since the lines were
drawn. Creepy.
After Nasca, we headed to Ariquipa on yet another night bus, where I GOT ROBBED AGAIN!!!!! You see, this bus "got a flat" and stopped for about 45 minutes, ostensibly to change the tire, but in reality so that the bus driver could go through the gringo’s bags: he didn’t get away with much: only $25 cash and $60 in travelers cheques, my Amex card (I just reported it(, and some souvenirs (the smallest denomination bill from each country, value about $10 (But it still sucks).
Tomorrow we are heading out to see the Condors in the Canyon de something or other, then an overnight train ride to Cusco.

Cheers for now!

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