What a country and what a rollercoaster of a week!!
The past 10 minutes describes my last few days perfectly. Just 10 minutes ago I was finishing a wonderful dinner with a young friendly israeli who I met at the restaurant. It was nice meal (nachos, quinua soup, pollo saltado, & coca tea) served by really friendly young cuzceños... walking out of there on a high, about to write about how perfect this wonderful city, Cuzco, is; I walked down the street, 2 guys offered me drugs, when I refused the second proceeded to beg for money, and then threatening to rob me when I didn't give him any. Luckily I was close to the corner and more people came around the corner. Then to top it off, this clever girl wanted to sell me finger puppets, and after politely refusing, she followed me, as they always do. She asked where I was from and then recited the past 10 presidents of the states (sadly I can't even do that). But again when I told her I wasn't interested, she swore me off in english and left.
Anyway to start from where I left off last time, after Lima I went down to the desert, to an oasis called Huacachina. It was a pretty little laguna, with a few hotels, restaurants, and palms, surrounded by towering sand dunes. It was here that I found out the solution to those who want to ski or snowboard but don't have snow. Sandboarding! I tried and failed pretty miserably but had fun. The highlight, besides just walking and riding around the beautiful dunes, was playing soccer and hanging out with a bunch of the local kids. Really friendly, and pretty good soccer players, they treated me with a lot of respect and we played for a couple of hours. Afterwards I bought them all sodas, and then with a few of them we climbed the mountains around the town, and I boarded and they ran down the hills. It was loads of fun.
That same afternoon I took a bus to Nazca, met my next, but not nearly my last, isreali companion here in Peru, Yaron. We arrived and found a agency where the local guy fluent hebrew. I was shocked, though little did I know, this is a pretty common occurance here. I'll get back to that. So we took a flight to check out the Nazca lines, which for those of you who don't know, are a group of geometric lines and huge animal drawings found in the middle of the desert. They were created by the indigenous populations as a map of sorts that helped lead them to scarce water sources, and I believe may have been trying to appease the gods as well... but i am sure someone will correct me. All in all it was a pretty strange but also very cool and so unique.
That night I decided to skip Arequipa and head right to Cuzco with Yaron. Unfortunately we had a terrible busride overnight stuck in the backseat, uncomfortable, next to a sick kid who couldn't keep anything in, while listening over and over all night to an album of a terrible Peruvian singer doing a type of Indian (as in the county in asia) music (I'm sorry, but it was really off key and just plain bad). Never again will I choose to save 7 bucks for the cheaper option.
Nonetheless we arrived safetly. Actually I was quite happy that I was awake for sunrise on the bus as we climbed through the Andes, through misty mountains, covered in colorful patches of terraced fields, with snow covered peaks in the distances, and rivers underneath us. Wow, what a sight.
I arrived exhausted and in a bit of a mood. But as soon as I saw the central square, all of the trip dissapeared from my thoughts. It is just exquisite during the day... and even better at night. We napped, and then set up a rafting trip for the next day, which was to be my birthday celebration. I was worried about the altitude and that I wouldn't be up for the rafting, but it turned out fine (a bit of a headache and a little tired, but otherwise I felt good). So rafting was fun, the river didn't quite have the waves that I hoped for, and I was kicked out of the front of the boat because I was off rhythm and a bit weak. But we had a good time, the land around was beautiful, and we tipped over on of the rapids, which was scary at first, but rather exhilerating as well.
That night we went out for a nice dinner. Speaking of dinner, I have to return to my Israeli immersion. Everyother restaurant has a menu in hebrew posted out the doors. Some don't even have english, just hebrew and spanish. Most serve hummus, many serve kababs, almost all serve shnitzle, which although it may be german in origins, has become an israeli staple.
And everywhere you look, you understand why these restaurants exist. These beautiful, super friendly, economic savvy (they won't settle for less than the best deals) people are everywhere. Like Americans in Cancun, or Germans on the beaches of Spain, South America and Peru in particular is the spot they hit. I feel like Hebrew is almost as important here as spanish. Funny.
This is getting pretty long, so I will finish up. Yesterday I had a terrible experience, which I am embarrassed and ashamed to talk about. We'll just say it has to do with all of the items that I have lost on my trip, my insurance, and a stolen bag that wasn't stolen.. the police here are pretty smart, thourough, and luckily very leniant.
The thing is if they hadn't found out, I wouldn't have felt guilty, because these items are covered by the insurance. But since they did, I realized that saying that an item was stolen in a country that they weren't at a place that they weren't hurts the country and the people. You would think that with all of the poverty that I have seen on this trip, the money wouldn't be important. I guess I still have some of work to do to the capitalist greed. Sorry to dissapoint all. I believe I have learned a valuable lesson and have had cloud of guilt hanging over my head since.
okay all... tomorrow I get some time to think about it all as I take busses and trains to see some ruins and head to the infamous Macchu Picchu. I am also feeling a bit better after really spending time talking with people on the streets.
There'll probably be one more, el ultimo, before I head back to take a much needed rest and recieve the comfort of friends and family in California.
talk to you and see you soon, take care
Ratucama (hasta luego en Quechua)
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