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I recently posted about moving to Dreamhost for my longer blogging. At the same time, I have to be honest and say that a lot of my current "community" interaction occurs on Facebook and Twitter, if only because that's the easiest to update when you're a parent reading microblogs on an iPhone while you breastfeed a toddler in the dark. Go figure.

I'm very aware that I haven't been updating any of my blogs (Gluten Savvy, Modern Mama, Rosanne's Lounge, this journal) in part due to time, in part due to mechanism (the iPhone text input is unwieldy for long form; the iPad blogging tools I've found so far are counter-intuitive and difficult). There's another issue: I've been loading my video onto vimeo and my photos onto Facebook, rather than into my own space where I'd ideally like them. Why? Again, it's interface. Vimeo embeds with a click. My own video doesn't. The Facebook Exporter for iPhoto automatically resizing my images and gives me a tagging mechanism, instead of requiring me to export all those images to the correct size, then upload and place, then tag.

And then there's connection. My own blogs have lagged to some extent where Facebook and Dreamhost have succeeded because of interaction and commentary. There is a community here, a following, an audience that has, if not expectations of me, then at least appreciation. I am very challenged by the privacy implications of most of these services and always have been. Even when I was just on LJ, I hosted the images myself and embedded them from my own server. 

I also like the degree of control Dreamhost/LJ and Facebook give me in terms of reader access. WordPress blogs (which is the platform for my other blogs) have privacy plugins which I use to password protect some posts, but I haven't really had the opportunity to experiment with setting read privileges by group because I don't have the audience — and because while people are automatically members of Dreamhost/LJ/Facebook/Twitter, they are less likely to subscribe to a standalone journal in order to read protected entries unless they are very close friends with a high motivation or your content is extremely desirable — as all the large media organisations have discovered. And I still want to protect at least some of my content, due to stalkers, my daughter's privacy, or boring stuff like bitching about my life to which only my nearest and dearest should be subjected. 

I'm really waiting for Diaspora, to be honest, but it's not here yet.

So, having said all that... you can read how the trip went elsewhere; the photos are on Facebook; the videos are on Vimeo; and I'm working on writing up the restaurant reviews for Gluten Savvy and the Modern Mama post about Harper's hearing...

The question I have for you all is this: what is your current blogging/microblogging balance and what are your key concerns about it? 
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Doug visited the Australian embassy in Auckland today and they placed a peach-coloured sticker in his passport which will be "activated" as a visa when he re-enters the country next Tuesday. Yay!

Now that he's got all the official stuff out of the way, he's off to the Great Barrier Island for five days, starting very early tomorrow. I am ridiculously envious. It looks stunning! I am sure there will be photos...
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Back in Cupertino... We just did 26 states in 30 days and it was just a tad insane.

I guess I was overcome by election fever in Austin. The next day in Austin was great, late morning cuddling listening to the rain fall on the roof, dragging ourselves out around 1ish for breakfast and getting a callback from Sandy Stone saying she'd love to meet up for coffee or something, so we all head to a place called Omelettry for fabulous omelettes, superb conversation and catch-ups.

From there, we planned to drive to Santa Fe, but a freak snowstorm halfway up I-10 put us behind schedule, so we decided to head straight for Palm Springs instead. A quick check of the map and we saw that Tombstone was only a few miles off the road. We stopped there for a cool but bizarre afternoon filled with whiskey at Big Nose Kate's Saloon and re-enactors in the street.

Stopped in Phoenix, Arizona to have a meal with another friend of Doug's. Finally made it to Palm Springs (there's a lot of empty in the middle of this country). Met Doug's ex-bf, Randy, who is absolutely fabulous, had the most amazing dinner at a Thai restaurant, talked about Randy's current projects (I will be writing some great articles soon), watched his hummingbirds. Next morning I interviewed Randy officially on tape and then we headed out to a great Jewish deli for delicious latkes and sandwiches.

Reluctantly dragged ourselves away from his delightful company. Headed for Fresno to see Doug's daughter and then back to Doug's sister's place.

So. Glad. To. Be. Done.

We had an incredible, incredible time but we're both pleased to be stable for a little. Now there's a whole lot of organization and then we're on a plane next Friday heading for Melbourne.
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Our second and final day in N'awlins was divine. Breakfast at the Camellia Grill in South Carrollton with far too much butter in the omelette (I could feel the weight piling on) followed by a driving tour of the Garden District, a trolley ride into the French Quarter and a meander around Jackson Square and Decatur Street. We had café au lait and juice at the Café du Monde, jambalaya and red beans and rice for lunch, walked more around the Quarter looking at the old lacework, stumbled upon an absinthe bar down Pirate's Alley, talked to old men painting walls, and then as the sun set, headed to Frenchmen Street to find Snug Harbor, where we knew the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra Jam was playing.

I ordered Chartreuse while Doug tried out a new rum and we enjoyed blackened catfish for dinner and then one of the best, sharpest, wildest live jazz performances I've seen, all of us calling out, "oh yeah!" during solos and the clarinet sang sweet, deep sugar while the cornet wailed and the saxophone laughed at them both. The big guy playing the double bass burbled to himself as he plucked those strings, bee doop and bing, baby. And we clapped along, joy in our hearts and all the troubles in the world forgotten. When they played slow, it was a swelling wave of love.

We went down the road to DBA to see blues legend Walter "Wolfman" Washington after that, but it was too loud and not right, so we poured ourselves into a cab and home to our couchsurfing couch near Napoleon and St Charles, slept like babies and woke up early-ish to drive to Austin for Thanksgiving.
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Arrived in New Orleans and wandered around the Vieux Carré. Resisted the impulse to revert to Anne Rice and Poppy Z Brite fangirl worship (but did go to Bourbon St for Lost Souls' sake). Ate oysters there. It's an awful strip of strip clubs now.

The rest of the quarter is gorgeous: old terraces and iron work. Razor wire strung with mardi gras beads is the only odd note, an indication of the poverty here and the crime rate.

Doug went to bed early, having slept badly last night but I wanted my New Orleans experience, so, after dinner at Kyoto near where we're couchsurfing (and one of the restaurants recommended by PZB), I went out to see John Rankin play at a nearby hotel. While I was there, I got chatting to someone at my table who said that if I was only here two nights, I had to go see the Rebirth Brass Band at the Maple Leaf because they were the coolest band in town right now.

Sho' nuff. I went there and they are awesome. They are Ozomatli quality and energy with an extra dose of soul and jazz and minus the hip-hop. No time for a proper review, sorry.

Tomorrow, jumbalaya and gumbo and other delights.
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The last days in New York were overcast then rainy, but we walked the Brooklyn Bridge and I spent a bunch of time in MOMA and the Met. I didn't make it to the Guggenheim because it was closed on Thursday when I tried.

Still, the Georgia O'Keeffes at the Met were divine, especially her Black Iris which 'makes vision drunk', I loved Yves Tanguy's future cities and bodyscapes and landscapes, good old Cy Twombly whose soft canvases always make me smile, Georges Braque, the Still Life with a pair of Banderillas right next to Picasso's Still Life with a bottle of Rum, both 1911 and both the same palette. And some new names: John Cedarquist's clever Little Wave sculpture, a trompe l'oeuil take on marketing and the overused Japanese wave and Joseph Cornell's shadow boxes, especially Untitled (pharmacy) -- little glass bottles filled with sand and shells and other mementos, something I think I might do with the glass bottles we have from Doug's mother's estate. And Calder mobiles hanging gently in the stillness of the gallery.

MOMA had an exhibition celebrating 50 years of Helvetica, which was fantastic. Yes, I'm a typography geek. Deal with it.

And I voted at the Australian Consulate, an odd experience, these familiar cardboard voting booths in the middle of New York. But I've played my part now, dutifully numbered 1-68 below the line for the Senate and 1-8 in my seat for the Lower House. For those voting back home on Saturday, let's get Lying Johnny out. And check the AEC's site for preference flows. Let's give the Greens the balance of power in the Upper House and make the major parties do something meaningful for the people for a change.

I have a new (or perhaps the same old) interlocutor arguing for "Anglocentric exceptionalism". I've spent a bit of today in the car thinking about the various ways in which I disagree with this person but I think I'm too tired to write a full reply just now. I certainly know I disagree that believing in human rights necessarily means I reject Derrida and Foucault. Baudrillard, maybe. The other two, not so much.
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One thing about New York that is instantly evident in comparison to the mid-western towns we've been passing through is the quality of the food, although we did have one excellent example of unusually good road food in a little town called Le Claire on the Iowa side of the Mississippi. That was still effectively New York food, though, as the chef was a New Yorker who had, like us, stopped in Le Claire and seen that it was a lovely little town. He decided to stay and build a restaurant called Faithful Pilot, though, with superb duck (usually with blackberry pepper sauce but served with peach sauce for me because of the gluten issue), amazing mushroom spring rolls with soy ginger reduction, according to Doug, and delicious flourless chocolate cake.

In New York itself, we've had a great dinner with my cousins, Vanessa and David and David's partner Rachel at Thai Market on Amsterdam near 107th Street, where the fish was incredible (caramelized tamarind sauce with sweet chilli), the crab fried rice was just right and the tapioca pearls with coconut milk were delicate and subtle. The conversation there was also great, catching up with my cousins I haven't seen for more than a year, hearing about their adventures in the New York film industry -- Vanessa's been working with starlets on Japanese television commercials and is in charge of shutting down highways for helicopter shots for another one soon, David is in the process of finding satellite Internet for an entire newsroom that will be camped out in some warehouse somewhere for a special event. We gave them the presents we bought in Peru and they were well received. David and Rachel are also Burners so there was some talk about Paul Addis and various other burner things, and discussions of good vodka bars.

Then yesterday, Doug and I had breakfast at Café Mogador down the road from where we're staying with Matt in the East Village. Moroccan poached eggs with a spicy tomato sauce and fried potatoes done perfectly. Another spiced dipping sauce for Doug's pita bread; I just put it on my eggs. Matched perfectly with sweet Moroccan mint tea.

And for dinner, I asked Matt to find the gluten-free pizza place I'd heard about. It's called Risotteria and it's on Bleecker near 7th Ave. It was unbelievably good. The gluten-free breadsticks were soft and fluffy and you wouldn't know they weren't regular bread. The pizzas we had were roasted garlic prawns and gruyère and the second was mozzarella, portobello mushrooms and truffle oil. The crust was a little thin but held together and the toppings were superb. The lemon cheesecake and chocolate brownie were also great. We forgot to buy the packet mixes they sell so I guess we'll just have to go back (chocolate cupcake mix!).
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In a parallel world, where I was still with [personal profile] hawk_eye, or if I were a world traveler like [personal profile] merovingian, I would have more details for you of the self who split off from me as we made the decision to go down I-90 to Rapid City instead of 385 to Deadwood on our way to Mount Rushmore as the light faded.

That alternative self would have seen a town where little has changed since the 1880s, streets lined with saloons, a town where Wild Bill Hickok was shot in the back of the head playing poker, hand full of black aces and eights, now called the dead man's hand, the town where Calamity Jane is buried. That alternative self would have then had 35 miles of winding mountain road to climb as the sun faded and would have got to Mount Rushmore long after dusk.

She would have had more stories to tell.
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Spent today in Yellowstone National Park. Mostly it was closed -- we missed it by a couple of days, as it closed for the season November 5. Apologies to all in Seattle we failed to see (especially [profile] bevsob: I was really hoping to say bye before we left the country) but I came down with an awful cold in Olympia and spent four days on [profile] goldfish42's sofa.

We saw a bald eagle, stayed at Chico Hot Springs, saw bison and elk and muledeer and a coyote and we heard a pack of wolves howling the sun down. We saw -- and smelled -- mineral hot springs and the multicolored travertine years of flow have created.

Sunset was glorious: oranges and tangerines glowing on the underside of beautiful clouds. I love the way the trees here are outlined sharp against the sky.

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Our last day in Cuzco was the day of the national census. To our astonishment, everything was closed. We had planned to get a bus to Maras, a taxi to Moray and then a bus back to Chinchero for the Sunday market. With no buses running, we ended up convincing a lovely taxi driver named Juan to take us all the way (it's about an hour and a half drive) for 50 soles (a regular taxi trip in town is about 3).

As we drive out of the city, we end up in breathtakingly beautiful countryside. Juan tells us that his pueblo is nearby and we stop with a friend of his for a jack. The mountains ahead of us are covered in snow. The day is crisp and clear.

When we get to Moray, it's amazing. We've seen so many ruins, but this is entirely different. This was the Incan agricultural lab — rings of terracing with a 30 meter drop from top to bottom but with a more than 15 degree drop Celsius. The Incas used it to test what crops could be grown at what altitudes. We are standing in a 600-year old scientific laboratory and it's an awesome concept.

Chinchero turns out to be a lovely village which would be quiet and serene if it wasn't for the clamor and push of the market folks demanding we look at their items instead of someone else's. We buy various gifts for various friends and family.

Then it's back to Cuzco, an early night for a plane at 7.15am, the day in Lima, first at the art gallery (excellent) and then more trinket shopping. Last stop, the bones of the Spaniard invaders under the church, just to fill in time, then a midnight flight back to the US.

All in all, a wonderful, wonderful honeymoon, and one we'll remember for a very long time.

PS: [personal profile] qamar and [profile] aethyrflux: Check out this stuff on quantum physics and consciousness. I think you'll appreciate.
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Everything they say is true. Aguas Calientes is a tacky tourist town; the entire train trip there and prices in town are outrageous with discriminatory pricing for tourists and it's all worth it.

On the first day, we got onto the bus and clutched each other throughout the heart-stopping bus ride, conscious of promises to [profile] _snowrose_ to "be careful" after news of a bus going over a precipice in Central Peru (how are we supposed to be careful? We're not driving!) At the top, we climb above the ruins and it's magnificent, spread out beneath us.

We stop on one of the ancient agricultural terraces and swing our legs over the stones. We hold hands and murmur softly in the bright blue day. Eventually we walk down into the town, the residences, the temple of the sun, the green, green grass of the square. We see llamas grazing on the sides, and so many swallows and a grand bird of prey gliding down with outstretched wings. As the light fades, we see a chinchilla, sweet and small with a long fluffy tail.

We catch the last bus down and then go to meet Aussie glassblowers we met on the train at a French Peruvian café called Indio Feliz that serves excellent wine and a set menu for an outrageous 40 soles (around $13). We have divine rainbow trout and ginger chicken and perfect vegetables and incredible desserts.

Next day we are up at 4am and on the first bus up the mountain. Today the plan is to climb Waynu Picchu, the peak behind Machu Picchu. We make it to the top in an hour and a half, only to find that the temple of the moon is actually a perilous climb halfway down the north face of the mountain using ladders and ropes where the Incan stairways have collapsed. It is, however, beautiful. The vistas, the forest, the sky. All of it.

At times, returning to Machu Picchu, we are exhausted and in pain and feel we can't go on, but eventually we make it back, five hours of walking under our belts, and pay through the nose for a fairly extravagant and extensive buffet. I go back in to look at the Intihuatana and the Temple of the Condor while Doug sits out his pain and then we go back down on the crazy bus. I drag the poor guy up the (comparatively gentle) hill to the hot water baths that the Aguas Calientes town is named after and we soak for a little before our train back to Cuzco. We need it. We're not exactly in shape.
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We ended up treating the name of this town like a tongue-twister: Ollantaytambo, ollantaytambo. It's the "y" of the "olla", you see. Very hard to get around.

But we made it to Ollantaytambo on the morning bus out of Pisac and found Hostal Ollanta without a problem. (Ollanta, it seems, was the Inca warrior the town was named after.) This time the ruins were right above the town, the main square had a fountain and the roads were cobbled. Ollantaytambo has the distinction of being the best surviving example of Incan architecture and city planning. Its streets have been continuously inhabited for 700 years.

Done with the ruins by 3pm, we went back to the hotel and read for the afternoon, delighting in quiet time and conserving our energy for the big adventure planned for the next day. We ventured out again, hoping to have a good time at the Quechua Blues Bar but it turned out to be atrocious. After the awful dinner and music, we started back in the rain and discovered a live band playing pan pipes and drums, so we stopped in for yummy chocolate caliente con rum.

An early night with plans for a crazy 5am start...
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Pisac was lovely. A tiny town of only 2000 souls, the main square was entirely taken up by a colorful market selling everything from jewelry to backpacks and more. It started to pour so we bought some raingear from the nearby gear shop and I bought an alpaca wool backpack from a man wearing camposino traditional clothing. I imagine he or his family wove the bag themselves. So often when we asked about where an item came from, we were buying it from the person who made it or their sister.

In the afternoon, as the sun came out, we went to walk up the mountain to las ruinas but a man we had bought a wall hanging from asked us where we were going and told us it was too far to walk. He said we needed to get a taxi from near the bridge back through the town, but then a woman from the next stall said, “Taxi?” and he explained what we wanted and she said her husband drove a taxi. They knocked on the door of the house we were in front of, and a guy came out. They asked him about the taxi, he named a price, we bartered down a bit because we only wanted a lift up not there and back and we walked 100 meters to his cab and were on our way.

As we wound our way around about 20 switchbacks we started to understand and appreciate the kindness of our stallholder. The ruins are at around 3200 meters above sea level and we were starting in the Sacred Valley, right at the river floor. They are stunning feats of architecture: terracing down the mountainside for agriculture, enormous stones dragged into position for housing and a temple of the sun, tunnels in the mountainside. After climbing one very steep staircase and coming over a hill, we encountered an incredible astronomical observatory, doorways carefully placed at 15 degree angles to withstand earthquakes and stones placed with amazing precision.
As we were marvelling at the Incan ingenuity, a schoolboy came up the hill from Pisac. “Hola,” he said. “Hola,” I responded. And still in Spanish, “Do you live up here?” “Yes, but higher.” “Is it good?” “Yes.”

He kept going. We soon encountered another. The same conversation, but then “How many people live up there?” “In my village? 200.” “And do you walk up this hill every day?” “Yes, every day I go down and I return.” (This is a 4km walk he’s talking about!) “Do you like it here?” “Yes. Don’t you?” “Yes, but I’m fom Australia and I live near the sea. This is very high for me.” “Ah,” he says. “Do you know much about this place?” “A little,” I say. “I know that this is the temple of the sun and I think it was built around the 15th century.” “Could be,” he says. “And I think that building there is older.” “Yes,” he says. “I think it’s from around the 12th century.” “Could be,” he says. “Well, have a good day,” I say. “Ciao!” and he’s off, climbing the way we came.

We wend our way down the mountain, another hour or so down. The sun sets by the time we get to the bottom and we are happy and tired. This is bliss. We definitely feel like we are on a honeymoon adventure now. We have learnt how to say we are newlyweds in Spanish and that this is our “luna de miel” and we are starting to get “felicitations!” from the locals. A man in traditional dress at Sacsayhuaman sold us beads for our hair and wished us many children.

Back in Pisac we want a drink for our tired muscles and I suggest we investigate Mullu, an alternative café recommended by our Lonely Planet bible. It turns out to be awesome, playing chillout music and serving the most amazing alpaca ribs in berry and red wine sauce with mash and alpaca ravioli with passionfruit dressing for Doug. I had mandarine and lime juice with ginger and honey -- mmm!

And then we went back to our gorgeous little hostel and snuggled in for the night, ready to wake early and catch the bus to Ollantaytambo. A wonderful, wonderful day.


Oct. 17th, 2007 12:09 pm
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Back to paying for Internet. Ah well. At least this place has a computer advanced enough to cope with the thumb drive containing the images but I don't have time to arrange prettily. You'll just have to go see for yourself.

We spent a lovely day yesterday wandering around the ruins near Cuzco and will write more when I get a moment. We are now in lovely Pisac and I don't really want to be indoors but it's raining out. I think we'll go investigate the markets. They're kind of undercover. 
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Thanks to the amazingly dry air of Cuzco, my lovely Mnemosyne has dried out and is functioning again. However I cannot yet show you photos because the hostel's PC is running Windows 98 and it refuses to recognise the thumb drive. Bah.

Cuzco is delightful and reminds me a little of Toledo but with more tourists and touts. Mum will be horrified to hear that I ate roast cuy (guinea pig) and they served it whole. It was delicious but did remind me a little too much of poor Timmy and Susie and Tammy and all my other pets I had as a child (I bred them and kept genetic charts at one point). I also had alpaca tonight. The food here has been incredible. Delightful and subtle spices.

We also found some incredible art and wonderful ceramics and things. I have bought a little something for my sister's son -- I know she loves alpacas and llamas so I hope she likes it.

Tomorrow we're doing the four main tourist ruins around Cuzco and staying in Pisac tomorrow night. Again, I have no idea when I'll next update. Could be tomorrow, could be next Sunday when we are back here.

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One of the first Australian films I ever showed Doug was The Old Man who Read Love Stories, Rolf de Heer's divine piece about the Amazon jungle with Richard Dreyfus as an old man learning to read. He has this beautiful latino accent as he reads these trashy love stories and then they go out into the jungle to hunt a jaguar.

Getting up at four in the morning to walk five kilometers to see giant otters felt a little like we were in the film. Our guide spoke halting English with a Puerto Maldonado accent. The walk was brisk and the otters obliged by poking their heads out of the water and playing about 400 meters from us. On the way back, we walked more slowly and saw enormous Morpho butterflies, blue and heavenly, laughing around us. We saw green creatures and frogs and bright red and yellow flowers. We saw strangler figs and enormous walking palms and the "malaria tree" whose bark apparently cures malaria and "cat's claw" which is being researched for AIDS. It really is the pharmacy of the world.

We heard the howler monkeys and saw dusky titi monkeys and then after lunch we saw tiny little tamarin monkeys. We have so many gorgeous photos.

Then we had a nap! Whee! And then walked to sunset point to watch the sunset. Back to the lodge for a quick talk on caimans (they lay ping-pong ball eggs and the temperature of the soil they're in determines the gender of the young just like turtles), out into a boat, saw a smallish black caiman (1.5m) and then within ten minutes, the sky opened and water fell out in a torrential downpour unlike anything we'd ever seen. Back to the lodge swiftly for dinner to find the rain had flushed out a baby red-tailed boa constrictor and the cook had picked it up. I got to hold it... it was beautiful!

Then to bed again and this morning, the boat trip back, still in torrential rain (it is a rainforest after all) and now we're in Cuzco, in a gorgeous little inn called Pampa Wasi high on the hillside overlooking the town, with a little yellow room, hot water (!!!) and Internet (as you can see). We also have altitude sickness (which we knew would happen) so we've rested all afternoon, downloaded images from the camera to Doug's special hard drive, watched my laptop die due to getting a little damp (I'm guessing during the transfer from the airport onto the plane) and drunk coca leaf tea for the altitude sickness (it really works!).

And now I'm going to go and join Doug at the bar up the road before he drinks all the drinks. Love to all, updates as they come.

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I can understand why Paddington Bear needed a duffle coat in England if he was used to the heat of the Amazon. We stepped off the plane and instantly felt the muggy love.

The boat ride to Explorer's inn was already amazing. We saw turtles on the Tambopata river bank and macaws and other wonderful things. I'd be uploading photos right now except that my computer decided to die about an hour ago, possibly due to getting wet, but that story comes later.

Walking from the boat to the lodge we saw a family of red howler monkeys overhead, which was just incredible. They had a little baby with them too.

After sunset, we went for a night walk (mmm, DEET) and listened to the sounds of the jungle and saw a tarantula and heard wonderful local ghost stories from our guide, Milthon. We were glad of our yellow fever and typhoid vaccinations. The number of insects out there is intense!

We ate and then went to bed around 9.30pm, exhausted from our early start and with news from Milthon that we had to be up at 4am to walk 5km to the lake. Eep!

Las ruinas

Oct. 11th, 2007 08:38 pm
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Finally got to Pachacamac, the Inca ruins south of Lima. Quite incredible. We wandered around for a while wondering why they had built their huge temples and city here when we went up inside the Templo del Sol and over it and suddenly could see the entire Pacific Ocean and survey the green farmlands beneath us. Suddenly, it all made sense.

The bus ride to Pachacamac was pretty confronting: shanty towns all up the hillside that look like brightly colored shipping containers hung with drying clothes and blaring radios; workers in wretched streets with welders and building cars right there in roadside workshops; children resting tired heads against carts overflowing with vegetables they´re trying to sell. We had a pretty heated discussion about our role as tourists in a country this abject -- much worse than Russia as I saw it in 2003 -- and in what could actually be done in a meaningful sense even by the populace themselves. 

We´re pretty tired but in the end had a great day and we´re off early tomorrow morning to catch a flight to Puerto Maldonado and the Amazonian retreat called Explorer´s Inn.

We´ll see if I can update from there. Otherwise, I´ll tell you more when we hit Cuzco. Love and stuff!

Day 4

Oct. 10th, 2007 09:48 pm
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Doug says he´s found the world´s best sport: bus surfing in Peru. We hopped on a mini-bus tonight on the way back from dinner (omigod, ceviche mixto -- amazing marinated raw fish and seafood in lime and chillis) and I can´t count the number of times it almost crashed. I don´t actually know if sitting would have been any better.

Doug is finding it very odd being stared at. I don´t remember if I mentioned that a girl took a photo of him on her cell phone because the long blond hair stands out so much. We´re trying our best not to be the loud tourists; I blend in but he just can´t. We´re doing better than the gaggle of Americans in the room across the hall from us though. In this absolutely amazing city of cheap, fresh food, Doug spotted them eating Pizza Hut *in their room*. We know we´ve been told only to eat cooked foods to avoid bacteria, but that´s ridiculous.

There was a protest today in Central Lima. It seems that the government has decided to comandeer the retirement funds of the building workers, or at least, that´s what I was able to garner from the little Spanish I understand. Doug took photos while I was asking questions. Now if only we actually write that up, it´ll be like we´re real journalists or something.

We loved the little statue of the mother of the nation in the Plaza de San Martin. Apparently the artist was commissioned to create her with a crown of flames (llamas) but no one thought to check on the double meaning and so she has a cute little llama on her head. We´ll post photos later, I´m sure.

Other than that, we´ve done touristy things: found a decent place for espresso, walked by the beach and along the cliffs, gone to the National Museum and looked at ancient ceramics, posted postcards to daughters and parents. It´s all good, as Doug would say.

Day 1

Oct. 8th, 2007 01:07 pm
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Our flights were delayed, we almost missed our connection so that a three-hour layover in Houston turned into a five-minute sprint between terminals only to find the second flight had also been delayed. Doug kept saying, "any day in which I don't have to sprint down stairs with a heavy box is a good day." We landed in Lima around midnight.

Lima is insane. What a combination of wealth and poverty. We are staying in a massive mansion that has been turned into a rambling backpackers with statuary around every other corner  and foliage hanging from the Spanish-style atrium pouring sunlight from the third floor down to the bottom where we are, in a massive room with heavy, ornate doors that open inwards.

It also has Internet access, so at least the next few days, I´m connected again.

Outside, taxi drivers careen down blessedly one way streets honking horns and barely staying within their lanes.



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