All I want to do is leave the country. I have been daydreaming about it often since the last time I left the country. On a weekly basis, I torment all of those around me with stories of Romani kids and cheese-toting anarchists in the Czech Republic. Then I think about having another adventure. This all-consuming wanderlust often manifests itself in the form of looking at pictures of rainbow buildings in Argentina or teaching myself useful Polish phrases or reading an entire website about Bulgarian cuisine while at work. My workplace environment only enables me by making it extremely easy for me to spend an entire shift reading about Bulgarian cuisine.
Finally, some real progress. Dave and I are going to Peru in November. I will have someplace useful to channel this energy. Now here is a photo montage of pictures from Google Images!
Peru is one country that Dave and I both can agree on. I’ve wanted to visit Machu Picchu since I was a wee beastie. I saw Matt Lauer traveling there on the morning news while eating my Fruity Pebbles and I thought, “Yes. I shall go there.” Last year I met some kids from Lima and got a favorable impression of that city as well. Did you know it is the Gastronomy Capital of the Americas? I’m not sure who has the privilege of awarding such titles, but I intend to find out if it is well-deserved. Peru is a great exporter of cocoa beans, so I can’t help but imagine chocolate gushing from the alleys like floodwater. And if there is good chocolate then I could easily live off of that for ten days (or until I get a chocolate hangover).
But chocolate addictions aside, I may need to start eating fish again to be able to survive in Lima. My last few experiences with fish have involved unparalleled bellyaches. Peru is famous for ceviche, which I tried with Dave several years ago. Instead of cooking the fish, it is prepared with lemon juice and spices. The lemon juice is supposed to kill the bacteria and parasites. We went to a restaurant near our college and ordered some sort of pink-fish-ceviche. It was delicious, but we both felt very weird during the car ride home. My whole body felt loopy. I didn’t know it at the time, but the feelings of loopy-ness were just hallucinations brought on by food poisoning.
I told a friend from Lima about my ceviche experience. “You shouldn't be eating that outside of Peru,” she gently chided.
One night after I came home from work, Dave and I stitched together the skeleton of the whole adventure in one big marathon. Dave found some not-so-expensive round trip plain tickets; I arranged our accommodations. We tried to buy our tickets to Machu Picchu ahead of time. Apparently, it is not so difficult to buy the tickets in Cusco the night before or the morning of the trip.
Huayna Picchu, the misty and impressive mountain peak that one sees in all pictures of the ruins, is a little harder to tackle spontaneously. You need to buy the tickets in a package with Machu Picchu. Only 400 people are allowed to climb it a day and you have to go through Peru’s government website to book it ahead of time. Peru’s website is notoriously screwy, however, so we had no luck in procuring any tickets ahead of time. Officially, it only takes Visa cards. In reality it does not even take Visa cards.
We also missed out on buying our lunch ahead of time from the only buffet-style restaurant at the peak of this precious ancient treasure. I suppose we will just bring sandwiches.
I began to consider what sort of footwear one would wear for the climb. Normally I would wear my barefoot shoes for hiking, but I wondered if something more heavy-duty would be necessary. Google provided us with heaps of wisdom. Some people climbed it in sneakers, others in Teva sandals. One person recommended that we wear two pairs of socks. He said that a friend recommended that he wear two pairs of socks and, though he can no longer remember the excellent reason, he now wears two pairs of socks every day.
While we have the skeleton of the trip pieced together, there are still other important things that need to be addressed. I need to bring my level of Spanish to at least conversational-caveman level in the next two months. I can hardly remember anything from my Rosetta Stone lessons from last year, but I really hope to see some women eating rice in Peru so I can make intelligent remarks. And at least one alpaca, which I will ardently embrace.