Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Coca Tea, Cuye and Cheap Cameras

All the coca tea I drank yesterday in Arequipa may have prevented altitude sickness during the cliffhanging, high-velocity, barreling-around-thin-mountainside-curves in the rain, overnight bus ride from Arequipa to Cusco, last night, but it did not live up to its other indication of preventing stomach "illness"- if you will.

So welcome to Cusco. I am sick. I am also using an x-brand disposable camera I bought in Arequipa for $10 soles--which comes to about $3 USD. The Peruvian salespeople in an Alpaca wool shop were laughing at me yesterday when I pulled it out.

"Where did you get that, Senora? The Gringos always have very fancy cameras."

Well, between ramshackle bus rides, camping on the beach, using a cheap brand of shampoo as hair-wash, face-wash and body-wash after my toiletries were stolen, my trip has been far from fancy, so I guess the camera suits my style. Not that it doesn't suck or anything, but I have to make light of the situation.

And its my fault. Rolling around in the dust and sand of the San Pedro de Atacama desert while wasted was probably not the best idea, for me or for my camera.

Anyways, here in Peru, I'm on a high. I'm going to see Machu Picchu tomorrow or the next day. And camera or no camera, I'm sure it's going to be an incredible experience.

Arequipa was a very nice surprise as well. I thought I'd just be passing through a small mountainside town on my way to Cusco, only to discover that Arequipa has more than a million inhabitants. Far different from Chile, everything has its own Peruvian feel to it. The Spanish is easier to understand, the people more reserved, the food is excellent (still considering whether I will eat Cuye--Guinea Pig--a Peruvian delicacy) and the shopping even better--particularly because things that would sell for about $30-50 in the U.S. are about $7-15 in Peru. Yes, I went a little crazy yesterday.

I met up with a German girl, Nora, who I'd met on the bus the day before and who was living in Arequipa for the year, to explore the town for the day. Now I wish I'd given myself much more time in Peru.

Oh well, I guess I'll just have to come back someday :)