Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Cusco part 1, Americans

the flu really sucks, especially in foreign countries. Thank god for the very gay peruvian doctor who makes house calls to hotel rooms. I know, sounds scandalous, but sweater vests and combovers just are not what does it for me.

You don't believe me do you? a gay man with a combover? Never! Well, in rural peru, yes. I will cut the guy some slack since it can not be easy being a queen in a very macho isolated town on Lake Titicaca.

Don't get the wrong idea, there were no unnecessary hernia or prostate checks, just standard doctor procedure of blood pressure, pulse, symptoms and blessed prescription writing.

So once I got my health all sorted, I made my way to Cusco on a bus ride characterized by noxious smelling locals, very bumpy roads, not bringing enough food, and stopping every 15 minutes to let a dozen cholitas in piercing voices hawking cheese that had spent too much time in the sun, sweaters, colored beverages in baggies, necklaces, bread, and anything else that could be sold by poor rural women wearing bowler hats and aprons.

I was starving, hot, and irritable. The bus was two hours late (from all the stopping, I think the driver was in cahoots with the cholitas, or so my conspiracy oriented pissed-off-low-blood-sugar-mind believed), and arriving to cusco was followed by walking to the hostal at the top of the highest hill in a very hilly town. If nothing else, I was that much closer to Machu Picchu, my whole reason for being in this corner of the world.

Cusco is a beautiful city. Great plaza, decent food, and more white people than a flames-maple leafs game. I honestly have not seen this many americans since boarding my flight in DC back in January, and to be honest, I have mixed feelings about it. One thing I have really enjoyed about south america is being, well, the only American. Israelis, Germans, Brits, Aussies, Dutch, French, you name it, are here in spades, but not Americans. I have used this to my advantage to be a positive example of an educated, liberal, and presentable american with more-than-average, well, I like to think at least, global sensibilities.

I like getting to be the one that can explain a culture of fear and media manipulation that led to Bush being re-elected. I like being able to tell people I vote democratic and oppose the war in Iraq, being an American example contrary to all the mass media that makes Americans look like bible thumping, isolationist war-mongers. To some extent, even I sometimes believe that "we" are. Most of all, I like being around people who are not Americans, who bring a British, european, latin, or middle eastern perspective into my life, who grew up tri-lingually, or who have tolive in a world that is much bigger than the isolated giant of the US.

Do not get me wrong, I love my country, and I love many, many people who live there. I just can not help but wish from time to time that we got out more, that we had a broader perspective, that we were not so consumed by fear and consumption. I can look back to before this trip and see how I internalized all this and personally manifested all that I am currently ranting about. I also must confess that when I think about returning to my country, how I know being subject to it once more will penetrate me all over again and lead to many of the bad habits of thought, fear-fueled desire, and self-abandoning pessimism that too often characterized my state of mind in the last few years of post-college life.

But I digress. There are perks of being in the US for sure, or at least being in a place of a lot of gringos like me, namely Decent Chow. I had this amazing smoked bacon, avocado, butter leaf, carmalized onion on ciabatta with honey mayo sandwich at Los Perros in Cusco, with a curried pumpkin cream soup that was honestly fantastic.

I miss the food and friends the most. These days I am hoping to find a bit of clarity, focus, direction, etc. Found another blog that may prove helpful, but I am just getting started and amd still withholding judgement until later, but see for yourself. If nothing else, I admire the intention:

Until next time,


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