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balance (2): my 4th continent

Saturday, November 3, 2007

my 4th continent

i left NY on a bit of a high, because though i inexplicably put off til the very last minute a visit with an old fling (m), it turned out to be very nice to see him, and maybe it was the wine but i felt incredible chemistry with him as well that i don't really remember being there before. had a couple of nice kisses and fond backward glances (both towards him and towards the magnificent city lit up at nightfall) before super shuttle picked me up to take me to the airport.

bye NY! (mwah*)

absolutely crashed on the plane to peru, without even any pharmaceutical help. didn't even wake up for the meal, which is very odd for me. changing planes in lima was a blur, the only thing i had any awareness of were the deep, dark canyons we were soaring over.

cusco is a beautiful city in it's way. it has that dusty brown airless look to it that most mountain towns do, but the hilly streets are narrow and cobbled and have remnants of old inca walls lining them. the shops are literally dark holes in the wall. it reminds me of pictures i have seen of morocco(!) and also a bit of kathmandu. i like it! i was getting ultra paranoid about my safety as a solo female, especially after a chat with my friend kat in NY who has travelled the world 7 times over and insisted that there are numerous cases of people being kidnapped by taxi drivers here, take into the middle of nowhere, stripped at knife- or gunpoint of all their belongings and their clothes! and left to find their way back to the city naked. but i doubt i will be taking many cabs here as cusco seems pretty walkable. and there are a few sleazy types loitering, but no more than i have seen in other countries. other things to worry about are so-called "strangle muggings" which are referred to on several websites as "quite common", as well as "soroche", which is high altitude sickness. sigh. at least i have free coca tea. ;)

part of the plaza de armas

i walked around the maze of streets near my very nice hotel today (the men here treat me like a little girl and are very helpful and protective when i am wearing my pigtails, which is something i will definitely use to my advantage), sat for a bit in the very grand and imposing plaza de armas... the homeless "artisans" flocked right to me, as usual, and though they are good for conversation at first it inevitably turns into a sales pitch, so i got on out of there and stopped to have a vegetarian meal at a cute place covered in colorful art. on the way back to my room i ran into several indigenous ladies (almost rubber stamps of the annoying akha ladies in thailand) who were wearing colorful shawls and bowler hats and carrying baby llamas, pleading for soles. i paid one sole to take a picture of one lady and she cursed me the whole way down the street(!?) oh well... going to bed early tonight just in case my childhood growing up in the mountains hasn't prepared me for the high altitude and also because i have booked a tour to go see the sacred valley in the morning. ;)




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