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Tag Archives: peru
About two weeks ago, I was walking back to my hostel in Arequipa when I saw a group of little boys with water balloons fleeing in my direction from down the street. I continued on and as I got to the corner, I saw a group of three 6-8 year old girls with a bucket of water balloons smiling mischievously at me. I interpreted the smile as “we’re going to ambush those little boys with water balloons,” so I smiled back and continued walking by them. It turned out that in Spanish, that smile actually translates to, “we’re going to completely soak you with water balloons.” When I got back to the hostel still dripping wet, they told me, “Oh yeah. The kids are playing Carnivale. They love to get foreigners.”
I took a trip to Puno, Peru to see Lake Titicaca, the world’s largest high-altitude lake (a superlative which, in itself, has the distinction of being the world’s most arbitrary superlative). I did a day tour and the first stop was the Uros. They’re these little man-made floating islands constructed of reeds. The houses are made of dried reeds. All the furniture is made of reeds. For food, they eat fish… and reeds.
I was walking back to my hostel from the Arequipa city center and I suddenly noticed that almost every business on the street was a driving school. It seemed like more driving schools than you’d need for a city of only a million people and a LOT more driving schools than you’d need on a single 3 block stretch of road in any city. I broke out my camera and I turned on the “driving school count overlay” feature so I could get a full count of the number of schools.
I’m currently in Arequipa, Peru. It’s Peru’s second largest city, which apparently doesn’t change the fact that it’s incredibly small. Conveniently, it’s also incredibly cheap. The first gym I found cost S/1 (~$0.35) for a day pass, but it turned out that pretty much all the machines were broken, so I had to splurge for a fancier gym at S/3 (~$1) for a day pass. Prices are so low here that people often refer to the city as “Arecheapa” although by “people” I mean me and only in my head because I would get made fun of if I said that out loud.
Moray is one of the stranger tourist attractions I’ve seen. I constantly saw pictures of it on travel agency signs, including this one:
While I was in Cusco, I decided to take a day trip to Machu Picchu. It’s an ancient Incan city that was built in the 15th century and abandoned about a hundred years later. It was rediscovered in 1911 by an American guy (go America!), who kind of stole everything and gave it to Yale and Yale now refuses to give it back to Peru (go America?).
In Ecuador and Peru, you can find “cuy” [“guinea pig”] at certain restaurants that serve traditional Ecuadorean / Peruvian food. I’d found one or two of these restaurants before, but they were always closed when I tried to go. In Cusco, they’re well aware that eating guinea pigs is a tourist curiosity and, like everything else in Cusco they’ve figured out that tourists like, there are 9 billion places to find it.
I’ve been in Cusco, Peru for about a day now and the main thing I’m excited to do in Cusco is leave Cusco.
Because my name is Mike and I’m American, people in Peru have joked that I’m a character on the Peruvian soap opera, “Al Fondo Hay Sitio” [“There’s Room in the Back”], which features an American character named Mike. It’s apparently one of the most popular shows in Peru. My friend Ingrid was kind enough to send me a link to an episode and, while I don’t understand a lot of the words, I’ll walk you through my understanding of the episode.
I woke up after my nap Friday afternoon and saw a sign that had been posted on my door that read, “Anything But Clothes Party! January 29th.” I was excited. That was the next day. If there’s one thing I love, it’s parties where I can wear something that makes people wonder whether they’re amused or uncomfortable. This is exactly what I had been trained for.
At my current hostel, you need to leave your key at reception whenever you leave and pick it up when you get back. It’s kind of a hassle, but it’s pretty routine at this point and I don’t much notice it. I came back to my hostel after lunch yesterday and there was a guy working reception who was probably about 20. I asked, “¿Podría tener mi llave? [Can I have my key?]” He looked a little worried and stood up and started searching around the desk. I heard him mutter to himself, “Okay… okay.” Peruvians use the word “okay” but I don’t hear it much, so I was wondering if this guy was Peruvian. He definitely looked South American. Or maybe like a tan Asian person. I’ve been surprised at how hard it is to distinguish between the two.
I spent this afternoon walking around Barranco, a Bohemian neighborhood in Lima. I was with a Canadian girl from my hostel and we’d been wandering hopelessly for about 2 hours looking for a crafts market we’d heard from hostel staff existed, but for which we declined detailed directions. As we were walking by a park, a taxi pulled up next to us and the driver asked me if I had change for a 20.
After much searching around Lima and finding only super expensive white-people gyms, my friend Javo showed me a tiny rundown gym a few blocks from the main town center. As soon as I saw it, I knew immediately I’d found my gym. It’s basically just a small room with a few very old machines, a lot of freeweights, and deserted save for 1 or 2 serious looking strong guys.
My first stop in Peru was Máncora, which is a surfing / beach party town in the North. I’d heard about it from lots of people in my hostel in Quito and decided to check it out for myself. While there, I spent most of my time with this group of Argentinians I’d met at my hostel (seen here playing an epic game of gigantic Jenga):