I am in South America!
To celebrate my first full week of being in Peru (I’m petsitting in an awesome area called Urubamba, about 75 minutes from Machu Picchu), I decided to put together some travel stories with the most predictable outcomes ever. These are all completely real, and all brought to you by this lovely country where they speak a language I do not. Well heck, it sure beats Blizzard Jonas, eh?
My view after hiking my local mountain
Travel Story #1
I was making a sandwich to take on my hike this morning. Because I’m in Peru, nothing is standard. Most notably, the [unrefrigerated and unwrapped when purchased–already a sign of things to come] cheese is blocks of eggshell-colored stuff that has very little taste or texture until grilled or fried. The huge block I bought yesterday was touched far too much by the vendor, then placed directly in a bag. It should come as no surprise, then, when I started cutting slicing into my pan and noticed a hair. Slightly disgusted but not all that shocked, I took it off and decided to go with my other block of cheese in the meantime. I took edible attempt #2 out of the fridge and started slicing.
It also had a hair.
Travel Story #2
Oh, that wasn’t the end of Travel Story #1, you fool. I then made the sandwich and tried to put the cheese ordeal out of my mind by switching to a sweet snack—these delightful popped cereals sold in bags on the street. But this one was different: my neighbor had given me this new type in a nice, fresh, Ziploc bag. I’d eaten 3/4 of the bag in a day because it was so tasty and new. Out with the cheese, in with the crunchy Peruvian street cereal!
The piece of cereal I reached for had dental floss baked into it.
Travel Story #3
Aren’t sheep cool? There are two here at the house. They’re so big, soft, and cuddly.
One of the sheep head-butted a dog, smack-on (and I laughed my head off after running away like a scaredy cat when it started to fluff stampede after me). This was payback to dogs all around the world, perhaps, for earlier in the week when I came home to find the pooch I was watching had ripped through all my bags of precious homemade snacks from America. But then the cat should have had something done, too, because she gifted me a huge dead rat in the bedroom. Isn’t that why I left the city?
Travel Story #4
I was speaking to one of my landlords when I heard a thump and saw something out of the corner of my eye. It was a bird! Not just any bird, but my favorite: a hummingbird! It was stomach-side-up and barely moving, and was about to be eaten by the cat for sure. I didn’t know what else to do but pick it up. It was beautiful, and emerald green, and very on the brink of life or death, if I can get way too dramatic. I held it in my hand and kind of petted it. Then, taking it into my kitchen, I got a big spoon and filled it with sugar water. Amazingly, the hummingbird started sipping with its cute little tongue! Within just a few minutes, it had definitely gotten stronger, and after some more feeding and petting, it flew off! What an awesome experience.
I’m a hero.
The incredible hummingbird, up close
Travel Story #5
The internet worked here for 1 day. The next day there was an 8-hour power outage, followed by a there-will-never-again-be-internet outage. I was “stealing” the landlord’s in order to do work and waste time on Facebook. No one could figure out why the internet just disappeared, so two days ago, out of curiosity (and with permission), I decided to follow the cord that went from my house to the master modem. I followed it out of my room, onto the porch, through the yard, and into my neighbor’s living room. It ended just hanging in a corner, attached to nothing at all. I told the landlords this was most likely definitely are you nuts? the problem.
“No, that’s not the problem,” they said. “The owner of your house only uses wireless, so we unplugged the wire.” (Update: They got someone to come over, rip it out of that house, re-string it, and plug it into the modem in their house, and thus I now have internet.)
Travel Story #6
One of my neighbors here is an older Peruvian gentlemen who is obviously intelligent and speaks English perfectly. He is into the outdoors, having mysterious client meeting, and possibly voiceover work and/or torturing kittens. Seriously, he has a most booming voice.
Anyhow, the other night he stopped by my porch and said, “Kathryn, have you ever tried plant medicine?” Now I don’t know about you, but my mind went directly to Herbalife or a similar pyramid schemed. Seriously, I had to work this spring with a bunch of reps from that company, and the brainwashing was very, very noticeable. If you’re a member, just unfriend me now, I beg you. Anyhow, this dapper Peruvian went on to tell me that it’s actually a hallucinogenic drug from the Peruvian mountains—except he refused to use that simple descriptor and instead kept using words like “mind-altering” and “conscious-awakening” and “safe and regulated medicine.” It’s a drug, dude. “Google it and let’s talk tomorrow. I think it’s a sign from above that you’re awake! I’d be delighted if you joined me.” Anyhow, I looked it up. It involves a Peruvian cactus, a shaman, and all that goodness. The effects last 12-14 hours. If you know me, you know I’m just not into these sorts of things. I’d much rather stay home and do heroin. But it would be neat to document this Peruvian ceremony, no?
“Kathryn, let’s talk this morning—you’ve had a chance to read up on the plant medicine?” He asked eagerly the next day. I said I’d chat with him.
“Is it true the effects last 12-14 hours?” I asked him. “Oh, well, that depends on how much you drink. But this won’t be like that. I plan to be there only from 3pm until midnight, so you could bring your camera and a book or something.”
I mulled it over but decided that with 4 deadlines in the next few days, I just couldn’t afford 9 hours of watching people do…that. I thanked him anyway and he left at 2:47pm yesterday, on Saturday.
At the time of me publishing this, at 8:39pm on Sunday, January 24, 2016, he still has not returned home.
Travel Story #7
Today I went to the famous terraced salt pans called Selinas de Maras. I left early to avoid the hot afternoon sun, and wore pants, boots, a hat, a sunproof long-sleeve shirt, and lots of suncream on my face. I was really careful the whole day to re-apply, and felt that despite being quite hot, I wasn’t going to have sunburned arms, legs, or facial features. Here’s to being responsible and covering up!
My hands got very burned, and I now have my normal pale exterior and lobster claws.
The Selinas de Maras. I was the first there and arrived from the non-touristy end (or less touristy), so it was great having the whole place to myself! Just for size, those little huts down there can fit about 6 people. These salt pans go on for quite a while.
Until next week’s installment, which will interest Humans of New York fans, stay warm!