This was a personal diary I kept in 2012, documenting time before, during, and after my travel to Perú. To preserve the privacy of those involved, parts of it have been heavily edited out, but I had to leave in some personal detail to set context of the story. I don’t think it’s as well-written as other things I’ve posted online, primarily because it was a diary I kept for my own record, unfortunately with huge gaps because I was lazy and didn’t write every day or anywhere near as frequently I wanted, but I’ve learned from that I suppose.

February 7, 2012

Another journal! A paper diary. On top of many things going on in my life right, I’m planning to go to Perú in 3 weeks. How do I explain that?  So Chris is there right now. Yes, that Chris. The Chris. He’s been there a month. We talk a lot and I haven’t seen him since December at our company’s annual holiday party. He suggested I visit. I really want to get out of Portland and see something new and different and so I’m entertaining that thought right now because it sounds win-win. I haven’t booked a flight yet. I had already applied for my larger passport because I’ve been thinking earlier of traveling abroad, so I’m lucky for that. I keep thinking I should feel nervous, but I’m not at all. I just think it will be good for me, nothing remotely bad.

February 8, 2012

I’m so excited! Last night, I checked my mail on my way out to get dinner, and my passport came early. The Department of State website said, “on or about Feb 8th” but I assumed it would be later.

So now I can get my plane ticket for Perú. I don’t know how long I should stay though (how long does it take to comprehensively absorb the culture of a place? Probably longer than I can stay, but I need to figure this out.). I’m guessing a week and a half is not enough time, ha. 3 weeks sounds nice, but I don’t know.

February 10, 2012

So this morning I got up early and I finally booked my flight to Perú. Leaves 2/28, returns 3/24 — 4 weeks instead of 3. Chris has been sending me videos and photos of Lima  and I’m excited to speak Spanish out of necessity. I’m pulling out my bilingual readers and listening to some podcasts, trying to brush up. I’ve been speaking it with my friend Alex off and on, so I’m not fully out of touch. Just a tiny bit nervous.

But I went with 4 weeks anyway because I’d rather take that risk, I guess. Overshoot?

Right now, I’m sitting on the MAX. All these meth addict guys are sitting near me being loud. I just want them to leave. Last night Eric started to talk to me and reminded me that it’s been 2 years since Greg’s suicide. I was thinking about him the other day and couldn’t get over the thought that I live in a world where gross meth addicts get to live and breathe but selfless beautiful people like Greg die at age 23. Life isn’t fair. I still remember that night. I still remember Eric’s phone ringing, him looking at it, me asking, “Who is that”, him unpredictably saying, “It’s the hospital. I bet Greg killed himself” and my face just not being able to comprehend how he said that so easily, so nonchalantly, said with reserved concern, premature shock… knowing that a problem is there that he is powerless to. 2 years since we were all playing Rock Band and he insisted I play drums despite me saying “no one wants to hear that” and him retorting, “I want to hear you.” Because that’s just the kind of guy he was. Fuck, man.

February 12, 2012

I have been in Portland for exactly one year today. One year ago, I was on the worst flight ever with a masturbating Persian toddler with a spitting problem. Took a cab driven by a crazy Nigerian man to Dave and Carrie’s house and distinctly remember the very first thing I did in Portland was hit up Rite-Aid for a toothbrush. Dave was this guy always chopping wood in the front yard.

It was cold, wet, and windy and from SE 32nd and Division and Cyan felt like it was a world away. Rice Junkies was the first place I ever ate, the Wilamette Weekly was telling me I ought spend my Valentine’s Day “boning” as recreational sport, and the Monday morning dT demo call was done from the kitchen counter. It was a good time. A weird time, but a good time.

But I think I need to get out for a while. I’ve had my fill for now. I want to see something new, something that makes my heart pump shakily once again in quivering fear and anticipation of what howling call sings to me from around each corner.

I remember when navigating the 4/14 bus lines was a journey and standing on Broadway felt like I was on Madison or Lafayette in Manhattan. Now it feels like a small town and whenever some out-of-towner from Beaverton or god forbid, Vancouver, WA stops me on 4th to ask where Pioneer Square is and I point and say, “2 blocks that way,” I know I’ve seen enough. But Portland is home right now. Ground Kontrol is my stomping grounds. Powell’s and Stumptown are in my heart. And it never ceases to make me smile when I go to the Whole Foods on 10th and the guys working flirt with me.

February 13, 2012

I want so badly for it to be 2 weeks from now. I’m really, really thinking about it, picturing it, feeling it. I’m doing something totally new and it thrills me. On one hand, I’m thinking of how excited I am to hug and kiss Chris and take in his natural smell and hold his hand and see his ridiculous nerdy grin. But also I’m really excited to practice my Spanish somewhere where I’ll be forced to adapt. I am a tiny bit scared, but I know I’ll survive it! It just might be a little bit embarrassing (but embarrassment makes for great stories). I’ve been reading some books to get ready and refresh me, but it’s hard to tell if it’ll put me back to where I need to be soon enough.

I lived briefly in Mexico when I was younger and I remember there were all these little cultural nuances to pick up on that deviate from each Latino culture to the next. I wonder what that will be like in Perú, or more distinctly, Lima, or even more distinctly, Miraflores. Each faux pas will happen whether I want it or not, but I’m wondering if I will pick up on the fact that I have made a faux pas! I sometimes wish I could reach out to Janet and find out where she is and just thank her for all the times she told me things were “chévere” or asked if I wanted to play un juego. Or just give un abrazo a su abuelita. So much encouragement from such humble beginnings. I really hope I have been or will someday be some sort of inspiration like they were to me.

February 14, 2012

Today was Valentine’s Day, which is a holiday I don’t celebrate really. A lot of people rip on it but very few really truly mean it like I do, even when I’m in a relationship. It’s one of those holidays that makes me feel embarrassed because it’s a complete representation of everything that I am not as a romantic person. Like my friend Nick was explaining to me that he got his wife an “edible arrangement” and I thought, “What the fuck is an edible arrangement?” He explained and said she asked for it. And so I thought, “Who the FUCK asks for an edible arrangement? What the fuck is wrong with people??” Like it just seemed like some bizarre comedy that I couldn’t wrap my head around. And this is my problem with that holiday. Not that it exists. Not that people celebrate it. But just that people get it all wrong.

February 15, 2012

This morning, I had to go get my vaccinations for Perú. I was laying down, just talking about my trip with the doctor. It was at the Portland Travel Clinic. I didn’t know this type of clinic even existed. She told me, “your birth control pill will not be effective if you take this medicine” as she showed me a prescription for the antibiotics used to cure Traveler’s Diarrhea. I looked her in the eye and said, “Do you think I’m going to want to have sex if I’m having explosive diarrhea?” She simply said, “You’d be surprised at some of the stuff I’ve heard from people.” I laid there and pondered what my doctor must be like if I were to have explosive diarrhea as I got shots for Hepatitis A, tetanus, and a few others. It wasn’t really a pleasant thought because I was kind of picturing it happening right there in the room and she had for reasons I’m still trying to work out, had turned on a low-light lamp which furnished the room with a highly sensual undertone that just does not work with scat or needles. Something is probably wrong with me, but I’ll figure it out later, I guess!

I also have to take typhoid as an oral liquid. Which sounds gross. And probably is. I went out this evening to get dinner and checked my mail for the first time in a few days and saw I had a package. It was from Chris. It was this cute necklace. A Mac power button that pulsates light, like the actual button. It made me happy but also made me sad that I was so far away and unable to have him in my arms.

February 16, 2012

Today I finally put together my drawing desk. It only took a month and a half. I should probably never have kids because by the time I put together a baby’s crib it’d be going off to college. It’s nice to finally have a space to draw or write, which is where I am now. I feel accomplished now that I have somewhere to draw horse_ebooks. And that is sad.

I got the typhoid vaccine. You take it by mouth on an empty stomach every other day. I love that I am literally eating typhoid. I’m pretty sure that was a disease in the Oregon Trail. But it all works out because I’m already in Oregon, so they won’t have to give me a shady gravemarker in the South Dakota badlands or whatever. Just think, one day we might have an HIV pill. And we’ll get ready for our trips to South Africa by swallowing that. Probably not though. I had the opportunity to get this vaccine as a shot but it was cheaper to eat it. What I didn’t tell the doctor was that I didn’t really care about the price–for me, it was just a novelty to eat viruses. Also, probably an overreaction because I bet no one in Peru on the west coast actually has ever had any experience with Typhoid.

February 23, 2012

Today is Thursday and my trip is on Tuesday. My mom is coming tomorrow and I’m rushing to get my apartment clean for her to stay here. I’m not really sure what we’ll do. I don’t know how comfortable she will be here which is funny because it’s like a much smaller scale version of my journey to Perú. I haven’t seen her in 2 years.

Chris called me last night on Skype. He seemed really excited about me coming there. These calls are getting to me though. It’s weird. I’m not there yet, but there’s something in his voice that makes me feel at peace. Late at night, muffled, groggy, dreamy. And that sets the tone for how I picture Lima, in a big fog of late summer heat. Go figure.

February 24, 2012

My mom will be here in a couple of hours. Today is busy. I went to the gym. I’ve been trying to gain back weight that I lost last month and so I started the GOMAD diet (gallon of milk a day). I was 104 pounds last week and this morning I weighed in at 108. The milk, I’m sick of it. It was cheap and easy to get down unlike food–but yuck after a while. Feels like I’m drinking a big cup of cum sometimes. Okay, that’s kind of gross.

At the airport, sitting at the security check, I see all these reconnections between people, very emotional. First, a little girl meeting what I guess was her grandfather. He gave her his hat and she skipped ahead a little with it, then turned back and jumped into his arms to embrace him, placing the hat back on his head. Then, an extremely emotional meeting between a man and a woman. Just the way his hand moved along her back really said it all.

I’m nervous over the unknown element. I don’t think even for a moment that I will get homesick. But I have a lot of expectations for myself in making the most of my time in South America and I really don’t want to let myself down. I want to breathe it all in. It’s a frustrating feeling because only time will assuage my fear–I can’t remedy it until I get there and prove to myself that I’m going to tackle it all.

February 28, 2012

It’s about 3:30PM right now and i’m sitting on the plane in Houston about to leave for Lima. I had to wake up at 2:40AM to catch a taxi and I’m excited albeit still very nervous about everything. I get in at 11:20PM and am not sure what to expect of a 6-hour flight. But… if what I am experiencing right now is any indication, it’s a lot of shaky fucking nerves and I just have no idea what it’s going to be like. It’s all mystery.

I’m now about an hour away from Lima. I’ve been actually trying to think about everything but it just is impossible. My mind is blank. On the other hand, I am having a lot of goofy first-time experiences on this plane. This is my first time on a Boeing 767, which is one of those planes with two aisles instead of one. It’s oddly just as cramped as a 737. I’m 5’3″ and my legs hurt after hours. I know I have long legs for someone my size but I have no idea how people a foot taller than me do it.

I had to fill out customs and immigrations forms. One form asked what my nationality was. I’m “American” but i’m flying to South America which is technically “America” haha. They served us a surprisingly healthy dinner (dinner on a flight was a first for me too). I kind of want to brush my teeth but my stuff is stuck in the overhead. There is no in-flight entertainment. To keep myself from going insane, I am picturing the possible reality that when I get to Lima, Chris and I will have to flee the terror of Mothra as we escape Monster Island or something. Maybe the typhoid pill was a good idea after all, at least for this self-indulgent fantasy.

February 29, 2012

I’m in Lima right now. I’m sitting on a small walkway on Calle Berlin about 4 blocks from the place Chris has been staying. Basically my Spanish is pretty terrible right now suddenly but seeing it, being immersed in it… is pushing it back on me, especially in more ordinary contexts (I’m suddenly recalling high school German class audio cassettes where the conversations were like “Sabine, du bist sexy!”)

So Lima is crazy. Traffic is every man for himself. It’s hot. Sweaty. People are really unpredictably different… but… I like it.

Chris and I walked through Miraflores earlier. I rode on what I think was a combi. But there’s no telling. I tried menu, which is awesome. It’s like a meal served in a very particular format around lunchtime. You get an entrada, a segundo, and then postre and the drink is always chicha morada, which is like this kinda tea-like drink made from sweet purple corn. So my first menu experience was pollo asado con garbanzo, which was decent. The entrada I got came with this particular sauce I had never heard of. My expectation was that it would be very hot but it had a milder vegetable-based flavor to it. The postre is almost always a total cop-out, like nothing great (so not great that I don’t remember what it was).

My experience with people seems dramatically different when I am alone. Men give sharp whistles and say things under their breath. Someone called me “Fabulita” I think. People whistle a lot here. Not just to come on to women. But just to communicate.

There is an old woman who stands on Torre Tagle (or the crossing street, can’t remember which is which) and she has purple or pink hair. She is “Grandma Chicha” or informally, “Grandma Purple Hair.” She doesn’t like me. Or anyone. But especially me, it seems. Especially since I greeted her by calling her “homegirl.”

Last night at the airport… immigrations was like going through a grocery store checkout with all these counters. My bags took 30 minutes to come out and I went through the bag right there off the carousel trying to find my deodorant (I didn’t realize how gross I’d feel after being on a plane for 6 hours). After failing that, I took a military shower in the bathroom with the most vile-scented lavender soap ever. Pretty sure I’m the first woman in the history of the universe outside of a TV sitcom to wash her armpits with soap from a dispenser in a public bathroom. I also felt like I was in Black Beauty trying to brush my teeth with my finger, like maybe I could Macguyver some toothpaste out of some spare peppermints in my pocket and the soap. Customs was like a mob free-for-all where people were running and spazzing out. I just wanted to get out the door and I had to keep positive and think maybe these people were excited like I was. I was really fucking excited. So excited that I tripped twice on my luggage trying to make my way to Chris. So excited that I think I pushed an old woman out of my way.

March 1, 2012

This is my second day in Perú. I’m really liking it here the more familiar I get with it. I tried to deny the culture shock (which I still feel wasn’t really bad) but I guess it’s only right to embrace it. After I wrote yesterday, I came back here to hang out for a bit and then went with Chris to this vegetarian place to eat dinner (Alma Zen, worst pun ever). I couldn’t stop laughing. Then we went back through this park that is packed with cats–tons of them, Kennedy Park. Tons of people at night too. At some point, we found a bunch of kittens. I’m not sure how all of these cats get here but they’re mostly calicos, I noticed.

I had my first churro too. Which isn’t Peruvian but good all the same. The Peruvian take on the churro is different. It had a manjar filling, which is like a caramel… kind of like leche quemada from Mexico, only sweeter I think. We walked up to this park a bit north that had fountains and went in an open-air mall called Larcomar that had an arcade and played air hockey and this insane pirate-themed Namco shooter game called Dreadstorm Pirates. I don’t know what the name of the mall means but it has to be a pun because the word mar means sea and it’s right on the coast. Inside the mall is a smoothie shop called Desfruta, which is also a horrible pun of sorts.

Unlike American arcades, this one in Larcomar was packed. We had a huge audience of kids when we played the air hockey game. Some of the kids kept putting their hands on the table top and would get their fingers hit by the puck and cry. The pirate game was like this two-player immersive experience where you have to shoot skeletons and bats flying at you while your steer a ship. Really, the title says it all. But I got the sense that we were collectively so competitive that we had to beat this fucking game by the time we both left Perú or we’d be forever troubled by this unfinished quest.

After that, we went back down the beach, discussing whether we’d want to be cyborgs or not. We stopped at this playground. There was a metal cage that you get inside, sit on a round wooden bench that has a wheel in the middle. You spin the wheel and the cage spins. Faster and faster until you’re going Mach 5 or what feels like Mach 5! It was so old and rickety but more fun than any playground equipment I’ve ever seen before. So we’d spin and make out and spin and make out, simultaneously. I’m not sure how Chris commandeered us through this but he did. It made me so dizzy, but I liked it even though I lost equilibrium when I got off and kind of walked in a curved line haha and had to grab his hand for a moment to regain balance.

So this morning we went to this place called El Enano (the midget!). I had jugo de mango y uva y una ensalada fruta con yogurt. The food here is amazing. Everything is very flavorful, very rich with fruit especially. You get that a lot with mango though because it’s already such a very intense fruit but eating it where it grows the best, it somehow has an even more succulent and almost spicy taste to it that makes your tongue sizzle a little.

We went to an Incan ruins site a few blocks west. There was a tour guide. He was kind of morbid and would explain how women were sacrificed in great detail. Women wore yellow. Men wore red. Chris pointed out that I was wearing a yellow tank top and so of course, I had to be sacrificed. I also saw a couple of hairless Peruvian dogs which I thought were going to be gross to touch but were surprisingly more like petting the face of an old person (yes, I really can make a distinction between gross and petting an old person’s face). There were these sacrificial pots. Forever etched into my memory as “sharkball” pots as Chris called it (he later explained the rules for it–we continued making up the rules as we thought them up). The ruins were neat but at the same time, it felt like they had been tainted by the proximity of nearby modern civilization and drastic reconstruction. Still awesome all the same though. I’m in conflict with my opinions on that because I think historical preservation is great but not necessarily at the expense of function. I imagine it must be insanely difficult to be an architect and constantly have to be considering things like this when you’re trying to make decisions.

March 2, 2012

Last night, I got a sandwich at a place called La Luche. They ask for your name. I told Chris how Paddington Bear is called Pastuso. He’s from “Darkest Perú,” so after hearing him say he’d use his “Spanish name,” Cecilio, I used Pastuso. The girl didn’t understand. I wrote it down. She decided I must be Pastusa, since I’m a girl. And of course Chris didn’t even use that name. But I had a guffaw as the guy came winding around the corner yelling out “Pa…stus–a?” all shaky like. Yeah dude. That’s me. La oso con la chaqueta amarilla. Muajaja.

Yesterday, I was wandering around trying to get a sense of Miraflores. After I almost got sideswiped by a motorcycle (being a pedestrian here can be a life/death situation sometimes), a man approached me named Julio and started walking with me. He was a teacher from some district east. He followed me back here and then asked me out. But I of course said no because uh… what? But then I was out again today and saw him AGAIN. Awkward. Fortunately, I brushed him off that time.

Anyway. After the sandwiches last night, there was this rock-climbing place where all the members took turns, helping each other out, just kind of hanging out. I don’t know if that’s the culture everywhere, but I thought it was awesome that doing something like that passed as a social activity rather than boring shit like clubbing or drinking or whatever it is people are doing.

March 3, 2012

Today I went to this history museum. It was kind of small, but it had several bits of text that taught me some new vocabulary. I, like an idiot, corrected Chris on his pronunciation of the word “viceroy.” HOURS LATER, he looks it up and proves me wrong.

After that was Polvos Azules (blue dust?), this big open market, kind of like a flea market. And I experienced just how much Peruvians appreciate pirated DVDs. Before that, I broke into a park’s quarantined off island, had the park security react with a sequence of shrill whistling, and then they stopped caring immediately as I gleefully ran down the steps. I don’t think anyone here really, genuinely cares about police or security. Everything is very lazy and relaxed.

We got into a tiny combi, which was mildly terrifying. A boy got on at the next stop with like 200 hamburger buns and talked to us a little. I was pointing out these steep mountain roads, impressed that anyone could possibly drive up them. He said people definitely do. I tried to communicate that their cars must frequently have transmission problems but didn’t get it out as perfectly as I wanted, but he somehow understood and said they often park further down and walk up.

We weren’t sure where we were going. I wanted to go to a district called Tupac, solely because of the name and for no other reason, but we kept missing the combis. They’re really difficult to catch. There’s a little cobrador guy for each one. Yells out, “Sube sube sube, baja baja baja” and it’s all very very fast-paced. If you don’t make it on, you could potentially lose your leg or arm or maybe your head or everything. We got the combi we did and ended up at this fucked up overly American mall.

I had chifa for dinner, which is like cheap Chinese but with a Peruvian take. It was like fruit and chicken and red sauce. There’s always a soccer game playing. The places are small and there are no doors. It’s quiet. It’s very unassuming.

Now I’m here writing this. Leaving tomorrow for Cusco to go to Machu Picchu. Haven’t figured out where we’re going to be staying. I don’t really care, as long as I have fun (and Internet of course).

Last night I ate cuy (guinea pig) and alpaca for the first time. I liked both, but I wonder how true to their roots they were given that I was eating them in this kind of fancy restaurant. Chris had joked that this place was fancy before I got here but I don’t think he realized that it really actually was and we both seemed kind of uncomfortable with it. The only way we could really handle the discomfort was to start making up ridiculous stories for the other couples there, especially this creepy old graybeard with his 20-something arm candy. Or the couple that looked like they were on the outs because they seemed totally not interested in one another. It wasn’t a bad discomfort, just unexpected, kind of funny. Being two white people in this place, I wasn’t sure if this was a place locals actually go (aside from the graybeard and his arm candy) because I sensed a lot of gringo. Whatever, it’s a story.

March 7, 2012

I haven’t written in a few days but I’m in Cusco right now. I’m at this hostel which had a promising Internet connection which quickly turned to shit. Fucking ELTUCO2. Aghhh. Today was my first day back at work, and somewhat awkwardly disjointed by mad dashes to cafes and whatever. I wasn’t sure what work would be like. It’s nice though. There aren’t many people staying here at the moment because it’s the end of the summer. The guy running the place is very chatty and told us this long story about Perú’s rivalry with Chile over who created pisco sour (a really popular alcoholic drink here). When I had to work from a cafe, I ordered some sort of beverage while on a demo call and it said “piso” (“floor”) but it was a typo I think and it actually had pisco in it. It was really awkward for me because pisco does not taste good and although it wasn’t a lot of pisco, it had a very minor effect on me, which is not something I want at 12PM when I’m on a work call!

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I was expecting altitude sickness. Cusco is actually 2,000 feet higher than Machu Picchu at 11,000 feet above sea level (so like 2 miles almost). I had pills given to me at the clinic to help but the first night there, I was really cold and kind of exhausted for some reason. No headache or any classic symptom of it, not sure. It was just good to sleep though.

Yesterday, I took a bus to Pisac and hiked to the Templo del Sol, seeing a bunch of Incan ruins along the way. I had so much fun and I’m kind of looking forward to seeing Machu Picchu, although I miss Lima a tiny bit despite having only spent a few days there!

I’m not really a huge fan of Cusco though. The streets have tiny sidewalks with too many people. Pushing you around and getting in your way. I’m taller than almost everyone here, even the men. And I’m only 5’3″. Quechuan people bombard you aggressively, trying to peddle their dumb cheap wares on you. There is the Plaza de Armas but it’s like, you don’t want to be there if you actually want to experience Cusco because that’s where all the tourists are. We keep passing these places offering pizza. Who the fuck is ordering pizza in Cusco. Why go somewhere if you’re not going to try the local food.

That said, I had mate de coca and it was very strong and overwhelming in flavor, almost like drinking dirt. When people tell you teas have medicinal properties, you usually at least want it to be that it’ll make you as healthy and happy as the locals, but when I look at the locals, I can’t even sort of entertain that thought. I don’t want to look like a Quechuan mountain person!

 

March 12, 2012

I haven’t had time to write for a few days. I went to Machu Picchu this weekend and am now back in Lima. Friday afternoon, we got in this van called a collectivo, which is like a combi but it’s more of a commuter combi. This one was a 1 hour, 45 minute ride to Ollantaytambo, a small village near Machu Picchu. The collectivo ride was interesting because it went into the night through other small, isolated villages. People in the collectivo had little with them, were sort of perilously poor and would listen to radios without headphones. That was their entertainment. You could occasionally look out the window into the dark night and see a lone fluorescent street light in someone’s yard, like some rural American farmland. Some of the houses had large family-painted murals in support of the local soccer teams, like Arequipa.

It was cold and wet in Ollantaytambo, although somewhat charming in a way? The streets were cobblestone and ran along small water canals. There was a little restaurant still open, despite it being late. I don’t remember what I ate. I was so hungry that they could have brought out a cadaver and I’d have ravaged it. A store open had a competitor to Inca Cola (a cream soda made here, now owned by Coca Cola) called Sabor de Oro (taste of gold).

When we got up the next morning to catch the train, we were running late and then went the wrong way. It was foggy and misty and gray and the streets were very confusing in this heavily agricultural area that just happened to have a town thrown inside of it with a train station. We sprinted back and down the right path. On the train, we were seated with this obnoxious American family who I keep seeing everywhere, even in Lima. They reminded me of everything I never want to be – an unappreciative, confused, uncultured American moron. On the other side of the aisle were these two nuns. The only thing I remember about the nuns was that they really liked Twix candy bars and one of them had a 5 centimos coin, which is very rare and made of aluminum, so much that it looks fake.

We got to Machu around 8. It was raining. Chris and I wisely thought we could forego the bus ride up and hike it. It was a slightly difficult hike. In ponchos, we sweated so much that once we got to the top and removed the ponchos, steam was rising off of our skin. It looked incredible. The hike was well worth it though. The view from there? Amazing. Machu Picchu on a whole was stunning. I know most of it is reconstructed ruins, but that doesn’t make the formation and scenery any less beautiful. Besides, my favorite moments weren’t by the ruins but any time we went away from them and had to climb or do something moderately dangerous. We scaled walls. We saw this bushy weevil-like animal. Chris climbed over a big wooden post that was restricted access and crawled over two planks of wood serving as a construction bridge to an area no one was supposed to go. He was so proud of himself for doing it and it kind of made my day to see.

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After 6 hours, we headed back. I think I could have kept hiking but I was hungry and at the small base camp town of Machu Picchu there was a restaurant where I wanted to eat all the things, I was so hungry. On the train, we sat with a group of traveling European students who were cool, but their feet smelled awful. The girl, Petra, was Finnish and was telling us about the 4-day “hike” they went on. It was like downhill biking, ziplining, and whatever. Seemed cool, I guess. Maybe. The return collectivo was a mixed group of Chileans and Japanese guys. We sat in the back. The Chileans in front of us were very rowdy. The Japanese guy sitting near us in the back seemed very uncomfortable.

Flew back to Lima yesterday morning and I went out exploring. I actually missed Lima. I missed the sun. And the slippery dusty sidewalks. I really do love it here. I also love the fact that last night, we finally beat Dreadstorm Pirates. That’s right. Who’s awesome at terrible video games? I am.

March 16, 2012

I’m here for one more week. I don’t want to go home. I mean, I miss a few things about Portland. My couch, my bed, whiskey, my bike, the gym, certain foods. I’m sure there’s others. But I do love Lima. I love the discomfort and always being on my toes. I love the sticky, sweaty heat. The cacophonous mess of cars honking, obras, and whistles. I love the breeze. The smell of plants. The boisterous French guys in the room next door. The way people dress here. The cats in the park. I want to miss these things. I like that going home will make me appreciate it. But what am I going to do without pan de naranja y chicha morada?

April 6, 2012

I haven’t written in forever. I think I’ve been afraid to. I’m back in Portland again, feeling empty. Leaving Perú was difficult. My last day there, I felt an energy that was unfathomable to me. I’ve been home for 2 weeks now and I don’t really know how to process everything. I miss Chris a lot. I miss Miraflores a lot.

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My last few days in Lima flew. We went to the skate park. And hiking down by the beach. All over Miraflores. Through the ovalos. Down Arequipa (todo Arequipa! Todo Arequipa!). Down Comandante Espinar a Avenida Jose Pardo, past this silly old person restaurant Norky’s where Chris kept saying he wanted to eat for some reason that I can only explain as “That’s just  Chris” and into Vivanda, grab all the Gloria juices. Mango juice forever. Take the combi to Lima Parque del Agua and laugh as I run through the tunnel of water and hit my hand on the “walls” causing Chris to get soaked and then watch the laser show after.

I had to take the taxi to the airport. This driver was far more erratic and crazy than the first, was playing Guns ‘n Roses’ “Sweet Child of Mine,” and I found myself just closing my eyes and shifting myself into a very long hug with Chris, burying my head into his chest, half because the driving was getting to me, but half because I was so sad to let go.

But then I had to. And when I opened my eyes again, everything of Miraflores was gone and all I had was this journal and a memory.