Lima apologies

23 Dec 2004
Lima, Peru

Hey Lima,

It’s me. How are you doing? Yeah? You seem upset – Is there something wrong? Yeah, I know, I said a lot of things I shouldn’t have. I know – I’m like that sometimes. Try to understand where I was coming from – you were a bit stand-offish yesterday. I know, I know, I shouldn’t have said anything to my friends. I´m really sorry. It was my way of dealing with it. If it makes you feel any better, I’ll tell them what a great time we had today. Oh, come on.. give me that smile. You’re pretty when you smile. What about one more chance. What if we have a nice a day as we did today? Maybe we could have that every day? Come ‘ere you….

So maybe I was hasty about Lima. Sometimes when I don’t eat all day, I get a little grumpy, and a little judgmental. It’s what I do. Today, after I got out of bed, after a _fantastic_ nights sleep, I saw Lima in a new light. Dirty? Well, maybe not. It’s dirty like Paris and Beijing are dirty. It’s hard to not be dirty when you’re a 500 year old city, but that doesn’t mean you have litter covering the streets. On the contrary, I saw a lot of people (women I think, but I’m not sure – they were covered head to toe in orange industrial jumpsuits, including a hat and face mask) cleaning the streets. There were very few instances of litter, and I am staying in a bit more run down area.

After typing up last nights entry, I watched the first half of the BBC faux documentary “The Office – One year later” on my Gmini 400 (iPod wanna be with a lot of other cool features.) When the Borg collective make it to earth, I’m going to be one of the first ones there, waiting in line with my computer, cell phone, PDAs and Ipods hoping to be signed up. I was up till about 2 a.m., which is about par for the course, but going to sleep wasn’t a problem, and that is a nice change.

I get up about 8:30 after a _very_ solid nights sleep. I wait around the room for a while, reading and figuring out what to do next. One shower an I’m ready to go. I’m hungry – crackers and beer don’t make a good dinner. Right around the corner is a small cafe my Rough Guide recommends, and I head there for a little reading and early lunch. I go with a Latte, which I add salt to instead of sugar. It’s not a taste sensation, as you might expect. For lunch I have a fish dinner, which is good (the fries were really, really good), except it’s really, really fishy tasting, like a grouper, but better than a salty latte. The fries were good.

After my very early lunch, I head to the center square (Plaza Mayor – it used to be known as Plaza de Armas until a few years ago. Adjacent to the square and to the Governors Palace, it was a Inca temple dedicated to the Puma diety) and watch the changing of the guard at the Palacio de Gobierno/Governors Palace. It’s a pretty neat display, and I end up getting a pretty good video of the band playing, using my little camera. It was a feature I hadn’t used before, and I like it. Watching the display makes me really happy to be here. The video is only about 2 minutes long, and it´s 320×240 resolution (very small), but it takes up 33MB of space, which is way, way too much space. As soon as I get it to something managable, I´ll post it.

Next I head to the Museo de La Inquisicion, which I’d written down in the previous years as something I should see. This was the headquarters of the Inquisition for all of the Americas from 1570 until 1820. It was OK, but not fantastic. The woman giving the tour would have done very well in that torture rich period. Watching some of the recreations of the tortures was hard, and I had a bad feeling about the negative energy of the place. I’m pretty virulently anti-Catholic, and this reminded me why. Nothing like the state instituting torture to get people (who used to believe otherwise) in line. Even though I didn’t mean it that way, it kind of sounds like our government in Guantanamo (sp?) and Iraq, eh? Don’t get me wrong. Even though I think the unelect president (now officially an elected president, but not my president) GWB started the downfall of my country, and Iraq (the average Iraqi is three times more likely to die now than under Hussien, even counting the chemical weapons we gave him and he used on his own people), he hasn´t been as cruel as the Spanish Inquisition. He may have killed more people, but still less than Stalin. That’s something, right?

Anyway, back on task. Next I go to the Catacombs Museum in the San Francisco Monastery. I manage to get on an English language tour, with the cutest tour guide this side of Janeane Garofelo. (SP?) She gives me a couple of odd looks while I’m there, but I don’t think much of it (maybe a few thoughts that aren’t appropriate for a church.) Maybe she’s just gassy. Anyway, the tour is pretty neat. There are either 70,000 people (according to my rough guide) or 25,000 (according to my cute little tour guide) buried under the church in there catacombs. About 20 years ago, the bones were dug up and sorted according to type of bones. They put quicklime on the bones when the peopel are interned, which aides in decomposition and odor, but it also destroys the smaller bones. So there are tens of thousands of large bones sorted by type, mainly femurs and skulls. I took some pictures, but I don’t know how well they turned out. Probably the most unsettling part of this whole thing was the smell. It wasn’t like decaying flesh, or anything I’d really smelled before, but I didn’t like it. Maybe it was our gassy guide?

I spend the rest of the day walking around the city. There are some pretty amazing parts and things I want to see. A mansion that is the oldest in the Americas, that has been inhabited by the same family since 1535. That’s just crazy, unless it’s the Adams Family. I walk along this great shopping plaza soaking it all in, and make my way to a bank, where I can get enough money to pay for the balance of my ticket to Cusco. There are casinos, a lot of restaurants, cinemas, ice cream parlors – it’s great. I pass the cute tour guide, who gives me a big smile. As I pass her I think “She looks familiar.”

I end up with a 6 a.m. flight on the 24th, which is what I wanted, except later in the day. My hotel, which still smells occasionally of vomit, got the ticket for me, and I’m assured it’s one of the last tickets left. I did find out from the woman working the desk that I should have paid something closer to $5/US instead of the $12/US I paid, but the sting is less after my very nice day. My Rough Ruide said I should pay $9. I’m going to believe that since it will mean I’m less of a sucker.

About four, I find an internet cafe and settle in for some slow internet cruising and time killing. At 6 p.m, the sun will be going down, and the Changing of the Guard at the Governors Palace is supposed to happen again. And, as is the Photographers Curse, the light will be the best. The battery on my small camera is dying, so I get my other, larger camera only to find it’s dying too. It’s not that big of a deal, as this changing of the guard isn’t as elaborate as the earlier one. Add my cameras to my Gminis battery dying (I call it Gimli) and my Palm Pilot, and I’m a digi-eunech. I manage to get a few pictures before all the cameras die.

I head back to my hotel room for a short rest (but no nap – those are poison, but I’m pretty tired.) The daughter of the hotel owner is there and she knocks on my door with my plane ticket, and wanting the rest of the payment. She’s young and cute, but too young to be as cute as the tour guide, or at least for those thoughts. She speaks great english, which leads me to think “does everybody in the world fucking bilingual but me?” She freaks when a small dog walks into the hotel, much like a certain friend of mine. We get dog removed, and everything else straightened out, they’ve got a taxi coming at 4:30 a.m, and a wake up call for me at 4 a.m.

Now that I’ve gotten this worked out, I head out for dinner. On my way out, I pass that damned cute tour guide again, and she’s still giving me that funny look. After I pass her the last time, I realize who she was, and what that look is. By then, she’s turned a corner, or far enough away that turning around and running down the street would be kind of creepy. I wonder – do they have mace in Peru. Then I think – Damn!! I’ve been looking for that look for a long time. If only I was quicker on my feet. If there is a command prompt involved, I’m pretty good, but I don’t think she had one.

So what do you do? Drink. it solves so many things. I had a restaurant in mind when I set out, just of the Plaza Mayor, popular with the business class and in a good area. I go, grab a table and order a Pisco. What is Pisco. Well, I’m glad you asked. It’s a white grape brandy, and I think it’s mixed with an egg white to give it a nice frothy head. It’s good. Really good. When I order my second one, I think “I’m tipsy.” Along side my Pisco, I get a nice plate of fries, a very, very tasty kabob of beef and a fist sized ear of corn. The corn is unique to me, in that is is very short (the length of a closed fist), almost as big around, with the largest kernels I’ve ever seen. I imagine this is what corn is like without the genetic engineering that has made the corn that we know in the US. While I’m sitting there reading my book, I realize that most of the music I’ve heard has been american music. While it’s profitable for the USA, it’s not what i’d expected. In the rest of Latin America, I’ve heard a lot of local music. I don’t mean flutes and violins, but local pop music, blared from stereos everywhere. Maybe that will change – I’ll let you know. I finish my third Piscos and head back to the hotel, waiting to see what tomorrow brings.

And to you, Lima, I’d like to say – I’m sorry for the things I said. Maybe we can spend some more time together. I think we got along pretty well, don’t you. You do too? Well that’s great.. you’re pretty when you’re angry.