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Price of beer in a bar: Drank on the street for free last night
Song currently stuck in my head: Heart of the Sunrise (Yes)

Pan flute covers of Scorpion songs and girls with names like
programming languages help structure today’s email.  Well, okay, not
plurals of either of those things.  So a cover and a girl then.  And a
new Jacket.  And some guy was serving some kind of traditional
corn beer out of a bucket in the plaza last night.  The bucket used to
hold vegetable oil and not antifreeze, like in Nicaragua, so I didn’t
think twice before accepting.

Traveling in South America is drastically different from doing so in
Central America.  There are far, far fewer travellers and while hotels
abound there are few hostels as well.  Travelers, hostels and sand
became my life for months, it’s a bit of a shock.  But at least
there’s no Reggeaton.

I’m in Peru right now, leaving for Bolivia tomorrow if things go well.
Sarah and I have been to Machu Picchu this morning, arriving and
situating in time for the sunrise.  I’ll echo what everyone else says
about Machu Picchu because I agree:  it’s a monumental pain in the ass
and cost about 14 days budget just to get to and get into to,  but in
the end it was pretty much worth it.  Getting there involved a ticket
clerk with horrendous misinformation, a mind-bogglingly overpriced
train (most expensive of my life for the distance, and I’m in the 3rd
world), the only way in, that was 105 minutes late, bad exchange rates
and ticket clerks that couldn’t perform simple subtraction, a 14 bus
ride, 3 other buses, hours of pan flute music and Spanish covers of
soft rock number and numerous arguments (my favorite was when Train
Ticket Agent #2 said that he couldn’t change our tickets because they
were round trip, but Train Ticket Agent #1 had refused to sell us
round trip tickets… IN YOUR FACE, PERURAIL!!!!!  …now here’s my
US$166…)  Train Ticket Agent #1 lied to us and said that all of the
trains were filled except one.  In reality we got on an earlier train
and our car was nearly empty.  The number of riders daily is tightly
controlled, this was no mistake.

In person, though, Machu Picchu is cooler than I can possibly describe here.

Before today’s big outing, I spent a couple of days in Paracas kite
boarding (which I’d been wanting to do this whole trip) and a few
hours visiting the Nazca Lines, which I’d wanted to see since I was a
kid.  My trip has taken a much more tourist-like bend since I arrived
on this continent.  I’m going to try to limit this, but there’s not
much else going on here, especially in Peru.  Here it’s all affluent
vacationers, Euros, Argentinians, and Chileans, flying by on spotless
tour buses.  This town is no exception, except there are no buses (or
cars, or accessible roads to the outside… the train is the only way
here aside from hiking for days).

The kite boarding was terrific.  It was my first time, I took lessons
with Katja, who is said to  be the #3 female kiteboarder in South
America.  The location was perfect, a bay with good winds every
afternoon surrounded by massive sand dunes on the edge of the Peruvian
desert.  Alongside my board were a couple of French Canadian kite
surfers, Matthew and Pascal, who are probably in Cuzco right now.  I
was shivering in my wet suit by the end of the day and for some reason
I was dreaming of a slice at The Flying Tomato.  I hadn’t thought of
that place in at least 5 years.

Bolivia is cold and that’s where we’re going next.  I’ve heard rumors
of snow in La Paz and no one has heat there.  I’ll be glad to move
past that part and into Chile.

Cost of beer in a bar: You know the score: US$1=20 ounces in South America.
Song currently stuck in my head: Slam (Onyx).  What ever happened to
Sticky Fingas, anyway?

I´m going to try to make this quick.  I´m in Trujillo, which is a
pretty cool town with good food, good prices, and a nice cheap cinema.
I saw Ocean´s 13 yesterday (much better than 12) and The Fantastic
Four 2 (much better if you´re 12).  But I was hoping to be stranding
on the corner being yelled at by bus employees 15 minutes ago, so I´m
a little behind.  My hope is to go to another town 20 minutes away,
find a room, possibly drop off some laundry, and organize a day hike
to some ruins.  So it´s a busy day.

Since last I wrote I´ve been to Banos, which I´m pretty sure means
toilet, which only goes to prove that I don´t understand what the fuck
is going on in Ecuador.  When I speak spanish people just stare at me.
When I tell them I don´t understand what they´re saying they say it
faster, adding many, many more words.  Every yes or no question is
answered in essay form.  I was fine in Centro, and in Peru people seem
to understand me, but in Ecuador it´s all jibberish from both sides.

Toiletsburgh well illustrates my being out of touch, Ecuadorially
speaking.  It was by far the best town we visited in Ecuador.  The hot
springs, which I´ve often been around but never tried, were cranked up
to the dangerous and dizzying levels of heat that I adore.  We went
white water rafting (another first for me) at Sarah´s behest and I´m
so glad that we did.  Then 39 hours of land travel brought us to
Trujillo, Peru, where I´ve been for a day or so.  We crossed the
Ecuadorian-Peruvian border via a different route this time, one that
the writers of The Rough Guide to South America and I agree is
superior to our more westernly prior route.  Such agreements are
disappointinglyrare, but it still beats no guide at all.  Really I´m
in awe of how much info is crammed into a travel guide, even a
disappointingone.

I´m alive, vaguely on budget, somewhat healthy, sober(ish) and on the move…

No promises for today or tomorrow folks.  I slept in a Peruvian
airport waiting for an arrival that, at this point, has been delayed
14 hours.

I hate the american air carriers so much that I can´t even being to
describe it here without destroying this computer equipment.  I´ve
been treated like shit by them repeatedly, and I decide to never fly
certain carriers again.  And it pointless because then the federal
government takes my tax money and hands it directly to them.  It´s no
longer necessary that they provide me a service, they get paid either
way.  Then after the bailout they still axe their retirement benefits
and lay off their employees.  And it´s all bullshit.  The industry
doesn´t require this kind of subsidy to survive.  Look at Southwest,
who is profitable and widely loved.  At Delta, they loves them some
antiquated hub-based business model and it be showin in their
lumbering dinosaur of a corporate structure.  And they´re not alone.

Is there any other service provider that you´d accept this shame full
level of service from?  I´ve been told that flights were on time that
never left the ground on time.  They were NEVER, at any point, ON
TIME.  I sit around repeatedly and watch people, delayed for 6 hours 4
times across 3 different gates, give a standing ovation when their
plane finally starts boarding.  THIS INCOMPETENT ASSHOLES DESERVE A
STANDING OVATION for screwing you over for 6 hours!?!?!?!!?!  Fucking
sheep.

I hate them so much.

So, anyway, way busy the next few days, especially after this setback.
Will get back with you when the beachside Ecuadorean liquor has
soothed my nerves or, alternately, may contact you asking that you
write the consulate/hire mercenaries to free me from a Peruvian jail
after I snap this morning.