Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Going into the Mystical World

I'll be going away for a little while on a journey into the wilderness. I've spent two days in Cusco hustling for a trip. That kind of worn me out. The weather here is changing all the time - from hail to rain to sun. I'll update when I can.

Miss everyone,


Sunday, November 19, 2017

My Days in Cuzco, Peru

The first night in Cuzco, a girl was moaning so loud because she was having sex in a bed with a guy at 1AM in a shared room of 10 people. She was so annoying, that I walked passed her bed on my way to the restroom and told her: "People are trying to sleep." She didn't stop.

So, the next day, an English guy and I were having a nap (because I was tired from not having enough sleep because of her), but she was talking obnoxiously on the phone with her mother. Why couldn't she take it outside?

That night I ate at a nice restaurant, but my boss from Trujillo (Northern Peru) asked to see me while I was eating dinner. I packed up my alpaca steak and saw her. That was nice to talk to her and see her. We chatted a lot about business and some ideas I had for it.

After, I went back to my hostel and asked the French volunteer at the hostel to put my food away. I saw the girl in my room and told her that it'd be more respectful if she went and talked outside next time. She said that she didn't know and that she never stayed in a dorm before.

Then at 1AM she was chatting up another guy (a different one) in our room. A number of people told her to go talk outside, but she wouldn't listen. Then, after I told her to go outside, she finally did.

The next morning, I was tired again. My food went missing. I confronted the French volunteer. After questioning him, he gave me a half confession. $16 USD down the drain, all because he got drunk, got hungry, and stole my food. I had enough.

I wanted to talk to management. I explained to them what happened and that I was not happy. The French volunteer found out about my complaint and started drinking early in the morning. He kept trying to deflect all the problems on crazy girl. I told them I was leaving, and this was a terrible experience.

Management handled it well. The main manager made everything better and gave me some money to buy another dinner. They forced crazy girl to get her own private room and they moved me to a better room for no extra charge. It was a win-win for everyone except for her and her new hookup - who had to pay a lot more for a private room.

* * *

Other than that, I haven't done much in Cuzco, except eat and drink cappuccinos and see museums. I posted a picture of one of my favorite pieces. It inspired me. It made me want one of Jeh Pan - my cat at home.

The museums were great though. I think it really helped me understand how to revise my short story - which for the moment I've lost interest in.

* * *

Later, at the hostel, the girl confronted me and said, "HOW COULD YOU SAY THOSE THINGS ABOUT ME???!!! I'M A CATHOLIC."

Right, I thought. Like I haven't heard that one before. That's why no children are born out of wedlock in Peru.

I tried to talk but she wouldn't let me.


I said, "This isn't a conversation." And I ran out of the hostel. She then started screaming at the staff about her story. But she was checking out.

The French guy offered me some beer later. I guess it was his way of trying to say he was sorry. I took some. I don't know if I forgive him completely. An apology also requires that he make things the way they were before the error. And he didn't do that, though the hostel did. And I like them for it.

* * *

Later at night, even though crazy girl checked out, she came back, looking for me. This time, she said, "I'm sorry that - "

I just walked to another room. She seemed unstable to me. And indeed she was. Apparently, she started screaming at the staff again, and they finally kicked her out and prohibited her from coming back. The inside joke is she behaved this way because she's from Lima. But so is one of the girls at reception - who laughed too, but said, "HEY!"

Later, I felt bad for her. Not that I or the hostel did anything wrong. But it made me wonder if she had mental health issues.

* * *

The new room was better. It was super dark; so, I sleep well.

I ate at a better restaurant yesterday. But the food was so terrible, because I ordered octopus, and it wasn't fresh and it tasted ugly. I told the owner, who looked drunk with glazed eyes, and he got defensive and said, "If you don't enjoy, you can leave."

I said, "So, you would rather me not tell you now and you'll find out about it later in a review." He threw up his hands and stormed back into the kitchen.

I started writing up my review on my computer. Then he said, "No computers allowed in the restaurant!"

"Ok," I said and packed away my computer in my bag.

I tried one more dish, but it was also terrible. I think the seafood isn't that good here, because Cuzco is so inland and hence the seafood isn't that fresh. You can read my review here: Terrible customer service - food not available

* * *

So - not a great introduction to this city. Hopefully, it gets better. 

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Arequipa, Peru

Me petting an Alpaca.
Doesn't it look happy?
From Chile, I took a seven hour bus ride to Arequipa, known as the White City. This is because the city is built with white lava stones excavated from the nearby volcanoes. I didn't do much in Arequipa; except I wrote and wrote and edited and agonized and re-wrote and then put away my story story. It's about my time in a beach village in Northern Peru. I'll try to publish it soon, but I needed it a break from it for now.

I enjoyed talking to a local restaurant owner, who was a Venezuelan lady. We had a full on conversation about how she started her restaurant business. That made me feel good that I could understand someone else's story. And it was rather involved.

Also, I saw Colca Canyon, but I didn't stay long. I didn't have enough time there, and also I didn't enjoy it that much. There's a tourist spot called the Condor Crossing. There were so many annoying tourists, and I didn't see any condors. And I had to wake up early to take the only bus there. And I was grumpy, because my receptionist gave me the wrong time. I could've slept 30 minutes more. Ugh!
Me with a couple who picked me up

In any event, I hitchhiked, and in 10 minutes I was picked up by a couple from Arequipa. There were no more buses back. The guy just bought a new car. I don't think they ever picked up a hitchhiker.

At first, he was nervous. But I calmed him down by telling him how bored I was by the Condor Crossing and how I wish I had just slept in. And they started laughing. And after awhile, they enjoyed talking.

See? I told you guys before, you have to pay when you hitchhike. And I always pay with my conversations and stories. He seemed fascinated I saw so much around the world and in Peru. They asked me more questions about Korea than the United States. I wonder why.

I told him that he could see a lot to and to watch The Motorcycle Diaries, about how Che Guevara traveled South America cheaply. I hope he does, and it inspires him to do it too.

After coming back into town, I walked to a hot spring two hours away. It was really nice. It was really hot and outside it was really cold. So, the contrast of environments made for a rich and awesome bath. And I saw an Andean Duck flying and hovering just above the river. That was cool. So no condors. But I saw an Andean Duck.

(It did cross my mind to hunt it and eat it. Oh, I miss duck. Although the food is good in Peru, they can't cook duck. Their national dish, Arroz con Pato (Rice with Duck), isn't really that good. They don't make use of the fatty duck skin to bring out the best in the duck.)

After my bath, I returned to the village and had some Alpaca Stew, cooked by a local mountain woman. That was interesting.

Another day, I also had some good fried chicken there for dinner too.

I went back to Arequipa. I got a haircut there. Post a picture soon. I paid $2 for it.

Other than that, I wish I could have stayed longer in the area. But I had some people to meet and my time ran out.

Canyon in the back.
Grumpy from waking up too early.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Jumping Over to Chile

Arrica, Chile
(See the flag?)
My Peruvian visa was running out again; so from the North of Peru I took a flight and stayed one night in Lima. There, I went to a contemporary museum, which was average, and I had dinner with a guy named Joe. He brought an Eastern European guest; I forgot her name, but she was really good at computer stuff. Joe liked the food. I found it average and expensive - and left them a bad review.

After, I flew into the most southern city in Peru called Tacna. I made it to the airport early, and just my luck, the flight was delayed.

Remember, the last flight I almost missed? It wasn't delayed. Whenever I miss a flight (except for once, 16 years ago (not that I'm keeping track)) or am running late for one, the flight is almost never delayed. But when I arrive early, it's almost late. Isn't life ironic?

I arrived into Tacna late. I figured out how to get to the terminal. I went there with a young Colombian guy - who broke his foot. He wasn't that travel smart - because he almost got ripped off by the taxi. If I wasn't there, he probably would have paid three times the amount. So, he liked me instantly, but I didn't completely trust him. He was looking at my stuff too much.

At the terminal, we hired a colectivo, and a group of us drove to the Peruvian-Chilean border. Our entire group had to be processed together, then on the Chilean side, we'd all leave together. So, this is why it's faster to take a colectivo than a bus, because there are only about 5 passengers in a colectivo. The bus has to wait for all it's passengers to be processed.

While waiting, my ADHD was flaring. I was getting naughty in my head again and had all these ideas of how to move the line faster. One of the passengers told me: "Tranquilo!" [Relax!]

The Peruvian guard really scrutinized my visa - hoping to get a fine out of me. Nope. I left on time.

The Chilean passport control gave me 90 days. But the Chilean customs, on the other side, rummaged through my stuff. I think they did it, just to have fun, because I was different than the usual passengers.

They found two bottles of Argentinian wine, which I didn't finish with my friends. The guard said, in Spanish: "Chilean wine is better?"

"Really?" I said.

"Of course. What are you doing with these wines from Argentina?"

"They taste good. Really good. What wine should I get from Chile?"

"Casillero del Diablo [Cellar of the Devil]."

"That one is famous in Los Angeles." But I thought, Not very good.

He smiled. "OK. Have a good day." The other guards seemed humored too.

My group in the colectivo was amused. They asked me what we were talking about.

I told them: Wine, and why I'm not buying Chilean wine. I added, this kind of stuff always happens to me. They were amused that I spoke Spanish, because until now, I wasn't speaking much.

Upon arriving in Chile, I found a cheap hotel to stay in. It didn't have hot water. I didn't take a shower.

It was clean, but a cheap hotel indeed, where you can probably buy your stay in hours rather than nights. And compared to Peru, it was expensive.

In the morning, I walked to a cafe in town. It was really expensive, just as expensive as coffee in Los Angeles. I sat and thought and reflected and wrote to people. I decided not to stay in Chile; it was too expensive.

Then, I took a bus back. The school teenagers all stared at me, because I was the only Asian person in there. I should have said, "Ni Hao," back at them.

Back at the terminal, I took a bus back to Peru. It was half the price of a colectivo. A lady tried to give me free clothes. Was that because I looked poor or because I looked kind? Or maybe both?

Passport control was actually faster this time. There was nobody there.

I tried to talk to the guard to give me a 183 days. I spoke in English at first, but she asked me if I could speak Spanish. I spoke in English to control the conversation, but it didn't matter. And I hustled with everything I had in Spanish - asking for 183 days. I even told her I was a volunteer attorney for a nonprofit foundation girls school in Northern Peru. (This was true.) But it didn't matter.

But nope. She gave me 90 days. Well, I tried.

The good news is that my Spanish is better; I struggled with it at the last border crossing. This time I didn't.

As you know, I'm a spiritual person. Must mean God doesn't want me to stay 180 days, and it's time to move on after 90 days. I could overstay some and pay the small fine. But small fines can add up, if you stay a long time.

I then took a seven hour bus ride, next to a lady carrying a huge cake for her daughter's birthday. I could sense she felt safer sitting next to me on the long ride. The whole ride, I was wondering if this was worth saving $55 USD; I could've taken a 30 minutes flight instead. It was a long ride. Although I'd like to tell myself I'm still young, these long bus rides aren't the same. I don't like them anymore.

Well, that's it. I'm back in Southern Peru. 

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Learning to Surf in Peru

My first surf lesson was awful; it really was. I instantly knew it was going to be bad when I met my instructor - who also has a reputation for being a creep in town. I stood up on the board, but the problem was I didn't feel like I learned anything or had control in the water.

But one day at the hostel, I met a girl from San Diego, California named Jennifer. She surfed all the time. She told me that she taught the little girls to surf here. 

I asked her to teach me. I told her the bad experience I had. She felt bad for me. 

She said, "Surfing is one of those things that should be taught for free. We're going to go out. I want you to enjoy the water." 

She added later, "Don't worry. I have a one hundred percent standing rate." 

On a sunny afternoon day, we walked to the beach together. Even though she was the girl, she insisted on carrying my board, because she was the teacher. She didn't bring a board. 

On the beach, we stretched. It was like doing yoga on the beach, though I've never done yoga. The people on the malecon were watching us from above. It looked like they never saw a girl teach a guy how to surf.

In this town, the surf guys have an association that is a monopoly. You can't make money off of surfing or renting surf gear without their permission. We call them the "surf mafia." But, because surfing is such a macho sport here, the men teach it, run it, and own it, no one sees a woman surf instructor teaching a guy.

So back to yoga stretches. The women watching us seemed like they wanted to join us and do yoga on the beach. We did a lot of squats and stretched our legs out a lot. I felt like we were like zen masters on the beach.

Then Jenn drew a surfboard on the sand, an imaginary surfboard. We practiced what she called "Ninja hops" onto the board. After a few jumps, she said I had it down. The people were still watching us from above.

We paddled into the water. Jenn swam next to me like a seal, shouting commands about where I should place my body. 

Every time a wave came, she would say, "Push up!" My board and body would brace the wave without being pushed back so hard. She was attentive.

Whenever I made a mistake, she would say things like, "Remember to push up." "Paddle." "Feet together."

After getting some of the basics, Jenn pushed me into a wave. I stood up, but it was only a half stand.

After paddling back out there, Jenn pushed me into a second wave. I popped up like a ninja. I stood up on the board. It was awesome.

Jenn wanted me to do another one. I told her, "Let's end on a good memory, so I want to go back out." 

While walking back, I told her, "I felt pressure. I didn't want to ruin your one hundred percent stand rate."

She gave me a high five and said, "But you did it. I felt pressure too. Everyone was watching me teach you."

We walked back. I was smiling when we got back. Jorge, the guy who runs the surf rental shop, saw me smiling. He asked, "Was she a good teacher?"

"Of course," I said.

Well, I told everyone in a hostel what a great time I had and how Jenn was a fantastic teacher. She really was.

* * *
Next week, Jenn was going to take me out again. People wanted to join us. So, this time, a number of us all went out together to surf in a Peruvian beach underneath the sunset sky. The sky was washed in colors of pink and orange.

It was fun to go out in a big group. 

When Jenn did the yoga lessons for the whole group, she drew a crowd - who all wanted to know what was going on. The girls say they didn't enjoy the attention. I don't believe it.

Jenn was like a little seal again, paddling around the beginners and shouting instructors. We had more advanced surfers too - who were also able to give attention.

On this round, I stood up twice on the board. The people saw. We all had a good time.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Learning to Surf

With the lifting winter, the sun beams down warmth and happiness on us, and during these days, I met a surfer girl who teaches children how to surf. I asked her if she'll teach me. She said she would. But in exchange, I need to teach her French cooking. She tells me - "You know, surfing is one of those things that one should teach for free."

A French girl and an Australian girl is coming out with me today. So, I'm going to learn to surf today. Hope everyone is doing well. (I was going to write on corruption today, but the day is too beautiful to discuss such topics.)

Friday, October 20, 2017

With Argentinian Gypsies in a Village by the Beach

Me, with gypsies
Like a lost cat, I wandered into a Peruvian, beach surf town. It kind of reminded me of the scene in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, when the children enter a new and different world - a world so different than the one they knew.

After washing up on shore of this little beach town, I fell in with a group of young gypsies - who work for housing. I followed along and started volunteering too.

My bosses appreciated the work I did, and started paying me with food, which included freshly baked bread; soy lattes, which quickly became called "love lattes"; curries; and homemade peanut butter. I laugh often to think that I get paid with food, but I guess it's nice to get paid in a currency of compassion.

Because meat is more expensive, and we have some vegetarian gypsies in the group, I began learning a number of vegan and vegetarian recipes. Generally, we eat and drink together every evening, but we have challenges to cook, because the gas range isn't strong.

Already, I've made a Korean noodle stew and ratatouille with noodles and quail eggs. The last meal, I could feel was par excellence, and I told the gypsies, I learned from the Italians, that the food has to be cooked from the heart. Everyone could tell that dish was cooked from my heart.

I don't know where I'll be going next. Only the winds know. But I'm glad that winter is beginning to vanish in Peru.