|Peru-fest 1991 (the sun also rises): summer solstice at Sexy Woman, at gun point
[11 Mar 2019 | Rome> 2 settimane rimango qui. Our bedder-½ still stateside, shifting NYC > DC. Ain't much to report on, just getting ducks in a row for our move/closing/etc. on both ends. Part of getting ready to translocate means using our mothership machine + musickle instrawments before they get shipped out on high seas, so laid down a few new tracks + transcribed sum more journulls (material we might mine for Textilioma, a.k.a. 'SSES" vol II). Last we left off in our journel archiving, we was on the shores of lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in el moondough, after travelling thru Bolivia in June 1991. Now we continue in a green notebook that looked like this: ]
[It opens up w/ a page not written in my handwriting, but by Max, who—cuz of his resemblance to James Joyce, we determined even back then—we're calling (in 'SSEY" vol II) Buck Mulligan, friend of Deadalus (in Ulysses), the Joycean equivalent to Peisistratus, son of Nestor, who accompanied Telemachus on his journey to find his fathter (in The Odyssey):]
Preface note to the [unintelligible] edition:
He is a lover of textiles like myself, and Cuzco has been a good hunting ground for both of us. Although Derik [sic] is buying mantas [Peruvian textiles] for expedient purposes unlike myself, who is in it for the pure beauty and cherishment of handwoven materials. [Do you detect the British sarcasm?]
I am supposed to submit my philosophy of life and general feeling of the corner we live... Fuck ‘em all!
[Switches back to my handwriting:]
Cuzco (Plaza de Armas)—June 20, 1991
I arrived 4 days ago. Spent the first couple days hanging out with some friends I met on the train here. Matt and Paul and Leanee went on to do the Inca trail but Max and I stayed to just absorb Cuzco. Yesterday we woke up from our room with a view of Plaza de Armas but realized that the balcony didn’t compensate for scuzzy bathroom lacking a shower, so we went on a hunt for a better room. He conned me into splurging. We found a killer room with a balcony at the end of Avenida Sol overlooking the whole stretch of street. It’s the main drag, always packed. And in the hotel is another lounge overlooking (w/ balcony) the plaza. What more could you ask for? It’s sheer decadence and considering it’s a ★★★, $10 ain't bad (original price $40). After settling into the much needed 3 zzz’s we went to get some fish + rice. We sat on the street where a parade was accumulating. Lots of little kids (3-6) were dressed in really colorful native costumes. Organizing groups of 3 or 4 yr olds into a dancing parade in the U.S. would just be impossible. Along with the kids were a bunch of large papier mâché floats, for “isla de sole,” etc. We rushed our meal—Max didn’t finish his rice and some poor old man (who incidentally is walking by in Plaza de Armas right now) was eyeing it so we invited him to eat it. He barely could eat he was so hungry. What he couldn’t eat he put in a little bowl he carried around with him. Luckily the waitress approved with a smiling nod.
I keep getting interrupted… first by these funky women selling things. They’re so cute with their puffy red cheeks + big smiley grins + colorful clothes + they just won’t take no for an answer. And Max became distraught by a manta transaction—he almost had a $250 manta for $60 when the vile woman returned as he was out the door and said no. Anyways then we went and saw the parade in the plaza. There were 10,000s of people accumulated. We had the option of our balcony view too. The grand finale was a huge condor about 30 feet high attached to a big crane. It was so big they had to lower like it was hovering to get under the telephone wire. After that we did the full-on gringo tour of the ruins hear here. To take a bus there and walk back would have been a few dollars and a guided tour was $3. First stop—Santo Domingo church and Quirancha. Quirancha [Coricancha] means court of gold + was the big temple of Cuzco before the Spanish came + melted down the few thousand kilos of gold to ship back. The stone walls are all that’s left—but they are intense in their magnitude + precision in cutting the stone. The church was basically built on top of Quiricancha. It was destroyed in 1650 by an earthquake but they rebuilt it. Then we went to Sacsayhuaman (pronounced “sexy woman”) this is the head of the serpent shaped Cuzco. Then to Q’enko, Puky Pucany [sp?] and Tambo Machay. Tambo Machay is the infamous “fountain of youth”. Max and I ran up and quickly gulped from the fountain while the others gasped in horror that we’d get cholera. I feel rejuvenated. We hung out with the llamas + watched some old lady weave. Llamas are actually quite vile + like to spit at you + kick you tho they are quite elegant + proud animals with cool dreadlocks that make mean grunting noises.
We came back and had dinner at Govindas, this dive of a hare Krishna joint. Lots of trippy space cadet types lurking about + lots of wholesome food. Despues we went to see this folkloric dancing which was actually really good… but in the wake of what was to happen next pales in comparison (it’s hard to write now cuz idiot Max is blaring out passages from Gideon’s bible in the hotel room, trying to imitate a southern American preacher). We went on to the room where they had killer folk music. The first band was decent tho the atmosphere was a little weak. We were the only ones giving the guys our attention. The next band blew both me + Max away. They filed on stage, 5 dudes dressed in black w/ rockabilly Ritchie Valens haircuts. They carried their instruments like guns + ammunition + prepared themselves on stage, taking out their panpipes—zampoñas + qeñas—out of their satchels + slinging them around their necks, arranging drums, guitars + charangos, etc. They were armed for battle. The bass drum started bellowing, then the onslaught began, all in tight unison. The guitar + charango wove a fast rhythm + then the pan pipes entered… incredible. 3 of them played this interlocking pattern that just has to be heard. It is such a beautiful instrument. They played w/ such passion—it was intense. The melodies + harmonies were very complex. I was so inspired my head was numb. I couldn’t believe some of the things they were doing, especially on the qeñas + zampoñas, played by these young rockabilly brothers-in-arms, playing in the corner against the original Incan wall, their bodies convulsing w/ the force of breath, eyes closed, sweat on their faces. Amazing the energy they lured out of these pieces of bamboo. Max says he will shut up if I read chapter 7, Matthew, to him. Ok, I'll shut up. [postcards of Incan walls + musicians interspersed]
Cuzco is full of aspiring street musicians. Right now (it’s dark) + below our balcony some musicians are playing guitar, violin + accordion + singing cool tunes + 100s of people have gathered around, giving them their ears. And then there’s “our main man”—a blind man that has something severely wrong w/ his muscle coordination, but boy he can sure play the pan-pipes (made out of PVC pipe!) w/ contorted passion. He seems to be playing the soundtrack to our Cuzco experience, wherever we are, including right this minute, you can hear him over the honking cars, crowd noise + the other band. It's like a magical flute. Max + I each give him 50¢ each time we pass (which is at least 3x a day). Hopefully no one steals his money before he can reach down to feel for it. Anyways, we wouldn’t let the band “Creación” quit. We were hollering + clapping + by then a few others had filed into the club + became captivated. They played many encores, sincerely accepting our requests not to stop + plumbing the depths of their repertoire. When they finally quit, they came over + sat at our table + we talked for a while… they plan on touring the U.S. + England in a year or so. We also bought tapes they had made + said I would send copies to some tape-networking magazines so they would get requests from overseas, which seemed to please them.
Afterwards Max + I went to the “Cross Keys” pub, run by some English dude, w/ darts, etc. but it was big load of crap full of stupid gringos. Max + I were still under the spell of Creación + felt every 1 in the pub should hear them so asked the bartender to put their tape on. Meanwhile Max was sucking down overpriced beer. I had long since quit after 2-3, but being the Englishman that he is kept going, 6, 7, … + large ones. We had bought some pan pipes + flutes at the folkloric thing + when we got back, we were inspired to play them at 1-2 a.m. The hotel is pretty much empty. Woke up this morning + cruised Avenida Sol. Max was off doing banking crap when I noticed all the cars were backed up + trying to do U-turns in a chaotic mess. Up ahead was a lot of commotion + flames. At closer inspection it turned out to be a small but powerful band of protestors that had lit some big bonfires in the middle of the biggest intersection in Cuzco + were chanting all sorts of stuff about “pueblos” + “lucha” + “salud” + “vencera”. They were quite common people, not necessarily young or eccentric. Protest + rebellion was not a fad to them (like in the U.S.), it was a necessity. I was surprised to not see a single cop except one that was trying to untangle the mess of traffic. But the protestors glanced around nervously. We've seen lots of riot cops, such as at the parade, w/ shields + helmets + armored cars w/ water cannons on the roof + other intimidating tank-like vehicles. Then I wandered around the maze of funky narrow adobe + Incan stones + tiled roofs. After, I ran into Max when I was writing these entries in the plaza + we went to get vegetable omelets + tried to find museums that don’t exist. We ran into our Creación friends again + chatted w/ them. Then we met the dude that makes their instruments, quite a character, David, who played us many songs, such as Mozart + Charlie Chaplin theme songs he picked up off T.V. Talented panpipe player, but he plays solo. He told us stories about how he sold flutes to Shirley McClain + how she came to Machu Picchu when she had cancer + was miraculously cured. I got a book on how to play charango but I don’t get one until Luis sells me his used one. Now we’re off to see Creación again at The Roma.
Machu Picchu, June 21
We decided to head to Machu Picchu this morning. We met these 2 Peruvian girls from Lima who wanted to split a taxi to Ollantaytambo. We woke at 5:40 cuz the guy at the hotel was a dick thinking we needed to make the 6:00 train, when we didn’t need to leave until 7:30. Luis was our taxi driver + the car was a big beat-up Ford fully equipped with broken window + no first gear. We cruised to Pisaq, stopping every 2 seconds so the Peruvian girls, Monica + Leanny, could take pictures. We picked up this Indian Woman Martha w/ big baggy cotton pants + her kid who also had matching baggy stretch pants. We drove up this road to the ruins above Pisaq, really intense ruins, the whole hillside is terraced with stone walls + the valley below was beautiful. I ran along the goat trails on the ride, ruins spilling to either side. The trail suddenly tapered down the side off a cliff + just when I started to get worried, the trail cut back into the side of a cliff into this old Incan tunnel staircase going through the rock + to the other side. It was an intense trail. I cut back down to this set of ruins + ran into Max + Martha who were waiting w/ a bag of soft drinks, at these cool fountains with intricate canal systems. Luis went down to Pisaq + we were going to go down the Inca trail to meet him. The girls went the low road + Max + I went the high road. The views were intense—there were little castle-like fortresses on each outcropping.
This is an annotation by Max (who has had 6 large beers):
I (Derek) have taken over for an expedient conclusion... we went to the train station. Nobody knew if or when a train was coming. Luis left us after many warnings, “cuidado con los ladrones”. A freight train passed but didn’t take us. Finally we made a train—a spectacular trip up this valley with spiring jungle covered cliffs closing in on the sky. We arrived in Aquas Calientes, a delightful little shithole. At least 2 sketchy characters offered us drogas to enhance our Machu Picchu experience. After chowing + wandering, Max + I went to the hot springs. We were expecting trippy Shirley McClaine freaks + we were not let down. In the main pool were about 20-30 hippy sudamericanos in a circle holding candles, burning incense + chanting to new age music. They hugged in mass, contracting + expanding, chanting OOOOMMMMMMM over + over, summoning the spirits of love + peace, hugging eachother + generally just being fucking freaky weird, in a bad way. Max said that whenever there is such a large “positive” force, Satan must be nearby, to balance things out. And right on cue, there she was, a wide-eyed woman glaring at us from a dark stramy recess... she looked like an incarnation of the devil himself. In another pool we met this Mexican guy Maza who was an interesting character. He lived in Marin + travelled around studying weird musical instruments. Right up my alley.
Machu Picchu—June 22
Train to Cuzco—June 23
[I threw my bad down and was holding on to this plant wondering if or how...] I would do this when the plant derooted and I slid down the rock and jumped, barely landing on the edge. Then it was a very steep climb up these stairs the Incans carved out of the side of the cliff, and thru some cliffs. There were about 10 people on top including Ian and the other Brit. The 2 Kiwi girls were doing Tai Chi and also this Japanese couple, the girl immaculately dolled up with nylons and high heels and make-up, white cover-up like a geisha mask. How she managed to get up there without breaking a sweat or getting dirty was beyond me. Some cops with machine guns came up, supposedly someone was being hassled by ladrones. I hiked up more for ½ an hour then went down and ran into Max, then Leanee, then Paul and Matt going back up but i was too lazy to go back to where i'd already been. Wandered through the other side in the ruins where llamas were grazing then went out to the Inca Puente, nice walk but the "bridge" was actually just a wall built along the cliff—insane cliff almost the size of El Capitan. Then I walked up to the sun gate… long hot walk. There was a large American tour group with porters + cooks, etc. Nice view of MP from a distance with the zig zag road coming up. Ran back into the gang up in the ruins smoking coca leaves. We shined the bus going down cuz it was a rip-off. Long walk down. Matt and Ian and I were way ahead at the bottom so we took a swim in the river. Refreshing. When we went up to the train station it was a hectic scene, this tourist train that was supposed to leave at 2 (it was now 4) was still there and people were running around bitching + yelling. Ended up that a train had derailed and no trains could go through. Our 4 pm train would come up at 11 a.m. or 1 p.m. next day, or not at all, depending on who you asked. The tourist train was full but I talked to the conductor who said we could stand for 18 mil (a bribe basically). Money I didn’t have. So we said fuck ‘em all and went down to the river to swim and pile rocks. Then back to Gringo Bills—a funky add-on place run by none other than a gringo named Bill, who lies in bed in his office reading novels + wearing Grateful Dead shirts. He’s been living in Aguas Caliente for 20 yrs, he’s loco.
We went to eat by the train station which was insane with tourists coping with the delay by getting plastered but then their train finally left + it was mellow. Paul, Matt and Max were playing quarters (using the only Peruvian coin (a 0.50 Inti piece worth about 1/2,000,000 cents), which besides being worthless, earlier in the day had been placed on the train tracks, so was flattened). After explaining the rules to Max who had never played before, Matt bounced the coin in on the 1st toss + Max eagerly downed the drink, slamming the mug down…. and the coin was not at the bottom of the glass! He had swallowed it! It was quite funny, they forgot to explain how you were not supposed to drink the coin. He said he could feel it in his stomach. After lots of beers for them we went to the hot springs. On the way back we stopped at this funky bar that played Jimi Hendrix. They were getting whiskey + coffee + smoking coca leaves + dancing around. Then some really shady characters came in, all drunk and disheveled and wanting to sell us drugs. They were giving us moonshine, who some were stupid enough to drink. When the other guys decided to make the deal, Leanee and I decided to split—seemed really sketchy + we didn’t want to be involved and figured they’d need someone to bail them out of jail. We chilled at the room then got worried so went back to check on them. They were not at the bar. We ran into the dealer who shook a bag of pot in our race and said “Colombian, man, good stuff”+“andale pues,no tengas miedo.” We finally found the guys down by the train tracks with a table full of empty beer bottles, plates of soggy French fries and egg sandwiches, seriously involved in a game of hearts. They didn’t go thru with the deal so instead decided to get smashed. Paul and Leanee went back to the room so the rest of us kept playing. Matt was being funny, totally shit-faced saying “I’m gonna piss on the tracks then pass out in the church, come to think of it.” Everybody was smashed, drinking moonshine and staggering along the RR tracks. We went back and crashed. Max, Matt and I were inputting into this trippy story until we finally fell asleep. At 5:30 Leanee and I went to buy tickets, they said the train left in 10 minutes so we ran back up to wake up the hungover dudes, a hard chore. Barely made the train and here we are.
We went back and forth from the street to the balcony watching the people and parades and eating. We went to the Roma—Creación wasn’t playing but we ran into Luis. Everyone is really sick except me—Paul has giardia, so he has diarrhea and farts like mad, Max had a bad mix of wine, beer, chicha and street food and ended up puking a purple goo right outside the door of the Roma. Matt was still hungover and nodding off, on the verge of passing out. Luis must have thought we were a strange lot. He didn’t speak english and none of them spoke spanish so they all left and I kept hanging out w/ Luis, walking around the insane streets. He wanted to know all about what to expect in the U.S…. how they would treat long-haired latinos. And he told me all about Inti Raymi, their summer solstice festival. The party never stopped. It was hard to sleep with all this going on outside our door.
At 6:00 we were up again cuz the Inti Raymi procession was taking root. In the plaza were groups of men so drunk they couldn’t stand and their friends were blowing smoke in their faces to make them puke. The plaza was full of vomit, piss, spilled chicha and food remnants. 3 firetrucks were hosing down the entire plaza. Paul and I went down to get Puno tickets. They fucked up my rez but not the one I made for Paul, which he quickly took (it was for the 26th) without asking me. So I settled for 1st class on the 25th which anyway was ⅓ the price of tourism class. We watched the stuff going on in the plaza all morning and had our usual extended breakfast at the Schwitzer Mueslix place. Max left at about 8:30 to the airport to go to Lima and then home to England. It was a sad farewell. He never did find his coin (he became rather obsessed with recovering it, to the extent that he poked around his poop looking for it, even trying to solicit my help). But he said he'd keep looking, on the plane even, as right about now is when he reckons it'll pass.
Around 11:00 Paul , Lianne, Matt and I joined the procession going out to “Sexy Woman” [Sacsayhuaman]. It was like a pilgrimage up the hill, more and more people funneling in from side streets. “Sexy Woman” was packed with people off into the horizons, camping out, cooking, and having fun in the haze. The ruins themselves were covered with people in every possible nook + cranny to sit or stand. We clambered up into the cliffs above and found a perfect spot, a little ledge hugging the side of the cliff with a perfect view of the field below.
It was kind of hard to stand or sit precariously for the next 4 or 5 hours. Above me was some woman named Susan who was from San Fran, math/physics major now studying law at UCSF. But she acted like a total bimbo, on one of these organized tours of South America with a bunch of Brits who seemed jealous she was talking to me + our band of freaks. Meanwhile all sorts of strange characters started emerging—men in fuzzy bear suits with strange masks, Incan gods and warriors, musicians, etc. In the bleachers below there was hardly anybody ($15 ticket). We were with the real people. The ceremony took place on a huge field about the size of 4 football fields. In the center was a fake stone temple added for the occassion. There were hundreds of performers involved and the choreography was great from our aerial perspective. Troops of warriors and women in colorful costumes danced around. A band played + periodically there was this eerie drone from a conch shell blowing. A “queen” was brought on a throne, then the “king”. They threw corn down wherever they walked. He preached from atop the temple but it was all in quechua.
Meanwhile we munched goodies + drinks that the vendors clambered up the cliffs to sell. They had 5 massive piles of wood + straw which they set on fire in a magnificent display. Then they carried a llama atop this temple prop. We had binoculars so could see all the details, the agony on the llama’s face as it struggled. He didn’t seem to enjoy it. They pretended to sacrifice it (we’re pretty sure they didn’t as there would’ve been more blood). They took the llama away and the king held up the bloody heart (which definitely was real) and they threw it on the fire. Then they scooped up “blood” (probably milk with red food coloring) and passed it around in gold urns, drinking and sprinkling it. And then the procession returned to Cuzco.
I tried to call home to no avail but made it thru to La Paz to see if I made it on standby from B.A. to L.A. I didn’t. I met the dudes at Govindas, the hare krishna joint. I started to feel totally wired and exhausted and so were the others. Matt and I tried to nap in the noise of the plaza. I decided I just wouldn’t make my train in the morning. It just wouldn’t happen. At around 9:00 Matt and I went to Kamikaze, a hip place, some sort of bohemian artist “club” [pasted-in flyers + beer labels interspersed w/ the writing]. Trippy artwork on the walls and a large bug hanging from the ceiling, surely inspired by Kafka’s Metamorphosis. We got the last seat right on the stage and I started in on pisco sours. There were a lot of gringos in alpaca sweaters looking ridiculous, and a big group of bohemian Israelis that we keep running into. Creación came on in style, with their 5-foot pan pipes and the charango which they sold me. Killer charango, it’s got a peruvian carving on the backside, well-worn in. They weren’t as good as they were at Roma, and played a shorter set, but still excellent. They even dedicated a song to their “amigo, Derek”. After, a DJ played music and people started dancing. Paul and Lianee came in, they overslept. Things started to get wild. Matt and I were dancing around like madmen, with girls if we could find them, or just with eachother, telling the DJ to play Sonic Youth or Jimi Hendrix. It was very crowded and there wasn’t much room to dance so we took to the stage and between tables. Paul was still farting like mad and I had too many piscos to count. Paul and Lianee left but Matt and I stayed til about 2:30 a.m. dancing in a sweaty frenzy.
This morning Luis came by at about 10. Matt and I decided to switch rooms (for lack of a good hot shower) and are now at Suecia II where I now sit w/ a Swiss Boheme playing guitar. Changes lurk in my head. First I was thinking of flying La Paz to B.A, then I got to thinking of doing what Max did and fly Cuzco > Lima > B.A. but then I checked prices and Lima > Miami was cheaper than flying to B.A., and not only that but a round trip was cheaper than 1-way! So not only would I forfeit my B.A. > Miami return ticket but I would also forfeit my Miami > Lima return. The ways of airline prices are very strange indeed. But maybe I could cobble these unused tickets into a RT ticket from B.A. > Miami > Lima + then only have to figure out how to get back to Argentina. I also have to get the travel agent to hook this up to meet my Miami > Houston > L.A. ticket that I already have. It’s all very complicated and costly. Another twist is that I wanted to go to Arequipa w/ Matt (to see the Nazca lines) but it seems that once my mind is set on home, that’s that. It’s a new mode, between now and then is just getting there. [followed by more pasted-in postcards].
We didn’t get to bed til about 3 am., after chaperoning them to their hotel on the other side of town and wandering through empty streets (under the influence of a liter of wine, a beer, and numerous pisco sours, sin azucar of course). The next day I spent trying to make calls, dealing with travel agents and hanging around the plaza reading Hemingway’s’ "Fiesta" [a.k.a. The Sun Also Rises], totally applicable to my current situation, except Peru, not Spain. The wild parties he describes in Pamplona sort of like here, Inti Raymi parades are still occurring. And Lianee = Brett and I guess I’m Bill cuz I was the only 1 of 4 guys not infatuated with Lianee/Brett. Around 5 we went to the Limeñas' hotel, they weren’t there so we left a note saying meet us at the café Literario + signed it “Hasta luego Diosas.” We bought some cards and drank mate de coca at the literary café waiting anxiously for the chicas diosas. Was this a date? Matt had also never asked a girl on a legitimate dinner date, but he was more nervous than me cuz he was really taken by Livia + i wasn't sure i was particulary interested in any of them, i just liked the idea of them. They finally came, totally styling and dressed nicely… and Matt + I with our scruffy hair, hiking boots + dirty unkempt clothes, definitely no match for them. But I think we were still a cute novelty to these upper-crust Limeñas. We went to a pizza joint and had pizzas and wine and talked a lot about Peruvian books, movies and musical groups, and of course American ones. According to them, the best Peruvian flick is “Boca del Lobo” (about the Sendero Luminoso) and there is a cool Peruvian reggae group called Tierra Sur. They are totally into surfers and dig that fact that I’m from Santa Cruz, though they know far more about surfing + famous surfers than I do. They were quite good company. Afterwards they all went to some press conference, Matt went back to pack and I tried once again to call the U.S. to be told all the lines were closed. [followed by postcard of llamas]
At 11:00 we met the chicas diosas back at Kamikaze. The D.J. was much better than the night before. We had a great time dancing, Matt and I had our hands full with the 4 girls, fending off suitors + having to dance continuously to keep them busy. Think they liked having us as a buffer to keep other guys away. Maza (the Mexican composer who lives in Marin) also joined us with his guitar and took a fancy to Ana, and boy can he dance. He’s a cool dude. The original DJ came back and started playing shitty music. In protest Matt and I started doing headstands on the empty dance floor. We started a trend as other people started trying it and one funny guy could walk around and dance on his hands, pseudo-breakdancing. We decided to split somewhere else.
We wandered through the empty plaza singing folk songs + looking for excitement (Maza had joined our group). We found this disco that looked like a trippy cave of Gaudi architecture. It had all these little cubby holes with lounging Cuzco bohemians. But it was too mellow so we left, wandered around more in the streets by all the police with machine guns and riot squad vehicles. We found this other “legitimate” disco with flashing lights and mirrors, etc. The girls were into it, but I’m sure Matt and I looked out of place skanking + pogoing in a high-falutent dance club, toting ripped shorts and hiking boots, along with the bad latin disco (tho they did play some intense Dominican stuff). We ended up lounging and talking til very late. I ended up with Liliana most of the night, she wasn’t as pretty as Ursula but far more interesting to talk to. Matt had this idea to find a 24-hour coffee shop and the others laughed at the concept, when we explained that such things existed in the states.
We walked around the dead streets then walked the girls and Maza back to their hotels. Here we were, 2 drunk gringos, wandering these supposedly dangerous streets at 4 a.m. Matt was talking about how he really wanted some coffee and french fries when suddenly we came across a french fry vendor in the plaza. And not only that but there was a woman selling coffee. It was very cold and there were very few people in the plaza. Some Peruvian guy came up to us pretending he had a gun in his pocket and said "give me all your money," but I recognized him from the Kamikaze, so we weren’t worried. He was going on about how dangerous it was and that we should get back to our hotel. He pointed to some shady characters in the next arcade and said they would rob us. We said we had nothing to rob (we didn’t). He said they would beat us up and take our boots. Matt + I laughed but thanked him for the concern.
He left and then this 14-yr old kid came up with a plank in his hand, pretending it was a gun and telling us to give him our money, so we bought him a cup of coffee. There was a really crazy guy in a doorway who also had a stick and chased the kid off. Then he came back and started giving us shit, gripping the stick in his hand. We gave him some french fries and that seemed to calm him down. We started noticing there was quite a few men clutching slivery planks. So we gave the women money for our coffee but she didn’t have change so she told us to watch her cart while she got some. Then about 6 sketchy dudes that looked like they had bad intentions approached. We put ourselves on guard but still stayed mellow as if we had nothing they wanted. They walked by then stopped and lurked suspiciously about. The woman came back, still with no change. I told her not to worry about it (it was about 50¢) + she was very pleased. We split straight across the plaza. We looked back and nobody was following us but the 6 guys were getting into a car. We were 2 blocks from the hotel. It was 4:30 a.m. and Matt had to leave at 6 a.m. to the airport for his flight to Arequipa. He said he was going to stay up til then. I fell asleep and woke up to the alarm. The light was on and he was crashed in his clothes. Everything was very surreal. I vaguely remember setting my alarm but not falling asleep. Matt was completely out of it + impossible to wake up. We agreed to meet again in Utah or Arizona and then he was off. What a cool guy.
Next thing I know it was 10:30. I had to switch into this other communal room. Everything was a mess. My stuff was all over and there was all sorts of stuff that wasn’t mine, their camping stuff, pots, toiletries, clothes, etc. that first Max, then Paul, and now Matt had been leaving behind. I told the maid she could have it all. I went down to make a call (8:00 in the states), the place was packed but I managed to place my order, at which point I had to wait for the operator to call me. Next thing I knew there were all these protesters outside, a group of 25-30 had gotten into the building before the police arrived and barred the door, trapping us all inside. They were chanting and yelling very loud, quite organized. I couldn’t really tell what they were protesting about, something about demanding a quick solution and for the gobierno to stop ignoring them, about what I couldn’t totally figure it out. They seemed angry at those of us inside trying to make telephone calls. The operator got even more flustered but pressed on, business as usual. But even if I did get through the protesters were so loud I wouldn’t be able to hear or talk. I watched the riot police with machine guns harassing 30-year respectable-looking women with notebooks in hand, and normal working-class men. Time went on. Rather than sitting and waiting like the operator said everybody gathered around the glass enclosed booth so they could at least lip synch if they did get their calls through. When in Rome do as the Romans. She was telling people the lines were all tied up or cut off. But there was no point in cancelling cuz the doors were barred and we were all trapped inside with the protesters, who wanted to get out to join the larger group, screaming and waving banners out the window. 2 hour later my call went through and no one answered the god damn mother fucking phone. But at least now I could leave the building. The only problem was now I had to wait ½ an hour for the operator to confirm that I could get my deposit back.
Then I went to the travel agent. The new development is that Air Paraguay may trade my B.A. > Miami for Lima > Miami, but I have to go to Lima to check. And the flight I’m scheduled on is Sunday so I had to change it since the assholes are closed. So now I’ll be in the shithole of Lima for 3-4 days and my plane should leave July 2. Hmm, now what? The chicas diosas are watching films today but I may meet them later. Mark (from La Paz and Arica) just stopped by to chat with me on my bench in the sunny plaza. We were in the Roma the other night when him and the "other Derek" [who we met before in Bolivia] + the usual group of tripster scuzzy bohemes saw us through the window and came running in, completely taking over the restaurant, their presence drowning out Creación who were playing + pissing off the waiter cuz they wouldn’t sit and drink or eat. The other Derek was extremely funny as usual "no way duuuuuuuuddee, we missed Inti Raymi at sexy woman but caught it in Copa, Copa Cabana, music + passion were always the fashion..." like Keanu Reeves mimicking Barry Manilow, shaking his head, mouth hanging open, "it was the most intense fiesta, like, shit I couldn’t take it, bonfires in the street, houses in flames, people passing out in their puke, priests blessing cars by squirting cerveza in the shapes of crosses, everybody smashed, orgies in the calles, etc." The way he says is incredibly funny. We told him the bomberos here had to come the next morning to hose down the puke, piss, beer and chicha from the plaza and he was dying of laughter, “nooo waaayyy duuuude!”. They leave tomorrow to go white-water rafting til km 88 then do the Inca trail. I’m kind of anxious to just be home and can’t deal with all these bureaucratic hassles. [then posts picture of Incan mummy wrapped in rope]
En route Qosqo à Lima, June 29
Then we strolled about the narrow streets and had mate de coca at the literary café. Cusco has a lot of amazing cafes + restaurants. The night before I had an incredible trout and onions, veg soup, rice, etc. downed with wine + tea, w/ Hemingway as my companion, reading “A Clean Well-lit Place” and it was. I was feeling grand. I parted ways with ½ of the chicas diosas with the agreement to meet for a final pachunga at the Kamikaze that night. I took a nap and woke up at 9 to see Creación for the last time at Roma. They were all in good spirits and one again, put on a great show. Afterwards went with 5 of them to this music festival after stopping to get a panpipe for their friend David. The festival was in Plaza San Blas, outdoors with the full moon above, it was beautiful. A secret well-kept from the gringos. There was lots of ponche and chicha going about and I was treated to some. Cuzcoans really have an ear and heart for music. Some really excellent bands played, some traditional, some quasi-classical, experimental, new age-ish and revolutionary folk music. All well accepted. It ended at 12 or 1. I parted ways with all of Creación except Luis. Me and him went to the Kamikaze. The chicas diosas weren’t there but we sat w./ 4 of his girl friends who were psychology students from Lima and quite lively. Then the chicas diosas came in full glory, dressed to the hilt. They are so sweet. They call me Woodstock cuz they say I look like Woodstock + i said como un hippy + they said no, como el pajaro en Peanuts, amigo de Snoopy, probably cuz of my hair. I was back and forth between both tables and dancing. Some girl accosted me on the dance floor, a chubby death rocker from Lima. She just grabbed me and forced me to dance. She kept grabbing my stomach and hands and taking my face into her hands and saying “que cara guapo!” Then twirling me about. Livia was dancing w/ some square next to us and was in hysterics. Then the girl said “quiero que te chupo?” and I pretended like I didn’t understand and said ciao, retreating to the rest of the chicas, who had all these pushy men trying to pick them up. They would ignore them and ask me to dance to get them off their back, all 4 of them to myself! Really pissed off the would-be suitors.
It was a great time til about 3 a.m. when it shut down. I said goodbye to Luis and was walking the girls to their hotel when we saw a bunch of fresh blood on the street and they were convinced I would get mugged on the way home so we went to the plaza so they could catch a cab. It was a sad farewell, big hugs all around, but we may meet again in Lima. I’ll miss them. I went back to the Suecia and somebody else was in my room and had taken my key in. So I had to get a spare so I wouldn’t wake “it” up. A very surreal sleep. At 6:15 my alarm went off. I grabbed my stuff from the dark room and finished packing outside. It’s kind of fun carrying the 6 ft zampoña, like having a big machine gun strapped to my back. Took a crazy South American taxi ride to the airport and now am sitting on the plane waiting to say good-bye to Cuzco. I was really starting to feel attached to it, rooted in. [followed by collages from magazine clippings + then this page:]
The government effectively controls less than ½ the country. The N.R.T.A. and Sendero Luminoso hate each other even tho they are both communist guerilla groups, and both hate foreigners. The police aim for order while the army aims to pacify by force, and they oppose each other. And all is fueled by large infusions of drug money from Colombia. These guys informed me that downtown Lima is not entirely under govt control and is very dangerous. There are gangs of youths who sniff glue by day and prey on any one on the streets by night. This kind of squashed my plans to stay downtown. They suggested I stay in Miraflores—the posh suburbs, so I did. Whilst waiting for my bags (had to check the zampoña) I met this Peruvian guy “Paul” who was a seller of artisans, including to Folk Art Intl [where our mother worked]. He was going to San Ysidro which was near Miraflores so we split a cab. In Miraflores you can supposedly stay out at night, no problema. Whereas in el centro you must be in by 6 pm, as I’ve been told by many Limeñas. After dropping Paul off, the cab driver got lost trying to find this Residentiale, the dueño somehow saw us looking from a block away + came to my rescue. A funny old man with a limping gait who was telling me all the blocks that are safe in Miraflores, and those that aren’t. Seems that’s all anybody talks about, it’s a bit unnerving. It’s an amazing nice hotel for the price, huge room, private bath, Victorian furniture, carpeting, walk-in closet, with marble hallways and antique furniture outside, all for less than $10. I took a much-needed shower + had a nap. I was incredibly sad lying in bed with the noisy streets outside. I miss Cuzco already and las Chicas Diosas. I guess I could call up Monica or Liviana, who are back in Lima.
I woke up at 3 or 4 in the afternoon and went to go explore. Of course I was robbed at gun point my first hours on the street. I was walking down trendy “Pizza Paseo” as I call it, an alley with about 12 virtually identical pizza cafes. I was about to sit down and eat when this man approaches me and says how would you like to tomar un cerveza or vina. I said no and kept walking, but he kept following me, asking where I was from and then asked if I wanted to buy some arteseñas + said I was actually going to get some mantas + he told me he’d take me to the market, but I said I wanted to go later, to just give me the address. He said it was just 2 blocks away and started walking next to me. It was broad daylight and there was plenty of people on the streets so I wasn’t so worried, tho I suspected something fishy. He asked if I wanted some chiclet and I said no, then he asked if I wanted to buy some pot and I said no and for him to déjame en paz and he started saying I didn’t need to worry, that everybody in Lima does it. I said no way and told him to get lost, but then this beat up orange Datsun pulled up and a guy jumped out and says “documentos”. He pulled out a small gun and aimed it at the guy that had befriended me. He even cocked it. Then he asked me for my pasaporte and I said it was in the hotel. So he said, ok, vamos and points to the car. I said no way, that we’d walk on foot, no es lejos. He was getting more irrate, especially since my spanish was perfect and I was calm (funny how having a gun pointed at u will do that) + knew exactly what was going on. He started speaking really fast to try to confuse me, telling me to get in the coche. The other guy was saying, lo siento, debes hacer lo que dice. The supposed cop (he also flashed a fake-looking badge at some point) said it was illegal for me to walk around without my passport (which it is). I asked how I knew he was police and he pulled his badge back out and actually it looked kind of real. He was pointing his gun right at me so I didn’t want to say something to piss him off. He kept insisting I get in the car, then called a third guy from inside the car. Then he asked if I was hiding something and I said no, I was about to empty my pockets then realized I wasn't about to give up my 10 mil intis dinner dinero. So I patted my pockets that only had that one bill then he told me to lift my shirt and I did and even gave him the benefit of a peak down my pants. He responded by saying “mete” to the other 2 and all 3 got in the Datsun and drove off.
I continued on to the restaurant and ordered some canellones and a cup of coffee. Some girl, whose boyfriend had his back to me, was flirting with me. It occurred to me what had just happened and I was tripping out that I was so mellow about it. I told the waiter some guys just tried to rob me and he didn’t seem so surprised. I asked if I should report it to the police and he said they wouldn’t do anything, cuz they didn't steal nada. And even though the waiter said the canellones didn’t have meat, they had hamburger in the stuffing and it made me sick. After dinner I told a cop what happened, after all, he was patrolling that street. He basically said "i'll make a note of it." Then I strolled about looking for a movie theatre but only shit movies were playing. I went into a supermercado to buy water, they had big 1½ liter bottles so I was happy, but then I got to the front and the women asked for the envase + I said I didn’t have one that I would just pay for the envase. But she said I needed an empty bottle to buy a new full one. So I asked how one buys the first bottle, my mind reeling in the philosophical absurdity of this conundrum... there has to be a 1st time, this is my 1st dia in Lima, por favor. She kept saying, lo siento, no puedes comprar agua sin envase. Ludicrous chicken and egg scenario, stuck in an endless loop. So where can i comprar the envase? She shrugged and said aqui no. Guess it's tap water for this gringo.
I went back to my room after I had exhausted the limited expanse of lighted streets with people on them. Bored as hell. I tried to devise a fortune-tellers method as I tried to fling playing cards into the trash can across the room. I smoked a winston cigarette I found in a drawer. I cut out all the bodies and torsos out of a “G” magazine + made faceless collages (see previous 4 pgs). I arranged + re-arranged the stuff in the room and took pictures. Outside my window it’s a zoo. The din of traffic, car alarms, horns + sirens. Drunk men fighting below my window. In an opposing apartment building rich suburbanites are dancing to Guns N’ Roses. I’m looking across at this one dorky guy dancing thinking that could be me, or I could be dancing at the Kamikaze right now. Somebody is. But I’m not part of it. I’m here in Miraflores, Lima, at the Residenciale Waldorf, 11:30 p.m, June 29, 1991. [folllowed by more pasted in maps + postcards]
I came back and had dinner on Paseo Pizza then read Witches of Eastwick (all i could find). This morning I went downtown early to Plaza San Martin. Hada tours was closed still so I walked all the way to Plaza 2 de Mayo where I found the music store where Luis told me I could buy charango strings. It was a pretty bad barrio but it was crowded and I had my plane ticket and credit card stuffed down my pants. I went back and Hada tours was open and I talked to Yvonne, “estas quedando in Miraflores? Pues hay un Hada tours alli y tambien Air Paraguay” so she sent me back. I figured while I was downtown may as well check it out. I walked up the pedestrian street La Union to Plaza de Armas. Some guy came running towards me totally naked. Quite funny looking on a busy street. The cops did nothing. In the Plaza there were lots of riot police as if they were preparing for a coup. The plaza is not nearly as exciting as Cuzco’s, and neither is their cathedral. But the GPO looks like Victoria station, all wrought iron and glass. Took a cab back to Miraflores and went to Air Paraguay on Calle Pardo. Had to leave my passport at a security check. They told me I couldn’t reroute my ticket. I wasn’t surprised. I went to Hada tours. Some dimwit Teresa made 50 billion calls trying to figure out what was up with me, “quién llamo para cambiar un boleto de Continental vendido por Air Paraguay?” And trying to connect my Faucett ticket (which it doesn’t, have to spend the night in Miami).
After 2-3 hours she got it straightened out and I hand over my credit card and she goes oh shit, they can’t give me this special rate si tu pages con tarjeta. After much debate it’s decided I’m to go to the bank to get around $439 in effectivo. After asking around and standing in line in 3 hectic bancos full of police I’m directed to 1 where I can take out money with a mastercard. I had to go thru all this security and get a special pass they clipped to my shirt after giving them my passport. Then up to the 3° floor from where I was led to some slimey banker with ugly hair. Yes, I could take dinero out but it had to be in Intis. The exchange was 830 (as opposed to 840 en las calles) + I had to pay 3½ % on top of that. “No hay manera de sacar dinero en dollares.” The only way was to rebuy dollares. I was escorted to the vault + given 415,000,000 Intis, all in 5 million Inti notes as there doesn’t exist anything mas grande, so a big wad of cash, an inch thick brick, which I had a hard time stuffing down my pantolones, not to mention counting it all to make sure it was all there. I quickly and deliberately went back to Hada tours only to discover they didn’t have that much money to change, even though I wasn’t changing, I was buying. No importa. So I went to the money changing street, I asked for specific direcciones, which address, but she just implied it would be obvious. Sure enough, this 1 street had all these sketchy guys loitering around with wads of dollars in their hands saying “dollares, dollares”. I asked one guy el cambio and he said 850, as did the next, that was the going rate. So he asks quanto? Uh, $440. He didn’t blink an eye. We faced the wall + I pulled my wad out of my pants. It took a while to sort out and he also seemed nervous. I felt better with the 4 crisp $100 dollar notes. Hada tours was closed for siesta by the time I had the dollares.
I went back to the room and took a nap (when in Rome), then went back to Hadas tours. They inspected my money, they had a special dude in a cheap suit who was summonsed forward just for that purpose. They said one of my $10 bills had a small rip in it + they couldn’t accept it so I told them vaya ala chingada, that I’d go elsewhere and grabbed my money back. So they called the jefe over to describe the problema. They all kept looking at the $10 note with the tiny rip in it, they even measured it… “casi ½ cm, hmmm”. I felt like I was in some Monty Python skit. I interrupted, look pendejos, you’ve been pissing me around all day not to mention all week at your other branches and I’m on my fucking knees, literally. (The chairs were wet cuz they had just washed them so I was kneeling at the desk). So finally they consented. I’m going home mañana! And I had the nerve to request a vegetarian meal on top of that, which I’m sure she didn’t order. Then I went to search for the perfect manta [Peruvian textile]. After much asking around I found a shop that had 2 nice ones + that accepted tarjeta. I took a taxi to an even better shop that had lots of antique ones, in some private home. The seller was chain smoking, some German guy who I didn’t trust and who didn’t accept credit cards. Another cab back in the dark. All the cabbies in Lima are really cool, although of course they complain about how you are ripping them off when you bargain with them and they are losing money, how they can’t afford the gas. They all drive beaten-up VW Bugs or clunkers and want to know about la vida en USA. I went back and got the 2 mantas I originally saw, and some magic vials which I forgot to buy in the witches market in La Paz. It’s 8:30 and I’m in my pad now. I called Ana at 7:30. Some little girl answered the phone and said Ana would regresar at 8 (from the aeropuerto). I hope she got my mensaje straight—I think "cuarto cuatro" may have been thrown in there (I’m in room 4). Hmm, maybe I’ll try Ursula. I’m dying for some company.
Lima Airport—July 2 
There’s a Russian plane unloading out the window of this café, on the side it says Аэрофлот. What a trip, how did this guy know I was a realist when I’ve but spoken 2 words to him, “Ok, dibujame.” Why is it so much déjà vu lurks in airports?
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