Tuesday, January 24, 2006

new year, new llugar

January 17th

I´ve finally arrived back in Vina Del Mar Chile where I will spend the
next 4 weeks living at a home with the director of international
exchange at the university of Valparasio and studying with a private
tutor for 2 hours a day. I may add an additional spanish class, but
I¨ll see how I feel in a few days. Dad and I woke at 3:45 this
morning, to make it to the airport in time for our respective 7 AM
depatrures. When I arrived in Chile, I could either pay $120 for a
bus directly to Vina, or take a local bus into Santiago and then
tranfer to another bus to Vina, I chose the latter and paid 10 bucks
for the whole 3 hour trip. A little indirect, but one thing I have
this year is time.

I got to the bus station, and I called the house I´m staying. A
nice fellow named Eduardo picked me up, and we spoke solo spanish, as
he drove me back to the house. There is a little 2 month old puppy
here nnamed Merlin. Rightnow he is sitting on my lap and gnawing on my
arm, (I just put him down), and i like that.

Anyway, a lot has transpired in the llast few days, most notably that
Dad and I were incredibly lucky on our trip to Macchu Picchu.
Potential problems included the airplane, the weather, the train, the
altitude sickness, and excessive worrying. However none of these
problems became realized and everything went smoothly.

To get to Machhu Picchu, one must 1) fly to Cuzco, 2) adjust
successfully to the change in altitude, 3) take a train or bus to Agua
Caliente 4) take a bus to the ruins 5) navigate the often bumpy and
hilly terrain.

We did it all, and in style. Sylvia, our host in Peru, booked us a deeeeelux
trip. Though our plane was 4 hours late, we arrived in Cuzco and were
greeted by Ismael, our coordinator, who explicitly outlined our
itinerary as a personal driver drove us over to the converted
monestary, our accomidations. We had 2 hours to rest (watch the first
half of the steelers beating the colts!) and drink coca tea. Later we met our tour guide, Vincente, who brought us around Cuzco, showing us the incan and colonial highlights. Notably we visited a ruin called saxaywamman, but jokingly is referred to as sexy woman! HA! We looked around for about 4 hours, and then went back to the
hotel, I had an amazing Chicken Consume that made me think of Jeanne,
and dad had some fish. Though the altitude was bothering my stomach
and I was tired, Dad rented Mutiny on the Bounty, a Clark Gable movie
from 1935, and we retiured to the room to watch. As usual, I could
not concentrate on the movie, and I tried to sleep.

The next morning, I went down to breakfast and was overwealmed by the
amount of choices the buffet offered! My belly hurt, so I only took a
yogurt and some granola, but the 4 different tarts, chocolate filled
brioche, cured smoked trout (to name 1 tenth of the choices) were
awfully tempting. Ismael picked us up proptly at 8:20 and sat shotgun
as the driver whisked us over to the train station, 20 minutes away.
When we got out of the car, a woman greeted us with mimosas, which we
both turned down, though I took another coca tea. As we milled around on
the platform with about 6 other gringos, agroup of traditional dancers
came from around the corner and began dancing while little (they must
have been 5 or 6 year old) boys hit drums. It was very cinematic
as the 3 car wooden train pulled up around the bend. We entered car B
and sat in seats 40 and 41, a table for 4 with 3 glasses at each
setting, brightly polished silverware and starched while linens. Deee
fucking luxe. The Hiram Bingham train (named of the explorer who
rediscovered M.P. in 1911) was clearly designed to bring the richie
riches from whitey land to see the ruins.

As the rickety train embarked on the 3.5 hour trip, Marianne, the
guide on the train, encouraged us all to come to the caboose train
where there was music, drinks and general merriment. I went to check
it out, while dad was reading, but I returned quickly becasue the 2 60
year old ladies playing the tamborine and mini conch shell shaker were
embarassing me. However, after i returned, dad went out there and didn´t come back so I returned to join them. Though the train proably held 80 or so
passangers, there were only 3 couples and a single woman. The
youngins were on their honeymoon from ireland. The older couples were
from Danbury and near Colombus circle, so there was plenty in common
to talk about. They liked dad, so he quickly began ¨holding court¨ at
one point even describing Ericcsons, 8 stages of Man!

We retuned to our table to eat the 4 course brunch including some of
that smoked trout, an artichoke purree and an amazing apple crumble
with coriander buscuit.

Another half hour of interesting views of terrain between amazon
jungle and andean highland and we arrived in Agua CAliente. We were
wisked through the little tourist traps selling inca cola shirts and
typical andean tapastries and got onto a bus. . . .

I´ll write more wehn I have time.


Post a Comment

<< Home