Monday, September 1, 2008

19 August 2008

Cuzco ~

Today is a glorious day in the Andes, and I am doing what I love to do abroad, observing and trying to understand a different culture. To do so, I have spent a bulk of the day sitting on a bench in the town square, the Plaza del Armas. Now, most benches are occupied, but I am overly conspicuous based on my appearance (clothing, posture, movements, beard, and color). For this reason, rarely does two minutes pass without someone trying to sell me something. I’ve been offered clothing, cards, massages, tours, toys, candy, and even (at least Adam and I think this is what the women was selling) a cute baby alpaca. Some people will leave after a simple “no”, but many will be persistent and some think that by becoming my friend and by talking to me, I will change my mind and buy something. The people are good at doing so and on two occasions I gave in and bought a post card: they had to work for it though. So far, I have had three people sit next to me and engage in a meaningful conversation in Spanish. I enjoy this because I can practice my Spanish and learn more about the city’s people. One kid I talked to for over an hour covering all topics ranging from local politics and education policy to sex, drugs, and rock and roll. I eventually purchased an over-priced post card from him. He also wanted to take me clubbing to meet local girls in the evening. I trust that he was somewhat genuine; however, I can see him trying to get money out of me somehow. Instead, I’d rather have a beer and retire early, resting up for the early excursion starting tomorrow.

Just this moment a little boy sat next to me and started to cry for his mom. I imagine if I ignore him a few minutes the crying will end, and he will seek out some other Western tourist.

It sure is amazing to think that I have been sitting in the square of what used to be the primary plaza of the Incan empire. Who knows how many years people have been congregating here? Has anything much change? Did people come from all around to marvel at the splendor of the city and to take in the activities surrounding the square? I imagine so. I imagine that I am nothing special in this aspect. It sure is humbling to realize.

In the evening I returned to the park and met a young tourist from Lima named Joel. We had a great talk about Lima in Spanish, talking as the sun set behind the mountains surrounding Cuzco. After about an hour or so, Adam joined up with us and we went for a drink with Joel. Later, without Joel we had dinner and had a rather perverted waiter. We tolerated him, and it caused him to invite us out for some illegal activities when we next returned to Cuzco. I have heard similar invites but never from such an old person. We kindly declined and retired for the night. Actually, before we left, he gave me a glass of his homemade moonshine. It was absolutely awful and gave me some intense heartburn.

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