A Travellerspoint blog

June 2009

Car, bus, train, foot

We were met at our hotel by our tour operator who walked us down the stairs to a car, which took us to the Cusco bus station. She gave us all of our tickets, explained who we needed to meet and when, and we were on our way. The bus drove us out through the Cusco suburbs and then on through some farmers' fields. We got our first glimpse of a snow-capped mountain from the bus. The bus ends at the train station at Ollantaytambo. We then got on a train to finish the route to Aguas Calientes. The train passed some desert/scrubby terrain full of cacti and other brush-type plants with very few trees. After a while, the scenery switched to forest without cacti, but with trees instead. Overall, the ride was very comfortable and relaxing- probably a better first-day-up-in-the-mountains activity than all he walking we did. The train ends at the Aguas Calientes train station. We were met by a guide who walked us to our hostel. There aren't any cabs (or any kind of car as best as I could tell) in AC as the whole town is made up of 3 short parallel streets. One of them is walkable and where the trains rest. One of them is where the buses to Machu Picchu drive. The other is only open to pedestrians, I think. The whole town is just a big tourist stop- the streets are lined with hotels, restaurants, souvenir shops, and money changing shops. I'm not sure I saw a single building not aimed at tourists. The Spanish influence is clear here, even though they weren't in charge when the town was developed. The town still has a main plaza where they're building a new government building and where the church is. There are several small parks. One thing I noticed consistently throughout both Panama and Peru is that their parks are designed with a different purpose in mind than ours back home. In the US, parks are designed with baseball fields, soccer fields, swing sets, skate ramps, maybe even hiking trails or fishing lakes. The parks are designed for activities. In Panama and Peru, the parks were small segments of the cities with benches and seemed to be designed for just sitting and enjoying the moment of calm among all the hustle and bustle. I think it's quite a social commentary that even our spaces designed for relaxing are designed for organized activity. We sat in one of the small AC parks and just admired the river that ran along the edge of town. It was very calming. We need more parks like that one. After a while, we did get up and move on to lunch. After my previous negative experiences, I was even more determined to enjoy Peruvian food than ever. I got my wish at "Restaurant Pizzeria Chaski." All the restaurants aimed at tourists seemed to claim to be pizzerias, but not all of them actually had pizza. Chaski did, but they also had "typical" food. I got a soupy risotto of quinoa and vegetables. The sauce was flavorful and very good, the veggies were delicious, and the cheese, while from the same family as the cheese I had the day before, was much better. Additionally, I got hot chocolate. I think that they used a process closer to the one we use for making coffee as the chocolate had a very different flavor from the processed taste of every hot chocolate I've ever had before in my life. (I didn't even realize how un-chocolatey and processed everything I had before was until I had this cup. It changed my whole perspective on chocolate.) Since we weren't going to the hot springs in town (the only real thing to do), we went on the internet (S/3 or $1 per hour), took a nap, and went souvenir shopping. For dinner was relatively uneventful other than being rushed as we had to meet with our guide. He was 45 minutes late, which, while a very cultural thing from what I understand, was a little disappointing as people in the tourism industry should understand that 45 minutes is a lot for people from other cultures. He did walk us to the mini-grocery store when we were done though, so we were able to stock up on snacks for the following day. We went to bed without a headache and ready to get up early to see Machu Picchu.

Snow-capped mountain from the bus

Snow-capped mountain from the bus


Ollantaytambo station

Ollantaytambo station


Park in Aguas Calientes

Park in Aguas Calientes

Posted by spsadventures 16:00 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

A most exhausting birthday

We woke up super early to catch an early flight to Cusco. The rules about how early you need to be at the airport for a flight are different in Peru, and I'm very glad the Posada del Parque people made sure we knew this. The line gets very long and sometimes they won't let you check bags if you get to the front too late. There was a fee to exit the airport, which I thought they should just put in your ticket price, but whatever. We paid it and flew to Cusco. Even though I feel like a giant compared to everybody there (even the men), there was drastically more leg room on my South American flights than there were on my flights internal to the US. I was pleasantly surprised to be able to spread out. We got to Cusco and the first thing I noticed was how clean the air was. Especially compared to Lima, the air felt very fresh. It didn't hurt that the air was crisp with the cold of morning either. The driver drove us through the streets of Cusco and stopped next to some stairs. Not all of the streets in Cusco are designed for cars. Some of them, like the one our hostel was on, had stairs, or were mostly stairs- so we had to climb them to get to our hostel. In the morning, it was no big deal. After we dropped off our bags, we headed into town. At one of the plazas, we ran into some guys selling art on the street. One of the gave me the story about how he painted this stuff himself. Sorry, I'm not that dumb. I know that somewhere there's some factory where these painters paint the same thing over and over and then the English speaking guys take the paintings and sell them. I looked, but wasn't really interested in what the first guy had because the colors weren't bright enough for me. While he was peddling and trying to negotiate with me, an old woman was waiting with her fully grown llama (or alpaca, or vicuna, I'm not really sure). She asked if we wanted to take pictures with her and the llama. We did, figuring on giving her a couple of sols, but didn't negotiate ahead of time. We took pics and she wanted 10 sols apiece. I think we ended up giving her 8 total, which is much higher than the 1 sol that was the going rate. However, I don't really feel that bad as I didn't see her around town the rest of the day. Maybe we gave he enough that she was able to go home and rest. The rest of the day, all these young ladies with their babies in a blanket on their back and a baby llama in their arms wanted to get paid to take a picture with us. To be honest, I was happy we got the old lady and fully grown llama instead. On the way to the Inca museum, we did a little price checking so that we could negotiate later for better souvenir prices. The Inca museum had some neat artifacts- pots, tweezers, arrow/spear heads, etc. The permanent exhibit that stands out though is the mummy exhibit. Somebody found some Incan mummies and placed them in the museum behind some darkened glass. You can peek through the clear parts and see the mummies staring back at you. These aren't wrapped mummies like the stereotypical Egyptian ones, these are mostly just bones that have been preserved in clothes or a pot. The other exhibit that stood out was a temporary one (I think). Some lady was running a "tapestry learning center." On display were several exquisite tapestries that had been hand woven. According to the guide (Spanish only), the tapestries took 2-3 months each to make. She explained the symbolism of each item in the tapestries and helped us to find the pictures. (Imagine if Picasso drew a condor and then somebody wove it into a big rug. The body parts were all over the place, but it was gorgeous.) As the weather warmed up a bit, we headed over to meet our Machu Picchu tour people. I was really glad that we did an organized tour, but we'll get to that later. We foraged for food and ended up going to the first place that had vegetarian food and accepted credit cards. I was excited that they had plenty of "typical" Peruvian food that was also vegetarian. We split potatoes with huancaina sauce as an appetizer. Apparently the bitter curry-type sauce I got last night in Lima was huancaina sauce, the national sauce. It has yellow peppers, cumin (that's where I was getting the curry flavor from), and who knows what else in it. The potatoes were good once the sauce was wiped off, but that was a little difficult to do. I got choclo con queso as my main dish. Choclo is corn on the cob. However, this isn't sweet corn. The corn has the flavor of potatoes, the dryness of potatoes, and the chewiness of overcooked corn. I was trying really hard to eat it, but after a while my jaw hurt. The cheese it came with had the flavor of the cheap feta from the dairy aisle of the grocery store, but the texture of thick jello. I was trying so hard to like Peruvian food, but at some point I just gave up on my lunch. I shared some of Jen's pizza that, according to the menu, had "special sauce." That "special sauce" was ketchup. What was actually a little more annoying than not-so-great tasting, hard-to-chew food was the constant stream of vendors. This restaurant was on a plaza. As we ate outside, tons of street vendors came passing through, trying to sell us hats, bags, flutes, CDs, postcards, pins and other souvenir crap. I really didn't want to be bothered during lunch. There was this one guy selling postcards who I had bought from earlier in the morning and he just kept asking me to buy more. By the end of the day, I must have told him no a dozen times. We made our way over to the Cathedral, which is on the main plaza (as it is in most Spanish towns). This was a pretty interesting cathedral. In addition to the requisite gold and silver all over the place, it contained the cross first brought in by Pizarro and his men. It has a statue of a black Jesus, and a painting that showed Judas as moorish. (Clearly this was designed to teach a political lesson.) The last supper painting in the cathedral is humorous as the meal being served is guinea pig (cuy), a Peruvian staple for festive meals. The cathedral had a lot of similar examples of how the Catholics attempted to convert the indigenous people by reconciling the religions and trying to convince the people that it was all the same. My favorite reconciliation is a statue of "Jesus the earthquake god" and a shrine to "Jesus the river god". On the one hand, the bible does refer to Gd as having many faces: Creator, King, Judge, etc. On the other hand, most of those are metaphorical roles related to people's souls as opposed to nature gods. But I digress. In any case, the cathedral is worth going to.

After that, we entered Coricancha (also spelled about a dozen other ways). This used to be a gold-laden temple of the Incas, but a lot of the gold was used to ransom an Incan king and then the Spanish converted it to a catholic building anyway. We saw examples of how the Incan workers built the temple with stones that fit so tightly together and no mortar (you couldn't slip a piece of paper in between them). They used a "lego" method where one stone would have a peg and the other a hole, then they would stack. Coricancha also had some beautiful gardens.

We stopped in a free art exhibit that was much more interesting than the old Spanish art, in my opinion. One of the works was a barbie wearing Incan silver. Another was a statue of a street vendor selling all the souvenir crap. I also stopped in an art store and negotiated to get two paintings for a reasonable price (S/200 for the pair with a paper showing who the artist was). However, the girl running the store didn't know how to work the credit card machine and really really wanted me to pay cash (which I didn't have). I agreed to come back later when she had the machine up and running and she'd waive the 10% extra. After our failure to eat a decent lunch, we were desperate for dinner and stopped in at Witches Brew. The decor was nice and the food (I had spring rolls and eggplant parmesan) was decent too. I was pretty excited about being able to have real veggies. I really wanted to go for the Peruvian food, but knew that I had to make sure to eat something, so I played it safe. The food was different than it would be in the US, so I was somewhat gratified that it wasn't a complete cop out. We had been traipsing all over town, up and down hills, without really realizing it. The plazas were beautiful and we did plenty of sitting in them. We people watched, rejected street vendors (BTW, some of the street vendors with carts sell TP, which I found amusing), and took pictures of birds, but maybe not enough. They encourage you to rest your first day at altitude for a reason. I had been given sorroche (altitude sickness) pills to start taking a few days ahead of time, had been drinking plenty of water, and had a small headache. I had also been slightly nauseous since I started taking them, but nothing worth worrying about. Jen didn't have pills. She was doing much worse than me from a headache standpoint and also from a stomach standpoint.

After dinner, we went back to the art store to pick up my pieces, and the credit card machine still wasn't working. The girl had to run to a different store to get another sales person to teach her how to use it. As she finished the sale and started packing up my art, we were talking and Jen was trying to rest and make the sorroche go away. The girl was asking me about being from the US and do I see any stars? I explained that in DC our "stars" are people like Obama and senators more than actors and singers. Plus, I don't shop at the same grocery stores as they do. It was interesting to hear her opinion of how many stars were in the US. We talked about Michael Jackson, quite the hot topic, and she asked me about my boyfriend, which also seems to be a recurring theme that people there want to talk about. I told her I was single and she was amazed. "In Peru," she said in Spanish with all seriousness "you wouldn't be. The boys here are wolves." I'm pretty sure that was the funniest thing I heard the whole trip.

We headed back to our hostel to get a good night's sleep as we had to get up very early in the morning. The stairs sucked late at night, with a headache, after having walked around all day and not having taken my asthma meds. I was very glad to eventually reach the top and get into bed. My crazy family called me in the middle of night (it was even later their time than mine) to wish me a happy birthday. I appreciated it the next day, but I think I was a little too groggy on the phone to really remember what anybody said. On to Aguas Calientes....

View from our hostel

View from our hostel


Choclo con queso, potatoes w/ huancaina sauce

Choclo con queso, potatoes w/ huancaina sauce


Coricancha

Coricancha


Silver Inka angel barbie

Silver Inka angel barbie


My art

My art

Posted by spsadventures 16:00 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

Lima, the first time

We got up, had breakfast (included with the room), and immediately got started. We began at Exposition Park. I think this might have been a world´s fair park, or something like it. Either way it was neat. There were some pretty neat buildings, some clown statues, and some places to just sit and enjoy nature. I enjoyed it. We kept walking north towards the center of downtown, the Plaza Mayor. On the way, we passed the dingiest Sheraton I´ve ever seen. When we got close, we could tell the inside is neat, but the outside looked pretty shady. I think that´s because all of the cars and buses are sol old and put out so much nastiness that the soot just covers that part of town. There were other buildings that would have looked nice, except that they were also covered in the gray. It really made me appreciate US emissions testing. We passed an Italian Art Museum (I´m not quite sure what that´s doing here) and Plaza San Martin, with the Mercedes Church. Eventually, we got to Plaza Mayor. One of the first things I noticed were the bored cops with the crown control shields. They were prèpared for protests (apparently there had been some earlier in the month that were less than pretty), but there were no protesters. As such, the cops were just standing around, talking to each other in order to keep from falling asleep on their feet. We went up to the Cathedral and wanted to go inside, but there was a mass going on, so we decided to head elsewhere first. As it turned out when we tried to go back later, it was the Pope's holiday and the Cathedral wasn't open for visitors, just mass. We figured we'd try again when we were back in Lima again. We saw the governor's palace, which is also on the plaza and is quite exquisite. On our way out of the plaza, we passed the church next to the Cathedral. It had some really cool door knockers. We enetered the monastery around the corner for a tour. They wouldn't let us take pictures, but I wish I could have. From the balcony, we saw a mass going on, and could see all of the monks dressed in their robes. It was kind of neat that there were still monks using the monastery in this day and age. We also got the opportunity to see the intricately carved choir chairs and the big rotating music stand that they used to use (it was cheaper and easier to have one big songbook than many individual ones). They had a big music book open in the library so that we could see what it looked like on the inside. Along with that, they had thousands of very old books. But, unlike the library in Dublin that protected the books, this library had them open to the elements. The window was open and there was nothing stopping the weather and the birds from coming in. I'm not a librarian, but I don´t think that is the best way to preserve old books for future generations. In addition to the old books, many of their original art on them. There were Moorish-style tile mosaics and ceilings, large frescoes, paintings, and statues. Many of the items were plated in gold foil. Our tour of the monastery ended in the catacombs. The ceilings were low, but manageable and the walls were brick as opposed to dirt. We entered through a side set of stairs, but the original entrances were simply grates in the floor of the church/ceiling of the crypts. However, the grates are still there, and we walked under them. The church should remind ladies in skirts not to stand over them during services. 'Nuff said. According to our guide, there are 25 thousand people buried here over 3 centuries. However, when an archeologist went to go dig up some of them, the humidity had gotten to a lot of the bones other than the heads, legs, and arms. So, he took what remained and sorted them into large bins in the floor. The catacombs also have some brick wells designed to help in earthquakes, and these have been filled with the bones of regular people (not clergy) in interesting bone designs. After the dead people, we headed over to see the dead animals at the market. In addition to the standard animals and parts you would find at a market in the US, I was able to identify tripe, some guinea pig (I think) and some other types of meat. They also had veggies and fruits, but we had no where to cook them and were told not to eat things that were simply washed as the water might not be good. Somehow, we still had our appetites and headed over to Chinatown for lunch. Apparently Lima is known for its "Chifas" or Chinese restaurants. It was a little interesting trying to decode the Spanish Chinese. Some things were relatively easy to figure out (wantan=wonton for example), but others were harder. I ended up getting fried rice that was supposed to have tofu in it, but didn't. Basically, it wasn't that different from fried rice in the US except that there were more green veggies and fewer carrots. The real difference was the portion size. This plate was HUGE. If we'd had a place to keep it and reheat it, I could have had it for at least 3 meals. Also, the soy sauce tasted different. I think it was a little fuller and darker than what I'm used to. We somehow managed to drag our gravid stomachs up toward the river Rimac and walked through a park just south of the river. We were very tempted to try to get on the moonbounces and other attractions that the kids were having fun on, but we thought they might frown upon two grown, foreign women trying to play like kids. Peru is very much a cash society. Very few places accepted credit cards, and those usually charged an additional 10% for the privilege to use a card. Even the places that accepted cash didn't want to make you change. We would go somewhere that was S/20 to get in and try to pay with S/50 and they'd ask if we had anything smaller. I never saw a cash register, so I wonder where all the money went. In order to break a big bill as that is what the ATMs give you, we went shopping. Jen negotiated for a blanket and was able to knock the lady down a little from the original price. When she went to pay, the lady asked her if she had anything smaller, and when the answer was no, she went to a neighboring shop to get change. You'd think these people make one sale a day the way they never seem to have money. Along those lines, they also check every bill. They accept dollars as easily as sols, but not if they have even the tiniest tear or are wrinkly. So- bring a big stash of crisp small bills if you want to buy stuff in Peru. Also, we were told not to exchange money with the people on the streets wearing green jackets as they often have counterfeit money. Since dollars are easily accepted everywhere though, we didn't really need to use them. Now that we had change, we went to catch a bus- what an adventure! The buses are more or less large minivans with a higher ceiling so that people can stand. They have a few extra rows of seats because the seats are much thinner, they don't have seatbelts, and they can fit a backwards row in the front. The doors are sometimes standard minivan sliding doors, but are often folding doors like you might find on a closet. The driver drives, slowing down at marked stops and wherever there are people flagging him down on the side of the road. The ticket person leans out the window (it has been removed from the minivan door) or the door (if it is a folding door) and shouts where the bus is going to. If it is your bus, you flag it down and hop on, sometimes while it is moving slowly. Because we didn't know the decoder ring to figure out where the buses went, we always had to ask the ticket person if that bus was going our way. As a result, the bus was always at a complete stop when we got on. The buses are almost like a huge conveyor belt around the city. Unlike many places in the US, you never had to wait more than a minute for your bus. The street was packed with buses and often several going the same way would stop at the same time, all vying for the same passengers. The people getting on the buses were from all walks of life. Throughout our stay in Lima, we rode the bus several times, and it became one of my favorite parts of the city. I got a chance to see little old ladies, business people in suits, teenagers, moms with kids, nurses in their scrubs, helpful old men, and well-dressed 20 somethings all ride the bus. It really wasn't that shady. If you had room left on your bus, peddlers would sometimes get on at one stop and then get off at the next. In between, they tried to sell you gum, candy, or other snacks. Room is a relative term. We rode one bus where every seat was filled (including the front seat with the driver), and people were standing all the way from the back to the door. We didn't think anybody else could get on. And yet, at one stop, we got another passenger. Beyond just the adventure of riding the bus, it was cheap and very convenient. Most of our bus rides were across town and were 1 sol (33 cents). The expensive one from the airport on our second day in Lima was 2 sols (gasp!) or 66 cents. For those who weren't quite up for the adventure of the bus, the other 50% of the vehicles on the road are taxis. While they are super expensive compared to the buses, they are still very cheap. Plus, the taxis charge you per ride. If you were so inclined, you could share it with as many people as you wanted to. We got to where we wanted to be in the north part of Miraflores and asked the ticket person for a stop. The bus stopped 2 lanes into traffic, but at least it stopped and didn't make us get off while it was moving. Since the 1st lane was just for other buses anyway, we made it across safely. Our final tourist destination for the day was Huaca Pucullyana. These are some ruins that had been abandoned pre-Inca. When Lima was developing, 2/3 of the ruins were covered in houses before somebody thought to step in and try to preserve them. As a result, there are these ruins in the middle of a neighborhood. The entrance fee came with an English-speaking tour guide who took us around the ruins and told us about the people who used to live there. She told us about their sacrifices, why sharks were sacred and how they made adobe bricks by hand. There were a few mannequins demonstrating some of what the guide told us. Additionally, in one corner of the site there was a little farm. It had a plant section that showed native plants and an animal section where we could see llamas, alpacas, birds and guinea pigs. They also had a native Chimo dog roaming the site. We learned that llamas make a better pack animal but that alpacas have better fur. They are closely related though, as you can interbreed them. After the tour, we took the bus back to the north part of town and had dinner at Roky's, a place that seemed to be some sort of chain diner. It was a little difficult to find a vegetarian meal that didn't have any fresh vegetables in it (like a salad). I was told not to drink the water, which also translates to not eating anything that was washed in it and not cooked. I had to get a little creative, but I ended up getting some pasta, which was not very Peruvian (although the sauce was). They also put this yellow sauce out on the table. I tried some of Jens fries in it and it was bad. It almost tasted like a bitter curry. The fries were good though. Peru has something like 2000 species of potatoes and it was obvious from eating the fries that these were not made of the same kind of potatoes we might find back at home. I like them much better actually. After dinner, we walked back to our hotel. At least where we were in Lima, it really didn't seem that shady. There were plenty of people outside, going about their business. We got back to our hostel* and went to bed.

Tomorrow: Off to Cusco

  • Posada del Parque calls itself a hostel, but really it's much, much nicer. First off, it has a good location in the middle of the north side of the city. It is a block or so from a major road. At the same time, it is on a tree-lined cul-de-sac that makes you completely forget that you are in a busy, polluted city. Secondly, it has a lot of character. All of the buildings in the neighborhood seem to have been colonial Spanish mansions. This one has high ceilings, the original big wooden doors, and is decorated with tons of Peruvian folk art. The place is very well maintained, both from a functionality standpoint, a cleanliness standpoint, and a prettiness standpoint. Beyond all that, the service is great. The people at the front desk were very helpful, whether it was helping us locate attractions or food, calling a taxi, or taking care of our questions. The included breakfast was simple (bread, butter, jam, OJ, and coca tea), but good. They had 2 good computers with free internet. Honestly, it is more of a bread and breakfast or a small hotel than a hostel. I was very happy with our accommodations in Lima.

Art at our hotel

Art at our hotel


Exposition Park

Exposition Park


Cool knockers at church

Cool knockers at church


Bench in Chinatown

Bench in Chinatown


Guinea Pigs- Yum

Guinea Pigs- Yum


Huaca Pucullyana

Huaca Pucullyana

Posted by spsadventures 16:00 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

Miami-like Panama

Even before we landed, I could see the ships waiting to get through the canal from the air. It was pretty neat. (Just for those who were wondering, I had already slept through a flight and a half and was ready to be awake.) I got to Panama City in the afternoon, and because I didn´t have any baggage to claim, I went straight through to the taxi stand to get a taxi. I hadn´t had a ton of time to figure out what there was to do in Panama and I only had an afternoon, so I kind of just pointed to a spot on the map and asked how much it would be to take me "There." This one taxi driver decided that he spoke English better than the other driver who had originally approached me and so he took me. However, I´m pretty sure that my Spanish was much better than his English as I had to do a lot of the translating from Spanish to English for him. On our way down a divided road, there was tree down due to the high winds and a crew was taking it out. All of the cars, my taxi included, just turned around, crossed the median, went down the wrong way on the other side, and then crossed the median back to the original road. All of this happened without anybody directing them. I was actually quite impressed as that would never happen in the US. People coming the other way wouldn´t have been willing to move over for the wrong way cars. We passed some buses painted in very bright colors and designs. They reminded me of how Fozzie´s car got painted in The Muppet Movie. Apparently these are called "Devil buses," although I don´t know why. We passed through some toll booths and he ended up taking me to Casco Viejo, the old part of town. In order to get there, we had to go through the new part of town. The new part looks very much like Miami. It has the tropical high rises for the rich, the beach-ey feeling, and tons of resorts for the wealthy to go play at. The only real difference was that the day was pretty gray, and a larger percentage of the billboards were in Spanish. When we got there, he went to let me out in a pretty shady-looking area. I asked for a more secure place, maybe by the ocean. He let me out there and I walked around. As I walked around the area, it looked a little less shady. I walked up a walkway by the ocean and took a few pictures. The area I was at wasn´t actually that pretty, but you could see ships lining up. The park area was pretty though. Apparently it is usually a tourist area, but not that day. The ladies selling goods on the walkway looked pretty lonely. Their bags were lovely though. Everything was bright colors and bold designs. The wallets and bags were gorgeous, but I really didn´t need any and wasn´t goingot start souvenir shopping then. One of the guys trying to sell stuff walked up to me and started a conversation. He wanted to practice his English on me, but it was actually quite comical. Just as people from the US try to speak Spanish by adding Os to the end of every word, he was removing them. We had a short conversation in Spanglish and then I moved on. I had things to see! (Although I wasn´t quite sure what they were.) I also ended up talking briefly with some other lady on the street. Whenever people found out I was from DC, they were so exicted because it is "Donde Obama vive!" I passed an Emerald museum, but didn´t go in. Then, it started raining and I decided that it was time to head inside somewhere for lunch. I asked some random guy on hte street where was a good place to go for decent, cheap food. He recommended Casablanca. The place was on one of the plazas in that part of town, so it was a little touristy, what with it´s Red Bull and Lavazza signs. (After I was inside, I noticed the music was a Spanish-English mix, featuring a lot of U2.) However, it was starting to pour, so I went in. I ended up getting a soupy corn and cheese appetizer (cooked, of course) that was very, very good. It was called Mazorca Desgranada. I also got a veggie burger, which wasn´t super impressive, but was edible (once I removed the lettuce and tomato). I know germs jump instantly from one food ot another and that we´re not supposed to eat raw veggies because they could be washed in water that could make us sick, but I didn´t really have much choice. Also, I saw another American drinking the tap water, so I figured that maybe he knew something I didn´t. (Maybe not and he got sick later though.) As I ate, it began thundering and lightninging. I didn´t really see what else I would be able to do in that mess, so I got a taxi back to the airport. Like the first taxi driver, this one didn´t really feel the need to stay in only one lane at a time. However, gassing was a new adventure for me. He pulled up to a gas station, honked, and had the guy put $5 in the car. Notice I didn´t mention turning off the car. As soon as the gas tank was closed, we could take off because the car was still running. I was a little nervous, but if that´s whatthey always do, then I guess it´s got to be relatively safe. I´m not going to start doing that myself, but I did find it interesting. This taxi driver knew no English, so we had a nice conversation in Spanish. He told me about his time working for a beer company as a industrial engineer, how they sent him to Spain to study and he visited Germany and Austria. We talked about the girlfriends he picked up there, his wife, son, and a nephew that was going to be a blackjack dealer. We, of course talked about Michael Jackson. It was a very interesting conversation. As he let me off at the airport, I´m pretty sure that he gave me a blessing involving something like "Be fruitful and multiply," a very Jewish thing to say. The only Panamanian souvenir shop at the airport was closed, so I wasn´t able to get anything, but hopefully it will be open on my way back. I flew to Lima and met with Jen at the airport. We got to our hostel and went to sleep pretty quickly.

Next: Lima

The ocean

The ocean


Casco Viejo

Casco Viejo


A park in Casco Viejo

A park in Casco Viejo


Cars turning around

Cars turning around


The ocean

The ocean

Posted by spsadventures 16:00 Archived in Panama Comments (0)