Monthly Archives: February 2009

Picture Post: The Hostel- Part III

Since I´m moving out of here soon, I just wanted to show off the last two parts of the hostel, my favorite parts.  If you don´t know why I´m moving out, read the post I wrote just before this one. 

First, Yanapay, the hostel dog.

Por Favor, quiero algo de su pan con miel, Guillermito.  Por favor.

Por Favor, quiero algo de su pan con miel, Guillermito. Por favor.

 

Autumn is that you?

Autumn is that you?

 

As an interlude, one of the millions of Tiendas in Cusco that have no names.  You can buy almost anything, but nothing can be sold cold.  Not even milk.  This is the one closest to the hostel, and the one I most frequent:

Tienda

Tienda

 

And now the best part.

The view directly outside my room.

The view directly outside my room.

Montañas from the balcony

Montañas from the balcony

The cusqueñan flag is a rainbow...

The cusqueñan flag is a rainbow...

You can´t get used to the mountains.

You can´t get used to the mountains.

One last time outside my room.

One last time outside my room.

 

Up next, my insane weekend of Carnival.

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Blurble Updates

Turns out it´s a lot harder to keep up with this blog on weeks when I´m volunteering.  Not to mention an onslaught of goodbye and birthday parties.  So here is some easy to consume updatage:

  • Life continues to be tranquilo y divertido.
  • During one of aforementioned goodbye parties, I dropped my memory card to my camera, containing 200 picutres of my trip to Puno and Lake Titicaca, in the street.
  • Walking home one morning, I found the memory card wedged between two cobblestones in the street.  Before I could bend to pick it up, a taxi drove over it.
  • I retrieved the memory card, which appeared unharmed, but apprently suffered some internal injury that can only be cured in the US.
  • Hence, I´ve decided to keep both the pictures and the post about my trip to Puno on hold, which will also facilitate in making this bloggy more up to date.
  • I have made a Peruvian friend at a bar called The Muse, mostly a gringo joint, and he has asked me to help him work behind the bar on nights when he´s the only one working.  I did it once already, and I´m doing it tonight.  It´s fun, because when someone orders a vodka-mango, I get to slice up an entire mango and blend it in a blender.  The mangos here are like none others I have ever tried.
  • I am moving, once again, out of the hostel and into an apartment with Kyle and Diana, the couple I traveled with the Puno who are getting married, and a girl named Laura, who will be going to Buenos Aires with me in April.  The apartment is private, has hot showers all the time, is closer to the center of downtown, and half the price of what I´m paying now.
  • On the first day of April, when my apartment lease runs out, I will be traveling (on what medium is yet to be decided) to Buenos Aires with a few other people, some of whom are also yet to be decided. 
  • I will staying Buenos Aires for one and a half weeks, and then will be taking an 18 hour bus ride down to Patagonia to see Penguins, Glaciers and the end of the earth. 
  • After that, I will return to Lima where I will board a plane on April 22nd, and return back to the land of the freeish, The United States. 
  • Los Angeles to be specific.  Perhaps another trip to Disney Land.  Then eventually, somehow, back to Portland, Maine where I will rejoin the working force and attempt to figure out yet another way to avoid paying off my loans in full and staying in the same place.

Bank Of America, You are THE WORST

If you have money in a Bank of America account, like I do (for now), then I advise you to take out all of your money and run far away from them if you plan on doing any traveling. 

Bank of America is single handedly trying to assure that I starve to death while I´m here in Peru.  This might be somewhat of a ranting post, but I need to get this off my chest and also hope that this can be some sort of miniscule stab at revenge.

 

The saga begins with a mistake I made.  I´ll be the first to admit it, I made a stupid mistake.  On February 4th, my third day in Cusco, I went to an ATM and, upon receiving my money, decided to count how much I had received.  I neglected, however, to notice that I left my card in the machine while counting, and it was promptly eaten by the greedy money shooter. 

That´s where my mistakes ended.  The ATM was not connected to any bank where I could go in to retrieve my card, so  I quickly called Bank of America to have them cancel it.  Which they did.  The first Bank of America representative I spoke with, who later turned out to be one of the most either wicked or incompetant (most likely both) people I´ve encountered, passed me on to a weird little group called Visa 911, who could help me figure out if I could use my credit card, which I still had, as a debit card.

Of course, the person at Visa 911, a dirty liar as it turns out, told me that it was not an option.  So that same day I called Bank of America back, asking if I could somehow have them send me an ATM card in Peru.  Of course, they said.  They´d be happy to help me.  But when they looked up my account history, they found that the first woman I talked to had already had a new card sent to the address on file without asking me, to my parent´s house in Portland, Maine.  Which wasn´t so helpful.

So the witch on the phone grumpily canceled that card, advised me to change my address to Peru, one of the worst pieces of advice I´ve ever gotten, right up there with my father´s advice to watch Night of the Living Dead at age eight.

So I changed my address to here in Peru, and the lady assures me that my card will be there in 4 to 16 days.  In the meanwhile, I can use my credit card to get cash out of a bank to the tune of 3% of the amount I withdraw, wich turned out to be about $70.  Worth it in order to have money for 16 days while I wait.

Fast forward to yesterday, February 20th, 16 days after my mistake.  Of course, the card has not arrived.  So I get on the phone and call up Bank of America again (which is not cheap to do, especially when you can actually watch your money tick away while listening to muzak on hold).  After getting cut off twice, a nice man named Arthur tells me that the wonderful associates I had talked to 2 weeks ago had entered the address incorrectly, leaving Portland, ME 04103 in the address below Cusco, Peru.  So not only did the card never get sent, but Bank of America neglected to tell me that it never got sent.

Not to worry, however.  Visa 911, my old friend, can apparently send me an emergency card in 2 days flat.  Why the psychopaths at Bank of America neglected to tell me this 16 days ago still keeps me awake at night.  No point in getting mad (yet), I just have them transfer me over to Visa 911 to get my emergency card.

Yes, of course they can help me.  They just have to verifty with Bank of America that I´m eligible for an emergency card.

Since I had talked to over 5 different employees at Bank of America about my issue, of course my request would be verified and approved.

Except it wasnt.  Why?  Because I changed my address.  Thanks to the advice from none other than Bank of America itself, my request was denied by Bank of America.  No emergency card for me, at least not for another 90 days.  At this point, I had 2 representatives from Bank of America and one from Visa 911 on the same line, not to mention at least 10 other hostelers in the courtyard listening to me screaming, then crying, them screaming and crying. 

“There are three people on this phone with me,” I said, “Which one of you is going to help me get money while I´m living in a foreign country?”  Dead silence.  No one wanted to help me.  Finally it came down to just one representative, my dear Aruther, whose voice had become so soft and apologetic it was melting through the phone receiver.

Arthur read me the address to which the card was being sent 5 times, and read me his computer screen that declared the card was on its way.  Another 16 days of waiting.  Let´s hope Arthur doesn´t let me down.  I have my worries…

 

Anyway, happier posts are coming up soon.

Picture Post: The Hostel, Part II

Let´s continue the tour of the strange place in which I live.  Now we go on to the courtyard, the central hang out for residents during the day.

My twofavorite hammocks slumbering in the background.

My two favorite hammocks slumbering in the background.

The Courtyard from above.

The Courtyard from above.

Four rarely empty chairs.

Four rarely empty chairs.

The kitchen sink is outside!  Sometimes the rain does the dishes.

The kitchen sink is outside! Sometimes the rain does the dishes.

A popular game in Peru called Sapo.  Throw the gold coins into the frog´s mouth.

A popular game in Peru called Sapo. Throw the gold coins into the frog´s mouth.

If I call you, it´s from this box.  The top half of the door is shut, so you have to almost crawl into it.

If I call you, it´s from this box. The top half of the door is shut, so you have to almost crawl into it.

The bathroom off the courtyard that I hardly use.

The bathroom off the courtyard that I hardly use.

The patron clown that watches over all of us in the courtyard.

The patron clown that watches over all of us in the courtyard.

Now we go into the communal kitchen.  Lots of cooking happens here after volunteering, and most of it involves combined efforts, combined foods, and combining meals.

Part of the reason communal cooking is so popular is because this is the only cooking device.  The flames can go up to a foot high, and 3 people have singed their hair.

Part of the reason communal cooking is so popular is because this is the only cooking device. The flames can go up to a foot high, and 3 people have singed their hair.

The dining area.

The dining area.

The stickers don´t lie.

The stickers don´t lie.

For the end of the second part of this picture dump, a little surprise when I first came into the computer room.

Ah!

Ah!

 

That´s all for now.  The last installment coming up very soon.

Picture Post: The Hostel, Part I

The day after my first lonely night in Cusco, I walked up to the hostel and met some of the other volunteers.  Immediately I decided that I needed to move there, due to the extreme, and this is a bit hippie-ish to say, but I´m a little bit hippie-ish, good vibrations I felt there.

Moving out of Señora Aldé´s home was easy as pie.  She made no fuss about it, and I got the feeling this kind of thing happens a lot.  In fact, the girl that moved into my room after I moved out already lives in the Hostel.

The Hostal is a very strange and wonderful place, which are my only two requirements for living situations.  Rather than try to explain it with words, I thought I´d do a little photo essay on why I love it here.  Enjoy.

Bienvenido

Bienvenido

Looking back at the entrance from the courtyard.

Looking back at the entrance from the courtyard.

My New Bed

My New Bed

These next few pictures are chosen to give you a feel to what it´s like to live in my room, one of the only singles in the hostel.  Each room at this place has a weird theme, such as Tienda De Magica (Magic Store) or Escuela (School).  My room is Pintor (Painter), the theme of which is reflected in the strange and unsettling art on the walls.

Jub the Cat

Jub the Cat

That´s actually 4 questions.

That´s actually 4 questions.

This is right about my bed.

This is right above my bed.

Es verdad.

Es verdad.

When I sit up in bed we make eye contact.

When I sit up in bed we make eye contact.

Me washing my clothes in my room.

Me washing my clothes in my room.

My room is the one all the way down with the brown sign.

My room is the one all the way down with the brown sign.

Now let´s go to the bathroom.

There are 2.5 bathrooms in the hostal.  A total of 4 toilets and 4 showers.  This is the one closest to my room.

There are 2.5 bathrooms in the hostal. A total of 4 toilets and 4 showers. This is the one closest to my room.

Come shower with me...

Come shower with me...

All three knobs and the red lever at the top are used in a mind boggling combination that takes an average of 5 minutes to complete, if there is hot water.

All three knobs and the red lever at the top are used in a mind boggling combination that takes an average of 5 minutes to complete, if there is hot water.

Please poop here.  No toilet paper can be flushed.

Please poop here. No toilet paper can be flushed.

 

Coming later:  the courtyard, the kitchen, the dog.

A List of Things I Heard While Waiting For A Computer to Free Up, Standing On The Balcony of the Hostel in Cusco On Valentine´s Day, One Day After Friday The 13th

  1. Maria, Roxanna y Diana, trying to figure out how their new MP3 player works.
  2. A man´s voice on the radio singing in Spanish.
  3. Yanapay, the lowly hostel dog, tic-tacing across the cement below.
  4. Fernando´s footsteps, creaking on the floorboards, and gate he is opening creaking as well.
  5. A dog barking somehwere.
  6. Thunder coming from the left and far off.
  7. Some sort of rhytmic cooing.  (A mechanical pigeon?  A porno?)
  8. 3 dogs now, all fighting.
  9. A bee buzzing.
  10. A pigeon warbling, and another one flapping.
  11. A cat jumping from one roof to another.
  12. Taxis honking, like sonar around me.
  13. 4 different birds singing, like sonar around me.

Dia De San Valentin

Much to my disappointment, St. Valentine´s day is celebrated with gusto down here.  I was hoping that by being off the grid I would be outside the tentacles of the depressing day, but that´s not true.

However, Diana, the daughter of the woman that works at the hostal, has decided to put her arm around me while I write.  She typed her own name.  She doesn´t read English, she just wants to watch.  So my day isn´t empty of love, of course.

Even with the friends I have here, today is going to drag by with the unique class of lonliness that I always feel, derived from the combination of being both single and gay, and this year intensified by being one of the only solo travelers at the hostel. 

Last night a few of the ladies of the hostel and I tried to go out to the only gay bar in Cusco, only to find out that the bar was both not gay and closed.  I did find out that there was another bar, but this one has no sign, no name, and is only known through word of mouth.

Perhaps it was the rum, but I was suddenly overcome with a tidal wave of sadness for my gay brothers and sisters here in Cusco.  Certainly Cusco has no less of a gay population than any other city of its size.  But those unfortunate enough to be born gay in this city have to traipse around in the dark, nameless, whispering. 

What really struck me was that Cusco is only one of many cities around the world where gay people have to stay in the shadows.

I began to wonder what it would be like if gay people had a different color skin; if the genes that made us like the same sex also turned our skin purple.  Would we be chugging along so slowly and haltingly in our movement?

Perhaps when I return to the US it will be time for me to become a noise maker.  Cast away my pride, stop separating myself from the gay movement, and work with organizations to facilitate not just gay rights in the US, but globally.  Fix places like Cusco for my people.

It sounds strange, feels funny in my mouth to refer to homosexuals as “my people”, but when it comes down to it, that´s what we are.  A race and a group that is unified by our ability to love differently, and our inability to go through life without love, like so many close minded people around the world would prefer.

Feliz dia de amor.