The Big Mountain Stomach Spirit

I cant say if it was a welcome home gift, or a punishment for being in such good health during my trip, but on Friday I got very very ill. It’s not that killer apocalyptic flu everybody is screaming about. I don’t have the sniffles or a cough, or even a fever. What I do have is an ache pretty much everywhere and sharp stabbing clawing pains in my stomach and along all my intestines. It’s pretty bad. I think it has something to do with how shockingly cold it was here upon my return to the Northeast. I refuse to believe it’s from Peru. I finally went to the doctor today and he thinks it’s a stomach virus. Now I have pink pills and also I can feel better about myself since I’ve actually tried to take care of myself instead of watching golf underneath five blankets and moaning. I know: drama. I do feel a little better since Friday. The stabbing pains come and go, and their coming a little less frequently than before.

It was this that made me decide to go to LA for the next few days. And the weather, of course of course.

I keep thinking that the trip in which so many things could have gone wrong and so many illnesses could have been caught went perfectly perfect, until we tried to leave. Leaving out of the Cusco airport to go to the jungle was met with a five hour delay, and then leaving it again on the way to Lima we were just tickled to find that we had an extra three hours to browse pretty much nothing again plus an unscheduled stop to another city in the opposite direction. We had to trade reading materials, twice. And then another 2 hour delay in Miami (and now i know what “wheels up” means, and doesn’t “wheels up” sound just a little bit dirty? c’mon a little?). And now that I’m actually off all planes and lines of bureaucracy sponsored by the Department of Homeland Wasting-Your-Time-and-Mine-Somehow-Make-Us-Feel-Safer-How?, I mean Security.. After all that now I’ve got this horrible stomach thing.

The clear conclusion seems to me that a mountain spirit in the sacred valley wanted us to stay. Seriously, I can dig it. All week Ruben, our amazing fantastic guide whom I might be in love with, was telling us things like this. And they all sounded as true as my hiking boots falling apart. (My hiking boots fell apart.) When we had wine on our last night of the hike he offered some to earth first. When we were at Machu Picchu he kept looking at the raining sky and taking these big short breaths that I knew meant something. When Isabel’s bottle fell off her pack he said it was the earth asking for an offering. And when he told us this story about the Inkas never needing to drink and barely ever eating, and when he talked about sacrificing virgin girls to the sun god you could practically see the blood pooling around his feet.

So you won’t think it odd that on the fifth circle around the Cusco airport, when I saw the kids on the giant slippery slide go by one more time, when once again I pondered the Coca-Cola, Cusquena, and Pepsi billboards up on the green hills, I started to think that maybe getting out of here was intentionally hard. The place was obviously enchanted. Maybe we were meant to stay. Maybe forces bigger and older than airports and passports were telling me not to go back to chilly NYC with it’s dark little cubicles and exorbitant rents which fellow travelers asked me about with equal parts horror and delight. Right? The stomach thing only confirms it.

So fuck it. LA for the week. At least my dad has digital cable and I can watch naked midget celebrity golf while moaning under five blankets.

Leftover Itchies

Lordy I’m back. And everything was amazing. Except the 2 day saga of getting back in which all four of my flights were delayed, not to mention the bureaucracy of getting from the third world into the first.

Now in brooklyn I opened my bag and faced the mixture of damp jungle mud and Andean grit that covers everything and it all seems like a dream from years ago. Spectacular, amazing, hard, dirty, hot, cold, wet… But then all my mosquito bites – I kind of don’t want them to go away.

I had some sort of spiritual experience at reaching Machu Piccu. And the smell of the jungle is so delicious. And the river, and the trees, and the monkeys. Monkeys! Lots of em. Monkeys are scary cause they are so human and have this violence about them. And all the farms in the Sacred Valley and the farmers and the newly born spring babies of every species. And the Inkas. Man, the Inkas are fucking amazing…

I have much to say about it. I fell in love with so many things, but mainly the absolute necessity of traveling. A lot. There is so much to see out there in the world.

More to come…

Going.. going..

It’s T minus two days until my big trip, and things are starting to take shape. I roughly have an itinerary:

First 5 days: acclimate to the altitude, chew coca leaves, wander around the town of Cusco, check out some nearby ruins, leisurely hang around cafes meeting quirky fellow travelers, buy some alpaca & trinkets and possibly go whitewater rafting on the Amazon.

Second 4 days: hike the Inca Trail, see Machu Picchu, be blown away by the majesty of it all, try very hardest not to get hurt (much), sit in hot springs.

Rest day: eat, sleep, bathe.

Final 3 days: travel to Puerto Maldonada in the Amazonian rainforest, see monkeys, see 500-600 species of birds, swim in the pool, take malaria pills, drink the tea of the dead, see god and/or meaning of life, swim in the pool more.

Right now I’m trying to figure out a reading list. I’m thinking something of a post-colonial theme for the trek. I haven’t read any V.S. Naipaul, and I never did get through One Hundred Years of Solitude. Also unfinished in my bookshelf are Ulysses, Journey to the End of the Night, Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung, and several other titles I can’t remember. I also want to read more Joe Eszterhas, Terry Southern, and Hunter S. Thompson after reading some essays in The New Journalism. If anyone has any suggestions, please pass them using the handy hotlink at the bottom of this page. The only requirement is that they be available in paperback. Maybe I should just get all magazines so I can abandon them as necessary…

Otherwise, it’s all odds and ends left: a stuff-sack here, a wet-wipe there. I wouldn’t mind some new walking shoes, and a fleece – but most of the must-haves are all done. It’s a wonderful thing for me to not do any work for 2 whole weeks. I can barely control my excitement. Also, my archenemy winter is creeping into the scenery so it’s a perfect time for some get-outta-town. Maybe I will be able to blog from the hinterlands. I’ve heard there’s a lot of Internet café’s – and I do want to be writing. But I’d feel better with my head in a notebook than in front of a computer, even if it is the very same thing, almost.