Good Morning America.
It's now been a bakers dozen days on the road for myself and summer, and this morning I write from Arequipa which according to summer reminds her of Southern California and the back yard spot I'm writing this from feels like Hawaii. All in all it's been another sensational few days packed with eye popping canvasses tethered to crazy dreams and solid conversation with my new world community I feel blessed to be apart of and on the road with.
From Puno to Arequipa.
The city of Puno had grit, that it hugs the shores of the fabled Lake Titicaca keep it awash in tourist dollars and veil the underlying issues the common man of Puno must certainly face on the day to day. After a two day stint aptly referenced in my prior post we headed to the Lexington of Peru, Arequipa. Now in all the tourist books and blogs it was denoted that the bus ride from Puno to Arequipa had the highest risk of theft of all passages through Peru and it's mighty history. One reputable travel guide even went so far to suggest we hand cuff our wrists to our luggage on the six hour bus ride. The bus ride was a measly 30 Sol's and we upgraded to 1st class but for an extra fifteen, it was well worth it outside of the loud slasher flicks that played loudly for our entertainment, a film so gory and sadly produced that the entire human population outside of Scott Jacobs (I once had a tailor named Jacobs) could extract any typer of enjoyment out of. I was delighted to see the french man, whom he alone had joined me in the "tre ceveraz" at lunch on the island of Tequile was joining us along with his wife with pink hair on our first class bus route to Arequipa. This guy got it done and again, although there was a complete language barrier, I loved the guy, summer did too and we commenced with proper european good by's once we had endured the 70's horror filmn that fell out of some guys ass years ago.
Jettisoning out of Puno and it's pink sky's and talented six on six concrete soccer games under the lights was charming as we copped that "one last look" at a destination with it's man made lakes and inhabitants that wowed me. And the small city quickly faded to dust and was replaced by the decay which would define the meat of this journey and stamp validation to the inherent dangers of such a trip as noted in travel blogs. And as we entered into the city of Juliaca, the scenery went from ratty to slums to vacant depression. We saw a bus literally flipped over (flashback) and it seemed there was a local celebration surrounding it with hyms and a fire. And as the bus ticked off it's meters the scene from outside my first class bus window grew more and more depressing, I was reading Obamma's wars with the Star Wars soundtrack on repeat via mano(really makes the words in Bob Woodwards must read about our commander and chief and his inherited conflicts jump) on the head phones. This is what Afganhaistan must look like I reckoned or at least a few strips outside of Kabul, it sadly also reminded me of a few strips of real estate in west Baltimore viewable via Amtrack from DC to the Big Apple. It was dark, cold and vacant, wild dogs and hardened city life were bleakly availible if your Edisons bothered to activate and garner some comparison. And it was funny, I thought this would be my favorite part, I love ghetto tours and will look someday before the idea is gone to monetize this concept in the states, ghetto tours, starting in my native Boston Mass. It's like that 1 scene in fight club, sometimes you need your life almost taKEN AWAY TO APPRECIATE THE TIME your afforded. Ghetto tours gives perspective and especially to a white country that doesn't know any better. In Boston I'd start with the Old Colony projects in South Boston review the Bulger brothers before heading to Roxbury (projects), the Orchard Park Projects (new Edition) and into Murderpan and the projects of Warchester. Frokm there we'd franchise NYC, it's five boroughs and the projects and places famous rappers of the day hailed from until we rolled down to Phnilly, and of course Baltimore before crushing that ever glowing and rap crazy Southern market for a different kind of project similar in it's grime and murder rate different in it's twang and modern day rap pay out.
Ironically I looked olut the window of this Peruvian slum and thought it was for the first time, a bad idea, like taking a cruise off the shore of Haiti sipping a martini talking in a real "dial" voice about, "Gee Tom I'm glad we're not them, cheers mate." Republicans might argue the tourist dollars our vital to the recovery but I'd argue you were a chump if you didn't dive off the boat and attempt to help even for a day in anyway deemed appropriate and constructive. So Juilaca was depressing and the book Obamma's wars further erdoing the excitment that has stayed with me through the duration of our raptorous adventures thus far.
Obamma's Wars by Bob Woodward.
A couple things, a must read, beyond health care, guns, tax cuts and stimulus and American President at times faces a war or in this case wars, and this trumps any other issue on any other day. A commander in chiefs cardinal calling above all else is to protect us. I remember as a kid sacred of Russia and the nukes constantly praying to my man J Rock to please protect us from a nuclear assault, it was my worst nightmare. Reading this documentation of the politcs surrounding the ever present Afghanistan strategy I was alarmed. Never before has there ever been such a disjoint in the sacred chain of command of our milatary, our protection and keeper of holy sleepy time. Obamma had a great quote running into one of his many national secruity meetings with his top milatary advisors from the Pentagon, "Sorry guys I'm late" he'd say, "I was just reading about what we're going to do in the Wall St. Journal." Humor always catches me and I think sometimes ironic twists with a toungue and cheek delivery can underscore a point more effectively than the hammer of hard rhetoric and said disappointment in the commanders your suppossed to lean on and trust to make the gravest decisions.
And much of it goes back to the not so distant Bush era, reading this book you get the feeling the miliatray brass at the Pentagon had never been told "no." And they would not accept it, and they would leak, sneak and break the chain of command to get the heavist possible troop and brigade levels trying their damdest to run back vietnam which had been a fear ever since the early days of Iraq. This climaxed in General Mchrsytal getting drunk in Paris, going against his vow and word and comproming our mission in troops in one baby temper rant interview to who else, Rolling Stone magaize. He knew he fucked up and was given his walking papers, and President Obamma still let him walk away with his honor in tact by the words he chose in the speech that had to be called on the heels of an enormous breach in the chain of command, what esstentially makes our military who they are. The star of the book is Obamma, you feel bad for the guy, the smartest 25 people in the room were unable to ever present a 2nd or third option, this wasn't an all in at all costs military go strategy co signed from the former administration, this was to be a thought out, talked about, put all of your cards on the table scenario. I really liked Biden in the book as well, Emuanual kind of a very likeable zilla. But still the politics of war limited what should have been the apple of all discussions.
Flashback, steam ship on Lake Titcaca, on the lower level of the boat seated with all of the tourists from around the globe I was dozing off, it's simply difficult for me to listen to another human speak at length about anything, I was having flashbacks to the head bobs that defined me sitting in class during high school. In any event I flexed, I broke out and jetted to the open air of the top floor of our boat. Putting the head phones on I came alive to the random selection of Prince's "Cream" and started dancing solo, as if I were the the Joker (Jack) in the first Batman on a float headlining a parade I had financed down the main street of Gotham City. I'd seen the movie enough to mirror most of the best moves and stay true to the script. It was fantastic and I was as happy as I had been on this trip outside of my percious hugs with summer on the hour. I was having a personal fiesta before my siesta. I stayed on top of this boat solo until summer came looking for me, I was missing the entire tour and language covering where we were and what the lay of the lake was all about historically and now. And by the time she found me, Biggie's, 'everyday struggle' dazzled my ear lobes, my eyes were red and watering from the wind, close proximity of the sun and altitude. I was jumping, performing and lip syncing my heart out free from everything the world had always conspired to constrain within a sprit as hyper as my own. Wow.
And I must say lastly on war and politics I've during my trip up until this point acquired a greater repsect than hitherto existed for Condaleez Rice. I most enjoyed the passages of her most recent memior I was able to scasmper across, read and register. She spoke of being at the whiter house on 11/9 with George Herbert Bush, a date that is defined as the end of the cold war. And she spoke of the multitude of decades and decisions, policy's and acts that culimated in the cold wars end. The juxtapaosition of course was also being present at the whiter house during 9/11, her point being it's far mnore difficult to be enginerring the "drive" at the beginning of a long conflict than at the end when their is a historical compass and many learing lessons in the rear view to extraplolate your own startegy from. And I get that, it mnakes sense, but doesn't negate the all in strategy of the early days of Irag and the systemic failure of everyone in that office to not see YOU CAN'T CUT TAXES ON A NEO conservative NEVER BEFORE SEEN LEVEL and ERNGAGE FULLY IN TWO WARS.
Forget about the banks for a second, this is why our national debt has been made to suffer to the degree in which it now stands. It's simple logic, and a universal no-no that after 9/11 wigth a 90% apporval rating we were powerless to stop. Half the reason our guy got elected is because he saw the imnperil dangers of Iraq aND RECOGNIZED the true fught and where it lay. Anyway last word on war and politics outside of the instant gratification of the generation that helped steer the right guy into office, it takes time, 8 years of destructive policy, it takes time. Vote left on Nov 4th, the tea party is destructive, traveling has only strengthened my resolve for everything esp. on the war front Obamma is trying to get right. Bush had never left the country before he took office, W that is, that should be a rule akin to being born in the US to hold the highest of office, you have to at least traveled outside of your own country a couple times again just for perspective.
In Cusco we watched a debate between the illustrious Harry Reid and his tea party contender, the orator asked, "Do you think English should be the official language of the United States?" The tea party contender riled her fist for effect and shouted "absolutely" and added this was one of the problems as she saw it. When the same question was posed seconds later to Harry Reid he replied simply, "It is." If the policy's and lack of education surrounding the so many "friend" posts of the Bush years allowed a black man in America to be elected president a hundred years before I thought it was possible (it took a hundred to get a white Catholic in for C sakes) then the tea party is intent on "taking their country back." This blind faith in the free market they trumpet as the cornerstone of their ideology is truly baffling on the heels of the 1929 run back we've just gone through. Gordon Gecko once said "your not naive enough to believe we're living in a democracy our you sport?" And I add on only saying your not naive to believe the free market is free? It's rigged, it's fixed, go watch money never sleeps. More on that in a second.
Anyway in Arequipa. Suffice to say I was zip lined in the Himalaysns scared with the first hour we arrived. The traffic was hellacious, the LABB program mini vans which were the public buses were packed one by one beyond hong kong with heads hanging out the windowns and freely smoking amisdt the claustrophobic cluster. And then at a stop light amidst the chaos we watched a biker cut off by a lowly cab driver, stop traffic, get off his bike and beat the living shit out of the guy, even our cabbie was frightened. Arriving at what's our compound, we have great footage there was a lock on the gate the likes of which I believed belonged on the US embassy in Kabul or the green zone, I was shook. Of course the next day these concerns were allievated by the splendor experiencing this silk city in one of the 300 days year round sunshine it baths deliciously in. There were Pisco sOURS and palm trees. The whole city is made of a white stone cued from the active volcanos that our a staple of this cities history and construction. White volcanic rock used exclsivelky in the construction of caherdeals, 2nd cities and grand municipalites gave a grand flair to an ancient city that rocked all the amemities one looks for in a wonderful afternoon. The bright colors and cache of flowers ushered in fond memories of Pasadena CA for Summer and I. Bottom Line if your ever visiting Peru this is the place to come. It's the LA of Peru, and remind me what that city as well as NYC might have been like in 1985, absolutely crazy, not incredibly safe but magical nonetheless.
Our first night at our hotel we ate dinner at the retaurant on the grounds, and an Aussie man walked in along with an Austrain / swiss german couple were the only patrons left. The Aussie man sat down and began crushing the paino, he kept us up more hours than we expected and I reveled in the dialouge with the three persons 50 / 60 and 70 worldly rememberences and earthy discussions. The Swiss German couple, his wife was Austrian and Rudoplh (I once had a tailor named Jacobs) was swiss german. He recalled his own early training on the ivory consisted soly of the big three, Bach, Mozart aND bEETHOVEN, he recalled the austerity of an Irish chapel warden in which his piano lessons were delivered. The younger Aussie my fathers generation spoke about how his lessons didn't involved the "switch" or stick and hastened itself from the big three to include at a fairly young age the Beatles and the rolling stones. The Aussie man was a hiker, a lone travler and skilled pianist, he soon played inspector gadet as well as Elton John and even some Bach for Rudoplh. I was shocked to learn my boy Chopan was not in the Big 3 which always to me as a kid not playing piano in Boston meant Bird, Mchale and Parish.
We spoke our wars, children, Rudolph and his Austrian wife had two daughters gone through Yale and the different historical rivers that run through Europe. I concluded that this travel will sharpen my Jeporday skills, it was a conversation that much like the realization towards the end of my high school career in which I realized the hollow depths of my knowledge. The swiss german shocked me at one point calling the Dutch historically "cheap." This got him laughing thinking to thy self about just how cheap they are. I was stunned as this was coming from a Swiss german (Otto Ruesch R.I.P) all until shopping outside of the Colcoa Canyon for baby alpaca gloves, scarfs and sweater my dutch counterpart on two occassions ran back to the ATM when the merchant informed him of the 3% discount cash recieved over Visa on an already steapest discount for fine wool I'd ever en countered. And of course lastly re-enforced when he stiffed our two day tour / your guide for a tip after scouring the colcoa canyons on a wonderful sight seeing hiatus.
Many pic's to follow, the canyon was another Whiskey Tango Fox trot moment about two times as deep as the grand canyon we saw a yellow wood pecker and 3 giant condors, vultures the 2nsd biggest bird in all the world soaring unabated in their grandest splendor over a trulky astonishing red, clay and brown canvas. On it's top there was dimished ice, a recent trend that bucked the thousands of years this canyons apex was always frozen. Our international pack laughed at the American tea party suggestion against that of global warming and here was another clear case that threatned the eco system of this ancient enviromental, earthly wonder. Our dutch couple were eying Nov 4th, and everyone on that tour bus threw their hat willingly into our native politics and hoped the house would reatin a mojority it's apperently posed to lose. They all mentioned America as Europe's, Australia's, Canda's most important ally and esp. thoughout this whole trip the european contingent felt that they had lost a friend, sadly and scary of the US during the Bush administration.
Another wildly held and universal point amongst everyone, China is as Coach Farias used to say off it's gord. In the colca Canyon we walked with Lama's, Alpcala, Donkey's (my favporite) piglets and passed grazing cows. And the ride there unabted on an empty five hour strecth of national and recently paved highway is a motorcycles enthuisnats dream I imagined. Today I have a 10 o clock message, one hour for 30 sol's! amazing, a great brunch before, some shopping and our first round of post cards. Tonight we fly to Cordoba and break into Argentinia, last night we had an amzing dinner at a french / Andian retaurant, I had the cray fish, and thinly slices of beef suteed in Lemon with corn and again thinly stripped slices of parmesian cheese.
I did want to cover my random sountrack that quickly downloaded in Burke VA on my mini Nano before embarking but will hold off. There is something to be said about lsienting to the Boys II Men Christmas LP travling through the colca canyon, I had no control of what this thing chose to dowload in the last second of remebernce before the super shuttle was arrtiving, or the Stars wars theme reading Obamma's wars or the Bangles blasting as I strolled through Cuasco. Already picked up some presents for folks, the deals in Peru our the best, Argentinia is aPPERENTLY NOT AS MUCH OF A STEAL.
From Cordoba we head to Mendoza wine country and finally to BA with many a side trip scatterred in between. I'm half way through F. Scott's Fitz's other side of Paridise as summer claws through the MA classic, Moby Dick which I also have never read. I look at these blog's as mix tapes and am excited to finish (finally) the pursuit of my first novel / memior down in the BA which has taken at this point about ten years. It's everything I got, heart, loins, liver and marrow. it's been cathartic and amazing experience. Much love to Jay Campisis for editing the thousands of original pages over all of this time, re-writes in the midst of life, and much love to JQ for never letting me forget to finish and believing in. Big up's to Limerick and B-DaWG, on the nuptials and baby girl and finally for anyone reading this mess, even one person, thank you and I love you fot it.
PS: Altiude spawns wierd dreams they say. This is true. Last night I dreamt that Richard scully played a leading role in the new Wall St, and i met him with the "O" for pizza in Arlington at the awful but much loved spot by me, Il Riddcio's. We had a plethora of questions about M. Douyglass and the rowdy fratastic crew behind us was gawking at summer who had dropped by to say hi and actually allowed the leader of the crew, who was louder, better spoken with higher cheek bones and a more expensive watch than me, kiss her on the lips! A nightmare actually. It ruined me until n woke up and she me reminded me it was just a dream. And the night before I dreamt Pete Nice flew to Washington via Chi for lunch ONLY TO HAVE ME SURPISE him with a flight back to Chicago. Once we landed I was IN A PUBLIC HIGH SCHOOL HOME ROOM WITH JQ AND THE GUY WHO PLAYED THE HARMONICA ON THIS IS hIOP hOP. i WAS WEARING HEAD GEAR, AND THE TeaCHER WAS TAUNTING ME HIOLDING MY FUN DIP, RUBBING IT LIKE THE eMPEROR WAS RUBBING lUKE sKYWALKERS LIGHT SABER in Return of the Jedi in the apex of the trilogy, egging him on to give into his hate and strike down his father so his journey to the dark side would be complete, weird.
The spring is here in Peru, and the air is silky, Happy Monday, one love to life