Saturday, August 9, 2008


We wrapped up our trip in Ollantaytambo (which is not the picture above... that would be Cuzco, the city to which we just returned today) with the boys taking the train out to Machu Picchu for a couple day excursion. As mentioned in my last entry, it was a bit frustrating to work around some of the details, but in the end it was JooYeon that saved us a good deal of money with a very creative plan. Unfortunately, I cannot detail that plan right here, but feel free to ask us in person and suffice it to say it was a stroke of genius. As for why JooYeon and I didn´t visit Machu Picchu, I never had any interest (I was more interested in the living Incan culture-history of Ollentaytambo than fueling the profits of an overpriced tourist monopoly) and JooYeon was waiting to see how it went for the boys and will then decide when we come back through Peru just the two of us.

This is the family we stayed with in Ollantaytambo, Irma, Noellia, and Luis. I think I was quite successful of my goal in boosting Irma´s English above her husband´s. I did eventually make my peace with Carlos, although I never quite trusted him. And if you mention his name to the two boys, they get quite frustrated... nothing to do with machismo though. He was supposedly going to ¨hook them up¨in Machu Picchu, but he stood them up for dinner and their expensive hotel turned out to have rats and who knows what else (Kiwi´s leg is still quite swollen from some kind of bites that I predict are going to be quite annoying on tonight´s all night bus ride).
Which brings me to a good topic... cucarachas (cockroaches). Not the real ones, although there was one in our restaurant tonight crawling slowly above us just out of reach (and I believe laughing). I mean the dirty gritty stuff inside of you that is exposed more readily with travels. For instance, the other day, a Dutch couple cut in front of me and JooYeon while we were buying tickets... no problem, they were in a hurry. The woman then proceeded to turn around and ask us some questions, including where JooYeon was from... okay, she´s friendly. She then began to reference Koreans as ¨monkeys¨and how their English was quite poor (which is not true by the way). At first, I was waiting for her to get to some point I thought she was making, but when it never came, just as I opened up my mouth to retort, she turned around, finished the sale and walked away.
Now, I was raised that it takes two to fight and that if someone provokes you, the most noble route is to turn the other cheek and walk away. Essentially, that is what I did here, although I didn´t walk away since I needed to buy the ticket. So I took the noble route. And I regretted it dearly. All that day, I kept digging up darker, more bitter, and hurtful things I could have said to the Dutch woman. I´m not sure if she was just that culturally ignorant or if she intended to hurt feelings, but boy did I WISH I had hurt her even more (I won´t share some of the things I wish I had said). It makes me question myself, intentions, etc. That´s a cucaracha. Another one was when JooYeon just made an offhand comment that she wished the dogs fighting in the street (noisily so we can´t sleep) would just kill each other and that she would be glad to help them. Cucarachas. Seeing the glorious parts of ourselves.

Here was a bakery we stopped in a random town which turned out to have incredible food and drinks for low prices (even considering normal Peruvian prices). When I commented to the man that JooYeon had felt her Frappucino was even better than her beloved Starbucks, he just smiled and said, ¨Well, I don´t know who Mr. Starbucks is, but tell him to come learn from us!¨

We returned to Cuzco yesterday and have finally purchased our zampona (traditional Peruvian instrument) and the flute (I forget the name), so we were practicing it last night in our hotel room, until we got shouted at to keep the noise level down. I guess we WERE the cucarachas that time.

If you´ve read from the beginning, you´ll know that JooYeon´s favorite remedy for almost everything these days is Baking Soda. Unfortunately, even Baking Soda became a cucaracha for poor GyuSeong this morning...

JooYeon and I enjoyed some time in a cafe this afternoon, journaling, drawing, and reading to the sounds of Tracy Chapman as we sipped some new herbal teas and drank a vegetarian stew.

Those kind of times allowed us to relax from our cucarachas and gear up for our next adventure, Lake Titicaca in this case. It´s even higher than Puno at about 3,800 meters, and we´re hoping to get out to an island. But our first obstacle will be navigating the town as it will be dark and bitter cold when we arrive tomorrow morning at 4:00 am...


  1. hum....cucaraches,may be a good topic for sunday school....we had lots of cockroaches in Florida...often you wouldn't see them until you came into a dark room and turned on the light...then they went scurrying... Mom I like Joo Yeon's scarf!

  2. Dan...
    We have gotten back from Po'Hang and Pusan and had a wonderful time. EVERYONE we met in Korea was so gracious. You're right..Koreans were excellent with English. Guys my age were reluctant to speak it until they had a little soju, but then were a lot more impressive with their English than I was with my limited Korean vocabulary of "Com-som-needa" (thank you)...but it seemed to take us far.
    Take care, ...I need to take care of some of cucurachas...;0)

  3. I guess I am full of one big cucarachas! Oh well I should embrace it and hide from the light.