Ephemerratic - 3/25 - Independent travel blog with stories, travel guides, photos, travel art, and local food
The Andean condors of Colca Canyon, Peru attract all the tourist paparazzi attention. Evade the camera flashes and flee down a trail, and there’s a captivating natural diversity in the sky, underfoot, and in the brush.
Going downhill was so rough that I couldn’t stop and smell the…well, I don’t know what they’re all called, but the flowers of Colca Canyon are fascinating. Going up, tiny petals shudder in canyon wind, strong shoots covered in buds obstinately grow toward the sun, and strangely shaped fruiting plants follow the trail up to the top of the canyon.
Walk with me.
During dinner in a rustic hiker guesthouse at the bottom of Colca Canyon, Peru, Todd decides to treat our fellow travelers to a conversation to remember, for all the wrong reasons.
His choice? A story about a penis.
I’m not the kind of chick who cries. Though I’m overflowing with empathy, I’m cut from stoic stock. I cry more often while cutting onions than from sorrow or joy.
Yet, at the bottom of the world’s deepest canyon, I bust into a savage crying jag just because it’s off season for the hot springs and no one told me.
There is a noticeable lack of urgency in Cabanaconde, Peru. It’s likely that this placid state is related to the lack of people and of things to do. Buses arrive, buses depart, one set of backpackers replaces another. Yet, it’s not boring here. Not by far.
Anyone who hates early morning wake-up calls.
This bus smells like I imagine alpaca farts must smell — a mix of ripe compost, dry grass, wet wool, and barnyard sweat. For the next six hours, I have no choice but to breathe it in.
As we begin our long bus ride from the Peruvian city of Arequipa to Colca Canyon, the fog- and pollution-shrouded mountain of El Misti is at our backs. Past the city’s edge, we start to rise up. Soon, our bus has hauled so high that we’re traveling above the clouds. In the distance, the Andean land throws skyward even higher, mile-high peaks, the dark volcanic tops of Coropuna and Ampato capped with snow.
I have not yet conquered my fears of heights and of the bus driving off the road down down down into the valley far below. To endure this ride, I need to mentally distance myself from my anxiety.
So far, I’m not doing a very good job.
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Cusco, Peru is a town teetering on a precipice of unpalatablility. Touts interrupting private moments, taxis careening through small streets, tourists drinking to excess, smutty air pollution, and slutty corporatization threaten to bury this otherwise charming town.
I do recognize the irony of complaining about the negative effects of a town’s tourism popularity while still recommending it as a place to visit. The town itself is hanging on to its overall YEH, but headed toward a MEH.
“Chicha de jora? Isn’t that the stuff they make with spit? Eww.”
Such was the typical reaction when someone heard chicha de jora in the list of foods and drinks I wanted to try in Peru. That or a confused, “Chicha de huh?”
Before I got to Peru, the eww attitude was about where I was at too. While I’m determined to be open minded and try anything, drinking someone else’s spit is a hard notion to swallow.
I blew my writing wad this week on a fun guest post on Jetpac and on a Peru travel story about the deaths of two guinea pigs, one a pet, one a meal. I liked the guinea pig story so much that I’ve pitched it to a travel editor in hopes of achieving fame and fortune (or more likely: a byline on paper and few cents per word, but that’s not a complaint).
While the guinea pig story has to stay under wraps (bacon wrapped, that is), I can share the guest post. Jetpac asked me to write out my travel bucket list, and I agreed so long as I could skip the tropes of listing big-bang sites or countries. Instead I focused on bucket list items that have no lasting tangible value and some that seem a little, well, weird; thus: Ephemerratic!. When they finally happen, I expect to treasure these experiences more than any souvenir.
1) Talk politics and culture with a Columbian – in Spanish
“What do you call someone who speaks two languages?” — Bilingual
“Someone who speaks three languages?” — Um, trilingual.
“Someone who speaks one language?” — American!
I may write a mean metaphor, but I can only do it in English. I’ve never been swift at learning another language, and my half-baked efforts at learning Spanish have thus far been confounded by confusion with the little high school Italian I still remember. One day, hopefully not too far off, I’d like to travel to Columbia with enough Español in my noggin to have a meaningful conversation about politics and culture with a local. And why Columbia? ¿Por qué no?
What do you think of a travel bucket list that only includes ephemeral experiences? What would be on yours?