Monthly Archives: February 2010

Galapagos, Peru, Bolivia: No Sacred Cows–Dispatch 4

It’s a long and winding road……Even though we’ve only been driving for 5 days, it seems like forever.  And there’s nothing we needed as much as a rest day here in this lovely hotel in the village of Concepcion, 20 minutes north of Huancayo.


The only part of our plans that has come to fruition is that we did indeed drive north out of Lima on February 16.  That we were able to do this took many miracles and much assistance from a gracious warehouse manager at the customs docks in Callao (Lima’s port), who faced down the placid, “who cares about you” stonewalling of our assigned custom’s broker as he held our car papers hostage for 4 hours.  Triumphantly securing the last stamps on our carnet at 7pm, we retrieved Brunhilde from the farthest corner of the enormous port warehouse yard, where she sat huddled and covered with black grime.  Hand-scribbled map in hand, we wove our way through Lima’s dark streets, doing pretty darn well until we got muddled around one too many ceremonial plazas.  Was this 2 de Mayo?   San Martin?   And how could we tell?    When I asked a policeman for directions, he and his troops jumped in their patrol car and gave us a full-sirens, flashing lights escort to our hotel.   From that moment on, we’ve thought quite highly of Peru’s police, except for one unfortunate encounter the next morning.


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Galapagos, Peru, Bolivia: No Sacred Cows–Dispatch 3

For us, it all nearly ended at the equator.  When I say “at” the equator, I mean The Equator in all its geographic and nautical senses, that line that cuts the earth in two, like a halved grapefruit.

But first, a bit about the Galapagos.  I’m going to limit myself here, in part because it’s hard to know where to begin.  And also because I’m afraid once I start, I won’t be able to stop.  I will admit, at the risk of provoking all sorts of rolling eyeballs and gasps about the sacreligiousness of such thoughts, that I didn’t expect much from the Galapagos. I wanted to come here, because I knew intellectually the Galapagos needed to be seen.  But I didn’t think it’d be my kind of place.

Here’s why.  I don’t go in much for plants, insects, LBJs–little brown jobs, a name given to that general class of birds that are so similar one to the other, such as sparrows, or, dare I say it, Darwin finches, that only an experienced birder could tell them apart, or want to.  And I’m not an experienced birder. I know that the smaller inhabitants of the earth have an essential place in the ecosystem.  But, honestly, they strike me as existing to provide lunch for the big ones that are my favorites.  I’ll take a lion over a lava lizard any day.   What I find appealing are things with fur,  things that lumber, run or flap away when I approach,  things that are large or in other ways impressive.


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Galapagos, Peru, Bolivia: No Sacred Cows–Dispatch 2

Hi All! We’re here in Lima.  So is Brunhilde.   But that’s as close as it gets for the time being.  Not that I’m worried.  I have plenty of time for that ahead.  Right now, despite bureaucratic headaches, we’re finding Lima to be our kind of place.  What could be bad about a city where the vultures have such spot-on aim that when I curled myself up in a hammock for a short nap they hit me with their best shot from 1,000 feet up.  Perhaps they were wondering whether that thing on the terrace could be their next snack?   Well, I showed them a thing or two.  “I’m not dead yet!” I shouted to the heavens (courtesy Monty Python), tumbling out of the hammock and onto the terrace floor from where i would have shaken my fist at the sky if it hadn’t been numb from me sleeping on it.

Our favorite ceviche bar in Lima

We like Lima because it’s very human -sized, with short blocks, short houses, short people.  Houses are colorful, sidewalks buckled by the roots of the many trees in our part of the city.  It’s warm and bearably humid; I can see the cracks on Bernard’s fingers healing as I type.  Traffic is swift and amusing.  Imagine this:  no one uses their car horn here…I can’t figure out why…  so we have no clue who’s going where.  Which doesn’t actually matter, because nobody pays attention to street signs, stop signs, or any other traffic indicator.   I can just feel my palms getting sweaty about this as I type.


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Galapagos, Peru, Bolivia: No Sacred Cows–Dispatch 1

Hello! The countdown to Peru has begun.  Already, Brunhilde is on the high seas, heading for Lima’s port, Callao, there to await us in solitary splendor (at least, I hope I reserved the luxury warehouse for her), while we tiptoe around the Galapagos for a week.  Actually, I’m considering trying out a new waterproof cover for my laptop while snorkeling.  Which do you think is more compelling:   Facebook?   Tropical fish? 


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