Sad, but not tragic. A forced opportunity. Maybe even a fortunate adaptation…fuck it. Let's make taco salad.

Cusco IV

I actually got sucked in by “Hotel California” even though I knew it was way too early for that.  Now I’m sitting here listening to a Peruvian “rock band” try to make the gringos shake it.  Not sure that I’ve ever seen anyone dance to “Another Brick in the Wall” in The States, but they’re getting after it here.

Back to your questions:

The Lifestyle:  Okay, I have to admit it.  I get up every day between 10 am (nah, too early) and noon, go out for breakfast, and then go to the plaza (many to chose from) and sit for 4 hours to read and write.  Then I go back to the apartmento to speak to the Internets and put on my night clothes (I’m fancy like that…actually, no, it’s just damn cold at night).  Then I meet friends at the restaurant, the bar, or the music club.  If things go well, I hoof it back up the hill towards home at midnight.  If things don’t go well, I fall down the stairs out of a goddamn disco and into a Tico cab at 6 am.  This is my life.

Sustainable?  No.  (Unless the novel is really fucking good.)  Entertaining?  Relaxing?  Enlightening?  Interesting?  Hell yes.  I will do this as long as I can afford to.  It is amazing how many compelling characters I have met in the last three weeks alone.  And the freedom (i.e. time) to focus on my art and my own journey is invaluable.  There is also something to be said for living your life from noon to 4 am…





The Soundtrack:  Thank fucking god I’ve moved out of my “Total Eclipse of the Heart” phase.  That was a long 3 months if you were inside my poor noggin.  For me, there is always a specific soundtrack that I associate places I’ve traveled:  Federico Aubele = Honduras.  Norah Jones = Korea (don’t ask…).  Tool = Amsterdam.  Genesis = Rome (great story if you buy me a couple drinks).  Here’s what I’ve been hooked into for the past 2 months in South America:


Emiliana Torrini – The only thing that can calm my nerves on a fucking Peruvian bus.


Jose Gonzales – Haunting.  Yet delicious.


Andrew Bird – I recommend “A Nervous Tic Motion Of The Head To The Left” for inspiration.


Broken Bells – “It’s too late to change your mind…you let loss be your guide…”


The Shins – Natalie Portman says it will “change your life.”


DeVotchka – Gypsy music…seems appropriate.


Carla Bruni (Sarkozy) – She sings too!

Stan Getz & João Gilberto – Bossanova always brings me peace.


Yes – I don’t know what is wrong with me.  But you asked…


The Llamas:  Everyone here wants your money.  I suppose that’s also true at home, but here they come right out and ask for it.  (Maybe it’s more honest that way?)  If you sit in one place for an hour, you will be offered everything from llama sweaters to fresh juice to cocaine to postcards to massage.  The best gig going seems to be the “dress up in your indigenous gear and bring the llama to town.”  Variations on the theme include baby sheep and the Inca Warrior getup, but touristicos are all suckers for the llama.  I paid one sole for this photo (she asked me for US $5 and I laughed heartily…viva capitalismo!):


The Reading:  I’ve had a lot of people ask about what I am reading while I’m down here.  Frankly, some of the best times I’ve had in the past couple of months involve simply sitting and reading.  There is something truly magical about having a good book and absolutely no timeline or responsibilities.  If I had the money, I’d probably just sit around and read for the rest of my goddamn life.


“Mirrors” – Eduardo Galeano – Uruguayan journalist who writes about politics and history, most famous for “The Open Veins of Latin America” (a must read if you haven’t…there was a big stink in the US press when Hugo Chavez gave a copy to Barack Obama).  This is his last novel and an ingenious progression of human history through short bites.  Brilliantly constructed.


“1984” – George Orwell – Picked it up in Quito and LOVED IT.  Again.


“We Say No” – Eduardo Galeano – I had to re-read the chapter “In Defense of Writing” four times before I could bear to give it away to someone else.


“The Rum Diary” – Hunter S. Thompson – For some reason, I had never read this one.  HST is always good fuel for the internal fire.


“The Act of Love” – Howard Jacobson – Dark.  Ugly.  Oppressively painful.  Fucking loved it and had to read it again.  Made me feel worse (or better?) than when I read “Despair” by Nabokov.


“Confessions of an Economic Hit Man” – John Perkins – Found a copy at a book exchange and went for another dip.  If you need any explanation as to why I can’t get a decent fucking cup of coffee in South America, you should read this.


“August 1914: The Red Wheel I” – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn – Meaty, but brilliant.  I have plenty of time to chew.



I’ve been spending a lot of time (because I have nothing but time…) analyzing my experience in Cusco and discussing it with those who will listen to my ramblings.  I’m always fascinated by the different people that I meet and their approaches to life.  Here’s the nut:  When you are on vacation, you drop many of your daily distractions and try to “seek” another experience; the barriers come down, in many ways…but you have that return flight to deal with.  When you’re an ex-pat, you are stealing time in a different place – open to what you’ve chosen, but you have to find a way to live.  I’m somewhere in between and maybe in the best of both worlds…until the money runs out.  I should probably consider taking that travel agency job.

In the next few days, I’m moving into a super-swanky house – unfortunately, up the hill one more brutal staircase – with a huge kitchen and a rooftop porch overlooking the city.  Cool roomies, great view, space to hang out and write, and even (gasp!) a small space heater.  And my share is still only S/250 (~US $80) per month.  Unreal.  Can’t wait to make sweet tacos.

One Response to “Cusco IV”

  1. Anonymous says:

    I remember a time when you worked at the radio station and you had the noon to 4 am schedule….lots of golf and beer if I remember correctly!

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