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

The Lost City

First off, since it looks like I’m going to be staying in Peru for an extended period (more on that later…), it seems appropriate to change the title header on my blog.  If you translate the page into Spanish, “The Shining Path” becomes “El Sendero Luminoso,” which also happens to be the name of a communist terrorist organization operating in Peru in the ‘90s.  I’ve met more than one person whose family had to flee the country during that time for fear of kidnapping, assassination, or worse.  The last thing we need is the riot police smashing down the door of The Ice House and hauling my ass away.  Then who would make tasty pizzas for the people??  We’ll go with something a little more innocuous…

So, contrary to the best laid plans, I am now employed as the chef and co-manager of The Lost City bar.  Frankly, the opportunity was too good to pass up – eat and drink for free, cook every night, make fun of stupid people, socialize with interesting people, flirt with the attractive ones…  The bar has only been open for a few months, so we have some work to do in building a consistent clientele, but just being open consistently and providing a reliable and quality product will help immensely.  There is also a lot of work to be done trying to appeal to the touristicos, primarily through Internet promotion, but we did have our first group come in on Saturday saying they found us on Lonely Planet online.  Good start.

The vast majority of bars in Cusco are noisy clubs and pick-up joints, but our niche is more the neighborhood pub.  We have the best pizza in town, the best bartender anywhere (sorry Joe and Wolfie…), and one of the only places in Cusco where you can go out and actually have a conversation.  The tag line on our sign is currently, “Great drinks.  Killer popcorn.  Mostly interesting conversation.”  That seems about right.  Although that does not preclude the occasional all-out drunk-fest; Saturday night turned into Sunday morning and before I knew it I was locking the doors at 8:30 am.

The behind-the-scenes of running a business down here is also quite interesting.  No, I do not have a work permit.  I have the same stamp on my passport that anyone else would have.  Apparently, getting it extended is just a matter of a bribe at the immigration office.  We know a guy…

Half of the people that walk down the stairs are looking for money…protection, pisco, ice, trash guy, kid trying to sell gum and finger puppets to the drunks.  Two nights ago, a kid came running down the stairs and tried to swipe a bowl of popcorn.  When we told him, “No.” he yelled “Fuck off!” and ran back up the stairs giggling.  Not bad for 7 years old.  Maybe I can be a foster parent after all.

Shopping for necessary supplies has also proven to be more work than I expected.  I try to do most of my shopping at the cheaper local markets, which are just open stalls under a big tent.  Chicken Alley is particularly disgusting to me, but I’ll be damned if they don’t have the tastiest and cheapest chicken I’ve had…unless they’re out of chicken…which seems to happen regularly.  In fact, sometimes, there isn’t a goddamn chicken in town.  (Even though I can hear the bastards quite clearly when the sun crests the hill at 5 am.)  There is a large grocery chain in Cusco called Mega, but even they seem to be randomly out of the most basic things on certain days – chicken, mozzarella, bell peppers, green onion.  I always block out an hour for shopping and always end up taking two.  Fucking Latin Time.

But the most intriguing (and mysterious) part of the business is the accounting.  As far as I can tell, the plan goes something like this (jesus, I can’t believe I’m putting this in print…):  We pay the Accountant For Gringos (yes, all the gringos in town with business interests have the same accountant…doesn’t seem like that will end well…) 200 soles a month.  He takes whatever expense receipts we have and then writes up bills of sale to match them up and we show exactly zero income each month.  If possible.  As far as I know.  Just as long as I make it to Bolivia before too long, it should be okay.

Despite all this, Rich (my sexy Peruvian bartender) and I are having a great time (yes, Grandma, sometimes TOO great…).  I’m currently scheduled to be here until sometime in February…until the plan changes.  We open Tuesday-Saturday nights and then go to rehab Sunday and Monday.





The local A-tier futbol team did finally get their shit together long enough to stage a match.  Impressive, considering I just walked past a poster for an upcoming “telethon” to keep the team on the field.  The fanatical, earth-shattering, Molotov-enriched experience I was seeking didn’t materialize (likely because they finally announced the 11 am Sunday kickoff at 10 pm on Saturday night).  However, it was certainly worth the experience.  Once.

We bought tickets on the street to avoid the line at the “ticket office,” which was, literally, one brick missing out of the stadium exterior wall.


Macarla and I also bought red dragon masks to show our true support of the team…only to find out at the end of the game that the mascot is actually a donkey…  What the fuck kind of mascot is a donkey?



The game itself was pretty entertaining until I started actually watching the other team play and figured out how shitty they were.  No wonder we’re scoring at-will…  Apparently, Iquitos is somehow in worse shape than our pathetic squad?

The best part for me was the bad calls.  The entire crowd is yelling at the ref, telling him, “Your sister is my whore!” and, “My uncle is fucking your mother right now!” (actual translations from Rich…sorry Grandma).  But I chip in a “SCREW JOB!!!” in English and everyone stops and looks at me like I’m poisoning their children.  Classic.

I thought I should also give a brief “NATURAL GAS CRISIS 2010” update for my regular readers:  This week, the natives tried to seize control of the airport (I’m not fucking joking), but the Policia were not having that.  There was a major traffic situation in that direction of town, but otherwise nothing serious. Then there was an announcement mid-week that the consolidated native tribes are forming a political party and putting up a candidate for the presidential elections next spring.  Their candidate was extradited from Bolivia two weeks ago and is currently awaiting trial for sedition.  (Again, I’m not fucking joking.)

The job is taking up more of my schedule than I was anticipating and I’m struggling to find some balance, and, more importantly, time to write.  (No, mom, it has nothing to do with drinking with the regulars until 3 am.)  But I’m enjoying the hell out of the experience and meeting new characters every night…and that’s the whole point, right?  The Great American Novel will surely appear out of the rubble of my late-night adventures.  Or at least an obscure liver malfunction.  (I’m pretty sure my English Lit professor told me that is the touchstone of all great writers…of course, I did go to public school…)







2 Responses to “The Lost City”

  1. kevinpdx says:

    Screw Job. Gotta love that. Try get off your knees….you know the rest.
    I finally got warm here. Sunny on weekdays. Cloudy weekends.

  2. kevinpdx says:

    I thought you knew about, "The Shinning Path," and was being ironic.
    Eat the Hat

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