Saturday, June 26, 2010

Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of ... Winter?

I may have mentioned that Cusco is cold at night.  Freakishly, unbelievably, wrap-yourself-in-three-blankets-and-woolly-underwear cold.  And for some reason no one believes in indoor heating here.  Couldn't tell ya why, except that it seems that the countries that have the coldest winters (e.g. Canada, any part of Scandinavia) are the only ones where you can actually go inside and GET WARM when it's hovering around zero.  The rest of the world hasn't cottoned on to the fact that it's nice to be warm indoors.  (Take England and its radiators ... please, that's not heat unless you're sitting two millimetres from them.)

But it's hot and sunny today, as I lounge on the hostel's rooftop terrace/sunroom thing-y.  Don't know quite what to call it, but it's pretty, and the view of Cusco is astounding.  It does give me a new appreciation, though, for all the work my legs have done the last few days, just getting up the stairs to get here -- we`re really high up.  Take a look if you don`t believe me.

I`m breaking every code of the backpacker bible today.  You know, the code that says travel must always involve seeing as many things as possible every day, and seeing them independently (organized tours being a cardinal sin), and preferably with as much difficulty as possible in order to provide the most ''authentic'' experience.  And then you must go out and drink heavily every night, meet as many new people as possible and where possible shag most of them.

I`m throwing the bible away.  It may be a sign that I am Getting On A Bit, but I am not going to budge from here, except possibly to go find some dinner later on.  I am spending the day reading, continuing to write some of the things I`ve half-started, and doing internet research about future travel and other things.  Oh, and submitting some stuff for a website I`ve been writing for -- they pay me and everything!  Not much, but it`s short stuff I can dash off in 10 or 15 minutes, and I`ve earned enough so far for maybe one night at the Hotel Killa.  74 more submissions (or so) and I may be able to cover the cost of my whole stay there.

I`m moving on to Copacabana, Bolivia, on Sunday on the night bus with the Israeli girl I met going to Machu Picchu.  No plan really except to have a look at the lake (Titicaca, that is) and find some pretty hikes and maybe have a Bolivian beer or two.  I`ll come back to Cusco, stopping in Puno on the way (probably) on the Peruvian side of the lake, then head onwards to Quito, Ecuador.

But before I do all that, I`m taking some down time.  There are ruins a-plenty in and around Cusco, but as I`ve already seen the granddaddy of them all (Machu Picchu) I`m not that bothered about getting to the rest.  Maybe when I come back from the lake.  I`ve done some of the requisite touristy stuff in Cuzco -- checked out some museums, hit a few churches, tried out some restaurants -- and some of it I`ve really enjoyed.  The Last Supper painting in Cusco cathedral particularly amused me:  Jesus and the apostles are sitting down to a meal of ... roast guinea pig.  Yum.

I've met a bunch of people so have been out and about a lot; I even met up with a friend from back home, the second one this trip!  Robin and I used to work together about two years ago, before she went off first to Vancouver and then to grad school in Sweden; by random chance, her southward journey from Ecuador and my northward journey from Argentina landed us in Cusco at the same time. So we hung out a couple of days ago to catch up.

But today, I`m not doing any of the that.  Because every so often you need a day just to chill ... it`s tempting to think you ''should'' (beware that word) jam-pack your days and squeeze in as much as possible, but you`ll run out of steam really quickly if you do.  And you`ll go into such sensory overload that you`ll forget what you saw where and lose your ability to appreciate anything new you do see.

So I`m chilling.  I`m picking up my mystery novel again and seeing where it takes me; not sure it will ever become anything much at all but it`s fun just making the attempt.  I like this writing thing and I can`t think why I wasn`t doing more of it before I left Toronto -- just tells you how disconnected I`d become from the things that really matter to me.  I even started looking at MFA programs today (that`s Master of Fine Arts to you non-arty types) in creative writing today; I`ve been toying with the idea of going back to school for a while now (years, really) but I hadn`t really thought of this before.  Could be fun, and hey, it would make me take this writing this a little more seriously instead of playing at it half-assedly as I have been doing for the last few years.

Of course, I have also contemplated at various times doing an MBA (till I realized it would cost me $60,000), an MPA (Master of Public Administration -- extremely useful if I stay in government somewhere, exceedingly useless otherwise), or some kind of environmental/economics thing.  Oh, and also an accounting designation because I thought maybe that would give me more flexibility in the finance world.  So who knows what I`ll actually end up doing.

I do think, though, that some kind of Very Big Change is in the works, whether it`s school or new job or something else entirely.  I don`t know how or where or what it will look like, but I think my life is going to wind up very different than it was.  Perhaps that`s been the reason for the last few years when I`ve felt discontent, even unhappy; it was the first stirrings that would eventually propel me up and out of my rut and on to ... something.,

What that ''something'' is, I don`t know.  Perhaps by the end of this year, I`ll find out.

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