"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)


vacation in review

Things here in the world of Texas in Africa are unbelievably busy (we go on the job market two, count 'em TWO weeks from today), so it's taken awhile to get back to the vacation quiz. Sadly, nobody won.

On vacation, Texas in Africa:

  1. spent a miserable night flying to Lima due to food poisoning from the yogurt she ate for dinner from the Au Bon Pain in Terminal D at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport - TRUE. And it was just as awful as you'd imagine.
  2. got knocked out by the combination of food poisoning and the 11,000-plus foot altitude upon arrival in Cusco, thus precluding any actual "hiking" or "getting out of bed" - Also TRUE. Ugh.
  3. saw a folk festival that involved a man having to carry a table on his head for no apparent reason - TRUE.
  4. recovered by spending three days rafting a river that is the source of the Amazon through a canyon that is 5,000 feet deep at several points - TRUE. And I have no picutres. It was the most unbelievable thing I've ever seen.
  5. acquired approximately 153 bites from DEET-resistant sandflies that the rafting guides called mosquitoes - TRUE.
  6. "got" to try the local special of roasted guinea pig prepared by the rafting guides -Are you kidding? There's NO WAY I would eat something that looks this:
  7. pondered with disbelief the fact that there are no fish to catch for dinner in said river because river otters swam up from the Amazon ten years ago and ate them all.
    went cliff diving on the same river - TRUE.
  8. spent most of the day at Machu Picchu speaking French and wondering what would possess anyone to build a city there - TRUE.
  9. have a new Parisian friend for life due to a mutual inability to not giggle when the Machu Picchu guide told us to absorb the energy from a "special rock" on the site and the Japanese tourists obliged - TRUE. Sadly, I didn't get my camera out in time to get pictures of the Japanese tourists at this particular place.
  10. heard several disturbing Andean panflute renditions of "The Sound of Silence" and various Beatles classics - TRUE. Yep.
  11. found the guidebook's description of Puno as "somewhat less than appealing" to be a bit of an understatement - TRUE. What a miserable place.
  12. ate dinner at Machu Pizza - TRUE. This was Puno's only redeeming feature.
  13. visited not one, but two human zoos on Lake Titicaca - TRUE. I hate "authentic cultural experiences," but it was the only way to get out on the lake that day. I do have to admit that the floating islands of Uros were pretty amazing. These peoples' entire lives, diet, and habitat revolves around lake reeds.
  14. was forced by the Titicaca guide to folk dance with a Belgian architect during an "authentic" lunch - No, no, no, no, NO! I do NOT participate in "authentic" dancing on organized tours.
  15. learned that the waters of Lake Titicaca are indeed tranquil and blue, thus making the trip to Puno worth it - TRUE. But this picture pretty much sums up my feelings about the area:
  16. enjoyed a Belle Helene crepe for breakfast on the first morning in lovely Arequipa - TRUE. There is an Alliance Francaise in Peru. And the creperie was dee-lish:
  17. pondered exactly what the point was of becoming a cloistered nun 400 years ago if you were allowed to build your own house in the convent and keep four servants to manage it - TRUE. The Santa Catalina convent in Arequipa is an amazing city-within-a-city. I've never seen anything like it.
  18. found the "best empanada in Peru" to be pretty mediocre - TRUE. Meh.
  19. saw the mummy of a child sacrificed by the Incas - TRUE. No pictures allowed on the tour, which is not included in the price of admission, but which is mandatory.
  20. visited a colonial house in which the occupying family was allowed by the state to keep their crazy son in a pillory in the back bedroom - TRUE.
  21. pondered the unbelievable excesses of the Jesuits, and decided that it was no wonder that they got kicked out - TRUE. This is just a side altar:
  22. listened to three Alabama good ole boys at the next table discuss hunting for ducks and panthers and wrestling anacondas with their perplexed hunting guide - True. And I'm pretty sure they were Baptist, because I've never seen any other hunters who wouldn't be drinking beer after a day of duck hunting in South America.
  23. scrambled up rocks to see condors flying in a canyon that's twice the depth of the Grand Canyon - TRUE. And it was unbelievable.
  24. went paragliding over the Pacific and the cliffs of Miraflores with an instructor whose mama is from Pampa, Texas and whose daddy is a Texas Aggie - TRUE. Because, you know, if you're going to randomly jump off a cliff with a company recommended by the hotel, it makes sense that your instructor's mama would be from a West Texas town thirty miles down the road from your own mama's home. Obviously.
I loved Peru's natural beauty, and the days I spent in the backcountry were amazing (except for the sand flies). But the touristy areas are really touristy, and it's difficult and expensive to access many areas on your own. If you're going, I'd say hit the Andes and Arequipa, and skip the rest.


Blogger euphrony said...

Sounds like a good trip. Great pics.

Good luck with the whole job market thing - lots of fun, that. Are you still looking at Abilene (I believe you mentioned Harden Sinners a while back?)

Friday, August 15, 2008 9:13:00 AM

Blogger texasinafrica said...

It's not so much a matter of hoping to go a particular place as it is a total roll of the dice. You apply everywhere there's a job, and take one at the first place that offers you a job. It could be Abilene or it could be New York City.

Friday, August 15, 2008 9:52:00 AM

Blogger LJ said...

Fabulous photos to accompany what sounds like was a FABULOUS vacation. I want some of those arepas and crepes. Mmmmm!

Friday, August 15, 2008 10:01:00 AM

Blogger the librarian said...

I abstained from the quiz since you gave us the run down of your trip during our dinner at Maudie's. I thought it would be cheating! Thanks for the recap and pics. You should consider writing a travel book someday.

Friday, August 15, 2008 9:15:00 PM

Anonymous Kirstin said...

MachuPizza!! That's cracking me up.

And the reed boat is neat.

One of my favorite parts of Peru was Paracas - a few hours south of Lima on the coast. We got to take a boat ride out to some islands where there were tons of sea lions and penguins. And lots of poo. And on the drive down there we saw flamingos on the beach. It's strange to see flamingos and penguins in the wild.

I'm glad you had fun! Good luck with the job search.

Monday, August 18, 2008 11:58:00 AM

Blogger texasinafrica said...

Oh, I wanted to get to Paracas, but didn't have time! Hope you're doing and feeling well!

Monday, August 18, 2008 10:26:00 PM


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