The Temple
My second day at Sachamama in the Amazon was my first Ayahuasca ceremony.  I didn't know quite what to expect, only that there might be hallucinations (which I have never experienced before), and also vomiting and a dire need to go to the bathroom.  But I also knew that this was an age-old tradition within the Shamanistic path to learn and explore on a Spiritual level.

I had a little bit of a warm up, since I was able to listen in on the experiences of the previous ceremony from the American group that was there.  One woman wasn't able to be there, because she was still
recovering from the ceremony the day before, which apparently hit her hard.  I heard tales telling of spider webs, jaguars (a particularly good sign), lights, and some that had no visions at all.  Some experienced quite a bit of pain, and one man in particular apparently was a "moaning cow" the entire ceremony.

Everyone kept on asking me if I was ready, and how was I supposed to know?  But I was as ready as I could be, without knowing what to expect.

We did a light fast that day, eating fruit for breakfast, and a noodle soup at lunch, and then nothing after.  We relaxed most of the day, and one
woman instructed me that she usually rested up before the ceremony, which was set to happen at 8.

As darkness descended, around 6pm, I made my way back to my room to do some meditation, to ask my spirit guides to take care of me, and do what I could to be in the most positive, clean space possible.  I definately didn't want to have a bad experience.  I was anxious to get started, and sat outside in the rain, connecting with the forest around me, and saw little lights dancing in the trees above me.  I thought I had already started hallucinating!  But, I found out later that it was the fireflies.  I took it as a welcome omen.

I made my way back to the cabin, calm and peaceful.  Some of the other women asked me if I was ready, and then helped me realize that I was not.  I needed to get dressed in white, take my flashlight and water, and toilet paper, and a hankerchief "because you don't know where your nose ends and the snot begins".  I was also told to make sure everything was readily accessible, because you wouldn't be able to fiddle around with much.  I didn't understand that then, but boy I figured that out later.

We made our way to the temple, which was a dirt floor, a roof, a table at one end with shamanic stuff, and benches on all four sides.  Don Francisco, the Shaman, indicated where I was to sit.  I marked where the nearest exit was, and also was instructed when I threw up, to turn around and lean over the bench to the outside.  We sat in silence, boys on one side, girls on the other, as the preparation began.

Don Francisco blew smoke on all the instruments and ayahuasca, and then came around to each one of us, blowing smoke on our chakras to purify us.  Later he came around and put Florida Water (a oily floral water) on our heads.  One by one he called each of us, as he poured our doses of Ayahuasca in a coconut shell cup.  The first guy who went (the "moaning cow") took his dose and immediately started gagging.  I began to prepare myself that this would taste like slug snot or horses shit or god knows what.

Eventually it came around to me, and I held the cup in my hand, thinking what my question was that I wished to have answered.  I chugged it back, and found it wasn't that foul at all, tasted a bit like coffee and cigarettes.  I returned to my seat, wondering how long it would take before it started to take effect, and how long until I started throwing up.

Once everyone was served, the candles were blown out, and we sat in the darkness in silence.  It was probably a good half hour before  anything started happening to me, and I listened to the men already
effected.  One, Mario, a Peruvian guest, began violently throwing up, and whimpering, and it certainly sounded like he was NOT doing good.  At some point, other people had to go over to try to help him. I also found out later that he thought he had a knife in his hand, and was "stabbing" himself all over his torso.  Yikes.

I sat in the darkness, ready, waiting.  The shaman began singing the icaros, songs which help you through your visions, different songs for different things.  This icaros would accompany us through the night, with short pauses between them.

And then it began, and it was almost kind of funny to me, that the beginning was just a picture of the stereotyped 70s LSD pictures.  There was a kaliedoscope of colors in front of my eyes, and nausea
churning away in my stomach.  My brain seemed like it was melting away, like it wasn't that I was just going to hallucinate, but my whole sense of self was going to be shoved to the side. 

I turned around to position myself over the bench to purge, and thought, what the hell have I done?  I started freaking out, it wasn't just painful for throwing up, the scary part was I could tell I was losing control of my consciousness, and I really didn't like that.  I wanted to stop, but I knew that I was going to be like this for hours.  I told myself
there was NO WAY I was doing this again.

I began throwing up, and when I say throwing up, you are probably thinking about what it is like when you have the stomach flu.  Oh no, that is pretty pleasant compared.  This felt like something was reaching
inside of you, and pulling every internal organ out through your mouth.  And then some.  In front of me, in my visions, I could see the figure of a man, reaching out his arms to help me throw up.  Then, I
felt churning in my belly, and thought maybe I needed to go to the bathroom. 

I stumbled around, because your body feels like it encased in cement, and it takes a herculean effort to move, but you know you NEED to move.  Around me, as I stumbled out of the temple, was a group of people (in my vision) and I wanted to reach out to grab on to one
of them to help me.  I was in such pain, so miserable, and all these damn colors in front of me made it quite hard to see.  I found my way to a tree, and grabbed onto it, hoping I could draw some strength from it.  No such luck.  Then I remembered how many people had mentioned lying down on the ground in their pain, so I thought I'd give it a try.  I could barely hold myself up anyway.  So down I went.

Oh boy, did that feel good.  I mean, it felt great.  I suddenly felt so much better, and thought it would be just fine if I stayed there.  And then I felt this biting on my chin, and another biting on my cheek.
And then I thought, maybe this isn't the best idea.  I really didn't want to move, but figured that lying on the ground in the darkness of the Amazon might not be the safest thing.  After lecturing myself that I had
to keep myself safe, I dragged myself up and made my way back to my seat, deciding that I didn't need to go to the bathroom after all.

No sooner had I gotten back then I needed to purge again.  I tried to see it as energy purifying like others had told me.  How purging is seen is to be cleaning your energy, and now, looking back, I do agree, though at the time I just thought it was something they said to make it okay that you had to vomit.  The people that seemed to have the most crap in their lives were also the one who vomited the most. In any case, at the time, that didn't matter a whit to me.  I began talking to someone, my guide, or the plant, I'm not sure.  I told them just to take what they wanted I just wanted to rest.  I hung onto the back of the bench, as everything seemed to melt beneath me, and I listened to the chorus of others vomiting with me. 

I just wanted to rest, I gave up.  I surrendered, completely.  And you know what?  That actually worked. Once I stopped fighting, and just decided to go along for the ride, everything became much easier.  I curled up on the padded bench, finally done with the vomiting (I finally told "them" that I didn't have any more to give, and I guess they decided to listen to me).

Then the visions really began, and so did the talking. While most people kept pretty quiet (except for a few moaners and Kevin, who we'll get to later), I talked and talked and talked, though quietly.  Big shock with me, huh, that I can't shut up! 

There was a man that I was talking with, my boyfriend/lover or something.  He kept telling me that he loved me, and I kept telling him that I loved him, and the love really was pouring out of me.  I told him
yes, I was his woman, and we were going to get married, and have kids.  But I told him, not now, we aren't going to have kids now.  We flirted with each other, and I said he was a flirt, and I was a flirt
(later, I wondered if anyone, especially the 2 sober people, wondered about me babbling on about flirting), and that sex was for people who loved each other.  And then he began to transform me.  He turned me into a bird, into a serpent, he put me on top of the mountains, and told me I was a queen.  I was inside the belly of a whale, curled up between two of the ribs.  Everything happened so quickly.  Then I was
everything, I was the world.  I knew everything, and I knew nothing.  Lastly, he showed me white birds, doves, and two swans on a lake, and then looking up, he was there, with 2 huge white wings.  And all this
time, love was pouring out of me.

Then, I finally realized that I didn't need to keep giving him all this love and energy, focusing so much of my attention on him, that it wasn't getting me anywhere.  I realized I didn't need to do that, that I could just be myself, and I didn't need to get wrapped up in this guy.  So, I turned all my love to myself, and to everyone around me, and he stepped out of my experiences.

My visions began to calm down, though I still was learning things on a spiritual level.  What it felt like was that if you have your body, mind, and soul, the mind being the "I", the ego, and that part is pushed away, and your body is pretty out of it, so it is just the soul part of your body.  My soul was so blissful, happy, full of love for everyone.  I knew that I was complete, that I didn't need anything else, and that I knew everything I needed to know, and didn't have anything to conquer.  I knew that I could do anything I wanted, become everything I wanted, that everything was open to me.  I was everyone's mother,
and daughter, and sister, and wife.  I can't say it enough, I just felt so much love.  I imagine that it is similar to when people have near death experiences, and say they felt such tremendous joy and love.  It was beautiful, and I kept saying that "its beautiful, everything is beautiful, thank you so much, thank you for everything".

I became aware of the others around me.  Karen, the girl sitting next to me, had been moaning, and the leader of the group (who himself was a shaman), had to come over and take care of her.  I wanted to help her, but knew that he could help her more than I could.  So, eventually she laid across our laps, and I felt like he and I were her parents.

Kevin, one of the other members of the group, drew quite a bit of attention.  He apparently had his pants around his ankles, and was calling out for help, because nothing was coming out.  "Why isn't anything coming out?  I don't understand!"  And he kept asking
if he could be excused "May I be excused please?".  So, I told him, sure, you could be excused.  But he kept asking, so I said "why do you need to be excused", or "no".  He didn't really pay any attention.  And then again "can somebody help me please?"  I could see/know that it was important not to help him, because he needed to figure out that he
was strong enough to help himself.  In my mind's eye, I saw him on a cliff in a barren wilderness surrounded by mountains, so scared, and just a little boy.  I realized he needed to accept that he was a little boy,
and then realize that there wasn't anything to be afraid of, that really he was surrounded by beauty.

And then the Shaman came over and asked me how I was (and I was impressed I could speak Spanish in this state), and I beamed at him, and told him that I was wonderful, that I was clean.  I felt so clean and
pure.  He gave me a hug, and then, just like that, I was completely sober.  For my first time, that was pretty amazing, because by that point the only other people who were clear headed were the ones that had been doing it for 15 years or more.

After a bit more time, the ceremony concluded, at around 2 in the morning, and I helped get everyone home. 

The next day, when we discussed our visions, the Shaman told me that the plants (that made up the brew) liked me, and saw me as a daughter.  And that he saw that there were many doors before me, with windows over them, and I had to look through the windows, and
figure out which door I was supposed to go through.

He also said that I was supposed to "diet the plants" which he said was good, since I was a bit gordita.

Not that again.

A path in the Amazon
My own hut in the Amazon
So there I was.  In the jungle.  My bags found their way to the room I would be staying in for the first week, in one of the cabins that I would share with the group of American's that were there for the week.  There was a hammock on the front porch, which was wonderful, if frequently occupied. 

My room had a bed and mosquito netting, along with a rustic table.  On my bed there was no pillow, sheet, or blanket.  I ended up having to wad my jacket up for a pillow (though after the Americans left, I grabbed on of theirs) and cover myself with some of my shirts. Being that it was quite warm, I wasn't in desperate need of a blanket, but it did get a bit chilly once it got around to 1 am.

I was quite surprised with the jungle, I don't know, I guess I expected something a little more Tarzan.  Of course, I wasn't deep deep into the jungle, it was only a little way from the main road, and not to far from the largest city in the Amazon. 

One thing that struck me was that walking through the jungle was kind of like walking through the forest in Oregon, it had that same damp earth smell.  As a result, I felt much more at home here than I did up in
Cusco.  Of course, the forest wasn't exactly the same, there were different types of plants, and much more wildlife.  And vicious mosquitoes. 

At the main building where we got the food, I always was encountering some little creatures.  There was a cat and a dog (I was amazed the cat was still alive and hadn't become someone's food).  There were also
several macaws, who would shout out "Hola" and laugh.  But the best part is watching them climb up the chairs with their beaks, and they would sit there and visit with you as you ate your meal.  Sometimes they would even walk down the middle of the table, dipping in to whatever food or water they found.

They also had some pet monkeys there, they kept in a little cage, which was kind of sad to me.  One time, Juanita, the cook, was walking by, and there on her shoulder was hanging this little monkey that was
probably about four or five inches big, the smallest monkey in the jungle.  It stared at me with its little round eyes as I tried to pet it (unsuccessfully).

I did see a snake one day as I was walking down one of the paths, probably about 3 to 4 feet long, but it slithered away from me pretty quickly, and I was happy it was the only one I saw there.

The butterflies were beautiful.  My favorite had red on the lower part of the wing, and then the upper part of the wing was transparent, and made me think of fairies.  The dragonflies were incredible too, and I
saw one that was a good 6 inches!  I also enjoyed the fireflies, winking on and off.

My favorite was one day when I was sitting in my hut (because in the second half of my time there I moved into a hut deeper in the jungle, alone, only with nature), I heard a noise, and turned around and looked
out my door.  There, on the tree right at the edge of my porch, hung a little creature, who quickly scampered away at my gaze.  I quickly went outside, and looked up into the trees, and there was a huge family of them, and they made little chirping noises.  I thought they looked like a cross between a squirrel and a monkey, and, as it turned out, they were
monkeys.  A little family that roamed around the place.

I never did see a sloth though :(

Most of my time was spent swinging in the hammock, staring off into the forest, or reading, or thinking.  Lots of reading and thinking.  It was quite humid, though not as hot as I expected, though who knows, maybe I just adapted to it.  The humidity was the worst, my clothes were always slightly damp, my backpack became covered with mildew, and all my clothes stank.  Anything cardboard I had became floppy, and my books got wavy from the dampness.

And, thanks to the humidity, and the frequent rain, the mosquitoes were everywhere.  I had brought lots of long sleeved clothing, to protect myself.  Uh huh, like the mosquitoes really cared about that.  I was
bit everywhere, EVERYWHERE, except my head.  I had bites on my feet, on my belly, back, and even my butt. I constantly itched.  Several people said, oh, the mosquitoes here aren't that bad.  I haven't been
bitten at all.  Well, I guess I'm just extraspecial.  I was taking B vitamins, and wasn't eating any sugar, not even fruit.  I was even drinking garlic plant water!  I think that I was their favorite person of
all there. 

I tell you, the two things I am the happiest about getting away from Peru are the men and the mosquitoes. And, I put them in the same category, cause there isn't too much difference between the two.

Fellow visitors. On the left, the shaman's apprentice from San Francisco, on the right, a guest from Switzerland
Don Francisco, the Shaman
As the ground fell further and further from underneath my seat as I sat on the ancient Boeing 747 (realizing where American planes end up when they "die" in America), after waiting for 3 hours for the  departure, I prepared myself for whatever it was that I would face in the next segment of my trip. 

For now I was about to embark on the aspect that I was the most excited about- spending two weeks with a Peruvian Shaman.  I didn't know what to expect, except that I would be in the Amazon, and that there would be Ayahuasca ceremonies, which is a shamanic medicine
made from a root, that gives you spiritual hallucinations, and makes you vomit and crap your pants.  Lovely.  But, I wanted to experience this type of earth centered ancient spirituality, and see what it had to offer.

I arrived in Iquitos, a noisy, bustling town crouched on the Amazon, at about 10 o'clock at night.  The heat and humidity washed over me, as I walked across the tarmac to meet whoever it was that was going to pick me up.  Being the only white person in the crowd, it was very easy for the man to figure out that I was the Gringa he was supposed to meet for Sachamama (the name of the place I was going). 

I smiled, and tried to be quite friendly with this guy, who seemed rather off-putting and he left me to wait for my bags while he visited with some of the other guys working at the airport.  I began to get
concerned, if this guy was from Sachamama, I had hoped he would be open and helpful. 

We collected my bags, and him and another guy pushed my bags over to a phone, where he told me to give him money to make a call, and that I was supposed to tip the guy who had pushed my bags 20 feet.  I hadn't asked for the help, and certainly was capable of maneuvering my luggage across the room.  I figured the culture was different on this side of the Andes, and felt like I had to trust this guy from Sachamama to help me adapt to it.  So, not knowing how much to tip, I pulled out 3 soles, which is about $1, and is the price of a cab ride, so I figured it was enough.  The guy looked at the money disgusted, and then looked at my guide.  I looked at my guide as well, and asked him how much I was supposed to tip?  10 soles, he told me.

10 soles, whoah, that seemed like a lot of money to me, and began to grow wary.  I handed it over, as the guide continued to try call Sachamama to let them know I had arrived.  Not getting an answer, they finally gave up, and ushered me outside to a cab.

I sat in the taxi, crowded full now with three men, as they discussed where they were going to go, since they hadn't been able to get a hold of Sachamama, and we zipped off into the night, passing motorcycles and beat up buses.  I felt a little odd, being the only woman in this car with 3 men that I didn't even know, and how safe was this, but had no choice but to trust that I would be all right.  At least, I was happy to
be in the Amazon.

The guide quickly told me that he needed a tip, as we pulled up to a gas station.  20 soles he told me.  WHAT??!  20 soles!  In Peru, that is like 20 dollars!  I thought that was a bit crazy, and had certainly figured out that this guy was NOT looking out for my best interests.  They began to hustle me out of the taxi, pointing that I was supposed to get on this bus/van that was waiting, and had other people in it.

Now I was a bit freaked out.  Why do I need to go on a bus?  Now your dumping me on a bus??!  I didn't know what to do, and had to just trust in fate that I would be okay.  I got on the bus, that had two women in it, who smiled at me warmly.  I prepared to get my 20 soles out for the guy, and one of the women quickly told me that I didn't need to pay, that they would take care of it.  When he said 20 soles, I noticed she
did not agree, and handed him 10, which I believe was to pay for him and the taxi.

The men got back in the taxi, and now here I was on the bus with these women, and I didn't know what the hell was going on, but at least realized they seemed to be more trustworthy than the last.  The younger one introduced herself as Don Francisco's daughter, and then things began to fall into place, as they apologized for being late.  It seems that they had someone from the airport meet me, as my plane was late, and the guy who met me had nothing to do with Sachamama.  That was a relief.  I still was a bit pissed off though, that he was trying to take advantage of me.  If I had been more aware of the situation, I would have been able to figure out that 10 soles was the "stupid gringo" price.

Ah well.  In any case, I was brought to my rather rustic hotel room (where I would spend the night before heading out to the jungle the next morning), with mildew on the walls, a ceiling fan over head, and
a bathroom where the shower was just a shower head in the wall of the tiny bathroom- no curtains or marked off area in the floor-, where I could essentially sit on the toilet while taking a shower and brushing my teeth in the sink.

The next morning I left my room to continue on my journey to Sachamama, and was met by Don Francisco, the Shaman.  I was surprised, as I was expecting an 80 year old man, but he was about 45, thin, wearing shorts and a t-shirt.  Before we left, he said wait,
you have to pay for the room.  Oh no, hear we go again, ripping off the gringa, I thought.  I told him I thought the hotel was included in the price.  After all, I said, I didn't pay for the hotel in Lima.  He looked a bit confused, and then said, oh, okay, and paid the 30 soles himself.

We jumped in the van, and he told me we had to take a stop in the belen market, to buy somethings for me.  We ended up purchasing some hand rolled cigarettes and some Florida water, both of which I was to offer as a gift on the altar during the ceremony.  That was fine
with me, and only about 10 soles, but when he told me that I needed to buy a hammock too, I was a bit disturbed.  My defenses were already up from the night before, and why did I need to buy a hammock, weren't there beds?  So he said, no, I didn't have to buy a hammock if I didn't want to.  So we made our way out of the crazy market, and continued back to the van.

After an hour ride away from Iquitos, we pulled over next to a sign that said "Sachamama".  Out they pulled the bags, and begain to make their way down this wide trail that lead off into the jungle.  I followed,
realizing that I guess the van didn't go to the buildings.

And we walked, and we walked.  Up hills, down hills.  I'm not sure exactly how far, but I'd say about 20 minutes, which was far enough for me, with the heat of the day beating down, and the humidity trying to choke me.  Eventually we came to some boards which formed steps up the dirt hill, and ended up in a few steps into a very Amazon looking building.  I saw a few other white guys standing around, drinking tea, and realized I had finally reached Sachamama.

Me in the Amazon!
Finally, I made my way to Lima.  After being picked up and transported to a lovely hotel, I rested in my room, watched TV, and tried to recover myself from the whole Gerald experience.  Eventually, I made my way downstairs to have a bite to eat at the hotel restaurant.  I asked the bartender/waiter for a menu, and noticed how very attractive he was.  I then reminded myself that I had had enough  problems with men, and didn't need anymore.  Nevertheless, I couldn't help but smile at him as he passed.  By the end of my dinner, we had quite a conversation, and agreed to meet up when he was finished with his shift.

I was a bit wary, but Eduardo turned out to be more respectful than Gerald.  However, I doubt it took an hour before he was asking me to be his girlfriend.

What is this, don't Peruvians believe in getting to know a person??  He's a nice guy, but I don't need a boyfriend in another country, though he said he would wait for me as long as it took.

Ai ai ai.  I gave him a hug and kiss goodnight, and told him I would e-mail him from Iquitos.

Well, hey, if anyone needs a husband or boyfriend, they are ripe for the picking here!

Well, I found out "loverboy's" name, and it´s Gerald.  He is not on my list of favorite people, however.

After my e-mail, I had given it some thought, and knew that I needed to calm things down with him, as I was getting a bit uncomfortable and overwhelmed.  So, at 2 o´clock, when I met up with him, I told him that we needed to talk.  I told him this was all too overwhelming, and that we needed to be just friends.

I don't think he got the message, however, because the rest of the day, every two minutes, he wanted to hold me and kiss me.  I pulled away quite a bit, though was greatful to have his help during the shopping
expedition, as he bargained much better than I could've done.

Later, he wanted to go back to my room, but I insisted we go for a walk and get something to eat.  Once at the resteraunt, when I didn't want to sit and cuddle with him, he pouted, and we sat in silence until the food came.  Fabulous.

After dinner, we walked around a bit, and then went to a local dance club.  I had a great time dancing with him, he really is a great dancer.  We salsa'd, turning and twisting, and thought that this was probably the
best time I'd spent with him.  I did notice that he was trying to get me drunk, though it was only on weak beer, and I wasn't too worried about it.

Afterwards, we returned to my room to talk, but rather ended up arguing.  He kept trying to pus things with me, and I made it clear that I just wanted to talk and hang out.  He proceeded to storm out, stopped at the door to tell me to have a good flight.  I told him I thought it was quite interesting, how he professed his love for me, yet didn't want to be with me if it just meant talking.

And on the argument went, about how much I had changed, and how I was much different than he had thought, and how he was going to forget me.  I told him I was the same person, but how could he expect to know someone so quick, and to rememer that next time before he gave his heart away the first day! He told me he would always stay away from American girls because we are crazy.

Like I care if he is with an American or not?  He kept repeating it, and I finally told him he was obviously just saying it to try to hurt me, and I really didn't care.

Anyway, many words were exchanged, and finally he calmed down and wanted to spend some time with me.  I was a bit wary, because he had reacted so strongly, and then all of a sudden, was peachy?  I knew I was ready to leave the next day.

He then became very interested in exploring through my books and tapes  He listened to my music, and, as I was quite tired, finally left.  I walked him to the door of my hotel, but he then realized he forgot
something, and went back to my room.  I let him go, then the thought flashed that maybe he would steal something, and I should go with him (duh).

He came out of my room before I got there, and was in and out quickly.  I walked him to the door, kissed him goodbye, and promised him I would wait for him the next morning, so he could go to the airport with me.

I returned to my room, and immediately checked where I had put my money.  Sure enough, it was gone.  I looked around for it, but knew in my gut that he had taken it, and sure enough, I never found it, and he never showed up the next morning.

I slept poorly, and was so nervous that I threw up, though it might have also been because of the first dose of my malarial medicine.  I should have blown the guy off as sson as I realized he was nutso.  I guess I
was just too bored and lonely, because normally I am not so stupid.  I comforted myself with the thought that $50 wasn't so bad to lose, and at least I still had all my credit cards.

Still, I just felt so used by the whole thing.

And so, happily, I left Cusco behind.

Oh goodness.  I certainly have myself in a pickle now. That whole date thing has gotten a little out of hand.

I met this guy (who I still can't remember his name, and am now too embarrassed to ask, oops), the first time I went out in Cusco, the first week, when I was hanging out with Cassandre (the girl from Canada) and a bunch of people from Germany.  He came up and asked one of the girls to dance, and she pointed him my way. I danced one dance with him, and then excused myself.

Well, apparently I made quite an impression, because he told me ever since, he had been looking for me in the Plaza de Armas.  He works for one of the clubs, passing out the little fliers.  I ran into him again
earlier this week, when I went out with Jessica and the other girl from Switzerland, and then ran into him the next day, when he asked me out on an afternoon date, to the museum and the zoo.  That was on Friday.

Since that date, he has wanted to spend almost every moment with me, and constantly tells me how beautiful I am, and calls me his love, and constantly wants to be holding my hand or kissing me, or whatnot.  Now, that is all very flattering.  I thought at first that he was just being a little over-exagerating, you never know with these foreign men.  But I realized yesterday, that he quite believes that he is in love with me.

But not only that!  He wants to marry me, and has already planned out how many children we are going to have, and how much time I am going to spend here before we get married, and then move to the US, where he will be a Civil Engineer.

Oh boy.  When I told him that 2 days was a little to early for me to decide whether or not I was going to marry someone, he seemed a bit upset.  And later, when I called an early end to the evening, he told me he loved me, and asked me if I loved him.  Um, its been 2 days??  When I told him that that was a little bit too early for me, that it takes time to grow into something, he seemed really quite hurt.

Oh goodness.  He even wanted to meet up with me at 9 this morning, and I pushed it back to 2.  And I am really appreciating my time alone.  He's a nice guy, and attractive, but...  This is just a bit too much for me.  He doesn't even know me!  I think he has some image that he has created in his head, some story, and is bent on pushing me into that role.

So, today I think I'm going to have to draw the line with this guy.  Thank goodness I'm leaving Cusco tomorrow! 

ai ai ai!

So, I have been off the radar screen for awhile, and many of you hope that it is because I have been living it up, and haven't had time to write.  Sorry to say, this is not the case.  I've gotten sick twice this week, from the food/water, and have been spending the majority of the time in my room, watching english movies on HBO, and Cinemax, and the like.  Right now, I'm really trying to get better, but am a bit weak, since I haven't eaten for 2 days.

But!  I did get one chance to go out, with Jessica, the girl from Germany, and another girl from Switzerland.  Each time we searched around for a bar to visit, we were surrounded by people trying to give
us their little advertisement cards for their bars, which also come with a free drink (usually).  It was a bit overwhelming, at one point, I think we had about 10 to 15 people around us, trying to get us to come to
their bar. Finally, we just ducked into the nearest one, to have some peace.  We did enjoy the fact that we didn't have to pay for anything that night, as we had plenty of free drink cards.  We danced quite a
bit, but discovered that all the bars seem to have the same soundtrack.

Anyhow, in about a half an hour, I have a date with a guy I ran into this night, which I had met the first week I had gone out, and happened to run into him again on the street.  We'll see.  I just figured it would be good for me to get out and do something.

Oh, and other news!  I will be coming home a week early, thought about it a lot, and I don't really want to be in Lima, and am not looking forward to another week alone, so thought I'd save the money that I would spend on hotel and food and the like, and use it for a short trip to San Francisco later on in the month!

Hope you all are well!

Today I departed from Macchu Pichu, and I have to admit, I was a bit sad to go.  Life was a little boring at times, and I spent quite a bit of time just sitting on a bench on the plaza, watching the dogs chase each other around, and the children chasing each other around, and the tourists chasing each other around ;) 

So far, the climate there was the best by far, I loved the lush vegetation, and the orchids peeking around the corners of Macchu Pichu, and the rain, and the people too.  Made some friends there, which is always nice, and once again, so greatful for knowing spanish, otherwise I would have been even more alone.

One morning, as I was sitting on a bench at the train station, chatting with two guys in Spanish, two men came up to me, one white, the other hispanic, and the hispanic guy asked in spanish if I spoke spanish.  Well, yes, so he needed me to translate to the white guy (who was dressed all in a boyscout uniform, and I'm guessing from his accent he was from Germany).  I really enjoyed that, too!  Chatting back and forth, switching from Spanish to English.  What it came down to, was the German guy was a bit confused about a train time, and wanted to try to get a cheap fare.  Sometimes I shake my head at how cheap tourists try to be, after all, 10 dollars isn't very much to us, but it is an entire days wages for people here, or more!

Later that evening, I chatted with two other guys (I do seem to find a lot of men to chat with...) who worked at the restaurant that I had had breakfast in the day before.  They were very excited to have me
teach them some English, and ushered me to a seat, and plied me with free tea, as I taught them how to say "Please have a seat" and "Would you like another drink?".  They were very sweet.  They took my e-mail
address and promised to write.

But boy, the people who work in the restaurants have it even worse!  They work from 8 in the morning to 11 at night, 7 days a week!  I could never.  But Jessica, another student at the language school, told me that a woman at the school for special children that she works at, who is a psychologist (with a degree and everything) makes $200 a month.  And, she wants to send her son to university, which costs $200 a month,
so she has to take another job to pay for that.  And, on top of that, there is a decree in the education department of the government, that because they are so lucky to have a job, they have to work for March for free!  Can you imagine, having to work a month for free, just because you are lucky to have a job?  Huh??!!  This is criminal, and makes me sick to my stomach.

Well, a few follow up notes.  I didn't get to be in the commercial after all, they said I looked to much like a north american.  Well, yeah, hello!  I guess originally, because of my dark hair, he thought I could pass for a local in the commercial?  Hm.  I ended up watching the proceedings from my room, as a waiter brought a tray full of corn to a table with two
children, and they got over excited.  Looked a little corny to me.

Oh!  And a follow up on the guy that stood me up in the danceclub!  I had a feeling that I wasn't missing out on much, my intuition told me he probably wasn't a very stand up guy.  And sure enough, yesterday he
passed by me, holding the hand of a Peruvian woman, who I'm assuming is his girlfriend (you don't very often see Peruvians holding hands).  Mm hm!

Anyhow, I had a pleasant train ride, and a van ride with other tourists to Cusco (who vehemently argued to only pay 5 soles instead of 7, a difference of 60 cents, do you really want to waste your time over 60
cents?).  I sat next to a guy from California, of the surfing variety, and he talked to me about how he was going to move to San Fran, and how he considered Seattle, but there isn't any surf there, and he was also disgusted about how the others argued over 2 soles.  Give it up, people. 

So, now I'm back in Cusco, where the internet is much cheaper (yay!) and I have cable TV in my room, with lots of english shows (yay yay yay), and plans to go out tomorrow.  I do miss Macchu Pichu, but am happy to be back where I have some friends.


Linda wrote me:

> Great story. Sounds like you are having fun and
> embracing the culture. What 
> do the people in the night clubs like to drink and
> how is the food there? Pat 
> asked me what you were doing there for work...and
> quite frankly I couldn't 
> remember if you were visiting only or doing
> volunteer work or just what. Wonder 
> why the one guy stood you up??!! Sounds like there
> are plenty of guys 
> nevertheless. They probably love you as you are
> pretty, smart and a ball of fun. Keep 
> the stories coming. I love to hear them. 

> xoxoxox
> Susan

My response:

Oh, no, I am here for studies.  That is how it was possible to pay for everything!  I'm doing two independent courses, one on the Incas, and the other on Liberation Theology (which is basically about reforming the Catholic church so that they focus on helping the poor, which is badly needed here).  Basically, it just means I have to haul a bunch of
books around with me to read, and when I get back, I have two huge papers to write.

Ah, food and drink!  Well, the cool thing about the drinks, is just about everywhere you get a free pisco sour, in order to lure you in to the resteraunt or the clubs.  Other drinks include Cuba Libre, which is either Coke and Pisco, or Coke and Rum, I can't remember, and there is also a local beer here, Cusquena, which the blond version tastes kinda like Budweiser, and the dark version tastes like Worcestshire sauce.  I like the Pisco sours, and try to stick to them.

The food is okay, although often weird.  One time I ordered a chicken burger, and it was two pieces of the local bread, the chicken, and french fries and cucumbers.  The french fries and cucumbers where a
part of the hamburger. I've never quite experienced french fries IN the burger.  Hm.  Frequently when I order something, I'm never quite sure what I'll end up with.  They could probably use a bit more oil and fat
in the food, but apparently to deal with the altitude, low fat diets are better.  Well, when I go to the jungle, THAT will certainly be an experience, because they eat fish, rice, and plaintain for breakfast,
lunch, and dinner.  Apparently, it is pretty easy to lose a shitload of weight (and I am looking forward to that, if not the food) ;)

I am ready to come home, though.  I miss my chocolate and coffee!!!  And everything else, for that matter.  I have never appreciated the US so much in my life!!!

Well, it was nice talking to you today!!!  I do miss home a lot, and it is always nice to go back there, in a way, at least for a few minutes.  It is like that when I check my e-mail, too.  A little sad after, but, life goes on! 

After I talked with you, I went up to the restaraunt that I usually eat at, with the woman who is 23 with a daughter (and the father took off just after the baby was born).  It is nice to have a friend that I can sit and visit with, even if I don't understand most of what she says!  I got her address, and thought I'd send some little gifts for the daughter, since I
noticed that she was playing with broken dolls.  I imagine for a single mother here it is impossible to buy everything you would like for your daughter.  But Edith (the woman's name) is determined to work hard (7 days a week, from 9 in the morning until 11 at night) for her daughter, and if I understood correctly, it is for 10 soles a day = $3.  Apparently, when her daughter (Jasmine) was a baby, an American woman offered her $5000 for her baby, quite a bit of money here!  But Edith turned her down, because, it was her daughter, after all.

Anyway, every day I am amazed at the tenacity of the people here, and hope one day the damn government will get its act together, and actually help the people.  There is no such thing as welfare, or free school, or anything like that.  I have actually had conversations debating who is worse, Bush or Toledo (the president here, who said he was going to help the poor, and then actually made things worse for them).  People are pretty split on that issue!  Well, get Bush in for another term, and who knows what will happen.

Well, I guess I should get to my other e-mail.

Love you!