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Most interesting food to date:  Yesterday I ordered a chicken hamburger.  It was served to me with chicken, bread, cucumber slices, and french fries.  And when I say cucumber slices and french fries, they were ON the burger, not sides!!  I suppose putting the french fries on the burger is more efficient.  Hm.  Oddly, it tasted pretty good.

So this morning I got up early, and made my way to the ruins at 7 am, before all the tourists.  Nobody was at the gate, so I just went in without paying, thinking how lucky I was.  Other than the people who were
cleaning up refuse, I was the only person there.  How amazing it is to be on these ancient stairs all alone. Whoah.  Still having problems with altitude, so every so often I had to take a break, and catch my breath. 

At one of my breath breaks, one of the guys picking up trash asked me if I had my ticket (in Spanish, of course).  Well, there went my free entrance!  He then proceeded to chat with me, and asked me where I was from.  When I told him the United States, he said that he really liked people from the US, as they were always so friendly.  I don't know if I didn't get something in our communication (frequently happens in
Spanish), but he started sharing with me the info about the site.  I realized, as I seemed to be expected to follow him around, that he was giving me a tour.  I didn't know if he was just being nice, or was doing it for a tip.  By the time I realized it was for a tip, it was too late to say no.  All I really wanted was to sit and explore the ruins on my own, I didn't need a tour, I already had one!!!  None the less, he showed me other parts that I hadn't seen before, so that was alright I guess.

At one point, a group of 3 other Spanish speaking people was following us around, trying to hear the tour info, without being expected to pay.  At one point, we were chatting about how cold it was, and I said I was fine, because of where I was from.  The guide guy said it was because I was gordita "a little fat".  Um.  Thanks?  No, I had to realize, that in
this culture, especially the more rural you get, it isn't an insult.  In fact, the real rural people think fat on a woman is a good thing.  So, I just let that pass.

At one point, he had me climb up this cliff, that had a few hints of steps.  Um.  I did get a photo, though! I was proud that I was able to do it, and not be too freaked out.  Afterwards, he commented that I did pretty well, especially for being gordita.  UM, thanks.  I told him I was pretty strong, so there you are.  I did think about warning him not to tell other
american women they were little fatties, but then figured he probably meant it as a compliment.

So, at one point, when I figured the tour was well enough over, I reached in my pocket, and gave him 5 soles, not knowing how much was expected to tip.  I could tell from his expression, that this was not so great.  And then, he turned to me, and told me that 5 soles wasn't very much.  I apologized, and handed over another 5, and explained what I was a student and didn't have much money. 

The thing is, as poor as I am, not being able to afford health insurance, having to take the bus everywhere, only buy clothing once every 3 years, and really having to pinch my pennies, I still do have a lot of money compared.  After all, last year, I only made $4000 (plus financial aid), but that is more than most people here make.  I am just tired of everyone looking at me as American, and thinking I have tons of
money, and can make this huge difference in my life.  I don't know, I feel really caught, because while I do have money, I don't have money.  You know?

Anyway, I finally had my alone time, and climbed up to this one building that was far from the usual area of tourists.  The building had recently had a roof added to it, straw and wood, typical of the day.  I sat in the doorway, with the valley at my feet, and had some alone time.  It is easier to be alone when there is nobody around, but to be alone around a bunch of people is a bit harder.  It was nice and peaceful.

I made my way down, and once again ran into the tour guy, Eugene.  He smelled like he may have dipped into the Chincha brew since I had last saw him, and gave me an enthusiastic kiss on the cheek.  He wanted my address in the US, and told me that on Monday he was
his day off, and he would be in Cusco (like me), and where was I staying?  I told him I didn't remember the address, and hope that is the last of that!!  A few of the other guides gave him some "you sly dog you" looks, and I just wanted to throw my arms up and run!  Ai ai ai!  Sigh.

In any case, I returned to my room to pass out for  several hours, had a delicious lunch, and here I am, sharing my morning with y'all.

So there you go.

Jillian
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