Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Critical Mom Goes To Peru

We landed in Lima late last night and discovered that in Peru you have to put all your suitcases and bags through the security machines in order to exit the airport.  Our driver, Pablo, had not minded waiting and was right there at two in the morning when we finally emerged from baggage claim.  On the drive in from the airport the sight of a truckload of live chickens attracted my children, who wondered where they were going, and I had to explain that they were on their way to a restaurant.
Our hotel has hot showers and we are very careful not to open our mouths under the shower head.  Which, once upon a time, one of my cousins did, and found the resulting diarrhea so discomfiting that at the local train station--where one had to pay for toilet paper by the square-- he barely made it to a toilet.  We are brushing our teeth with bottled water from the plane.  On the inside of the bathroom door, a list of rules includes the following:  "The hotel reserves the right of admission and of requesting the guest removal in case he/she carries out or promotes acts against public order and morals."  The following rule reads:  "Animals are not accepted in our accomodations."  I don't think they are worried about lap dogs. 
Our hotel has the best coffee I have ever had--yes, even better than Paris and Monaco.  The eggs were delicious and the employees very friendly.  When we wandered out to find a laundromat, we happened upon tiny caf├ęs serving ceviche, big bottles of beer, and rice with frijoles for the equivalent of three to ten euros.  Many free tasting dishes appeared:  delightfully flavored boiled potatoes decked with something like Hollandaise sauce and decorated with slices of boiled egg; a substance that looked like black beans, tasted something like liver, and was accompanied by tiny shrimp and spicy, pickled red onions.  Rarely have I longed so much to shout, "YOU OUGHT TO CHARGE MORE!" at a waitress.  Everyone seemed to understand, despite my inability to communicate in Spanish, that I was running laps between the laundromat and my meal, that my husband would settle the bill, that one of us had to remain with the clothes and the dryer while the other accompanied our ten-year-old daughter.  A wandering minstrel strolled through playing a guitar and singing in an incredibly good voice and I thought, as I finished my beer, Hollywood, where are you?  Plus, we've discovered Pisco Sours, the national drink, and here's the rule for consuming them:

One is good
Two better
Three enough
Four floor.

I can tell you that my second was a mistake.  One is plenty!  Two made my head spin and I knew I had to stay vertical in order not to lose my dinner.  But maybe it's too bad that I can't tolerate more than one, because today I have a touch of Atahualpa's revenge.  I just had a Greek yoghurt from the local supermarket; if I can stomach a Pisco sour I'll have one later.  I didn't let a drop of local water down my throat but I did eat some ceviche that tasted old.  But today I went to the Indian market and bought a wonderful soft red poncho which is, I am told, and it feels like, baby alpaca, for 110 soles or about 35 euros.  Now that was a deal.  My daughter got a lovely dark blue alpaca shawl for 40 soles, that is, around 14 euros.  And a pair of soft alpaca slippers for the same.
Tune in next week for more on our upcoming trip to Macchu Picchu and the jungle. 

P.S.  Well, I am sorry to report that the usual remedies--banana, dark chocolate, and pisto--did not work, and a trip to the local Botica proved necessary.  There, one has to describe one's symptoms (in my case with sounds and gestures) and then one is handed Cipro, probiotics, digestive enzymes, and a sympathetic attitude.  I'm in my hotel bed, coke and saltines by my side, having spent the morning doing laundry and buying the most beautiful tablecloth in the world, blue with Inca designs, for only 70 soles or about $25.

That's part of the cure, too.

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