We’ve been off in a big way, the doctor and I… don’t know what we ate or where or what was in it (better not to know), but it floored us something terrible. When Lucho had around 40º fever I did what I normally don’t do, I got stroppy and we moseyed off on a journey into (Saturday!) night to find a taxi to take us to the Emergency Unit of the nearest clinic.
As I have told you before: the only acceptable form of transport is the taxi and they come in all shapes and sizes – mostly small and falling apart. There once was a fashion adopted by the less scrupulous elements of “taxistas” to spray you with something whose name I forgot, the name sounds highly unlikely and more like something that grows under the roots of trees in Africa. Anyway, that spray made people woozy and manageable. They then proceeded to take the person in question to the nearest cash point. I think in less needy countries it’s been used to make the girls more willing than they would have been. That shows you the level of affluence – if you can waste the stuff on sex rather than money. Where was I? Oh, yes, the clinic.
We did get there, we were attended immediately, I had forgotten to take something to read, and we waited for the results of the blood and urine samples. The local Dr. House checked Lucho for appendicitis, salmonella and related and known evils… nothing. But he did have nearly 40º fever and terrible abdominal pains. Why I am telling this story I’m not quite sure, I think it’s to show that we are not living on the dark side of the moon. There are actually good doctors, big and clean clinics, in which your tests are, in fact, sent immediately (well, as immediately as humanly possible) to the computer of the medic, or his assistant, which means one doesn’t have to hang around (without a book to read) for too long. We paid, got medicines from the pharmacy (it was 1.30 in the morning by then) and found a taxi home.
And from here to the weather: I never thought we’d have THE WEATHER as a topic of conversation in Peru, but everybody is talking about it. You probably saw it on the telly. The fact that Cusco and Machu Picchu are swimming in it, leaving people homeless and tourists stranded (two people died in mudslides on the Inca trail) is tragic enough, but it also puts the historical site(s) in danger. The ruins of Machu Picchu were already said to be slowly sliding down the mountain, and I fear that after this the time comes ever closer where tourists just won’t be able to walk between those walls any longer. It is quite breathtaking to see it from above, from some of the positions where most of the shots for the brochures are taken, but to actually walk between the ruins is something else. Maybe I am just very susceptible, but I definitely felt a strong energy and almost heard voices whispering from the past. I am so glad I had the privilege of touring Peru five years ago. It’s a magical country with many riches, much poverty, much ugliness and immense beauty. My heart is going out to those who have lost everything.
On Wednesday almost 600 tourists were airlifted to safety and more should follow today; the beautiful railway from Cusco to Machu Picchu Village (or Aguas Calientes as it’s better known) has been swept away as though it was made from matchsticks (the pictures I add of the railway sliding into the magical Urubamba river were published by the most important Peruvian newspaper EL COMERCIO, the other pictures of the destruction wreaked by the flooding of the Urubamba valley are taken by Carlos José Rey; and to give you an idea of the situation, Telefónica has actually allowed free access to their telephone booths in Cusco. And before Telefónica gives something away for free…
Even in Lima it rained. It’s difficult for us aliens to understand that Lima is the only world capital where it never rains (well, it drizzles a bit sometimes and they call that rain) and the people don’t have umbrellas. The roofs are flat and there are no gutters (on the roofs or in the roads). A few nights ago (and there was considerable rain on a night a few weeks ago) it actually rained so much that people had to “pump out” their roofs, terraces, there were lakes (not exactly deep, but unheard of) on certain crossings and the river Rímac had swollen to never before seen proportions – well, we don’t know about the times of the dinosaurs, but recently certainly never experienced.
I want to leave you with on an up-beat: have a look at one of the most beautiful sights in Peru: the famous Peruvian “caballo de paso”, a horse which can even dance the famous folk dance from the coast, “la marinera”. They are such beautiful animals and until you’ve actually seen them in action you can’t imagine their grace (and fun!)
Then there is the jazz scene - it's thriving. They are still doing ye goode ole rhythm 'n blues. Wonderful. Oh yes, I do feel my age from time to time. A friend was singing the other night in the "Cocodrilo Verde" (the green croc) and it was definitely good enough to write home about it.
Whatever it brings, life is beautiful; enjoy every moment.
Till next time.