julio 03, 2004

The War on Drugs

sooo.... we´re right now sitting on the argentine-bolivian border waiting for a bus to take us to La Paz. (As of the current count, we're at 70 hours on the bus in the last week - 20 more tonight!) Our ultimate goal is Cuzco, Peru; a place we´ve been trying unsuccessfully to go to for some time now. The thing we are trying to do is get a refund for our cancelled plane tickets back to the states. Why, you might ask, were they cancelled? The war on drugs is why they were cancelled. The owner of the airline has been indicted as a drug kingpin (queenpin, actually) by the US government, meaning no US citizens can fly anywhere on the airline. What's more, the airline's international assets have been frozen, so they can't, say, send us a check. The only way to do it is show up, tired, bedraggled, and hungry, at their Peruvian offices.
On the upside, we're going to Machu Picchu! Yes, Machu Picchu, the most beautiful place in the world. It's actually sinking at an alarming rate, so if you want to see it, you better get while the gettin's good. Now they make tourists wear slippers as they walk around so as to not damage the ruins.

On the other upside, we´'ve had a pretty eventful trip so far. We got to see iguazu falls (the most impressive place we´ve yet seen) with Ben. Iguazu is a subtropical paradise complete with 3 continuous kilometers of roaring falls with birds including tucans, colorful butterflies, and monkeys hanging from the trees and throwing things. Its beauty absolutely cannot be conveyed in an email, so there you are.
Much bus riding later, we arrived in Salta, in northwest argentina; a very relaxed desert paradise thats actually a great place to hang out for a couple days. Intent on getting to Peru as quickly as possible, we signed up for a bus through Chile. It was a great ride, picking our way carefully up steep mountain passes with hundreds of feet drops on both sides of the bus and stunningly colored hills, then across the altiplano where the road has not yet been built. We careened through perfectly flat white salt flats as big as US counties, stopping to ask for directions from construction crews and then roaring off again as luggage crashed down from the overhead bins. Then we entered stunning snowy peaks where, after 7 hours on the bus, we found the pass to Chile closed by snow. Five hours later, the ride back down was not quite as cheery.

Now here we are about to cross into Bolivia and drink our first coca tea because our heads are pounding and squeezing from the altitude. 3500 meters with 1500 to go before Cuzco. The human body simply wasn't made for this (or sitting on the bus 90 hours a week). It's like a real pilgrimage we're making to Machu Picchu where we get our reward, both material and life-enriching-wise. Hope you're well.

randy and anna