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Inca Kola and bank fraud: on through Peru



Just sitting here back home on my couch, hacking up phlegm and binging on Supernatural reruns.



I joined Mr. Tiki for approximately half of this trip as I had burned through my vacation with the India trip. I had actually wanted to skip this one, since (avoiding the health TMI) my tummy troubles were back at epic levels, and the prospect of visiting the land of Tourist Trots and elevation sickness did not beckon. But it was conveyed to me that this one wasn't optional, so I shuffled along and tried to make the best of it.

Our fellow travelers were all fellow Star Wars fanatics and their significant others. Since Mr. Tiki had flown ahead to fish for piranha on the Amazon, I met up with a few of them in Houston, and we flew on to Cusco, which is a colonial town named after a beloved Disney character. Unfortunately there were no llamas there, though I did eat alpaca pizza, which did not make me sick (this will be important later).

Mr. Tiki and the rest of the Amazon cruise tourists eventually met us that evening in Cusco, where at dinnertime they regaled us with tales of their adventure. They also bragged about the peerless vessel's chef, who evidently washed her vegetables in pure bottled water. I spent most of the next day in the hotel room with Mr. Tiki, who was suffering from a terrible case of turista. I myself had mild altitude sickness (Cusco is above 10K feet in elevation), which fortunately topped out with mild nausea and some tingling. We were also all a bit short of breath.

I did not use the ATM in Cusco. This will be important later.

The doggies and babies in Cusco are the cutest ever. This will not be important later.

We took the train to Machu Picchu (see picture above). In short, it's one of those "must see before you die" places. And I did at times feel I was going to die: I ate a ham, banana and egg calzone at an unpleasant restaurant, which made me violently ill. The next day I spent limping and counting the hours until the train ride back to Cusco.

I should interject, the entire party was now addicted to Inca Kola, a soft drink that tastes like ... bubble gum. As I was mostly limited to drinking water (and beer) at that time, I did not succumb.

The train ride back was bizarre: there was a kind of floor show in the aisle, complete with scary clown and a fashion show. No, I have no clue. The worst thing is that they blocked the bathroom for the first 90 minutes of the train ride, which thoroughly annoyed the females in our group.

Next we were off to Lima, where a tour bus whisked us out to the desert of Nazca, to see the famous Nazca lines, which you remember if you ever watched In Search Of as a kid. Our tour bus was hours and hours and hours late, so we had to split the flightseeing over two days. I insisted on going in one of the first parties, as I actually felt sort of not deathly ill that day. The lines are not what I expected: they're a bit difficult to see, and not half as impressive in person as the pictures I remember Leonard Nimoy flashing on TV. Also, between the plane dipping and diving and you squinting into the sun, trying to view them is a regular barf-fest. But, still worth it. They're still pretty damned cool.

Also, we discovered that one of our party had had his bank account hacked after using a Peruvian ATM. I had used one of the same ATMs that guy did (in Machu Picchu), so Mr. Tiki insisted I check my balance, which was keen. Then later another person got their bank account hacked, so Mr. Tiki made me check again. All was well. Turns out, all the injured parties had used the same Citibank ATM in Cusco, the one right next to our hotel. Be careful out there, kiddies.

The last day I was there started with the Island of Shit (aka the Ballestas Islands). No, I am not kidding: there a bird sanctuary right off the coast where they periodically mine guano. I had read about this stuff back in college. Some Latin American countries' economies actually revolved around bird shit. It was cool: besides a jillion pelicans and some sea lions, there were actual penguins there! But the smell.... I cannot even begin to describe the smell. "I have to be here every day!" our guide laughed.

The we piled back on the bus and headed back for Lima, where the Star Wars con was to begin. The tour bus was totally late again, so I started to get a bit paranoid about making my flight. We finally got dropped off at the con hotel, which was REALLY NICE, and I started to regret leaving early. I also started to cough, which I though was my bronchitis kicking in from all the plane travel, but I now realize is some kinda deathly Inca head cold.

Mr. Tiki and the rest of my party went off laughing to get dinner and drinks with the Peruvians, and I was left all alone in the hotel lobby with my backpack, waiting for my taxi. Fortunately for me, despite my connection out of Peru taking off over an hour late, we somehow touched down in Houston on time (to the minute!) and I was able to make my connection to Seattle with three whole minutes to spare (no thanks to the world's slowest security line). Home home home, where it's fucking pouring rain. And my poor body is now attempting to hack up a lung. Or two. But I have my couch and my How to Train Your Dragon lap blankie, so I'll be OK.

This entry was originally posted at http://tikistitch.dreamwidth.org/1617579.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Comments

( 12 cousins babbled — babble away! )
nugatorytm
Jun. 23rd, 2012 03:42 am (UTC)
Aww, I'm glad you survived the trip, and at least you're home safe, though you're sick as a dog, which is not fun in the least.

Yeah, they sell Inca Cola here, too. Tony loves the stuff. I don't chew Juicy Fruit gum in the first place, so I pass on it.

Edited at 2012-06-23 03:43 am (UTC)
tikistitch
Jun. 23rd, 2012 04:01 am (UTC)
I wanna see if they sell Inca Kola somewhere in Seattle. I think it would be funny if Gus comes home and finds a six pack in the fridge.

I don't actually find it tastes much like gum.

There was also an awesome beer, Cusquena Negro.
nugatorytm
Jun. 23rd, 2012 04:17 am (UTC)
I think you'll have the best luck finding Inca Kola in the Hispanic grocery stores. I don't see it in the national chains.

To me, that stuff tastes exactly like Juicy Fruit gum. I think it's the artificial banana flavoring they use.
tikistitch
Jun. 23rd, 2012 04:27 am (UTC)
I haven't really chewed gum for years and years (my jaw clicks, so I don't wanna aggravate it) so maybe that's why I'm iffy about the taste. I felt like a total dumbbell on vacation because everybody else was giggling and like, "Wait til you TRY IT" like it was a big joke, and then I tasted it and was still confused.

There's supposed to be a hispanic grocery downtown that carries Inca Kola, so maybe when I'm back at work on Monday I'll walk down to Pike Place. Though I'm sort of betting Gus will laugh and but then refuse to drink it. I think there's some stuff that's only fun while you're on vacation.
zsomeone
Jun. 23rd, 2012 03:43 am (UTC)
I once claimed to have Peruvian Box Death (in my family we invent weird illneses) so maybe you have that. Unfortunaltely at that time my mom countered with her African Creeping Crud.

Good to know you and your bank account survived the trip. Now relax really hard!
tikistitch
Jun. 23rd, 2012 04:03 am (UTC)
Peruvian Box Death!

Or maybe Alpaca's Revenge.

I generally need a vacation after our vacations (I come home ill about half the time). It's a *lot* easier to be sick if all I have to do is sit and watch junk TV and not get up at 4:30 am so I can catch a plane to take me to a bus to take me to *another* plane.
zsomeone
Jun. 23rd, 2012 04:07 am (UTC)
Vacationception!

...ok that doesn't quite work. Houston customs aren't that bad, usually you can pretty much sail through. Well, I guess it depends on the timing...
tikistitch
Jun. 23rd, 2012 04:15 am (UTC)
Houston customs and immigration was perfect: very fast and actually *polite*.

It was the security check that nearly made me miss my plane. And after crawling up to the head of the line at the pace of a snail on downers, I suddenly was gonna get cut off by a bunch of doddering bozos they funneled in through the "priority" line. What really rankled was that this security was after TWO DIFFERENT security checks at the Lima airport: one at the main terminal and an additional one at the gate.
i_am_zan
Jun. 23rd, 2012 09:56 am (UTC)
*HUGS* - I hope you feel better soon. My son had the coughs, on the way over which wouldn't go away till after a week and a half a bottle of cherry cough syrup, store-bought over the counter stuff in Hyde. Still it did the trick.

But still seeing those Nazca Lines. That really is cool!

And uhmm alpaca pizza. The thought has never crossed my mind as meat for consumption. It is best I keep this from the children. On the night before we left we went out for a family dinner at a slight upmarket pub, and my mother in law opted for rabbit stew. My son was devastated to find out that Granny was eating rabbit! They'll be old enough to deal with it soon.

But you, get well soon ok! *HUGS*
tikistitch
Jun. 23rd, 2012 01:46 pm (UTC)
Don't tell your son: I like eating cute little rabbits too. :D

It's sort of a great tradition for me to get deathly ill the last couple days of a trip, and I've found employers REALLY hate you taking sick leave after a vacation, even if you're, you know, SICK. I'm hoping if I force feed myself tea this weekend I'll feel better for Monday morning. I'm grateful I decided to leave early, because it wouldn't have been fun hanging around a convention sick. From what I can tell, those guys programmed the convention for 12-hour days, which sounds exhausting!! Gus loves that kind of thing, but I'm wondering if he's going to end up getting sick as well....
avalonjones
Jun. 24th, 2012 06:45 am (UTC)
I'm glad to hear you're back safe! Please take care of yourself and rest up!
tikistitch
Jun. 24th, 2012 02:30 pm (UTC)
I'm watching junk TV and mainlining tea, which is my cure-all for everything.
( 12 cousins babbled — babble away! )

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