Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Learning Stuff From Primitive Savages

Jack's Cafe may sit on Cuzco's most touristy corner but truly deserves its long line of travelers spilling out into the street. The famous Desayuno Gordo (fat breakfast) is flawless. The scrambled eggs are fluffy; the roasted tomatoes are ripe; the parsley potatoes are crispy; the bacon is fully yet gently cooked; the white beans are succulent; the sourdough toast is yummy; the cafe con leche is strong and foamy.

What more could you want? When I insist on using the sought-after real estate of my table for a writer's desk long after my plate is empty, the waitresses don't even give me a dirty look. That is a breakfast joint!

So, when Americans (or Canadians horrifyingly mistaken for Americans) encounter fellow countrymen who wanna buy them a bad hamburger and sob about the homeland, they should respond firmly: "Hell no, but if you buy me an American breakfast at Jack's, we can go get matching Confederate Flag tatoos over our butt cracks." I rate Jack's Cafe fifty stars and a bunch of stripes. Now, back to real Peru.

What should I write about journeying to Machu Picchu? Shall I devote a thousand-plus words to describing its beauty? No. One mediocre photo from any of a thousand-plus websites will convey the essence better than many well-crafted words.

Shall I chronicle every bootstep and every mosquito bite along my sacred pilgrimage? No. Citified and sissified gringos who don't use their legs as a primary mode of transport can huff and puff and blow smoke about what an epic journey they made better than this hardened jungle-dweller.

Shall I weep for ancient women who spent all their lives gathering, chopping, grinding, and cooking whole foods or ancient men who slaughtered the animals they ate and the enemies who threatened their clan? No. I weep for moderns like Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton who devote a lifetime to amassing wealth and constructing monuments of power but little time to eating healthy body-building food or constructing loyal, passionate, enduring loves.

Machu Picchu doesn't feel like a foreign civilization to me. New York is now a weird civilization to me. I'll let Anthony Bourdain scribble in shock and awe at the culture his cocaine snorts came from. Latin America is now my home. People who construct block houses, prepare whole foods, and care for their own children are not curious relics to me. They're buds and neighbors.

By all means, visit Machu Picchu, if you can. If you can't, come hang out with the primitive savages at my house. My woman has never been on a plane, but she cooks 100 dishes with little more than corn. Her nonhipster man doesn't even own a cell phone but retains the technology to make her howl like an animal every night. I wouldn't go back to "civilization" if you paid me.

Currently, Donald and Hillary are competing to offer Americans a way to have reliable quality childcare along with their gym workouts and whole food Paleo-diets. If these two geniuses don't come up with an answer, visit Machu Picchu to learn from folks who had all those things, plus a hell of a view.

I return exhausted to Cuzco with a couple hours to spare before my all night bus to Bolivia. Stop in at Dino's restaurant. The oil paintings of a shaman in a coca-leaf vision-cloud and a nude woman floating on a watery expanse mesh well with the Doors music beckoning me to open the psychic portals with some hallucinogens. A Mescaline-laden Wachuma cactus in the corner and blinking colored lights around bottles filled with neon liquids sure complete the scene.

Nevertheless, the food is strictly gourmet. An avocado comes stuffed with veggies, mushrooms, and grated cheese. A quinoa soup is loaded with tender green kale. A chilled trout ceviche marinated in lime juice is accompanied by hot crisp sweet potato slices. (All potatoes originate from Peru.) I'm still thinking about all this scrumptous food when I doze off rolling through the darkening sillouettes of the Andes.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Only One Situation Justifies Domestic Violence

The Inca-berry-slathered alpaca filet on my plate and the narcotic coca leaves in my teacup can only mean one thing: I'm in Cusco. Sitting cross-legged on a llama pelt at the Blue Alpaca cafe. The steep cobblestone lane outside has Quechua women in bowler hats coming in for the market while tourists head out for nearby Machu Picchu. This recalls local history.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Cracker Lives Matter In Lima Peru

Nirvana is to be experienced rather than defined, except to say that the airport in Lima is its exact opposite. Gray drizzly clouds block all window views of the natural world. Glaring florescent lights thrust a salty, greasy, sugary world of McDonald's, Papa John's, and Dunkin' Donuts into a traveler's throbbing brain. Peruvian women do little to restore my bliss. Many faces suggest human/llama crossbreeding, while many bodies offer a plus-size-version of Daddy Yankee's "Shaky Shaky" video. An overpriced taxi to the cheezy-sounding Nirvana Hotel seems like a ticket to paradise for me.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Destination Two: Friendly Skies Over Peru

Interjet flight 2890 to Lima isn't packed with bookish lesbian hikers like the plane from Missoula to Salt Lake was or prudish mormon elders like the plane from there to Mexico was. These faces are browner and happier - as I'll soon be. The girls in boots and guys in suits have been replaced by smooching couples, nursing moms, and doting dads. Latino love is in the air - and so am I.

Goodbye gringo misery and hello South American food and music, peoples and places, spirituality and sensuality. There may be a problem with sensuality though. Airport security seized my shampoo, mouthwash, and shaving cream, but overlooked my straight razor, so I'm armed to kill but not to love. Oh, the irony! Our world is getting tough on terrorists, but it has always been hard on romantics.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Globe Trekking Pitstop One: Missoula Montana

Readers who've been breathlessly awaiting the revelation of the first location of my global vacation can now breathe deeply from the fresh air on Montana's Lake McDonald. What a lovely spot! My 85-year-old father stands beside me for a photo, just as we stood together in front of Yosemite National Park's mist-and-rainbow-framed Vernal Falls 50 years ago.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Time to Hit the Road Again

Enough hibernation already!
Humanity is doomed to vacillate between distress and boredom, as the German philosopher Schopenhauer said. My poor Mexican friends scoff at invitations to go camping, because they've spent nearly all their lives trying to stop camping. My rich American friends constantly search for more extreme sports, because they need a thrill in their vaccinated, seat-belted, health-insured lives. I also hunger for tranquility when stressed and for stimulation when stuck in routine. Such is life on earth.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Homo Killers Rock and Homemakers Suck

A big greedy insurance company very recently conspired to find out what career makes people the happiest, so they could provide more insurance to long-living happy folks rather than short-lived sad folks. (Money-grubbing and number-crunching bastards!) Because of the intensely-evil capitalist motivations behind this research study, they failed to approach their subject with the proper PC bias of a sophisticated peer-reviewed/censured university professor. (Trigger alert: rude myth-busting reality coming up next.)

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Life Is Cooler Than Fiction

The prestigious Eclectica Magazine is publishing dual anthologies of what they consider the best fiction and nonfiction writing from the last twenty years. I'm honored to be included. Since my life makes vampires and zombies seem a mundane snoozefest, I only write stuff that's absolutely true, so the chosen story "Dying With Dignity Mexican Style" from my debut work Sacred Ground & Holy Water will be featured in their nonfiction collection. You can buy it soon. I must concur that this piece is one of the most shocking and moving passages I have ever written. It was a long descent into the abyss to write and not for the faint-hearted.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Strippers, Cactus, & Other Edibles III

Goat milk caramel and strawberries with whipped cream are common confections in Guanajuato. Yet, I’m introduced to these ordinary sweet things by an extraordinary sweet thing: a brown sugar and exotic dancer named Clementine. This girl doesn’t spend much time in the kitchen, but she could teach your grandmother some luscious ways to serve up desert. Here is how I get myself into an extremely sticky situation.