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.

1 comment: