Saturday, December 10, 2005

Cusco and Cyberspace

11:40 p.m.

Just returned from having a late night bowl of soup and some bruscetta at “Jack’s Café and Bar”. The Tuscan-style soup was excellent. A glass of “Casillero del Diablo Tinto” was “corked”. Ah, the perpetual challenge for winemakers! It wasn’t worth sending back, since the staff probably doesn’t know what it means, and with garlicky food, it was hardly noticeable.

From 7:30 in the morning to 11:30 at night, I was barraged by beggars and peddlers. Cusco is a tough place, in ways. I’m both attracted and repulsed by this city. I hate big tourist destinations and being regarded solely as a “walking wallet”. But I like the creature comforts provided because of the tourists.

The pan-handlers, the majority children I think, are aggressive and persistent. If I’m in a good mood, I can play with them; if I’m in a bad mood, I want to strangle some of them. They bang on the windows as you dine, or sit in an internet café. They’re waiting in the doorway when you emerge. They’re underfoot when you’re walking, and they’ll interrupt conversations to ask for money. Some are clearly destitute. Others look well-groomed – like it’s a good business.

The most persistent are the shoeshine boys and men. No less than twenty approached, and it takes about ten “no”s for them to get the message. It’s tedious and demoralizing to endure all day long.

***

No sign of the boss when I went downstairs at 7:30 this morning. Out to look for some breakfast (yesterday’s at the hostel just didn’t do it for me.) Wandered up to San Blas, discovered “Gringo alley” and “Avenida Sol” but ended up just going to the "MundoNet" internet café and ordering a hot chocolate. I was their first customer at 8:00, and worked until noon, mostly trying to solve the blog posting problem.

Broke away for some lunch at “Paddy Flaherty’s Irish Pub” (sister restaurant to “Jack’s”). Quite a difference from last night. Empty except for two or three souls. Enjoyed a bowl of “Mum’s Chicken and Veggie Soup” and some fries (“chips”).

My obsession with the blog has eclipsed the real world. But maybe that’s the intent. I don’t want to face the options for going to Machu Picchu: jumping in and doing the excruciating tourist thing, on the train or the Inca Trail; or do the adventurous, and possibly treacherous, individual thing. Both are fraught with difficulty in my mind. The fact that there’s this pressing problem with the website justifies ignoring that decision.

Needed to return to the hotel after lunch, and ran into “J.D.” (from Lima) along the way. He's up here working with "his kids" and told me there’s wireless service around the Plaza and at the library.

Went to the library and was shuffled around from room to room, then finally driven out by diesel fumes as they were oiling the floor, while people were still inside using the library!

Tried the Plaza, taking a table at "Trotamundo’s" but couldn’t log into "Telefonica’s" network. Returned to "MundoNet", resigned to the fact that this computer stuff, and eating, would constitute the entire day (as it almost did yesterday.)

Joined a "Picasa" on-line user group to try and probe resources on the net. Found a work-around for posting, but it was labor intensive and produced the wrong format. I was able to post about 4 pictures per hour!

Out at 10:00, the kids waiting to walk me up the street, hands out.

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