Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Cusco

Awoke this morning with almost no pain in my calf! Very strange. It's still very stiff and starting to turn "black and blue", but this is a very good development! The ribs will apparently be the more lingering problem. I'm still getting some sharp pain whenever I exert.

Leaving the hostel this morning, I saw a familiar motorcycle parked down the street in front of a shop that rents motorcycles and offers tour packages. Anne was having them bleed her rear brake. But apparently her problem is in the brake cylinder, which will need replacement, perhaps in Santiago.

Went to "MundoNet" to continue work on notes, answer e-mails and listen to today's "Democracy Now!" broadcast. I was caught off guard by the profound show, in which Amy Goodman presented nearly an hour-long interview with Harold Wilson, who has just been freed after 17 years in prison, most on Death Row, for three homicides he didn't commit.

Took a lunch break at "Paddy Flaherty's", at 10,739 feet, "the highest Irish-owned pub on the planet". (Jim Murphy and Tim shaw take note - sounds like a potential investigative assignment.)(Even if you've already been here, I'm sure the menu changes and a fresh assessment is needed.) Excellent "Mum's Chicken and Vegetable Soup"!

After lunch, returned to the hotel and got my tools out. It was time to work on the bike. Assessed more carefully the damage to the windshield and turn signal. The tubular aluminum frame that supports the windshield was twisted and would need to be straightened. An aluminum guide that supports the front fender broke off, and a plastic pin that fastens the lower part of the windshield was sheared away. Nothing dramatic.

Late in the afternoon, I epoxied the aluminum guide back in place, then caught a taxi (for less than 70 cents) and took the windshield frame to Carlos at "Balu". Using his vice, a few dirty rags and a three-foot-long pipe, he worked on the frame for half an hour or so and got it re-aligned pretty well. He happily accepted about $6 for his work, and wished me a safe journey.

The taxi back was a dollar! (There are no meters, and no fixed rates. The price is...whatever.)

In the fading daylight, I used a board to leverage the "cockpit" frame into something approximating its original shape, then reinstalled the windshield frame. Things actually looked fairly good. I'll give the epoxy overnight to set up before re-installing the fender.

Met Anne "Anna Moto Diva" at "Trotamundo's", where each of us spent some time on the internet, then we walked across the Plaza to "Inka Grill" for dinner. This restaurant is regarded as one of the best in Cusco. It's very elegant (though it's not uncommon, I think, to see diners in their North Face or Mountain Hardwear "trekking" clothes.) Anne tried a traditional aji chicken dish and I opted for the not-so-traditional gorgonzola and spinach-filled chicken breast. Accompanied this with a half-bottle of 2004 Casillero del Diablo Tinto.

The food was outstanding and while the $20 per person cost is extravagant by Peruvian standards, it was a bargain to me when I consider the cost of similar cuisine in Napa Valley.

Anne is off tomorrow for points south, Puno and Bolivia.

***

In e-mail conversations with my former Robert Mondavi Winery co-workers, it is all too apparent that the "mergers and acquisitions" ("M & As") that are but a challenging game for those obsessed with power and wealth, have far-reaching human consequences, notably absent from Annual Reports and Balance Sheets. (Economics is indeed the most dismal - and myopic - science! Even calling it a "science" is being very generous.)

Each person negatively impacted by the Robert Mondavi sell-off has struggled. Their trust has been betrayed by the manipulations of greedy executives. Trust is one of the greatest of human virtues and one of the most fragile. Trust and avarice are mutually exclusive. One cannot exist in the other's presence.

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