Lima, Peru

Since Saturday I have observed the following:

1. Coney Island is an ideal place to spend your final night before leaving the country for the Southern Hemisphere. Your memories of your hometown will be at once surreal, quaint and trashy.

My travelling companions and I scrambled our way out onto one of the rock jetties to catch a particularly spectacular sunset–a sunset so spectacular we took it in by continuously rotating 360 degrees to watch the sky turn little-girl-bedroom pink and purple over the housing projects, amusment park rides and cruiseship-dotted horizon. When this mission went well, we felt adequetely prepared to travel to a foreign country, ascend to 12,000 feet and undertake unsupervised wilderness expeditions.

2. It is a terrible mistake not to stay up all night if you have to leave for the airport at 5:30 a.m.

3. Getting bumped to first class for the entirety of our New York-Guatamala City-San Jose-Lima plane trip has taught me that it is better to be rich than not to be rich. It turns out that what makes plane flight horrible is the lack of space and failure of coach class to provide constant cocktails. When provided with more space and constant cocktails, I found plane flight to be a marvellous experience.

The twinges of guilt and self-loathing one feels as the economy-class passengers file by, thinking to themselves, as I always do, “ASSHOLES!” when they see the first-class passengers, are quickly alleviated by the closing of the magical curtain that makes coach class disappear.

For the last leg of our trip, only I was bumped to first class. Holly and Steve, left to suffer in coach, emerged from the plane looking angry and talking of crying babies. I emerged deep in conversation with the Bolivian Representative to the United Nations Population Council.

4. Anthropologists are fun people to go drinking with.

5. You can almost converse in languages you do not speak if you convince yourself that you speak them and use the four verbs you know creatively.

6. Within five minutes in a foreign city, even if we are innocently exiting the postage-stamp museum, Holly and I will be found by the local potheads, led to the marginal public space and offered free marijuana, a windfall that pales in comparison to the fact that

7. They sell Xanax and Valium over the counter in Peru.

Tomorrow we ascend to 12,000 feet altitude. If only I had implemented my plan to get my blood doped before we left. Illegal in international athletic competition, a perfect solution for only marginally fit people who desire to see parts of the world where oxygen is in short supply. Alas, I’ll have to go it with only my usual allotment of red blood cells. As I so often imagine, my brain cells must be saying “we who are about to die salute you.”

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