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Peru — Food Edition

Ok, so maybe I did order deep fried mashed potatoes stuffed with cheese and chicken for dinner my second night in Cuzco, one of the food capitals of the world. But please don’t judge until you’ve walked 1.6 kilometers in mis zapatos. I hadn’t eaten since lunch the day before (well maybe I did have a tiny little bit of yogurt and grenadilla – one of the many delicious fruits I’ve come to love in Peru – for breakfast), and had spent the day climbing up and down the sides of drop dead gorgeous Andean mountainsides, exploring some of the many ancient Inca ruins that define the Sacred Valley between Cusco and Ollantaytambo.

With the exception of Machu Picchu, which lies at a lower altitude (7,800 feet), I had spent the past several days at altitudes between 9,000 and 12,500 feet and was experiencing some symptoms of altitude sickness. Oh, and I had just drunk a Pisco Sour. So please forgive me for wanting comfort food.

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Colombia Numero Dos

Colombia seems most closely associated in American minds with drug cartels in general and Pablo Escobar in particular.  Medellin was Escobar’s city and the first place I landed in Colombia.  What had become the murder capitol of the most violent country in the world in the 80s and 90s, is now a modern international hub that is safer than many American cities.  A few comunas (hillside barrios), far from the city centers, are still controlled by gangs and these account for most all violent crime in Medellin today.

The myth of Escobar* continues to stir the imagination, however, and attempts to capitalize on his exploits and the Medellin cartel abound, not only in the form of narco-tours (some of these include Escobar’s family members and others from the Medellin Cartel), but also in the proliferation of books, movies and tv shows that variously memorialize or fictionalize the era.

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Best Summer Camp Ever

The Galapagos has got to be the best summer camp ever, not that I know all that much about summer camps.  

I only went to camp once, a present from Aunt Marion, who heard me whining as a 10 year old that I never got to go anyplace or do anything, which, if you didn’t count trips to visit grandma in Archbald, PA, was pretty much true.  Off I went to Our Lady of Lourdes summer camp on Skaneateles Lake in upstate New York, a trip I would soon regret.  After the swimming instructor tried to to drown me when I struggled with what they called ‘rhythmic breathing’, I became disenchanted with the whole enterprise (though I do admit to enjoying singing sappy songs around the campfire at night).

I didn’t even try to swim for another 20 years, until my mates at our video studio in London took me to the public pool every morning before anyone else was there, and swam alongside me practicing laps across the width, rather than the length, of the pool until I got the hang of it.  By the time I left London I could swim lengths, pulling my head out of the water at intervals to breathe. By the time I got to the Galapagos, close enough to 40 years after that, knowing how to swim came in very handy.

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