Don’t bother loading up the Llama, Alpaca light.

P1000928Save for the moment I thought I was to meet my untimely demise at the horns of a feral bull and was shot in the head by a slingshot wielding seven-year-old in the highlands, my trip to Peru with my mother went off with surprisingly few hitches. The trip really didn’t stand a chance to be anything but amazing, as we both are blessed with the enthusiasm to bulldoze through circumstances that most would find unbearable. Though a van-less trip, it served up a heaping plate of reminders as to why I want to get our family out on the road. As a whole, Peru bowled me over with its generous and kind people, amazing food, and incredible culture and history.

“Imagine seven pounds of commemorative soccer paraphaalia and religious iconography swaying wildly off the rearview mirror of our cab to the warbles of ‘Do You Believe In Life After Love’ by Cher, circa 2000. There was nothing to do but accept imminent death and be a bit sad that I wasn’t going to live to write about the morbid hilarity of the situation.”

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20140507_043413I brought very little with me on this trip-as we were doing the five-day Salkantay Trek up to Machu Picchu I didn’t want to carry more than absolutely necessary. We’ve all had a good laugh at Pinterest fails. There are an astonishingly high number of half-wits who can’t even manage a melted crayon art masterpiece. Depressingly enough, I’m now nothing but a statistic; these toothpaste dots were a pretty resounding failure. I even carried them around the airport the first day, convinced they just ‘needed some more time to dry’. Who let me through security? I am a crazy person. Pinterest failures and half-wits, please accept me into your ranks.

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I’m not sure that I’d previously been given much of a chance to develop an opinion of them, but the Llama, by the way, has become my new favourite animal. Used as pack animals by the Incas, it wasn’t until the Spanish conquest in 1532 that they were replaced with horses. Now used in towns mostly as a draw for tourists, they still occupy an integral role in the highland farms around Peru as they are hardy and resilient creatures. I’m also confident their entertainment value alone has preserved their role in society for centuries. They are the most bizarre animals I’ve ever seen and they have really long eyelashes.

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I have this horrible habit of writing newspaper headlines of the tragic accidents I imagine befalling me and will lead to my death, and the driving in Peru offered many such poetic opportunities. It was just really unsafe but in the most casual way. Rally racing around blind corners on single lane roads that wind up cliffs with jagged rocks thousands of feet below was basically a Sunday drive.  Perhaps most concerning was the soundtrack to my perceived death: consistent and confusing playlists of Simple Plan, Rod Stewart, Michael Jackson and Cher. Imagine seven pounds of commemorative soccer paraphaalia and religious iconography swaying wildly off the rearview mirror of our cab to the warbles of ‘Do You Believe In Life After Love’ by Cher, circa 2000. There was nothing to do but accept imminent death and be a bit sad that I wasn’t going to live to write about the morbid hilarity of the situation. You are terrified and then your cab picks up a hitchhiking mom and her seven-month-old baby who sit in the front seat together and you’re all. . . ‘oh, we are just chillin’ now.’ It’s just normal. Anyway, I survived, but once on the trek was happy to be walking for five days with no cars in sight. Peru’s drivers were this strange mix of calculated and safe insanity, if that makes sense? Here, people are falsely secure in their mid-sized family sedans and are unsafe just because they’re assholes in a hurry.

I saw 12 Bay Windows, two Splittys and one Vanagon. You are never on vacation from being obsessed with VW’s.

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