May 27 – Be aware or be prepared
Up early again and made it to the airport, on the plane, and into Lima before we even really woke up. At the Lima airport we tried to confirm tomorrow’s flight home and (more importantly) our vegetarian meals. The person behind the airline counter refused to explain why she couldn’t do these things and instead told us to show up at 8pm tomorrow (we flew out at 11). We made a mental note to stock up on veggie food just in case. (The precaution would be just as well since I recently heard a story from my friend flying from Paris to NYC. Her first meal was a choice of beef or vegetable. Half the passengers chose the veggies. Shortly after the meal those passengers started getting ill. Real ill. Eventually the fetid stench of barf wafted through the cabin and everyone who wasn’t already nauseous soon became so. Only problem was the plane had no barfbags. Passengers were vomiting everywhere. When they landed – five hours later – she was covered in puke, most of it not her own.)
Devon ha a kickboxing buddy whom he trained with in San Francisco, but who has since relocated back to his home of Peru. His name is Rodrigo (or Rodgringo when he’s in the States) and he is the welterweight kickboxing champion of Peru. He found us in the passenger pick-up zone and walked us out to a friend’s car. The friend looked a whole lot like Danny Bonaducci. Together they chauffeured us through Lima, through Miraflores, and finally into Rodrigo’s barrio. Rodrigo pointed out lots of interesting facts along the way. We got to see the world’s longest waves which were so totally surfable. We also saw countless advertisements painted onto mountainsides or mowed into lawnscapes. This was such a horrible and vulgar way to advertise that I felt like throwing a rock and some dirt through a corporate office window as an advertisement for the earth. Also, almost all the houses we saw had rebar extending two, sometimes three stories above the house. This was a sign of impending wealth. Extra rebar showed your intention of someday adding onto your house. Lastly, gram of cocaine in Lima costs around one (1) U.S. dollar.
Rodrigo lives in his kickboxing gym. His sleeping quarters were a small room in a corner of the gym and his kitchen and bathroom were just outside of that. The rest of the venue was dedicated to working out. The only thing in the fridge were stacks of ice packs and a couple beers. The roof was made of loosely stacked palms which kept out large debris (like maybe more palms?) but kept in the sweaty gym smell and allowed a fair amount of natural light and dust inside (the roads outside weren’t paved). It never rains in Lima. Not ‘hardly ever’ but ‘never.’
Rodrigo settled us into his room before getting on the phone and calling people who owed him money. He was very calm and understanding to the people he was calling, but something told me you didn’t want to owe him money for too long. Soon his students arrived and he taught class while the rest of us fell asleep to videos on the VCR (he had one cassette titled "Jackass," one titled "Tombstone," and roughly forty labeled "Ultimate Fighting Championship Vol XX"). We woke up later and the water was out. With no way to shower, shit or cook we hung out in the gym like us WHN? guys are so prone to do. Devon hit the punching bags. Robert tried and hurt himself. I tried and after one kick my ribs hurt so much I went to lie down again.
Not sure how we got on the subject, but a gram of cocaine here costs $1.
Mykel Board was here not too long ago and suggested we stay with his amigo, Gustavo. ("You’ll be happy to stay in the bed I used, it still smells like me," Mykel said.) We couldn’t coordinate with Gustavo before arriving but today we were able to arrange a dinner date with him tonight.
Gustavo was two days from graduating from college with an English degree but his conversational English was tedious at best. I tried speaking Spanish to him but he refused. He was bent on practicing his English with us. Admirable for sure, but it ultimately proved frustrating when it came to constructing our rendezvous. We thought he was driving a car over to pick us up and take us to some vegetarian eats. Instead he showed up two hours later after having taken various buses to get to Rodrigo’s.
We hit central Lima and after a couple more hours of bussing and walking and asking around we finally found the restaurant we were looking for. It was closed. We ended up at another Govinda’s and we treated Gustavo to a big vegetarian feast.
Before we arrived Devon and I went on a huge letter-writing campaign to find out where all the veggie restaurants and cool hang-outs were, and when and where all the punk shows were gonna be. We received many replies and every one of them assured us that there were numerous shows each night and we’d have our pick whenever we showed up. Of course tonight – our only night in Lima – was also the only night in recent memory there were no shows. There’s a huge festival tomorrow night, Gustavo was happy to point out and hand us a flyer for, but the news was too much, too late.
After dinner we taxied back to Rodrigo’s. For an hour cab ride it was still only $3. Gustavo came all the way back with us only because I forgot to load him up with CDs and records before we left for dinner.
Rodrigo was gone when we arrived and there was no way into his gym without a key. We waited for a while but Gustavo had to go before his last bus stopped running. I took down his address and promised to send him stuff before we left the country tomorrow.
Rodrigo pulled up the street just as Gustavo was unknowingly riding by in the other direction.
There was a dog party in the field down the street. Invitations went out at 10pm when every dog in the neighborhood (all 50+ of ‘em) started passing the word in a familiar ‘bark’ fashion. Few people keep dogs as pets. Most of them are just wanderers, cruising the streets in packs and doing what they do best: humping and scavenging. Hey, now that I think of it, why aren’t all the dogs the same breed yet? Most dogs seem to still be of some recognizable breed. Wouldn’t generations and generations of breed-mixing yield a majority race of mutts?
WHN? in Sudamerica - May 2002
0 – Please wake me for meals.