First published 18th July 2008 on

My final day in Cusco involved a heated political discussion about the global food shortage with a posey French photographer and his Peruvian boyfriend in a cute little courtyard bar in Cusco, culminating with us all suspecting Fidel Castro of murdering Che Guevara, followed by a massive plate of Seca de Cordero (a lamb stew) at Pacha Papa’s accompanied by a rather sneakily intoxicating corn beer (I guess the locals drink it so it must be good stuff!). Then had a bit of a rough time that night but Teresa rather sweetly came out to the little park opposite the house and had a ciggy with me whilst we put the world to rights. In different languages probably.

After emotional Mi Casa Ti Casa, Mi familia tu familia style farewells at the Ochoa house, to both the family and Lisa, it was off to Cusco airport to get frisked because my bra set off the metal detectors (perhaps International Terrorists should have big tits – those metal support bits can do a bit of damage!), and fly to Lima. I finally got a cab that wasn’t run by an evil taxi tout, but the trip to the hotel quickly began to resemble a car chase from a James Bond film – from police blocks, to the driver trying short cuts only for the road to be blocked by a Catholic school band, to running into an all on carnival with people in national dress and military bands! It took an hour to get to the hotel, but the room was very nice, even if the restaurant promised was “cerrado” and the shuttle service to the airport cost 8 dollars more than the in-room literature promised. I guess the world changes so quickly. I went to buy a new pressie for Paul’s mum, having given her Peruvian pot (ceramic) to the Ochoas, stuffed with dollars to make it a bit more appealing. Also picked up some cigars for Paul and ended up mistakenly buying myself a shit load more cigarettes (the woman asked if I wanted a “carton”, I thought “si” was the correct response, I was wrong! But it only cost about 50p a pack to make the mistake, so I guess I’ll just be unhealthy for a bit longer. Back at the hotel, having had lunch and purloined a few cervesas to drink at the table outside my room, I was regaled by the uncanny sound of Peruvian tunes being played on flute, and male voices. When the door opposite opened and a bloke looked out I complimented him on the musica, and ended up being invited to join him and an old chap who he called Maestro (who was a flute expert from the region). This bloke, Ricardo, turned out to be a Jack of many trades, with a sideline in archaelogical obsession (he had found evidence of a patriarchal warrier society who lived near Nazca and made lots of models of themselves out of shells (which Ricardo had hundreds of photos of, strewn all over his room), often showing them holding a specific type of flute made from human bone (an example of which Ricardo had actually been playing). He planned to set up an ‘installation’ near to the Nazca lines. Actually it was all completely scrambled, but wonderfully interesting and mad. After a long conversation, during which more beers were ordered and the Maestro left, Ricardo unveiled more treasures from his suitcase including an allegedly gold Inca mask which he planned to sell to an American in Lima, and a spear with a condor on the end (which started to get me slightly worried, as by this time the room door seemed to have miraculously closed). Ricardo then showed me loads of his albums, recording of his music, and tried to show me a film he had been making about the Incas, which didn’t load on his laptop. He gave me three albums and a Quechuan phrasebook (he was Spanish, Quechuan and Jewish apparently), and I apologised for the fact I had nothing to give in return, and then of course it came “You could just get naked and come to bed with me”. I made my faithful excuses and left, but before I went he made me take the CDs anyhow. The next morning I heard the flute playing from when I woke up until when my taxi came.

The flights from Lima to San Salvador and from then to Miami, were pretty uneventful apart from the most ridiculously crap in flight movie on one (“Ghost Rider”) and flying through a hurricane on the other. After frustrating hours queueing to get through immigration (Welcome to America!) I finally got to the hotel, which is a very cute Art Deco little number. Have strolled all round South Beach today, and find the states still quite bizarre – odder than Peru in many ways (perhaps it’s the similarities which make the differences so weird). Ended up sitting outside at a tapas bar (the tapas here are bigger than roast dinners back home) sipping mojito whilst watching (and listening) to people learning to dance Tango to lovely old style music inside (it looked like a tropical conservatory inside, not out of place as it’s 80 odd degrees now and it’s 11pm), and it struck me how cinematic the states is. Not least as I was the one poking my nose against the window, rather than dancing with the beautiful people inside. (I appear to have been hit with the ugly stick since I landed in Miami. At least people will know I’m English).