Rambling Robert's Travels

This blog chronicals the travels of myself, Rambling Robert, on my next adventure to South America.

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I am a world traveller. I do not work as such. I have been homeless and unemployed since 1October 2003. I worked as a chef for 30 years in America.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Greetings from Cusco Peru

Hi Everyone,
I am in Cusco. After my last update I left Puno after only two days. I didnt feel anything special for Puno. I have great love for Lake Titicaca but of the 10 days I spent on the shores of this fabulous and spiritual lake, only 2 were in Puno. I like the little town of Copacabana on the Bolivian shore much better. It is at the same altitude but for some reason Puno is much colder. Everyone knows that I dont like cold weather. So I left Puno and went to Ariquipe Which is also in Peru.
Ariquipe is at about 1000 meters lower altitude than Puno. It is quite warm there. It is known as the city of eternal spring. The weather is the same all year round. It ranges about 15 to 25 degrees. (55 to 75 Fahrenheit) It is sunny 360 days per year on average. I stayed in a pretty nice hostal called Hostal Regis which had an excellent location and a pretty good staff. It only cost 18 soles per night for a private room with shared bath. On Friday and Saturday nights it was noisy until about 4am which is the price one pays sometimes for being in a central location with lots of bars restaurants and nightlife places all around. The rest of the week it was not noisy. Ariquipe is beautiful. Not just weather wise but the buildings are all nice and there are many 300 year old churches and the cathedral is huge and has a really extraordinarilly beautiful facade.There are a lot of poor people here in Peru and it is rather obvious. There is also a lot of what is called in the USA "working poor". These people are less obvious. They have jobs and dress nicely and dont beg in the street, but... I spoke with some people who have "good" jobs here and they earn 600-800 soles per month that is 200 to 275 dollars per month. They survive and raise families on this, but it is impossible to save or "get ahead".
The church has these huge buildings and they lock their doors at night so the poor cant sleep there. The church has people on the street asking for money so they can help the poor! Hahh! What a joke. The church has 1000 times more money than the people they ask for donations.You sure do see them taking but you dont see them giving!!! I give lots of monedas (coins) to beggars in the streets. Some times people criticize me for this and say I am only encouraging them or that they are somehow secretly rich and they are begging as a scam and they are really gonna drive home in ther BMWs which are parked around the corner... What hypocritical bullshit.
First of all I say they get as much money as YOU give them which aint much, and secondly no one begs in the street who doesnt have too, and Thirdly... I am not giving them money for them... I do it for me. I dont know what they do with the money. I dont know if they buy wine or dope or hire prostitutes or gamble or....or...or... I just dont care. I care about what I do with MY money and my karma and you dont help the poor by giving to the rich (the church) thats for shit sure. So its good for my own karma to give to beggars,as to what they do with the money well, they have to worry about thier own karma. There is a great book by George Orwell called "Down and out in Paris and London". George Orwell is one of the most brilliant men to have ever written in the english language. The next beggar you give a sol to may be George Orwell dressed in Rags.
So anyway, from Ariquipe, I went to Colca Canyon. It is an incredibly beautiful area of the world. The canyon is as deep as 2000 meters in places and it stretches out for 100 kilometers.It is one of the only places I know that one can usually spot Andean Condors. I spotted them on both days I had there. The first day I only saw two but on the second day I saw about 10 or 15. It is hard to tell because you spot the same ones over and over. They have a wingspan as much as 3 meters (about 10 feet). They are huge birds that eat dead stuff.They are scavengers. They are mostly black on the top kind of brown when immature, and mostly white around the neck and head. They are both black and white on their underside and the wings end with feathers giving an impression of fingers, as do all members of the vulture family. They are magnificent!! It is the third time I went on a side trip to spot condors but it is only the first time I was successful.
Sometimes I wonder why I keep my binoculars in my pack since I so seldom use them. I wont wonder again!! I was so thankful to have them. They are one of my most favorite possessions. I got them at a Big 5 sporting goods store in Paso Robles for $20 a couple of days after Christmas when everything is on sale.
So I had an interesting experience, sitting in the little collectivo bus going to Colca canyon right next to me was a Rabbi from Cornell University in New York. He is the rabbi on campus for the Jewish Students to seek counselling if they so desire. I told him I was a guest lecturer there in the 1980s. He was about 10 years old at the time.Hmmpphh, I may be getting old...
We had a good talk about spirituality and my own path. He thinks its good that I give money to beggars. I asked if he does. He smiled and said that I was right to worry about my own karma. He wanted to know if I needed justification from him for doing a "mitzvah" a good deed, and I said no. He asked if I had some need to be his Judge and I said no. I dont think so but maybe. He said it was always best not to judge others because we can never know what is going on in somewone elses heart.He said to give to enrich my own heart. He said that is the way it should be. Mitzvahs must come from within your own heart and not out of a desire to please others or to show off. I let him use my binoculars to see the condors.
After two glorious days in the Colca Canyon we went back to Ariquipe and I said my good byes to the rabbi and the other nice traveleres I was with and stuck around Ariquipe for a couple more days. I just really liked this fine city. Now I am in Cusco, the "Doorway" to the Sacred Valley of the Incas and the archeological wonderland that is Machu Pichu. Tonite I will meet up with Ana a nice woman I met in Bolivia who has lived here all her life and we will go out. In a day or two I will go to Aguas Caliente a small pueblo near Machu Pichu and have a nice soak in the famous medicinal hot springs there and then make my way out to the ruins of Machu Pichu in the next morning. Then come back to Cusco.
Cusco is what is known as a turist town. Maybe a turist trap. Here one finds many tourists but not so many travellers. Tourists are on one or two or even 3 week trips and they have huge budgets of money to make up for tiny budgets of time. They spend lots of money while travellers spend lots of time. Cusco is much more expensive than Ariquipe was. But with a little help from Ana I have found a nice cheap hostal room at a place called Casa Grande only a hundred meters form the Plaza de Armas the central focal point of the city. Following my usual pattern of avoiding places that look like they belong in California or New Jersey, I take my meals in places where I am usually the only white guy. I try not to go to places where none of the customers speak spanish and all the prices are given in dollars pounds and euros. I have a more authentic experience. I like to eat like a Peruvian while I am in Peru.
I am exercising the ideas from Miguel Ruiz book "the Four Agreements, A Toltec Way of Wisdom" and trying to be a peaceful warrior and not take stuff personally and not to make so many assumptions. I am smiling and even laughing out loud at small inconveniences that used to make me angry. Anger is like a prison one must learn to escape from if one is to be truly free. Not taking things personally makes one free from anger. Not making assumptions also leads to less anger when the things I assume turn out not to be what is really the case, so instead of becoming a prisoner to my assumptions and my anger I am free and laughing like a free natural human being, like a small child, like a prisoner who has been released from Prison. Being happy and being free are one and the same. For me at least.
So thats enough time spent today in artificial light in an internet cafe in Cusco.
I hope this finds all of you as happy and free as I am in writing it.
Love to all of you
Rambling Robert


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