Thursday, May 29, 2008

Don't Drink My Pisco

I love to travel. When I graduated from college, I'd already been to Canada, Japan, and nearly every state in the continental U.S. Not bad for a homeschooled suburban kid from Pennsylvania. Still, that's only a fraction of the world, and I was eager to see more.

Naturally, I jumped at the invitation to accompany Heather on a travel writing and photography trip to Peru, South America this past March. The trip was part of her senior capstone at Rutgers University. It was also a bit of a second honeymoon for us.

From the complex simplicity of the ancient Inca's unshakable stone architecture to the ubiquitous iconography of the Spanish Catholics who slew them, we found ourselves surrounded by pieces of history, civilization, and culture we'd never experienced before. Travel has a curious way of opening one's eyes to the world, of putting things in perspective. It's often surprisingly surprising to discover a normal, everyday existence far different from your own.

We took just under a thousand pictures. We also bartered with the locals for a few small, carefully selected souvenirs and gifts. Mostly, we carried home the memories:

Cuzco, stray dogs, Spanish cathedrals, the Lord of the Earthquake, Ollantayambo, coca leaves, markets, bartering, Cusquena, sunburn, llamas, alpacas, guinea pigs, Aguas Calientes, Passion Week, hot springs, Machu Picchu, Waynapicchu, Lima, graffiti, ceviche, buffet meals, new friends, stimulating conversations...

...and pisco. Pisco is the national hard liqueur of Peru and the chief ingredient in their famous pisco sour (a potent drink indeed at 3,400 meters above sea level). Pisco, it turns out, is also a great name for a hamster. We bought this little guy the week we returned:
Best. Idea. Ever.