Our weekend trip to San Pedro de Atacama was a little anti-climactic for me. Evidently, I had eaten something which didn't agree with me sometime during the previous week and it sort of came on all of a sudden–and I do mean all of a sudden–on our second day of a three day trip. So, I did manage to see the geysers on day one, and the archeological sites on day three, but missed the Moon and Death Valleys on day two. Hell, I like geysers and ruins as much as the next guy, but abject desolation is really fascinating. And that's what I missed.
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Often when your life is pretty easy, like ours is now, it's too easy to get lazy. And, as I look back on this blog and realize that I've been lazy enough to only write one thing in the last two months, I guess I'm the South American poster child for sloth.
For sometimes, it's too easy to just sit here in the apartment and look out over the city from the seventeenth floor, and just turn another page on my Kindle or load up another video on the computer instead of making the most of Santiago. (Of course, Santiago conspires to keep me in with its prodigious air pollution, which both aggravates my heretofore slight asthma and my heretofore young eyes.) Only a month to go here before a brief sojourn back to the US. Then we're moving somewhere else in Chile, like Viña del Mar, where there's enough of a city to be interesting, and enough of an ocean outside the front door for Kris to keep up her surfing.
I'm trying hard to figure out how to make this come off as something less than bitter, but the truth is that Kris and I could not be happier about leaving Ecuador.
Perhaps this joy is informed by the fact that tonight we were robbed for the fourth time since we've been here. For a little perspective: in the 31 years we lived in Minneapolis, we were robbed twice. In the seven months in Quito…well you do the math.
We were having sort of a bad day anyway. For some inexplicable reason, I've been trying for the last 30 days or so to renew our visas to stay here, but today I got the final “fuck you” from the Ecuadorian authorities.
I've been reading, for the second time, a book called The Last Days of the Incas by Kim McQuarrie. It makes traveling so much better when you know something about the history of what you're looking at. It's a terrific lot of historical research that reconstructs in great detail just how the Spanish destroyed the Inca empire, and fits in beautifully with Hiram Bingham's accounts of his rediscovery of the Incan sites, particularly Machu Picchu. (Did you know, btw, that Bingham was looking for Vilcabamba, the last Incan capital, and thought that's what he'd found at Machu Picchu? Oh well, that's another story for later, and to be told by someone else–scholars, for instance–who are interested in academic credit.)
We've been in Peru for five days now, and the first impressions are that Peru is more prosperous than Ecuador, and that this is due to a few things: the people just seem to be more entrepreneurial, especially when it comes to tourism; and the government seems more interested in actually doing things to promote the economy instead of promoting itself.
We see some of that in Cusco, where we are now, but it was really apparent in Lima, where we spent two days before heading up to the mountains.