Independent Storytelling

A few years ago, when I published my book on my time in Bangladesh, I received so many questions about publishing. Back then, in 2013, self-publishing was called “vanity press” — publishing as if it was for one’s own vanity. That seems an age ago as social media has made us all creators and storytellers — Instagram and its television channel, YouTube, and Facebook Stories (watch my month-long farewell to Peru on those channels or on the video page of this website), are all “vanity press” as they are self-published. Of course the paper book did not disappear as some feared. We simply gained more independence in how, where, and to whom, we can share out stories. Maybe we are more vainglorious…

Even with all these new choices, some media are still harder to edit than others. Take PDFs. Adobe Acrobat owns that format almost completely. One can buy a license for $180 per year. It does, however, make editing PDFs acrobatic (had, had, to play on the words!). As I work on my many projects, and my next book (a paper version about Peru), I am glad to have the freedom to be flexible.

Just as story telling has moved beyond the book, so have other media, like chocolate, taken on the terminology of books. My favorite chocolate shop in Peru, El Cacaotal, calls itself an “edible library” — that should encourage reading!

Keeping up with all the forms of communication is a bit like a chariot race. In between my website/blog, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and podcasting, something may have to go by the wayside when I get back out exploring in my next country…

Kuelap – 10,000 Monumental Steps!

RRtWEL4ekhQ5e9hCh89oAcmbuJtmRcHllsNmx3MxzihyObYVd_N94ag6vCdt6jzpjcwkw2ji27uG4aN_9pEBPDYs9OP-CRLE5UpOfS83hJi8lxHUu74V86wWTXqnnFeH6wZmR-nW2strbfEDb_6TIifq4QYzwR2ShwyZxZ7Zjghuwoi4S3jVfHUB52The hot spot to visit in Peru is still Machu Picchu. But, when you have done that, you might want to see the newest hot spot — Kuelap! Cuelap/Kuelap is located up near the town of Chachapoyas in a region called Amazonas, not to be confused with the Amazon river area. Kuelap is older than Machu Picchu and it’s not as majestic but it’s also got a few million fewer visitors (not that it felt that way!). Chachapoyas is up at 8,000 feet so be prepared to suffer for the view.

IMG-5725Kuelap is nearby and one can take Peru’s first cable car or “teleferico” up to the base of the archaeological site. One takes a bus to the cable car, then the 20 minute cable car ride over the ravine, then a three kilometer walk up flat stone steps. If you have good knees and are relatively fit, you can get up to the citadel and through in a bit over an hour. If you have bad knees, you can also take a horse up to the base of the citadel. If you want to walk all the way up and have bad knees… it can take two hours. There are many rest stops and nice views along the way, but it is an uphill walk. All the way.

TsvrOtm4NpTC1Dk6sFnydn1bvETgtQ6M1uFD9_HzrM-FmvxyBt4QbmarjtVBk3H6jACyyWseUH_dBN2kBa3yOGUqYFaA-AiRiRTr6sgn5wEENqmXWkxK4JxyuDGJErJIABWu5cNX83eIXxkweL3NyOoj0J8P8W0XZ6pPQsYMs01aY5rLEj6OwgVEJVA nice thing about Kuelap is that due to its cultural designation, there are scaffolds and walkways all over so that the cultural heritage won’t get rubbed away by visitors. You can’t even sit down.

IMG-5718But, at the base at the end of the cable car ride, where you buy your tickets, is a cafe, a museum, souvenirs, and lots of walls at just the right height for sitting on. The cafe may have one of the best views around but they don’t seem to advertise that.

IMG-5711There are many things to see in the Chachapoyas area including the famous Gocta Falls, but more about that another time.

 

So Good, I’ll Publish it Thrice

Three years ago, when I first ate in Lima, I did not foresee that I’d ever be able to call Lima home. But, after the first 48 hours of constant eating, and the subsequent many visits, eating modern classics (ceviche classico) and trying less famous dishes (pejerrey roe sandwich), my cultural advisor (and friend), said to me one day, “you’ll just have to move here so we can try more dishes.” So I did.

My original posting was written in 2014 but, three years later, I still include the same places in the food tour. I include a photo from El Pan de la Chola, as I did not include that in my original posting, but it is part of my current food tour of Lima for my visitors.

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Enjoy!

Sacred Valley Vegetables – Lettuce Never Tasted So Good!

Cusco is usually considered a preparatory stop on the way to Machu Picchu. But, Cusco should be considered a food destination. The food in Cusco was like the weather, crisp and clean. Every time I asked about the vegetables, including the lettuce, I was told that they were fresh from the Sacred Valley. I don’t have many photos of our salads… because it’s salad.IMG_1039

One of the salads included a peanut-like item which was also from the Sacred Valley.

I don’t like quinoa but when it’s used to bread deep fried shrimp, then I like it. The food in Cusco was delicious. Surely, it helped that we had been out in the fresh Sacred Valley air all day.

Burning Like Bacon on Machu Picchu

Huayna Picchu behind the Machu Picchu ruins.
Huayna Picchu behind the Machu Picchu ruins.

“What is that pain? Do you smell bacon?” I thought to myself as I stood atop Machu Picchu, one of the wonders of the world. It was high noon and I was in short pants. With bare feet. Standing at the oculus of the Incan empire. Getting fried like a piece of bacon on a grease fire.

Inside the Vistadome.
Inside the Vistadome.

Aside from the bacon sensation, I tried to focus on the spirituality of Machu Picchu. Without doubt, it’s beautiful. A bucket list place, done. Even in the harsh flattening light of mid-day and crawling with 2,000 tourists (or whatever the daily quota is these days), Machu Picchu is still awesome. Just like the bus ride up from Aguas Calientes was awesome. Even after endless ruins and crenellations razoring one valley after another, it was still impressive. Go there if you can. Maybe do the early morning tour.

The river way down below. Not great if you are afraid of heights.
The river way down below. Not great if you are afraid of heights.

So now I’ve seen it. The number one destination in South America. Yes, it was worth it. They even have an “accessible” (handicap) path for those in wheelchairs! I loved it. Me encanta!

Walking down.
Walking down.

It’s amazing to stand there on Machu Picchu, breathless from altitude and wonder. Imagine the sweat it took to build it.

Our guide, out in the mid-day sun.
Our guide, out in the mid-day sun.

And I’m whinging about a few painful sunburns.

They cleaned all the windows on the Vistadome train before we set off.
They cleaned all the windows on the Vistadome train before we set off.