Jun. 15th, 2014

starlady: Mako's face in the jaeger, in profile (mako mori is awesome)
As I've told many people, in the end I had a fantastic time in Peru. The conference was good, my fellow attendees quite cool, and Machu Picchu and Cuzco fantastic. The altitude was definitely an adjustment, but I'm definitely in better physical condition than the last time I climbed that high (Mt. Fuji, in 2008), and I only wish I could have stayed longer. Cuzco in particular was fascinating--the Spaniards simply built all their major colonial structures on Inca foundations, and so it's still possible to see, in everything from the city to the food to the figures worshipped in the churches to the people themselves, how a hybrid culture was created. It's still possible to imagine a world in which a new empire emerged from the crucible of the old, still possible to imagine a new world being born. Someone should write that fantasy novel; not me, for obvious reasons.

I was frankly nervous about spending 12 hours in Lima by myself on my last day, but I was equally certain that I wasn't going to spend those 12 hours in the Lima airport, so I jumped in a taxi and threw myself into it. I wound up having quite a good time; between my absolutely crap Spanish, the guidebook, and the kindness of strangers, I had a very nice last day. One usually sits up front with the taxi drivers in Lima, and I wound up with one who had on a radio station that approximated my own taste in music reasonably well, and I had quite a good time as we zoomed around the city. It felt, frankly, empowering; for as much as I've traveled, I've not done as much of it solo, or in countries where I don't speak the language. As I waited for my last taxi a stray cat came up and made itself at home on my lap; the Lima strays are ridiculously friendly, but also cats just seem to like me these days more than they used to. Cats, man.

And then when I came back I read a post that has unfortunately since been deleted talking about how for women there often are no good choices--do you take a ride with a guy you don't know well? Do you not? There are potential consequences either way, and it's a calculus you're always making, filled with only poorly known variables. Nothing untoward happened to me in Peru; as much as the country often reminded me of Greece, Peru is clearly a much more functional country, and I experienced approximately 200% less sexual harassment there than in Greece. I wondered whether I had been foolish, concluded not; there's no real conclusion to this story. Just variables that are only ever more or less poorly known.