Thirteen minutes and a choir of hell-bells later, tears threatened to antelope-gallop down the sides of my squeezed-shut eyes. I screamed incomprehensibly and tore the alpaca (llama) blankets from the cocoon I had fashioned around my body. I sleep-staggered to the door, tossed it open, and blinked into the streaming daylight, aka inferno.
I huddled on the 2nd story balcony, white knuckles gripping the banister as if I could strangle the bells that continued to accost my ears. It was only upon shrieks and the monkey-laughter of small children accompanied by pointed fingers in my direction that I sniper-reconaissanced myself. I had forgotten that I hadn´t worn any shorts to bed that night, just underwear. Peruvian children were laughing at me, and I was the pantless solo American girl standing there covering ears as if a bell bomb had exploded inside my ears.
I later learned what I had believed to be chimes were actually church bells. They lasted from 5:45am-6am. I also learned that Peruvian children are not used to seeing anyone in underwear. I know this because the hostal´s owner enlightened me as to dress propriety: ¨You wear pants. Children no see lady things. You cover up. You wear pants.¨
¨I´m supposed to get $15 a week, not $10.¨
¨Yep, $15. We discussed it last week.¨
I then bombarded him with details: what he was wearing, where he was sitting, what tv show he was watching, our detailed conversation. He apologized for forgetting and handed me $5 more. My sister´s skillset was not so adept. She once bargained to receive ten $1 bills instead of one $20 bill. Thus, I´ve always felt my proficiency to be superior to that of the mere mortal.
Until today. I missed the bus to Cusco. I blame my traveling companion Drunken Patriot. Since he left, I have been without an alarm clock, aka phone. I located another bus that would transport me to Cusco after two stops, for twenty soles. This equates less than $7. I regarded this as too expensive and opted to find another bus. I later learned there was no other bus. This forced me to take a taxi.
Hours after the taxi realization, I bargained with a taxi to drive me. His price: 60 soles. I negotiated down to 45. I was as proud of myself as Mary, mother of God. I entered with a smile on my face. Until I realized that had I taken the original bus, I would have paid less than half price.
Modification to that assertation: I have a prerequisite for eating solitary.
I require something to occupy myself with: i.e. a book, notebook, camera, phone, camera-phone, a small child... something. Anything. Those who eat alone and aren´t accompanied by something to play with inevitably glance around like befuddled sheep. Tonight I was a befuddled sheep.
After being seated by the hostess/waitress/chef, she promptly disappeared and reappeared like an energizer bunny on crack. She transported cervezas, pastas, pizzas, and guinea pig, all while balancing steaming Cocao Tea on her rhinoceros nails. I managed to finagle a menu from her, and eventually my garlic pasta and pequeña negra. In between these interactions, which both absorbed the amount of time necessary for consuming a shot of my beloved Jager, I captivated myself by viewing the pictures on my camera and reading from Lonley Planet´s Peru edition. This book is as necessary to my existence as alcohol. However, thirty-five minutes after complete consumption, and having scrutinized over pictures and a book fifteen thousand times, I permitted the Wandering Eye.
Thirteen minutes later, Hostess/waitress/chef having surpassed my feeble attempts at acquiring her attention ten times, I necessitated some dinner human interaction. Wall decor and human observation might interest a fly for longer than ten minutes, but not me.
I screamed across ten tables and twenty-two heads at a solitary fifty-something white man upon his food delivery.
¨That looks amazing! What is that?¨
His startled incomprehension reflected that of a hospital patient emerging from a coma after seven years and seeing his aged son hanging above his head. I hadn´t expected this. I couldn´t violently swing my head away without being obvious, so I rotated my eyes from Coma and analyzed an imaginary painting on the wall.
Minutes later a fellow eater approached Crack-Bunny and, from what I could discern, requested her check. ¨Moi aussie!¨ I shrieked. Mass confusion and cocked heads followed my verbal eruption.
¨Oh, I mean, Yo tambien, por favor.¨
My Spanish is improving!
¨¿Quanto cuesta?¨ How much is it?
¨Lo siento.¨ I´m sorry.
¨No hablo Español.¨ I don´t speak Spanish.
¨Estoy embarazada.¨ I´m pregnant.
and ¨Perdi mi marido.¨ I lost my husband.
(I´m not pregnant. Or married. But they are advantageous sentences to know.)
I have also perfected the word hola. As I mimic Peruvians in ¨hola,¨ my expert enunciation of it warrants a rapid Spanish response.
At which point I respond with, ¨Lo siento, no hablo Español. Estoy embarazada y perdi mi marido.¨
A few days ago a discriminating beer desire sneak-struck me. I ordered a beer: Pequeña Negra. And couldn´t thwart the thought that a small black child was forthcoming, expecting to be drank.
Visions of me picking up said small black child, situating on my lap, and spoon-feeding it harassed my brain. I´m smitten with children. Especially when drunk. I know this because in Vegas a few months ago, after three hours of bottomless mimosas, I proclaimed my obsession with small children to my friends. They later unearthed me huddled on the edge of a table like a collapsed cow. This table had a gaggle of pequeña children seated at it.
When the waitress positioned a black beer facing me, I couldn´t evade nostalgia for anyone under the age of seven. I have since assuaged this longing by waving to young Peruvians and pronouncing ¨hola,¨ in my best attempt at child-aficionado, non child-molester.
Noted: it is not prevalent in Peruvian culture to wave.
SP: (staggering in to the room at 6:30am, having disappeared at 3am in a beer-exploration): ¨I saw the biggest nipples ever! They were on a hot prostitute in an Asian mafia-run whorehouse where they were all on Heroin!¨
K: ¨We don´t have to go parasailing if you don´t want to since you feel like you´re going to puke and all.¨
SP: ¨I don´t remember anything from the first half of the trip. Nothing... Maybe a prostitue´s nipples.
SP: ¨The first half of the trip was the closest I´ve ever been to death. I puked out of a Peruvian cab on the drive to the airport!¨
K: ¨If our other friends were here, you´d be dead right now.¨
SP: ¨If our other friends were here right now, I´d be drunk. I´d be dead two days from now.¨
The following encompasses his life from 3am-6am:
My friend strolled the streets in search of a bar, coveting beer. In Lima, Peru, at three in the morning, locating an open bar paralleled the probability of my grandma matching me shot for shot. In my twenty-three years, I´ve never seen the woman consume a drop of alcohol.
A tattoo-swathed Peruvian man approached my friend, saying, ¨Hey, what´s up Bro, you want some Cocaine?¨ After Drunken Patriot´s determined denial, Dealer, aka Ricardo, trailed him, engaging Drunken Patriot in conversation. He established that Ricardo had lived in California, had a Rage Against the Machine tattoo across his left chest, and was a cracked-out Coke dealer. Official occupation: Coke dealer. Supplementary employment: tattoo artist. My friend debated whether Dealer desired his company for his kidnapping and ransome potential, his inevitably costly possessions, and, thus, stealing prospects, or for his impending friendship, California-kinship. After vehemently informing Ricardo he would kick his ass if he attempted to steal anything, kidnap him, or (figuratively, of course), ass-rape him, Ricardo´s response was, ¨Man, I´m not a faggot, man.¨ As all bars, clubs, or any legitimate alcohol establishments closed at 3am, Drunken Patriot elected his beer craving took precedence over his common sense, and departed Miraflores, our Lima district location, for an unknown destination which Ricardo reported encompassed, ¨fucking beer and some fucking sweet-ass pussy.¨ Drunken Patriot´s thought process: I want beer. I want beer. Ri-fucking-cardo´s going to kidnap me. I want beer.
Thus, Drunken Patriot joined Dealer and friend in car driven by Dealer´s friend. The car sped like a Crack-cheetah, streaking through snaking streets in excess of 120mph (in his inebriatd state, my friend, an electrical engineering major, was still lucid enough to mentally convert kilometers per hour to miles per hour). Within fifteen minutes, a cop pulled the car over. Dealer informed Drunken Patriot he should remove his American flag bandana, and shoved a hat on his head as the cop approached. Ticket: not for speeding. Seatbelt law. $50US later - like paper gold in Peru - the Peruvian cop released the car ticket-less. Driving through sinister and suspect streets, Drunken Patriot contemplated opening the door and flinging himself out, Rambo-style. Such material comprises my bravery-dreams. He seriously considered it. The dark doorways, people-deficient sidewalks, and the car´s 130mph coerced hesitation. Upon driving through Alcoholic´s Agony - lifeless streets - a street flooding with vivid lights and bouncers materialized with intoxicated relief across Drunken Patriot´s face. The car parked, and he entered, flanked by Coke Dealer and friend. Inside, Heroin-high Asian mafia men crumpled, collapsed in chairs. Women ubiquitously situated throughout the room, and intermittent strip shows ensued. Dealer persistently attempted to steal Drunken Patriot´s camera from him, attain money from him for a prostitute, and entice him to the bathroom for some lines. My friend resolved to buy Dealer drinks so his thieving instincts would subside with alcohol consumption.
At 6:30am my Drunken Patriot returned to the Hostal, staggering and swerving, screeching about Coked-out Ri-fuck-ing-cardo, his first night across American borders, his beer-hunt, cops, Heroined-Asians, and whorehouses. My drunken clam coma response: ¨What?¨
As a first-time traveler you:
* Pack an American flag bandana, a hat with an American flag stating: ¨America: established 1776,¨ and a shirt with a waving American flag accompanied by a bald eagle that reads, ¨Proud to be an American.¨
* Manage to acquire hand-delivered alcohol to your plane seat, and, thus, alcohol intake on flight without paying $6 a shot.
* Have to be convinced by your traveling comrade not to consume an entire liter of Vodka on the first flight leading to your Mexico City layover. Your reasoning: if there´s alcohol in front of me, I will drink it until it´s gone.
* Enlist the assistance of a flight attendant in placing your essentially-empty liter in the overhead compartment. He informs you you´re really not supposed to drink on the flight.
* Wordlessly and immediately guzzle the remaining five gulps of Vodka when your friend notifies you that you don´t have to hold back because of her modest consumption.
* Pass out during the layover´s remainder and do not recollect anything during the 4 hours between sitting at a table and boarding the connecting flight to Lima. Activities during those four hours include skipping and singing loudly about your love for America.
* Go through immigration having drunkenly written the wrong passport number. Upon being asked how many days intending to stay in Peru, you reply, ¨I don´t know anything you just said.¨He writes ¨790 days.¨You´re actually staying 9 days.
New Plan: purchase a bottle in airport and smuggle on plane. Duty-Free shop=bottles. Wallet=money. Drunk desire=done. While buying fifteen minutes before flight departure and thirty minutes after initial boarding, the cashier inquired his flight information. Chevy Chase provided it and queried why. Answer: so the bottle can be delivered to the correct gate.
New Knowledge: when purchasing alcohol at a Duty-Free store before an international flight, they will bring the bottle to your gate and hand-deliver it to your seat minutes before take-off.
In reaction to my dad´s Hitler-esque traveling preference of scheduling every aspect of the trip without deviating for days of rest, I have no reservations and no plans. My dad would wake us as the sun splintered the sky and run us ragged city to city. Two families once hiked through Athens for two hours in sleep-comas and suffocating heat because he wanted to find a market. No beach days in Venice, Italy. Breakfast and sleeping were luxuries. During vacations Dad was money-hoarding Hitler with at least four people in tow. But by God we experienced the most of every city and country! Conversely, the extent to which my knowledge and preparation extends: Machu Picchu is near Cuzco. We will go there!
* You spend $80 on $3 drinks and two people.
* You consider paying money to view an independent film is a good idea. Lesson Learned: This is never under any circumstances a good idea. Thus why the genre "independent film" adorns the movie. "Independent film" = bad movie. It's a warning.
* You incessantly walk ahead of the person you're with back to the motel. It's imperative to procure a spare room key from the front desk because you don't have one.
* You slap your friend across the face and can't rationalize the reasoning the following day.
* You (as a girl) continue to deluge a guy with stories concerning kicking males in their balls. In one of the tales, a male asks for your phone number, and you retort by karate-kicking him in his balls.
* You pay $20 for a guy to receive a body shot off two girls... and watch him get bitch-slapped.
* You believe your phone may have fallen out of your purse. You exit the bar without confirming you have it. You left it at the bar.
At a bar on 6th Street in Austin
In case the text is indecipherable: "Cheers to Honor... Get on her & Stay on her."
Getting bitch-slapped by a Coyote Ugly bartender in San Antonio
Close-Up of The Dirty Photo Booth Collage... aka Porn.
For those in the audience when I attempt Karaoke, what had been a pleasurable experience for them hastily turns atrocious as soon as my inebriated self stumbles up those stage steps. I feel it entirely necessary to inhibit my own eardrum capabilities with my preferred Rum, as my life improves the less I comprehend my own attempts at birdsong. I have to imagine the audience’s revulsion and disappointment similar to dating the idyllic woman only to ascertain she is, in fact, your cousin (an experience that truthfully transpired with a friend’s friend... in Arkansas). Anyway, after thirteen too many songs and impressively constructed cords of expletives emitting from my audience’s mouths, I retired from the stage and the bar. My friends and I restored our lives back to the apartment, where I immediately subsided into my bed and coma-sleep.
My two roommates and another friend continued alcohol consumption and carousing and, at 4:45am, produced a plan: walk to the beach to watch the sun rise. For those of you unaware of the intimate proximity to our apartment, the beach subsisted sixty blocks away. Armed with alcohol and an astronomical attitude, one of my roommates descended the back staircase, her tone-deaf singing striking the walls. She successfully maneuvered four stairs before miss-stepping around the spiraling staircase. She plunged into an acrobatic summersault, tumbling over stairs, limbs everywhere, fluttering about like Michael Flatley’s Lord of the Dance. We had a rusted wrought-iron metal gate at the step’s base. Her forehead flung down the stairs, body and limbs catapulting down much like Ice Age's Scrat the ravenous Saber-toothed squirrel flinging himself over a cliff after an acorn. Her face converted into the bridge between her 5’11” self and the metal gate. A tender segment of skin an inch away from her eye martyred itself as the point of contact between one hundred sixty pounds of muscle and flesh and the corroded spears of the gate. The 4:45am-sixty-blocks-away-beach-scheme was abandoned. Her 6’9” black basketball-playing boyfriend refused to be seen in public with her for weeks until her face didn’t resemble the remnants of being bitch-slapped by a metal-gate wielding monk.
My first gynecologist visit was pleasant. If the definition of pleasant comprised a metal popsicle thrust into my fuzzy taco which then magnified into an arctic multi-pronged blunt trident brandished to spread apart said taco layers. This lamentable procedure repeats once a year. At least.
That said, I know nothing about the procedure, but through mental fabrications and visions of being awarded $100,000 to donate eggs from such an accomplished person as myself, I am seriously considering the operation!
Me: "Alright, awesome! Will try."
Friend: By the way, where's Peru?"
Me: "South America."
Friend: "Where's South America?"
Me: "South of America."
Friend: "Oh, ok, so right next to Africa."
Nirvana equates makeshift bars lining an expansive river bordered by majestic mountains complete with rope swings/ zip lines, some comprising volleyball/badminton courts.
This paradise = Vang Vieng, Laos. Last summer two friends and I encountered Vang Vieng in all its brilliance. Tourists subsidize the city, which centers on a thriving tube rental service. Rental fee + deposit = a day drinking drifting down a river. One tourist’s money could also likely feed eighteen thousand nine hundred people a meal. With America’s lawsuits, liabilities, and residents suing neighbors because they almost broke an ankle while traipsing through a communal field behind the house, such a genius concept would never materialize. However, in Laos, the finest worst idea ever ensued. We conferred our currency to the correct organization and joined fellow tourists in a motorized tuk-tuk to the drop-off point at the Mekong River. Amid shrieks and yelps at the cold water, we commenced our expedition. A four-minute float resulted in a river bar. By river bar I mean wooden planks crafting platforms (seats), scattered wooden benches, and a wooden slab hoisted from the ground behind which a Laotian concocted Gin, Rum, Vodka, or Bacardi buckets. After ingratiating ourselves with alcohol, we would then ascend twenty to forty-foot trees by way of insecure wood wedges nailed into the trunk, position ourselves on miniature unsteady platforms, clutch the end of a rope swing as if it was God’s hand to Heaven, and propel ourselves in the air. While swinging over the river, we had to contrive some way to land while avoiding the masses floating on tubes, and hopefully simultaneously preserve our lives. Once our bodies slapped the river, a Laotian would hurl an inner tube, we’d clutch it and get hauled through the currents and in to every alcoholic’s ecstasy. At some moment, after free Thai Whiskey shots and drunken chanting to whatever music played, we would gather our souls and tubes and proceed down the river to the next inebriation instigation, aka bar. A factor I failed to reveal: the method from river to bar: as you soared toward a bar, in some feral demonstration of arm gesticulation, bellowing, and bounding about in the tube, a Laotian would take notice, bowl a bamboo pole to you, you’d hopefully clutch it, and the worker would drag you in until you could plot your path to land.After manifold alcohol buckets and launching ourselves into the Mekong River, one particular bar with its exploding American music especially appealed to us. After banshee-brandishing my arms about, Bamboo Man tossed me the pole and began to tow me in. My friend, caught in a current’s edge with nobody to snatch her, latched on to my legs. Bamboo Man was actually Bamboo Baby, a six-year-old who struggled to pull in two very generously proportioned (Laotians were midgets compared to our Goliath 5’7” and 5’11” heights) American girls ensnared by a current. He combated the Mekong, grunting, face pressed in exertion. He strained backwards, striving to draw us in, his beanpole legs rigid. And then he barreled headfirst into the river, like an unprepared eighty-year-old attempting to water-ski for the first time. The current corralled my friend and I and catapulted us downstream. My friend grasped onto a wooden pole supporting the bar’s platform, I gripped her like a sex-starved man with a woman’s nipple, and we plunged in and out of the water, determinately drowning, until some Herculean Laotian (5’2”) assisted us with his hand. It was quite possibly the best day of my life.
Last week I returned from Mardi-Gras-assailed New Orleans, and that night investigated the Internet for acceptable Australia flights. What materialized: atrocious Australia prices and an impending trip to South America (a reasonable third of the price – I depart in two weeks). Last night, a friend inquired how fluent my Spanish skills are.
My response, “Pretty proficient... after one college semester I claimed a foreign language disability...”
My college major required three semesters of a foreign language. After consulting the celestial Kara’s Logic, this was regarded unreasonable. Nursing majors, inevitably to encounter armies of monolinguals with nonexistent English expertise, had no foreign language requirement. My major, however, English, demanded three semesters. My confusion commenced with the fact that I was majoring in ENGLISH, not Octa-lingualism. One would imagine English majors to be exceptional in the Mother Tongue without the hazards of learning another language (disregard the fact that I don’t know grammar – honestly, what’s an adverb?). Thus, I resolved not to strain my delicate brain by studying Spanish. The computer confirmed the unrivaled technique to obliterate a foreign language requirement: learning disability. I cantered into the Disabilities Center and met with a Disabilities Expert. My claim: Foreign Language Disability. After minimal hesitation during which Expert cited my surprisingly soaring G.P.A. and my B grade in First Semester Spanish, I cajoled him into considering me a victim of Foreign Language Disability, an affliction previously unheard of by myself. My explanation of my B in the preceding semester: I had lied and cheated through the semester, and at this Jesuit university, I didn’t want to continue sinning and compromising my morals. Thus I wangled a waiver for foreign languages. I’m convinced my Spanish skills are competent for my six-week South American adventure. I know this: Diez cervezas por favor!
A few years ago, a friend of ours proclaimed he was going to have a party two nights later. My friends and I (excluding the host) concluded the Christian course would be to construct a costume party. Heedless of the host's non-costume party propensities, we prepared an electronic invitation to a Thanksgiving-theme party... aka Indian and Pilgrim party. Our intoxicated state dictated we record the costume requirements (Get your asses to a Thanksgiving party Saturday night. The door will not allow you in unless It deems you dressed accordingly. So be a pilgrim or an indian, bitch!), and then continue in our inebriated spirits of screeching karaoke and verbally violating passersby from our second story window ("Hey, look at this guy, he's cute! You, you're cute!" - to a 40-something short, plump Mexican with gold teeth, aka Beer Goggle Beauty). In two nights, we gowned ourselves in grocery bags, our Indian smock substitute. The logic: brown grocery bag = dead animal fur look-alike. We pre-partied in my apartment, befuddled our brains with booze, and decreed bag decoration a necessity. Hours later, we pierced the party to find no costumes. Not one feather headdress or turkey scampering through knife-wielding college Pilgrims and Indians. No corn peace offering. We advanced, neglecting to acknowledge we were the only ones in Thanksgiving apparel, i.e. grocery bags. During a coherent moment, I overheard a conversation between two conventionally clothed chaps,