Sunday, October 21, 2012


Last night was the first time I went out to experience the night life here. I met Luz's nephew Joel earlier this week and got to talk with him more when we went out for cuy. He's a 24 year old psychologist and tour guide. It might seem strange that he's both a psychologist and a tour guide, but Cusco is a tourist city and there is a lot of money in the tourism industry. His mother runs a tourism agency and his older brother works as a guide for many different companies in Cusco. 

So last night we took a taxi to La Plaza de Armas. I was a hungry so we walked around a bit to find some food. I hadn't before walked the streets he was taking me through and I marveled at the colonial architechture and cobble stone streets. What a beautiful city. It's like a time warp. One thing I hate about the West Coast is the architechture. On the East Coast you can really feel the history in the city - the cobble stone streets of the West Village, the brownstones throughout the city and Brooklyn, the Victorian Houses of Ditmas Park. . . They make me feel grounded. Safe.

I was advised to leave my camera at home last night so I only have a couple pictures that Joel took with his cell phone, but in a way it allowed me to be more present. When I bring my manual Nikon on my travels I feel like it allows me to engage more deeply with gusto and curiousity. In a way, my camera is my passport, giving me access to people and places I would otherwise be to shy to explore. But sometimes its better to just be and not use the camera as an excuse. I find that when I have my Nikon, I feel like less of a person and more like an observer. Last night, I got to live.

We ended up stopping at a Pollería where I ordered salchipapas. That's french fries with cut up hot dog on top. Que rico. Just what I needed to hold me over. 

When we finished we went back onto the streets to find a place to dance. We walked into several bars to check them out and finally landed on Mama Africa, a place with a great vibe right on la Plaza. They were playing salsa when we walked in and there were some fierce dancers on the floor. I was in awe. After a couple songs I got up the courage to dance under the guise that I didn't know how to salsa. Those of you who know me might be rolling your eyes, but in my eyes I don't know how to salsa. Salsa isn't just about the steps, it's about spontaneity, the ability to improvise within the form, and follow your partner (something I have a hard time doing. I always want to lead!). I wish you could have seen this one pair last night.. it was ridiculous. The man was lifting his leg up over his parters butt, moving his legs like spaghetti and even did a full out back bend. And she was able to follow his every move without blinking- turning, spining, shaking and back bending. I gotta get that good.

After 11pm Mama Africa turns into a discotech. Now this, I can do. I haven't gone dancing since I graduated CalArts, so I went hard. I even knocked a drink out of someones hand.. ouch. I felt awful and offered to buy him a new one, repeatedly, but he wouldn't let me. Joel said there wasn't much left anyways. After a while of dancing I started to miss my love, James, and didn't want to dance anymore. We left and walked through the streets. We witnessed a little boy chasing after a 20-30 something asking for money. He wasn't letting him escape! He was kicking his legs and running after him in circles. What was the man to do? It was a child! Joel said he thinks they are a part of the mafia or something because little boys shouldn't be out this late. He told the police and we went on our way.

Then Joel took me to a casino to meet one of his friends. I have never gambled in my life, it sounds too wasteful. But Joel put 10 soles on the electronic roulette table and we played. And it was fun! We won some, we lost some, but it was only 10 soles and it was exciting. One o'clock came around and this old lady wanted to go home. Joel was getting tired too and was a little tipsy after drinking his own drink and the mojito that I hardly touched. So I took a taxi back to Luz's place and snuggled up in my bed.

What a fun night. 

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