I'm currently poking in and out of a book highlighting the Irish role in saving medival Europe and the western world from the dark ages via Catholic monks hand copying and stowing away manuscripts. The author makes a fine point about how historians focus to much on stasis (eg. classical period compared to medival times) rather than movement (classical period to medival times). The transition from Tuesday morning to Wednesday morning is such a movement it demands to be described in no uncertain terms.
Tuesday morning, I wake up unshowered from the night before but more knowledgeable about the slow assimilation of Gauls into Roman society. I pass on a cold morning shower. We go to work in downtown San Golqui (SAN Goo-AL-key). The day wraps early with much accomplished. Dave, Zach, Chad and I take a cab downtown.
A casino in the heart of the Mariscol Sucre district called Casino Monte Cristo is visited. All play black jack. I come back from the brink of $2 to reclaim all but $2 of the $30 I've played during the night. Rest assured, my honed intuition makes up for my infantile ability with simple arithmatic. I attempted to play a little Texas Hold'em but ironically, the rules were nothing like Texas rules. In any case, I'm a methodical black jack player: always double down when enough ahead, splitting is for crazies, let 14-16 ride, it pays to be insured, don't care about anybody else at the table and most importantly don't drink the free booze. I had about 4 or 5 glasses of agua con gas, much to the jargin or table wait-staffer. We also saw someone who may or may not be Werner Herzog.
After the casino, we went for a determined stroll through the streets leading toward Avenue Amazonas (so named for the turbulent flow of alcohol and the females that cavalcade it's burrows). I was determined to find hummus at a local Indian or Greek hole in the wall. fallafel was all that was left but a battle had been won in the search fro local hummus when discovering from a helpful Peruvian named Fracno that the hummus would be ready first thing in the morning.
Franco, who is by practice a tour guide in and through and around Peru, keyed me in on a good rate for a safe hostel on what would be the Quito equivilent of 6th street in Austin (only, trust me here, not as fun or large, despite other's claims). During the day, however, Ave. Amazonas proper does offer international cuisine on the cheap, English and differently-languaged book stores, cafes and not one but two art supply stores. The avenue at night, however is a different story. Sundown shoos away the crowds of timid still-in-schoolers and mid-life-tourists, making way for a mixed bag of swat cops, whores, thrill seekers, shoutings-leerers, party girls, party guys, backpackers looking for a lodge, stewarts of good street-trashing, pleeted vallet parkers, cabbies, lost Americanos and savy Europeans. Of course take any one of those and tack on the suffix "who also sells drugs" or "will steal all your money" and you're a bit closer to a picture of the scene. But honestly, as in all places of the night, a level head and mental geography of the area significatnly cuts the risk of any uncomfortable entanglements.
So I spent my transition from Tuesday to Wednesday talking to a Peruvian tour guide, finding a hostel for the upcoming week of the Cotapoxi climb (which I'm declining to take part of due to potential personal health concern), got to know some cute girls from Wisconsin who are planning on attending the Austin City Limits music festival and are now going to visit Barton Springs and drive all over the East Side looking for pizza stands and record stores, talked to the police about the levels of inebriation a person may traverse while attempting not to act drunk and so on.
Essentially, the drinks are (practically) free and the danger is abliging. I've tried to spend much of my time down town finding attractive wallflowers to share a beer with or any Brit who's pissed and wants to tell me all about it. The club scene isn't so much intimidating as it is 2-dimensional for me. I'd rather quip with some Londoner or sneak flirts in with travel tips to a gringa. I'm looking forward to spending a few relaxing days in the Sucre center of Avenue Amazonas until we move to the coast.
I've discovered why the bites on my legs and the cuts on my arms are healing (or not) at a dramatically slowed rate: lack of oxygen to the white blood cells due to altitude. Coming from an average height of barely to not above sea level, I've been feeling my altitude day to day. Other than the scrapes that will join the collection on my paws, I'm feeling fine. My cold has resided to morning coughing and night time sniffling. I'm now back to practicing no-meat, no-dairy Vegetarianism. There's no hooky philosophy behind this return to diet, not if you don't count "not eating the things that make my stomach feel like it went a round with Cassius Clay".
The Mitad del Mundo museum was a complete bust. Think all the junk stores and food-stands of Epcot Center without the attractions. This is apt however because the fair-like grounds that contain the middle of the earth monument are incorrectly charted. Around 250 meters down the road lies the true magnetic coordinates of 00'00"00. There, a half antropological survey/half side-show of indigenous cultures beckons sticklers of true global positioning accuracy to blow a dart gun at a cactus leaf 10 yards away (hit it) and balance an egg on the head of a ridged nail (balanced it, got a certificate).
I'm still searching for a decent sounding, solid bodied and reasonably priced classical guitar. I still have to visit the Vogel factory, which makes custom hand-made cutaways with superb pickups. So far, my biggest excuse to spend more of my non-travel money is a DVD store which sells copied DVDs of more classic films than you could possibly hope to purcahse at Best Buy. I'm talking $1 for Criterion Collection films.
I have yet to attempt any transaction with CopaAir or Continental about changing my flights to return 2 weeks ahead of schedual in mid-July. I miss my dog a lot. My Spanish is getting a lot better.