A year ago on October 14, a friend of mine from high school died of metastatic colon cancer. I just donated my hair to women with cancer for the fourth time, so in honor of Erika, I’d like to tell you about my first time donating. Also, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and fittingly, October 7 and October 14 are “Bald and Free” days. – Sarah
When I was fairly young, maybe four or five, I asked for short hair. I loved throwing my long locks back into a ponytail, so perhaps I wanted the ease of an above-the-ear coif. After the cut, however, I cried. I thought I looked like a boy, and even though I was what would be considered a tomboy, I didn’t want to look like a boy. I didn’t cut it again (aside from trims here and there courtesy of my mom) until I was in middle school. Even though I didn’t go very short that time, I saw how fun a haircut could be and started a cycle of growing it out and chopping it off that lasted through college. I kept going shorter and shorter, including a brief pixie phase my sophomore year, so growing it out became more of a challenge. But, somehow, the year I graduated from college I managed to start growing it long. And it got really long.
This is the last of my posts about Peru. I’ve enjoyed sharing my experiences with you! I’ll be returning to my regular, random posts next time. -Sarah
It seems there’s one in every group.* You know, the person who thinks s/he’s the most important person, not only in the group, but in the world. In our group, it was Becca.** Becca would consistently be the last person back on the bus, forcing the rest of us to wait for her to buy something or take one last photo, often making us late or limiting our time at the next place. Not only that, but when we were at a site, she was consistently the last person in an area, always lagging behind (again, to take photos), which wouldn’t have been so bad if, when she rejoined the group, she stayed at the back, knowing she’d be near the rear when we’d move to the next area.
Not to toot my own horn, but I not only published my 125th blog post last time, but I also hit over 17,000 all-time views! Thank you so much for reading, following, and passing along my blog. I appreciate you! In case the title and my intro didn’t give it away, I’m going to talk about, um, tooting, so if that’s not what you’re into, feel free to skip this post and please accept my apologies and this photo as a consolation. -Sarah
As you read in previous posts, I was in Peru for ten days and spent a lot of time up and down the Andes at various altitudes. In Peru, as in other Spanish-speaking countries (I’d imagine), when ordering water in a restaurant, they would ask “Con or sin gas?” meaning with or without carbonation. Carbonated or flat? Sparkling* or tap? Regular or fizzy? I learned to request “Dos aguas, sin gas” when Sara and I were out,*** after which they would bring us a bottle of regular water or a glass from the tap.
Machu Picchu means “old peak” in Quechua (kay-CHWAH). It’s pronounced “MAH-choo PEEK-choo” but most people miss the k-sound in the second word.
Machu Picchu* sits at roughly 8,000 feet in elevation in a valley surrounded by four peaks in a mountain ridge near the Sacred Valley of the Incas. It was built in the 15th Century and remained standing after the Incas fled and the Spanish conquistadors arrived, which is remarkable because the Spanish destroyed or damaged most of the Inca sites throughout Peru. They didn’t know about Machu Picchu, though, and neither did much of the world for most of the next four centuries.
Peru offered many experiences that differ from my usual activities in the United States. In addition to dusting off my Spanish, I tried local culinary delights that aren’t available–or aren’t acceptable–in the U.S. At the same location where we stopped for the weaving demonstration, we feasted on a lunch prepared by the family who hosted us for the afternoon. They made delicious bean and quinoa dishes, cooked corn with kernels the size of a nickel, and, of course, the local crop: potatoes. There were dishes upon dishes, brought out steaming fresh that we feasted upon. The main course consisted of chicken and a small slice of guinea pig. Yes, you read that right: guinea pig.
I’m a mild meat-eater, favoring vegetarian dishes at home because of the ease and expense, and because it’s easy to make a vegetarian meal for one person; most of my meat-heavy recipes are better suited for two or more, and, although I love leftovers, it’s a lot of work cooking, and there’s no one there to appreciate your effort. While I don’t consciously avoid meat for any reason, I do try to be a responsible meat-eater whenever possible. But, when in Rome, as they say…
This is Part 2 of my series on Peru. For Part 1, click here. Enjoy! – Sarah
As we made our way into Lima, where we spent the first two nights in Peru, Sara pointed out to me that there were several cats loitering in a park we passed.
“We have to find that park,” she said, in true cat lover fashion. I’m a dog person, so I understand loving animals. But I like cats the way cats like people: very discriminately. And I’m wary of strays of any kind, especially in large groups. Sara and I were nearly mauled by a pack of wild dogs in Costa Rica three years ago, so I think I’ve earned that wariness. But this is all fodder for different posts. Since it was dark and we drove for a while to get to our hotel after passing the park, I didn’t think we’d come anywhere near the cats.
The next day, we had a morning tour of the city: saw a cathedral with catacombs*, went to the square near the president’s house (Lima is the capitol of Peru), and visited a few other historical sites, including ruins that only recently have been excavated. They left most of what they uncovered as they found it, but restored part so visitors can see what the ruins looked like in their heyday. We had the afternoon free before we met for a pre-dinner de-briefing and meet-and-greet.
I have a face for radio and a voice for silent films. Just kidding.
But I’ve had a lot of video/radio experiences recently. And I got new iPod headphones yesterday. So exciting!
Hello! I’m sorry my posting has been so sporadic lately, but the book is still taking priority. I have a new deadline and even more reason to finish, so things will probably still be light here for a few more weeks. BUT, in keeping with the title, I thought I’d post links to some videos. I posted one of them here but I realized I didn’t post the other three so here they are:
That’s the subject line on an email chain a group of friends of mine and I have going. I don’t remember who started it, but it feels applicable to all of us, and it feels applicable for me this week especially. I am still alive, even though my posting here has been fewer and farther between lately. My writing is still alive, even though most of it has been diverted elsewhere (though I do have 16 drafts on here in various stages of completion that someday I hope to finish). And, most importantly, my father is still alive this week, even though he had a health scare on Monday and has been in the hospital. I don’t want to go into it, except to say that he is doing well–really well–he should be going home today, and we are all very thankful that he is, indeed, still alive.
This week has just been one of those weeks, however.
It has rained so much on-and-off recently that I’d be curious to see the precipitation numbers for the country this year so far. I haven’t minded the rain; it’s easier to stay inside writing when it’s not appealing to go outside, but I, too, enjoy relaxing in the sun. I’m nearly nose-deep in the manuscript and am trying my darnedest to meet my [self-imposed] deadline on Monday, but all I want to do is anything else. All I wanted to do the past three days is be home with my dad.
Yesterday morning I woke* to the sounds of my neighbor (below, I think, though it sounded like it could have been from anywhere) pounding an entire gallery’s worth of nails into
my skull the wall. I realize I’m not a morning person, but I think we can all agree that 7 AM is too early for home repairs and redecorating, especially if you share walls with strangers.**
I’ve been testing out a new commute: the Green Line light rail replaced my express bus, so it’s taking me longer to get into work, and I haven’t yet figured out the best bus-to-train situation. Sometimes the 7:40 bus gets me to the train as it’s pulling up, sometimes I miss it by that much, and sometimes I end up waiting for 15 minutes, which means I could have taken the next bus and still gotten to work at the same time (but slept for an extra 10 minutes), which is what happened on Monday.
Yesterday morning, I managed to catch the 7:40 bus (which used to come at 7:44 but now comes closer to 7:41), and I was all set to get to work early, make a cup of tea, and get going on the day when about a mile into the trip, a motorcycle turned left in front of the bus and clipped the front right part of the fender. The bus driver pulled over, hopped off to see if the cyclist–who was not knocked over and who did not stop–was okay. I ended up filling out a witness card and wishing I had taken the later bus, especially since the later bus pulled up to the stop where I transfer to the light rail at the same time as my bus.
But, the anthology in which an essay of mine was published came in the mail last week and it is thrilling to see my name in print.
In a fit of belated spring cleaning, I organized my closet, and it looks so much nicer.
My coworker gave me pesto she made with basil from her garden, and it made a delicious addition to my pasta this week, which is good because I haven’t bought groceries in a while.
And I’ve spoken to my parents every day this week, which doesn’t always happen, but it’s nice when it does. Today I get to do some role-playing at work, which should be fun, and I’ve got more improv shows on the horizon.
I’m still alive. And if you’re reading this, so are you. And sometimes, that’s all that matters.
*Technically, I had been “up” for about a half-hour, but I don’t really wake up until 10 AM. Perhaps he was retaliating for my late-night movie-watching of late.
**Walls With Strangers is the sequel to Strangers With Candy, which was the prequel to Perfect Strangers. Which is strange, because they have nothing to do with one another.