I am standing in tight space on the bus to Cusco at dusk, crouching to catch the sky and mountains outside the windows.  It’s an old cliché to feel closer to the earth, but the sentiment wouldn’t keep resurfacing if it were not, bared back, very compelling.  The expansive imagination of terrain in all directions shamed each photo we tried to take.

The hospitality here has been remarkable.  Then talking to people, you learn that Alejandro Toledo is someone’s personal hero because he was a shoeshine boy-turned-Stanford economist who overhauled the national economy.  Or that a cab driver rues the fact that Quechua is an official state language which is nevertheless not taught in schools.  Or you hear about the various entrepreneurial projects being tackled by the family of a hostel owner.

The bad parts of Peru are poor hygiene in the restrooms, bad wine, the water supply, economics of class and ethnicity, and what Lonely Planet describes as a “retrograde” attitude toward homosexuality.  Even so…


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