Leave the door open for the unknown, the door into the dark | Rebecca Solnit, A Field Guide to Getting Lost

Friday, July 22, 2011

By the Way

In honor of celebrating having working internet after many (many!) days, I googled good old Paul, and guess what little gem I discovered!


Oh yes, oh yes yes yes. Where can I get me frames like those? I'm not kidding; my glasses broke on the night bus to Cuenca. I am a blind bat.

Anyway, I've been feeling super close to Paul these days, reading and re-reading his book, especially the hilarious bits on Machu Picchu, and plus I was walking on the very tracks he rode over. PLUS, because of him, I trekked all over this country, spending hours on the bus or in remote (albeit incredible) Peruvian cities where I was known only as gringita. I'm stalking you now Paul, and I'm going to make you have an interview with me before all this is over.

I mean, he lives on Cape Cod!!!! Ptown, Paul? Ptown?



Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Happy Birthday to my Mom

Today I call you to tell you happy birthday. The rates to the States are cheap from here; I should call more often. I go into the little stall with the glass walls and the phone that counts how many minutes I talk. I breathe in, breathe out, imagine the way your voice will sound. Maybe no one will answer the phone, I think to myself, but I know my odds are pretty good; it’s lunchtime there.

You answer. You can’t believe that it’s me on the other line—Kate? you ask incredulously. Kate? Is that you? I smile and the tears don’t come, even though I miss you so badly, more and more every day, so much so that I can’t even bear to think about how it will feel to see you again. Happy Birthday, I tell you. Happy Birthday, mom, and when you tell me thanks for calling, I can hear the smile in your voice.

You tell me that the day is steamy hot; you haven’t had too many days like it yet this summer. As for me, I tell you, it’s winter down here; even the days are cold unless you’re in the sun, and the nights are nearly freezing. But I forget to tell you that the hostel I’m staying at makes the beds with layers and layers of Andean blankets, and that they offered me more, if I need them. You would have wanted to know that. I forget to tell you that I make the bed here the way you used to make it for me on cold Adirondack nights, tucking a blanket right over the fitted sheet because even flannel wasn’t always warm enough. I forget to thank you for the socks you insisted I take with me, the heavy woolen ones that save me during the cold nights and long bus rides.

I don’t tell you that last night I dreamed about one of your birthdays many years ago. Dad bought you a dozen roses that year, roses and a thin gold necklace. He let me carry the flowers to you while you worked in the garden. You spotted me coming, the bouquet almost as big as I was as I crossed the lawn to you. You were so surprised that you wept, first at the red blooms and then again when you opened the box that dad carried to you and saw the glint of gold lying there on the velvet. Last night, I could smell the grass, the turned-over earth, and I could see how clear and blue the sky was above us, how green the white pines were in the woods. When I woke up there were tears in my eyes. You never take that necklace off; besides your wedding ring, it’s the only jewelry you ever wear.

I don’t tell you that I have thought about you all day, mom. I’ve thought about all your other birthdays; the cakes I’ve made for you, cakes from boxes and cakes from cookbooks, cakes made with or without David’s help. I’ve thought about the years I mixed up your birthday, calling you on the wrong day, or the times I mailed your card too late. I think about the years I forgot altogether, and even though you told me, days later when I realized my mistake, that it didn’t matter, I still felt bitterly guilty. You never made much of a fuss over your birthday, never asked for anything special, never bought yourself gifts. Make me something, you always told us when we asked you in advance what you wanted. 

You come to my dreams all the time, mom. Sometimes I don’t see your face, I just hear your voice, or your footsteps in the hall outside of my bedroom. I smell the bread you bake; I see our backyard that slopes up towards the woods, and the garden that blooms with lupines and daisies, poppies, sweet peonies. I can smell, in my dreams, our house in every season: the woodstove in winter, and the wind through the open windows when it’s warm.

In your last email, you told me you think about me every day. You said you go into the garden and think about David and I there when we were just little children. I hang up the phone with you today, and I wish I could go back in time, back to the days when you still made your own birthday cake. Back to the nights when you knelt beside my bed and repeated the prayer that I still remember, that I still say to myself sometimes, always wondering whether you're whispering it too. Oh mom, oh mommy. I can't wait to see you again.

Friday, July 8, 2011


Dear ones, 

Just wanted to share a few images from the Ayacucho province. Today I visited the Wari ruins, which were only discovered in 2008 (despite occupying 22 roadside kilometers). They haven't been well-restored, but the landscape was incredible - really dry, because it's winter, and the hills are covered in cacti. Which the people eat here! I also went farther north to Quinua, which is a beautiful, tiny village built of whitewashed adobe buildings with terra-cotta roofs. A lovely time! Miss you all.

These are the friends I made at the Wari Ruins museum. See the mummy behind them? No one ever smiles in pictures here. 

And this was taken right above Quinua, where the battle of Ayacucho took place. The huge white obelisk commemorates that event.

And I took this in Quinua proper; most of the houses have these mini-houses stuck on the crux of the roof...very adorable.

Hi! Wish you were here with me. Besitos.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Driving Through

And, because I've spent countless hours on buses in the last week or so, here is a series I like to call "Peru's Many Faces, As Seen From the Window of a Bus." Hopefully these will reveal to you how dynamic the landscape is here, and how sharply it can change. It's beautiful and raw, often achingly poor but forever shifting.

Love, Kate

It's desert all the way down the coast, from Piura to Lima:

Then mountains and adobe pueblos from Lima to Huancayo:

And these are for my pa:

Then it's farms and floodplains and cacti and distant mountains into Huancayo:

And, interspersed, there was much standing around in remote and beautiful rest stops.

Missing you all, and loving Peru. Besitos!

Seeing Lima

To my devoted following:

Here are a couple of photos from gray, gray Lima. The dreary photos don't reflect what a nice, fresh time I had there, but they do show the coast and some of the Park of Love's mosaics (yes, there's a Park of Love, complete with lots of little snippets of love poems and a huge statue of two people doing it). And, I've added a few tidbits from the Miraflores Park. That's one thing Lima's got going for it - lots and lots of parks, divided by roads way too wide, perhaps, for the number of cars, and apartment buildings way too gray for how freaking dark the sky always was, and how close it felt.

So, here you have it: Lima in Winter.

Love, Kate

See? There's a procession.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Search terms

Today, I discovered that someone typed these words into google and found me:

pictures to make her miss me

Lovely, that. So pretty and sad.


On a different note, happy soon-to-be-birthday to Our Bountiful Nation! Tomorrow I head into the depths of Peru, where apparently I will not find hot water or English speakers, let alone internet. Could be a myth, could be the truth, but nevertheless, I'm going to take a little time out from the virtual realm and so will bid you all farewell til we reunite in Cuzco.

And I'll try to post a little something about Lima before too long! What a vast and dirty and gray place it is, and what a beautiful seaside place it is, too. I staggered into this city with K, and I daresay we'll leave with a lot more love than we started with. Special thanks to dear Robert, even though his staff will never follow his dress code.


Lima Pride!

Some images from Lima's Pride Parade, held yesterday! In typical Latin American fashion, it started much later than anticipated, and apparently no drivers had been forewarned. Thus, traffic was held up for miles and miles, but no one seemed super cranky about it. I bet one or two thousand people participated in the parade, mostly youth, but everyone was definitely represented. Anyway, Pride is a beautiful thing, here in Lima just like anywhere else in the world. Enjoy!   

Friday, July 1, 2011


Yesterday I caught a 5 AM shared jeep to Loja. I rode ten hours from Loja to Piura, Peru, then fifteen hours through the night, across the desert, to Lima. I made a friend. I drank two 2 liter jugs of water. I've eaten raisins, green beans, and a package of cookies. I'm in Lima now, and I am alive. More to come. Miss you all- love, Kate