Thursday, March 28, 2013

Back to Lima (South America Omnibus 4)


Back to Lima?
Yes, it is back to Lima because we 3 arrived in Lima and then went to Amazonian, there we almost drowned in the Amazon river, and then a high speed boat to Brazil/Columbia/Peru border and then to Bogota there one of us returned back to USA. . . . then crossed the border to Ecuador, there I begun this series at Columbia-Ecuador border.
I am sitting in the airplane, I am sad and watching the desert landscape of Northern Peru below me. At our right side is Pacific ocean and at our left side are the snowy peaks of Andes and some volcanoes here and there. Under the aircraft is the famous Pan American Highway travelling in the sandy desert. Pan American Highway is about 47,958 kilometers in total length. Except for an 159 kilometers rain forest break, called the Darién Gap, the road links the mainland nations of the Americas in a connected highway system.

Herbal tea (Emoliente) cart in Lima

According to Guinness World Records, the Pan-American Highway is the world’s longest “motor-able road”. However, because of the Darién Gap, it is not possible to cross between South America and Central America by traditional motor vehicle. Pan American Highway traverse from the ices of near North Pole to the ices of near Antarctica. In Darian Gap road is not build yet because of the fears of a cattle disease called Foot and Mouth Disease that may travel from South America to North America. Otherwise this deadly area is populated with worlds’s most dangerous insects, smugglers, rebels and impassible and hostile terrine.
Well, my love at first sight lasted not more than 45 minutes.
Same air-hostess who opened the door of the plane for me comes to serve me coffee. She speaks English with an accent.
I tell her, “The lady who brought me to the air-craft; I owe her money and in the rush to get me on-board I forgot to pay her.”
“Señyor, I am so sorry to know this.”

Chamomile tea in Lima
“Is there any way I can pay her back. Her name is Isabel and that’s all I know about her. She works in the ticketing office at the border.”
“How much you owe her?”
“About 10 dollars. ”
“Well, I will see what I can do for you?”
She served me tea and is gone.
After a whle, she returnes again on her trip to serve paid beer and liquor. To maintain the communication with her, I ask for a beer. As she hands me a beer, I give her a bill of 10 dollars. On it I wrote
Isabel, my email address and then “Praveee”
“May be you can pass her this bill. I wrote my name and email address on it.”
Taking that banknote she says, “Ok Señyor, I will try but I cannot grantee. I don’t know her. Isabel is a very common name in Peru. Every 2 women in 10 has this name.”
“Thanks. ”
“What if I cannot find her?”
“Then give this away to any charity of your choice.”
She is in hurry because airplane is about to land, she walk away.
We arrive at Lima airport.

Emoliente with Aloe Vera
Since it is a local flight, there is no security or custom inspection. I walk out of the building.
Then this air-hostess comes running to me. She is glad that she found me.
She says, “Señyor, by mistake I used that your bill while transacting with passengers. ”
So this is a very good news for me that she remembered.
Handing me a pen and paper, she says, “I will try to find Isabel but your email address .. it was on that bill.”
I scribble my email address on that paper and return it to her. She says that she does not belong to Tumgbes and does not know when she will return there.
“Señorita, In just any anticipation I thank you very much. Mucho mucho gracias. ”
I walk out of Lima airport premises. It is 3PM. I am not new to this airport anymore so first thing I do is, walk to a herbal tea paddler. There are lined up on the main road outside the airport.

Emoliente and various herbs for tea
Peru is full of herbal tea paddlers or carts. They serve about 35 types of herbal teas, including cocaine and aloe-vera tea. I ask him to make a base of aloe tea and then add chamomile and other herbs. It is so yummy that I drink 4 cups and in the end I drink a cocaine tea cup.
Lime is a hustling and bustling city just like any large city of India. Whereas cities in Columbia and Ecuador were kind of half dead.
A post about Peru is useless unless describing Emoliente or herbal tea of Peru. Like India we can find tea pushcarts, in Peru or also in most of the South America we can find Herbal Tea or Emoliente push carts. I enjoy emoliente and actually emoliente is the reason I want to visit Peru again and again.
You can find this in any town, whether in a little mountain village or the big city of Lima. Vendors congregate in the streets at dawn and dusk in plazas or by bus stops with their rolling carts of unlabeled glass bottles of colorful magical ingredients. Emolientes are part of the lifestyle here and people drink it before they go out drinking or after a night of drinking, daily habit or if they are sick. I just like the way they taste and have one whenever I see a cart around. It doesn’t throw us off budget, either as it’s half a sol for a glass (about 6-7 rupee)
Every person I’ve talked to has told me different benefits of consuming emoliente. I’m surprised something this healthy (and not very palatable) is popular regardless of age or class. All of the ingredients are pretty healing on their own and must be a powerhouse as the mixture. I have seen emoliente kits in stores (a package of dried herbs) but getting it on the street is an experience of its own. The vendor makes your drink by putting in a quantity of his (or your) choosing of each herb and then mixes it with a viscous mixture of aloe-vera and flaxseed liquefied.

Colorful San Cristobal Slum of Lima
He mixes it by pouring it at arm’s length multiple times and I can’t help but be reminded of getting slimed on family double dare, because it looks like a giant stream of snot, every time. But I love the viscous texture and the flavor and the boost it gives my system.
I have asked various vendors about the ingredients and I have squeezed the secrets out of a few guys about what they use:
The main ingredient is linseed (flax seed) which is well known for being a source of Omega-3′s and lignans (heart-healthy, anti-cancer, blood sugar stabilizer)
Aloe vera, scraped right off the stem.
Cola de cabello/Horse tail (it grown near streams and wetlands in the India and US too) (a diuretic good for the kidneys and bladder and may help with senility due to the high silica content that balances the aluminum in the body). It is also called Equisetum. This is a main homeopathy remedy for children wetting their beds at night.
Chanca piedra (helps with the kidneys (especially stones), the liver and is an anti-viral that fights intestinal parasites). Botanical name is: Phyllanthus niruri, also best known by the common names Stonebreaker or Seed-Under-Leaf (Eng. ), Bhumyamalaki in Ayurveda,
Barley (good source of selenium, phosphorus, copper and manganese and can help combat diabetes, high cholesterol and colon cancer)
Boldo (cleanses the liver, aids digestion and fights intestinal parasites, among other things) Peumus boldus, the only species in the genus Peumus, is commonly known as Boldo.

Lima Old Town area
This tree of the family Monimiaceae is a native of South America. This is not available in India
Una de gato/Cat’s claw (the inner bark of a jungle vine that helps boost the immune system as well as colds, arthritis, tumors and digestive problems). This is considered a super herb in Peru and grows only in Amazonian jungles.
Alfalfa juice (a super-food high in phyto-nutrients that also can aid in digestion, diabetes and anemia). Alfalfa grows all over India as wild.
Lime or lemon juice.
Sometimes a few drops of sangre de grado is added. This is not real blood, a good relief for vegetarians. It is the sap of a tree that grows in the jungle and it looks like blood and tastes metallic.

Lima Old Town, in the corner is my hotel.
It’s very antibiotic and antibacterial (great for that traveler’s diarrhea).
But I never go for the standard concoction mixture. I ask for specific ingredients. Aloe-vera, regular green tea and chamomile are my favorite. In Peru I have learned to make Aloe-Vera tea.

Lima old Spanish colonial town
Peddlers remove the top peel of aloe with a sharp and thin blade. Then they cut the transparent sticky solid into very small cubes. Hot water is added over these cubes in a cup, and then one may ask for any other herb from a variety of more than 35. Most of the aloe dissolves in the tea, if not then one can just gulp up the bottom things.

Lima beach, above is the Miraflores area
That’s how I make my own aloe-vera tea. Natives of South America are using aloe-vera for thousands of years.
Well I strayed off from my story —
I just walked out of Lima airport and had several cups of herbal teas.
Some times after a long journey, one finds his luggage has not arrived.
I arrive in Lima but reverse has happened with me.
Luggage has arrived all-right but I am not arrived.
I want to go back to Aguas Verdes near Tumbes at Ecuador-Peru border, to talk with Isabel or life is no life.
Otherwise …………..
Life is no life.

Central Lima
Yeh jeena bhi kya jeena hai.
Ceaseless awaragurdi, it must come to an end.
Seeing new places, eating new things, meeting new people at new places …..
It must come to an end.
I am 45, I may begin balding at any time.
I touch my scalp for any symptoms and I decide to double check my head in mirror as soon I get to the hotel.

Lima Metro station
Cocaine tea soothes me and from airport I walk to Argentina Avinda (Avenue), as far as I know that if I keep walking in the east, I will hit Avinda Emancipacion. There I will reach the old town and then will take the same hotel where we stayed 3 weeks ago. I don’t know how far I have to go neither I care much because I am not arrived. Flight to Tumbes is at 3 pm tomorrow and I have more than 20 solid hours.

Lima Metro
I keep walking for several kilometers, but a motorcycle give me ride and I arrive at the Lima cathedral at 6PM.
It is evening in the south of Equator. It is June but it is peak of the winter in Southern hemisphere. In Lima I feel like I am walking in Delhi in winter but as I arrive in Old Town, scenes change. There I feel like I am in Spanish Colonial era.
I check into the same hotel where I, Harsh and Rajiv stayed together 3 weeks ago.
Now the hotel owner is very suspicious of me.
And now I realize that everybody is suspicious of a single unmarried man. World is not a suitable place for a single man.
He asks, “¿Dónde está tu amigos?”
“They gone back?”
This bald man’s hand is wandering on his shining bald head.
He sings, “I think you keeeld theeeem?”
I say, “Yeah, right.”

Slums of Lima
“Es un asunto de la Policía ahora. ”
“Hey man, I need a room for just tonight. Tomorrow I will go back to Tumbis. ”
Now Mr. Baldie is even more suspicious. His one hand is wandering on his head and other is on the phone cradle.
“¿Así que quieres volver a Tumbes”
I should never have told him that I am going back to Tumbes. Tumbes is a headquarter of smugglers, contract-murderers, criminals and whatnot. Now Baldie is thinking that I am a rat of the underworld.

Suburbs of Lima touching the beginning of Andes Mountains
He is about to call Police and Peru Police is just like any police of the third world country.
I try one trick that I learned from an actor of Ramlilas in Bhatinda. His name was Preetam. There I used to play the part of Lakshman and this man used to do several prominent roles like Rama or some times Sita or some times Meghnath (except Ravana’s and Hanuman’s roles because he was just 5 feet even). Well actually once he did the role of Ravana when Ravana got his foot sprained. To make him tall and robust they gave him some very high heeled shoes and a very tall crown. He was Ramlila all-rounder. He taught me how to dance my eyes-brows. I tried and tried but I was unable to do it but it only scared people. He begged me not to do it on the stage or do it only on the scene of Lakshman and Swaroop Nakha (when I cut the nose of Swaroop Nakha) and at Lakshman and Meghnath battle (where Meghnath almost kills me).
Baldie is staring me and I make eye contact with him and dance my eye-brows.

Rimac river in Lima
I say, “Senyor, Su decían de Policía. ”
Now his bald head is wet with sweat and his hand comes away from the phone.
So I am not a rat of the underworld now but a tiger of the underworld.
He pushes the guest register towards me and didn’t even ask for my passport. I fill up my name and address and pay him. He assigns me the same triple bed room and charges me as a single person.
I come into the room, dump my backpack and start the room heater because it is cold.
I am not arrived in Lima.
And I must have some hard liquor, beer is too week in this Devdas situation.

Lima Beech
In Hindi movies every hero drinks hard liquor in this situation, only looking at my own condition I agree with them.
I press room bell and Baldie himself comes.
“Sí, mi querido Señor. ” (yes my dear Sir. )
“Man, you bring me something strong like wheat alcohol or sugar alcohol etc. ”
Taping his fingers on the table he says, “Sé lo que debe necesitar, Senyor. ” (I know what exactly you need Sir. )
I give him hundred dollar bill and he goes away.
Well now I am regretting about being a Tiger of the underworld.

Central Plaza, Lima
Using anything less than $100 is an insult to Underworld.
Baldie brings me a half Tequila bottle and returns me 84 dollars.
Not bad. Not bad at all.
Tequila is a distilled beverage made from the blue agave plant. The red volcanic soil is particularly well suited to the growing of the blue agave. Agave tequila grows differently depending on the region. Blue agave grown in the highlands region are larger in size and sweeter in aroma and taste. Agave harvested in the lowlands, on the other hand, have a more herbaceous fragrance and flavor.

Blue Agave
Blue Agave grows wild in most of India but concept of making a liquor has not arrived in India yet. Most Agave plants are considered a waste and pestilence in India.
Tequila is almost raw alcohol.
I open the bottle and it smells like varnish. Well, I am not new to tequila or liquor. After all I am from Bhatinda.
Lima, was founded by Francisco Pizarro in 1535, is a fascinating city and a treasure trove of history. Pacific coast of South America was under the control of Governor or Panama. One can explore here ancient Incan archaeological sites, or stroll through the elegant cathedrals and lavish palaces dating from Spanish colonial times.
Inca ruler of Peru Atahualpa however refused to tolerate a Spanish presence in his lands, and was captured by Pizarro during the Battle of Cajamarca on 16 November 1532.

A parade in Lima Central
A ransom for the Emperor’s release was demanded and Atahualpa filled a room with gold, but Pizarro charged him with various crimes and executed him anyway. The same year, Pizarro entered the Incan capital of Cuzco, and the conquest of Peru was complete. In January 1535, Pizarro founded the city of Lima, a project he considered his greatest achievement. Quarrels between Pizarro and his longtime associate Diego Almagro intensified and Almagro was captured and executed. On 26 June 1541, his embittered son assassinated Pizarro in Lima. The conqueror of Peru was laid to rest in the Lima Cathedral.
I drink my tequila and then I remember that I was suppose to email the engineer about the certification of the relay.
Who cares?
I am single, this is not a life anyway.
I am not here anyway.

Lima over the cliffs by the sea
In Lima, Peru. South of Equator.
In the severe winter of June.

Colonial Lima
Suddenly an idea comes to my mind and this changes everything.
Tomorrow I am going to Tumbes and then to this scary and criminals infested town of Angus Verdes where Isabel works in the airline office.
I will dance my eyes-brows in the streets of Aguas Verdes.
I will buy a nice hat also.
Everybody will salute me there.
Whenever I am enlightened I begin shaking my legs.

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