Peru 20: Cusco on my own

Day 10: Cusco, Peru I know I went to Peru back in February, but I never got to finish my recap on the trip.  Usually I'd just move on and blog about other stuff, but I really wanted to share this one experience.

It was my last day in Peru, and I was on my own.  My other travel buddies had gone to the airport for their flights.  I decided I'd explore Cusco.  While walking around I discovered a busy plaza and took a little break to sit, take pictures and read.  And here's who I met!

I wrote this after meeting him:

As I sat quietly reading my book, and old man sits next to me.  He was getting his shoes shined and was so kind and talkative.  The only problem: he only spoke English.  I pointed to my camera to ask him if I could take his picture.  He tries to talk to be, but I can't understand.  I take his picture, and soon he's done with his shoe shine.  He pulls money out of his pocket and looks at me, so I motion that he doesn't have to pay me.  He lets out a big chuckle and hands it to the man shining his shoes instead.  When the shoe shining man leaves, I give the old man my business card, and he says something to me.  I can't understand so he motions to me to stay.  He then proceeds to run off like a child who's just heard an ice cream truck.  Some time later he plops down next to me and hands me a book and a business card with his name and email on it.  The book was a Cusco tour book in Spanish.  As I look at the pictures, he explains it in Spanish.  We continue to look through the book... then he says good bye and grabs both my hands with his and tells me to keep the book.  :)

I love meeting people.  I love older people.

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Tattoos.

I really love tattoos.  Most every time I meet someone with a tattoo, I get this huge overwhelming desire to talk to get to know them.  I want to know what their tattoos mean to them. I want to photograph the tattoos.  I want to know why they got their tattoos.  So when I met this bartender at the wedding, I did not hesitate to request a photo of his many tattoos.

Angelo

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I'll be posting another entry about Haiti later tonight, but for now I will continue will a new photo series called "Strangers".

I meet so many people with interesting stories, I thought I'd document parts of their stories and get the courage to start asking them to take their picture. .

Last night I attended the second A's baseball game of the season!  I arrived at the Coliseum, promptly at 6pm for the 7pm game.  I took my time walking to the spot where I would be meeting my friends, enjoying the fresh crispness in the air and proudly wearing my green and gold jersey.  I got to the spot and waited and waited..... and waited.  I watched other waiting patrons leave one by one as their groups of friends started to arrive; I was the last one there waiting for friends.  After an hour of waiting, a security guard named Angelo came to talk to me.

He was a cheery man, who had been a security guard at the A's games for more than 15 years.  His "beat" was sections 105-116.  We reminisced about past players, old crowds and when the A's used to be good.  We shared stories about our similar love for fireworks and free-jersey games.  He attributed his divorce to his love of baseball and his ex-wife's lack of interest.  (I chuckled to myself as he told me his story, wondering if I would meet a man who did not like going to baseball games and if that would be a deal-breaker for me. )  He asked me about high school, then college, then realized I wasn't high school or college aged.  Then he moved on to asking me if I had children or if I was married, and when I said no to both, he remarked that I was too beautiful to be single and joked that maybe he could find me an A's player to be my boyfriend.  To that I quickly said, "Yes! Please!"  (I choose Justin Duchscherer.  He's a stud.)

Before he had to go back to patrolling, he told me that if I my friends didn't come by the third inning (it was already the bottom of the first) he'd let me in to sit field level for free!  Also, he told me he gets free tickets all the time so to look for him in his section and he'd give them to me.  Yay!

Unfortunately my friends did show up, and I didn't ended up sitting field level.  Nuts!  All in all, it was nice to talk to someone normal while I waited.  (Normal being the key word, as a good handful of drunk men were hitting on me while I was waiting. Yikes!)

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Mormon Mingle.

Let's just stereotype for a moment. Mormons are nice. Yeah. I went there.

Now, realistically I know that not all Mormons are nice, but every Mormon that I recall meeting treated me like an old friend. On my flights to and from Salt Lake City on my most recent trip to Hispaniola (the island which the Dominican Republic and Haiti are located), I met two very friendly and talkative Mormons.

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The first man, let's call him Joe (because he never actually told me his name), told me stories about his love for his wife, Wendy, daughter Lily and new little one on the way. He and his wife grew up in two different states; she in California and he in Utah. By chance her grandmother had moved to Utah from Connecticut and decided to work for his father's bank. Later, Wendy decided to go to college in Utah and lived with her grandmother. When Wendy took over her grandmother's position at the bank, she and Joe, who was a teller, became quick friends. One day, a mutual friend said to Joe, "Hey! Why aren't you and Wendy dating?" In response, Joe thought, "Hmm.. Yeah, why aren't I dating Wendy?" A couple years later when Wendy was 21 and Joe was 25, they got married. They've been married for seven years now. Cute!

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Now the man pictured above was extra nice to talk to. We spoke e entire two hour flight between Salt Lake City and San Francisco. He told me stories about his life, interesting facts about his family and little tidbits of advice. I can't share everything with you, but I'll share the clif notes version.

- He's 72 years old and has been married for 45 years. He says that the success of his marriage is realizing two things: marriages/people aren't perfect and you have to work on your marriage. To have a great marriage/relationship you must give more than you take and put your spouse first, but your spouse must also do the same. - He said everyone is a book. Every time you meet someone, they're sharing a chapter of their story with you.  In order for you to get to know someone, you have to take the time to go through the many different chapters of their book.  Everyone around you is just a book waiting to be read.  Extra cute. - He told me that his grandmother raised him.  When she was 11 she met Wild Buffalo Bill and Sitting Bull. - He also told me that he joined the Air Force right after high school.  After his four years of military service, the Vietnam War had just started and all his friends were enlisting.  He decided he'd enlist, too, but when he got to the recruiting office, it was closed.  He never did enlist, and if it wasn't for the office being closed, he might not be alive today. - Finally, he invited me to stay with him, his wife Judy and their 26 year old daughter, Keri whenever I was in Salt Lake City.  He invited me to bring friends or my parents and he'd put us all up and show us around.

He was such a lovely person to talk to!

The kind of heart

So I'm sitting in the airport at 10pm, waiting for my 6am flight the following day. This is the second time I've been in this situation. For one reason or another I just can't get to the airport for the early morning flight, so I'll head out the airport the night before. Anyway, I'll sit in the area around the ticket counters until security and the ticket counters open in the morning. This particular night I ran into Doug. He's the head night security person here at the airport, and if you can imagine, my kind of person... a very old, pump, jolly man. (I love old people). He's on a segway, but he should really have a walker or wheelchair and zooms past me with a cheerful "Good night!" at midnight. I flag him down and ask him about how can I get internet. He tells me he'll go find out because he doesn't know.

Before I know it, he's back and he tells me I can go to the "Observation Deck". This is an observation deck that is all loungy with art displayed everywhere and super comfy chairs. It's just real pretty. Anyways, it's closed for the night, but he says I can go up there. There are a few military men up here, but it's super safe, quiet, there's internet and Doug comes back to check on me.

Three lessons learned... - There's no harm in asking. - Chivalry is not dead. - Politeness goes a long way.

This is what this place looks like during the day. (image from here)