Monday, September 06, 2010

up the coast


I.

Lima.

It's San-Francisco cold here, and an impenetrable shroud of cloudcover dampens the city's voice. The brilliant paint jobs on the surrounding skyscrapers have to fight through the silky, diffuse sunlight.

This is a classy, classy city. It's as fashionable as New York, with the insouciant sex appeal of Barcelona. It's crowded with beauty salons and art galleries and cafes, and the coastline ribbons under a miles-long section of soarable cliffs.

Ghetto asked a young businessman about his iPhone in the bar last night, expressing his curiosity regarding the ease of hopping on the network. He received nothing back but a curt retort--"I have a career here." Yes, of course. We're aware. We're asking about your phone service, buddy, because we have a career here too.

We won't be here long. The idea was to rest our wings here for a moment--besides, the fog is beginning to collect in my lungs.

II.

Mancora, one 22-hour bus ride later.

I was mugged yesterday afternoon!

OK. I suppose it's not a mugging if the guy ends up running from you in terror and you stand over your ripped purse in the middle of the dusty street, flipping him the bird and laughing at him while he high-tails it back to his mototaxi full of surprised friends.

Still, the experience was more of a victory than hey-look-I-kept-my-stuff. It was much the same feeling as my first parachute malfunction--a big pile of line twists that sent me spinning rapidly down through my available altitude as I kicked like hell to untwist myself.

I think of it this way: anyone who travels constantly and has a comfort zone that extends beyond the Mariott lobby is eventually going to have a crime perpetrated upon them, just as anyone who flies a canopy is going to have a malfunction at some point. These are statistical certainties. In this case as well as the relatively common spinning malfunction, I got lucky--a slash-and-grab is not generally a situation in which you're in serious danger of physical harm. You just have to act--quickly, effeciently, and correctly--and you'll come out of it OK.

In this case, I was walking with Ghetto in the dirt-road neighborhoods of Mancora with my fabric purse slung across my body. I didn't hear him coming. The moment I felt the tug, though, I was a writhing, kicking, punching hellion. He wrestled with the bag for a moment, but it sealed the deal when he saw all six-feet-seven of Ghetto coming after him.

We've been reviewing the incident in conversation pretty constantly since it happened: the things we shouldn't have done (walk straight from the ATM into the dirt-road neighborhoods off the main street), the things we did right (carry a nearly empty purse, slung across the body; choose shaming over full-on pulverization, which we were certainly capable of), and the things that would have been fun to do (kick him, a lot, in delicate places; yell, "Suck it, Pezweon!" as he retreated).

It's actually rather amazing that I made it this long without someone having a go at my person and/or possessions, considering the scope of the places I've traveled and for how long. The not-quite-mugging, known henceforth as "The Mancora TukTuk Guy Incident," is a great piece of experiential information to carry forward. I'm certainly grateful for the loss of that cumbersome bit of innocence.

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