For those of you that don't know: this is a very Turkish protection charm that is believed to protect its owner from evil eyes of others with bad intentions. They are handmade out of glass and each one is very unique. Anyone who knows me, also knows that I keep many of these in my home, car, and work, also give them out to my dear friends as a symbol of how much I care about them. I was touched to see something so special at such an unexpected place, and was reminded that the world is indeed very small.
I made my first contact with my family in Turkey via Skype after so many days of absence. We virtually hugged each other, and I gave a brief summary of the week's events to my mum and dad in the span of a breath. I ensured them that I was in good health and safe, and promised to let them know as soon as I got home to L.A.
I decided to spend my last day in Peru walking downtown and shopping for little souvenirs and gifts. Cusco is my kind of town: very walkable. I walked the cobblestone streets and made my way first to Plaza San Francisco where I shopped at a tiny store for the very typical Alpaca wool socks and hats. Make sure you bargain. I bargained in part English, part Spanish, and a whole lot of arm and hand gestures and got a very good deal.
By the time I got to Plaza De Armas, I was very hungry, and I knew exactly where to go for a fabulous lunch. Cicciolina was a recommendation I got in the first hostel but was closed on Christmas Eve. First I had to deserve my meal by going up a flight of stairs. I was seated at the bar where I was able to watch one of the guys make their own pasta with uncanny precision. I ordered a glass of Santa Julia - an amazing Chardonnay/Chenin blend from Argentina - while I browsed the menu. I wanted everything on it. I decided on the Beetroot Ravioli with mushrooms, marinated tomatoes, and black olives. If there is any pasta dish that is diviner that this, I have not met it yet. Muy Bien, indeed!
Since I was in one of the South American countries famous for their coffee, I had to have a cup and, of course, had to pair it with a dessert to complete the feast. The dessert I picked did not have a name for it on the menu but a whole paragraph:
"A rich chocolate mousse from Quillabambas jungle sprinkled with Rock Salt from Maras, & Iucuma cream served side by side, so that you can combine & enjoy the wild & bitter sweet flavors of Peru."
I was not prepared for the sights of this piece of sweet work of art, and melted inside while I looked at it from all angles before I disturbed its peace with my spoon.
I sat at a park enjoying my last day in this quaint town a little bit longer. I loved Peru for its majesty, humbleness, and cheerfulness, but I was ready to go home.
I had a good long night's sleep, and left the hostel at 6AM to learn that you can even bargain for the taxi fare to the airport. I did not know that Peru would give me a final gift, until I received my boarding passes and the young lady behind the counter told me that I was upgraded to Business Class for all three of my flights! Like my good friend B from Turkey said, this must be an indication of what good things the new year has in store for me!
You know 'those' people that are already in the plane sipping their orange juices sitting in the oversized seats in the front of the plane that don't even look at you while you try to squeeze your way towards your un-reclining seat at the very back next to the toilets; I was one of 'those' people and I loved it! I enjoyed the meals, the desserts, and the Chardonnay from Chile. I stretched as wide as I could, and slept like a puppy wrapped in the warm blankets. Muy Bien, it was!
I was the first to deplane at LAX, and did not have the patience to take the escalators. As I ran (yes ran) down the stairs next to the escalators, I heard someone say 'look at her!' and point at me. I smiled and in my head I said to him 'you have no idea what I did last week!'.
Passport controls, customs checks, shuttles to parking, and drive to home was swift, and I was home in no time.
When I walked into my apartment little after midnight on December 30, 2012, I had two thoughts:
1. It feels so good to be back home.
2. Where should I go next?