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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

PEARL'S ASHES: Chapter 14--Machu Picchu

After Brazil, I passed through Buenos Aires where I enjoyed a particularly excellent meal for less than $100, incredible when you include the following drinks:
  • I created BOCA, for Bitter Orange aperitif with Champagne in Argentina, as Boca Juniors is their famous soccer team with Maradona
  • Sur de Los Andes Chardonnay
  • Sur de Los Andes Malbec Grand Reserva
  • Finca Domingo Torrentes
  • Luigi Bosca Gewurztraminer Seleccion de Giznos Nobles, an almost Chateau d'Yquem
The grouper with Morel Mushrooms (prune looking morsels) was the  highlight, for the mushrooms concentrated the essence of dish juices as I've never had before.

You can't leave the country without beef, which is lean, a bit tough, but tasty...and tango.  The dance is performed in a manner which makes you feel like a voyeur.  The wines tend to be red and free and generous.

Next, on to Peru, where the plane landed in Cuzco at an elevation of 11,000 feet.  As I had recently been to Mauna Kea, which goes up to 13,800, that should not have been a problem.  However, maybe it was  the Pisco Coca Sour--where the Coca goes on to become cocaine--but I did get a headache.  We visited the Sun Temple, and I show this piece of art because on Machu Picchu I did something related to a national sun monument, which could have been disastrous for me.

Let me start with Hiram Bingham the first, who was the leader of the initial group of American Protestant missionaries sent to the Sandwich Islands in 1819.  He was said to be responsible for the local government banning prostitution and drunkenness, and was involved with the creation of the spelling system for writing the Hawaiian language.  He designed Kawaiahao Church.  

Hiram Bingham II also became a missionary to the then Kingdom of Hawaii.  His son, Hiram Bingham III, was born in 1875, graduated from Punahou and went on to Yale, Cal-Berkeley and Harvard, where he earned a PhD in 1905.  He went on to work under Woodrow Wilson at Princeton, then joined the faculty of Yale in 1907 as a lecturer in South American history.

While, yes, other Westerners might have previously visited Machu Picchu, Bingham is credited with bringing the site to the attention of the world in 1911, a century before I arrived in 2011 to drop Pearl's Ashes.  The road that carries tourists buses to the site is called the Hiram Bingham Highway. 

He became a lieutenant colonel in the Army Air Sevice during World War I, and was influential in creating our Air Force after WWII.  He became Governor of Connecticut in 1924, but only served one day because Senator Frank Brandegee passed away in the interim after Bingham's election, so he won a special election to the U.S. Senate (that's him as a senator), where he served for 8 years, for he was later re-elected to a full term.  He was known as the Flying Senator.  He passed away in 1956 at the age of 80 and is interred at Arlington National Cemetery.


His book, Lost City of the Incas, became a bestseller in 1948, and Indiana Jones is mostly what Hiram Bingham III was.  In 2007 an agreement was reached between Yale University and Peru for the return of 40,000 objects brought back to America by him.

The first shipment of artifacts left New Haven without fanfare, but its arrival in Cusco on June 22 was another story. A crowd of dignitaries, a company of national police, and 15,000 people turned out to cheer on the parade of trucks that transported the artifacts from the airport to their new home in the center of town. An actor dressed as an Inca king greeted their arrival with the words "The people from Cusco and the world celebrate that the archaeological pieces of Machu Picchu, which were once gone, have returned now. Everyone in Cusco must feel happy.

So with that backdrop, here is where I first dropped Pearl's Ashes, now up to #25:


PA #26 was placed here:


At the very top of the the tourist area is the Sun Dial, a sacred monument with a muscular guard.  I scouted around and thought no one saw me drop PA#27 into that crack:


But staring at me was the guard.  He returned a few moments later with a long stick that was like a spear.  As I walked away he peered into the crack.  I hastily hiked down to the entrance as fast as I could.  I could imagine the headlines:

     Hawaii Professor Jailed for Defaming the Sacred Sun Dial of Machu Picchu

On the way out I said goodbye to a llama:



Having safely escaped to Lima, I enjoyed two of my better meals of this entire around the world trip.  This city has two of the 100 Pellegrino Best World Restaurants.  Rosalia and Leonid joined me at Astrid Y Gaston, located only a block away from the Casa Andina hotel where Globus put us.  Giant Peruvian corn to the right.  Here above is Rosalia contemplating which dulcement to select.

My lunch the following day at Malabar might well have been the best of my life.  I walked in at 1:30PM and was the only diner.  I wondered if I had missed the Board of Health sign outside.  However, by 2PM there were fourteen others dining, with the men all in jackets and ties.  I had a Pisco Sour, plus a Chilean Sauvignon Blance and Argentinian Malbec.  The highlight of the meal was grilled pacha (left and below):


I'll end with a Peruvian dance:


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