Cities and suburbs, real and imaginary.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

peruvian, like potatoes

once, in jest, i commented that alcohol addiction was better than cuddling alpacas on an alpaca farm.

this season's street performers in wiesbaden hold a coin jar in one hand and an alpaca's bridle in the other. maybe they're llamas? i don't actually know the difference. a man stands on a street corner holding a llama. give him a coin for this spectacle.

regardless, i cannot imagine the opposite scene in peru. a marketplace, mid-city. pedestrians haggle over the potatoes and bolts of cloth. an industrious man holds a coin jar in one hand, and the bridle of a cow in the other. perhaps a sheep, or a horse? ah, these exotic european creature traveled half the world to dazzle the shoppers in a wealthy, andean town.

absurd, no?

this is the way of the conquered places. seeing a llama in the marketplace is a sign of an exotic land faraway. in ancient rome, emperors that wished to remind their citizens of the conquering of foreign lands minted coins with a stern face on one side, and an exotic animal on the other, stamped in silver. exotic animals and slaves with different skin colors filled the marketplaces and the coliseums.

european livestock in the peruvian city is merely mundane.

elsewhere in the marketplace, a common sight: a mayan musician selling cds and blowing into a reed pipe.

i imagine a lederhosen-clad accordian player with the polkas of yesteryear doing just fine in a peruvian marketplace. at least, no worse that the mayan with his reedpipe. still, i don't think the prince of polkas would sell too many cds.

this all happened in the shadow of a mcdonalds restaurant. around the corner, a church stands that survived allied bombings in world war ii.

and i, an american soldier's son, stopped for a cup of coffee at a cafe named for an american whaler, lost at sea.

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