Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Seeing the Ruins of Kuelap with Tobi

I woke up early, after not being able to sleep well, because Tobi came in around 01:00A; so, I took a long, hot shower, though. One reason was because the control freak owner of the hostel Jose told me the day before that drop by drop all the water will be gone. This was when I was washing the pot. After I returned from my shower, I found a note from Eliza, who said goodbye to Tobi and me and left me her number.

There was a lot to do before we went to Kuelap. We had to check out, drink coffee, check in to the new hotel, buy some supplies for our trip, and then go. I brewed a coffee downstairs. When it was ready I went to wake Tobi up.

"Tobi, wake up," I said. "We have to go." He wakes up.

"Tobi," I tell him. "I didn't sleep well because of you."

He says, "I told you, you should have talked to me."

"I thought you were drunk."

"I wasn't drunk. I remember everything." He was right. If I couldn't sleep, I might as well have stayed up and talked to him.

I said, "Go take care of your stuff. We don't have much time."

I start packing away everything and so does Tobi. Then Tobi tells me, "Paul, I think I lost the key." He seems worried about it. I would have told him to double check his stuff, but I knew that he already did it.

"He shouldn't charge you more than 10 soles ($3) for a new one. I lost a key once, and the hotel owner let me take another key into town and make a new one. It cost me 6 soles.

"But I don't know about this guy. He might try to charge 20 soles for it," I said.

"I'm not paying that."

I look at him and see he's concerned. I tell myself, as a lawyer, you know your client's problem is your problem, right? "It's alright; I'll help you. For now, just get your stuff packed."

At that time another German guy checks in. He comes into our room.

I tell Tobi, "I'll be with you if Jose [the hotel owner] asks you about the key. Then, we'll argue him down to 6 to 10 soles. But let me pay him first; otherwise, he'll try to get money off of me too."


The new german guy asks, "Where are you guys going?"

"To Kuelap. And you?"

"I'm going to Kuelap too."

"Oh, but we're checking out right now. We think the hostel owner is a control freak. We're tired of him."

The new German guy says he overpaid for his tour and not to tell him anymore. We were just trying to be helpful.

We both go down to the kitchen. We drink our coffee. I notice that Jose's really busy with other guests coming in. He's also booking tours for them. I pay Jose. I smile and tell him we're going to Kuelap. He says that's good.

Then I get Tobi and tell him to pay Jose now, while he's distracted. Tobi pays. We get our stuff and leave the hostel.

I tell Tobi, "That's good. He didn't notice that you lost the key. He was busy."

"Ja, good one."

"You know, you make me work a lot. I'm supposed to be on holiday."

"I'm not making you work. I would have gotten away with it, anyways. He was distracted."

True, I think. But, lawyering always requires a backup plan and that takes work to make. But I don't bother explaining it to him. That's what clients don't get about how much work goes into good lawyering; there are plans and back up plans and back up plans to the back up plans.

We check into our new hostel, which is also cheaper. We leave our stuff there.

Then, we have five more minutes to buy stuff before we check into our tour. Tobi buys some junk food and water. I buy water too. I buy some crunchy and coated peanuts. I tell Tobi they're addictive.

Then, we check into our tour. There, the tour operator says, "We're going to wait five more minutes for your French friends. If they don't show up, we have no more time."

We wait. They don't show up. Tobi and I decide we can't get them; otherwise, we would be left without a tour.

We take a bus. There, we see our new German. I hear him checkin. His name is Michael.

On the bus, the tour operator tells us in Spanish and English that we're going to Kuelap. Because the day is fine, we're going to skip lunch until the end. We have to take some cable cars up the hill. Then we begin our journey.

I feel carsick again from the bus ride to the site.

I tell Tobi, "You know the Italian girl gave me her number?"

"No she didn't. You're lying."

"I'm not lying. She gave it to me." I showed him the note. Then said, "I guess you're right, she did make the note out to Paul + Tobi."

"She gave it to us. I bought her a lunch the day you went to Gocta."

"So what? I made her coffee. I talked to her for a couple hours and gave her advice."

"She gave it to us. Not just to you." (By the way, Eliza told us that Kuelap would be boring.)

The ride is about 40 minutes away. During it, I manage to tell Tobi a story, because he wants to hear a war story (what we lawyers call our lawyering stories). I can't recall how this particular story came up.

But I told him this one: "I found out that lawyers are really horrible people. My first case was from my boxing club. One of the kids got into a car accident that was the other person's fault. He hired a lawyer, but the lawyer dropped him as a client, because it wasn't going to be an easy case.

"I had just became licensed as a lawyer. And I took the case, while I was supposed to be looking for work. Because it was my first case, and because of the facts involved, it took a lot of work for me. I had to even do translation work, negotiate, argue. It was a lot of work. But finally, the insurance company wanted to settle.

"Then, we were about to receive the settlement check, then the first lawyer comes back. [His name is Ricardo Perez with Perez Law Corporation in Ontario.] He puts a hold on our check, because he says he needs to get paid too.

"And I was so mad. What the hell was this? He didn't even do any work on the case. He dropped the client. Now, he was a greedy lawyer coming back for some of his money. I worked so hard on that case, and I wasn't even making that much money. And here, this guy comes back, and wants to steal my money."

"So what'd you do?" Tobi asks.

"Well, I couldn't sleep. Then I thought about it for awhile. Then I told my client that we should sue him.

"So, I did a lot of research and found the claim. It was called Slander of Title. It means, when someone is lying about owning property they really shouldn't have. It's a rare claim. Then we sued this scumbag lawyer."

"Then what happened?"

"Well, he hired a lawyer. That lawyer contacted me and said they'd release all the funds, if we dropped the case.

"I told that lawyer, 'No, you'll release the funds now; otherwise, you're also being unethical. Not that I would ever report you, but it can always happen. Then we'll discuss our settlement.'"

"Then what happened?"

"Haha." I smiled. "Well, they released the funds. And we still kept up the lawsuit. We lost it. But I think it was a good thing that I took action. I wanted that lawyer and other lawyers not to do that kind of stuff to me. I think they thought they could get away with it, because I was young and just started.

"They never thought the little boy bites back. I'm kind of like a Komodo Dragon. It's not their bite that kills you, but the infection they give. Just give it time. The wound gets full of bacteria and poison.

"My professor was so proud of me. I told him what I did. And he said, 'At a boy. That's exactly what you're supposed to do!'

"Also, my divorce law professor always taught me this kind of strategy. She was this sweet little old grandmother. And she could've been anyone's Oma. But at office hours once, she told me, 'Paul, the most important trait about a good lawyer is that they go for the throat. Don't ever forget, ok?' I went for that guy's throat that day.

"I really wished they disbarred him. We don't need lawyers like him. There's too many greedy, lying lawyers around. The profession really needs to be cleaned up. (That's one thing I really hated about my profession: I caught these lawyers, not just this guy, behaving badly, and when they got caught, nothing ever happened to them. The result is that litigation becomes a game about who's nastier and slimier to win.)

"But that's one of the reasons I left, and I'm here telling you this story."

He looked like a little kid, so happy to have a story told to him.

After the bus dropped us off, we had to take a cable car up to the heights of the mountain. There, Michael wanted to talk us to more. Tobi told him I was a lawyer. And Michael asked for my resume. So, in a boring way, I told it to him.

I wasn't that interested in talking to him. There were pictures of Kuelap and Michael said, "I don't want to see these pictures. When I see Kuelap, I want it to be special."

I told him, "I have to be honest - an Italian girl told us it'd be boring. So, I don't think seeing pictures will matter."

He didn't like what I said. So, he asked, "Why'd you come then?"

"Because, our French friends wanted to go. And it's so strange, they asked us to come and paid for their tour. But they didn't even show up."

I thought, This guy takes himself way too seriously.

* * *

Time for me to be your virtual National Geographic or Discovery Channel. Kuelap is a preserved ruin of town, built around the 6th Century A.D. by the Chachapoyas people, and not the Incas - who came after. The Chachapoyans hated the Incans, so apparently at this site, they helped the Spaniards by giving them information to defeat the Incans.

Although the Spaniards discovered the site first, the official discoverer was some lawyer. The Peruvians didn't want to acknowledge the Spanish, so they got around the whole thing, by saying that a Peruvian lawyer published the first article on the site (though he wasn't the first person to find it). Thus, he's the first to officially discover Kuelap.

Nobody really knows what the main building's function is for. They thought it was for war, but now, historians think it was a religious place of gathering. Some of the houses had guinea pig farms, also called cuy here. That's it folks. That's all we learned about Kuelap on our tour. And I also told Tobi not to believe what the guides say, because they just make stuff up sometimes to make us feel good.

One last fact. It's near this region that the Spaniards captured the Inca King, Atahualpa.

* * *

Tobi and I walked up the place. We shot some photos. It was so touristy. It was a kind of pre-Incan Disneyland. There were also probably a lot of people, because the day was fine.

It wasn't that interesting for me. But, it was fun to have Tobi around. I felt like we were kids again, playing Indians and Cowboys or Cops and Robbers.

We also made fun of a lot of people, but they didn't know it. They just saw us laughing a lot. And the grumpy people weren't that happy we were having a fun time.

At one point, an older, chubby lady heard me speak and say, "Oh, you speak good English!"

And I told her, "So do you!"

"Where'd you learn?" She asked.

"Oh, where did you learn?"

"Oh, I'm from the United States."

"Oh, so am I."

"Where you from?"

"Los Angeles. You?"

"Western Michigan. Oh, I only said you spoke good English, because it was so good to hear another native speaker."

A number of people were watching. Tobi was laughing a lot too. So, were others at this point.

I'm glad I could provide some entertainment to others. I thought I did well. I came back with a witty come back and reflected back her unintended patronization.

We saw a Spanish group take touristy pictures and selfies. I told Tobi, "Look at them. They're not even happy. They have fake smiles. Real smiles come from the eyes, not the teeth."

After seeing the ruins, we had to go back to the cable cars. I tell Tobi he should smoke his cigarettes in the cable car. Tobi says that German guy wouldn't be happy. I said, "Who? Michael?"

Then Michael hears us. He asks, "What's going on?" We embarrassingly have to explain our little story.

In the cable car, Tobi asked Michael if he was impressed.

Michael said, "It was interesting."

I said (like the lawyer I am), "You're not answering the question. Were you impressed?"

It took him awhile to muster an answer. Then he said, "No, I wasn't impressed."

But nobody in our cabin was impressed. It was just ok.

It was a tourist gimmick. I told Tobi, "See, Eliza was right. It was going to be boring."

The others in the cabin seemed to get depressed I said it. But I wasn't down. I had a lot of fun, but it wasn't because of seeing some ruins.

* * *

Later, when we had lunch, Tobi and I found out that our tour operator, Turismo Explorer ripped us off. He wasn't paying for our lunch. That didn't make us happy. (I'm finding tourism is turning these business owners in Chachapoyas greedy and dishonest).

On our bus ride down, I told Tobi, "I'm not being too friendly to others. But I don't feel like it."

"I know," he said. "What's wrong with you?"

I said, "Because, I don't have the energy for them. They take a lot of energy, these people."

He laughts and says, "I like how you say that - that you don't have the energy."

* * *

For dinner, Tobi and I ate at a great steak place that reminded me of the Argentinian or Brazilian steak places we have back in Los Angeles. The meat was brined. We had it served with cream and oil and bread. It tasted very good.

Some French tourists arrived at our new hostel. They said they were going to see Kuelap. We told them it'd be boring, but they didn't want to listen to us.

Tobi and I drank some more wine. In fact, we finished all of the type of wine we were drinking in town. We just told each other more stories. It was fun. We laughed a lot.

The next day, the French tourists came back and told us it was boring. (Can't say we didn't tell them so.)

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