Terry Zink's Cyber Security Blog

Discussing Internet security in (mostly) plain English

An adventure in Peru

An adventure in Peru

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Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while now know that during October, 2008, I was (fictitiously) attacked by a spammer while I was traveling to the Great Wall of China.  The spammer had been (fictitiously) tracking my movements and (fictitiously) cornered me.  He attempted to take me out, but I managed to outduel him and tossed him over the wall, never to see him again.

Those of you who have been reading this blog for only a little while know that during the last part of November, 2009, I traveled to Peru.  It was a good trip; I visited the city of Lima, saw the Nazca lines, traveled through Colca Canyon (like the Grand Canyon, but more impressive), sailed on Lake Titicaca and wrapped it up with a visit to the lost Inca city of Machu Picchu.  It was very enjoyable, other than the sleep deprivation.

Or shall I say, there was one other thing that I didn’t enjoy – another spammer once again cornered me and tried to take me out.  Only one of us lived to tell about it.  Guess which one?

Like my trip to China, this story is largely fiction.  But not completely.


We flew into Lima at 1 am in the morning.  My friend and I got up out of our airplane seats and disembarked the plane.  It had been a long trip, a six hour flight from Atlanta after a five hour flight from Seattle.  The batteries in my Bose headphones were nearly dead; I couldn’t hear the movies anymore.  The flight attendant at the beginning of the trip offered me some headphones but I said “No, thanks, I don’t need them.  I’ve got these cool Bose headphones which I won at a limbo contest at MAAWG in 2008.”  She shrugged, said something that sounded like ‘suit yourself’ and moved on.  Suit myself, indeed.  Apparently my ability to judge battery life is inversely proportional to my skills in Antispam.

We waited an additional hour or so to get through customs and then collect our luggage.  At this point it had been a very long day, and after catching a cab at the airport, we headed on down to the hostel that we had booked ahead of time.  This hostel was the only thing we had pre-booked, everything else was going to be us just booking stuff on the fly.  It really was pretty ad hoc, kind of like how I like to run our Triage meetings at work.  By the time we got checked in and convinced the hostel owner to open the door at 3 am, and somehow manage to check-in despite speaking almost no Spanish and being fairly sure that some paperwork wasn’t up to snuff, we were in our room.  I had made it to Peru.  Due to jetlag and general angst, I only got maybe 3 hours sleep that night, and that’s certainly on the far end of the scale.

We got up around 10:30 or 11 am.  “Wow,” I said, “we slept late.”  But in reality, that’s not too late because Lima is only 3 hours ahead of Seattle.  I got up, showered and changed, as did my friend after I was done.  We went down for breakfast and planned our day.  It wasn’t a complicated plan, we only had two goals:

  1. Book the rest of our trip.
  2. See Lima.

I am proud to say that we accomplished both.  It took about an hour to book the trip and we planned out the various spots we want to see, you can see them in the preamble to this story.  After that, we walked outside and decided to go downtown.  We caught a taxi which took us to the heart of Lima and it only cost us 10 soles, or about $3.50 US.  That was for a 20 minute cab ride.  Cabs in Lima are the exact opposite of cabs in Geneva, which fricking charge $3.50 per minute.

We got to the main square where we saw various attractions.  Whenever I go traveling, I like to see the various shopping parts of the main strips and watch the people.  I also like seeing the architecture and comparing it to places I have been to before.  If you are wondering what Lima is like, the city that is closest to it is Los Angeles.

 

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At last we came to the main square.  And this is where the story gets interesting.  Another one of my main goals in Peru was to see a Peruvian Flute Band.  Ever since I saw that South Park episode last year, it has been my lifelong dream.  Lo and behold, we came to the main square and what did I see?  A Peruvian Flute Band!  I had accomplished my goal in one day!  They were just walking around the main square, playing music and what not.  I went up and snapped a picture.

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Little did I realize what I was getting myself into.  As I snapped the picture, I had to get the shot from a good angle.  I never really succeeded at that, they were moving around too much.  As I was snapping the first picture, I was bumped by a bystander walking beside me.  “Watch it,” he sneered as he moved past me.  “What’s his problem?” I said to myself.  He was clearly having a bad day, or so I thought.  I watched him as he went up and joined the Flute Band, playing with them.  “Well, he’s obviously not their PR guy,” I said to my friend, who laughed.

As I reflect back on it, I should have known something was up.  For one, this guy was on bongo drums.  For another, he seemed out of place.  There was something about it that was just… off.  He didn’t look like he naturally fit into the group.  I didn’t think about it at the time, but I should have.  It would come back to haunt me 10 days later.

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  • Thanks for the generous Blog,Excellent work!

    Good teaser point in the storey. I'm 99% sure thinking "pickpocket" gets me ahead but wondering why 10 days pass before the discovery... Passport missing? Still, a bit puzzled about the time frame.

    I'll be back & I will now learn something about anti-spam. - Thank you kindly! - Terry

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