Machu Picchu.  Inca ruins.  Stunning Cathedrals. 

These are just a few of the architectural and cultural marvels that one expects to see in the magnificent country of Peru.  In fact, no matter where one travels in Peru, one is greeted by new wonders that never cease to amaze.  For I found in short order that whatever this industrious and creative nation set its mind to, they did with excellence and a sense of pride.

It came to me as no surprise then that nothing was left as an exception to this rule.  For as I wandered through our well decorated and colorful hotel in Puno, beautiful artwork and tasteful decorations greeted my eyes on every floor.  The colors were deep and exotic – evoking a sense of adventure.  The paintings vivid and striking. 

It was, however, not the paintings, nor the colors, nor even the architecture that stand out so vividly in my mind as I reminisce upon those bygone days, but it is the furniture that stands out like a bulwark in my mind.  Perhaps an odd comment you would think.  Perhaps… but you see that as I explored the the hotel, taking it all in, and wondering indeed what it was that made this hotel truly so unique, it was then, as if in an epiphanic moment, that I realized that while paintings abound, and many have proven adept at matching decorative colors, I had never in my life seen such bizarre stools.  For on every landing of the hotel, neatly arranged, two sofas and one foot stool presented themselves. And while unassuming in some sense, each set was different, and each set uniquely striking.

Some were circular.  Others triangular in shape.  Some short while others a little taller.  Aqua greens were used on some floors.  To others, a more pronounced maroon.  They were by all measures, strange. Unique.

However, as I sit, here, back at home in the US, I realize that such a statement is perhaps misleading.  For unfortunately, as I think back fondly upon this and previous trips, I recognize that it is far too common in foreign countries to encounter irregular stools. 

Perhaps you know what I mean.  Maybe you recall that sinking feeling of regret only a few hours – okay minutes – after eating what may have been a delicious meal.  For while the food may have been delectable to your palate, it soon proved to be disagreeable to the bowels.  And that sense of rumbling that began from deep within like a tremor before the earthquake quickly warned of a night of disaster.  After interpreting the signs, you may soon have found yourself confined to the porcelain closet for the night as your stomach reminded you that not all was right below deck.  Ah yes…the plight of encountering irregular stools.