Peru: Guinea Pigs & Anthropology
Internet cafes can be found about every 3 feet and are only 25 cents an hour, so it`s been impossible to detach myself from my email obsession. And, I find myself waiting for yet another overnight bus, so figured I`d post again.
One of the signature dishes in the northern part of Peru is Cuy. You can have it baked, fried, in soup, on a stick, etc. Turns out, it`s guinea pig (I hope Liz isn`t reading this – sorry Stan!). I was fairly certain that it was guinea pig, but decided not to confirm my suspicions until after I tried it. The easiest way to have lunch is to go into any of the million food places and just ask for el menu economico – the menu of the day. It`s crazy cheap for soup, entree, drink and dessert. Usually it`s some form of chicken. A few days ago, it was cuy. It tasted ok – but they serve it to you whole, and that was not ok – because it looked like I was eating a rat. But I gave it a whirl. I can now check that off my list of things to try (not that it was on there in the first place.) In the higher altitude villages, where it gets very cold at night, people fill their houses with guinea pigs. Apparently guinea pigs give off a lot of heat, so this is a way for them to bring warmth into their homes. And then I guess they just slowly eat away at the heating system.
My chosen mode of transportation in Peru, when not on foot – is in a combi. Combi`s are little van type things that would give any clown car a run for their money. Every time I think we can`t possibly fit any more people on board – we stop and pick up a few more. Before I left Huaraz, I took a combi out to the Willcawain Ruins. On the way back, the combi was full by my standards. A lady got on with a toddler and a baby. She handed me the baby to hold. ok. Then, another lady got on with 3 chickens in a bag. She sets them on the floor between the two of us. This was the first day I’d worn sandals and they didn`t seem to be too happy about bouncing down the road in a mesh net and I was sure they were going to start pecking, presumably at my toes. Nonetheless, with a mystery baby in my lap, my toes in danger, and my face plastered up against the window, I couldn`t of been happier…this is afterall, what I came for!!
My last real stop in Peru is the city of Trujillo.
I spent the first day exploring the city on foot and then I went to visit the ruins Huaca de la Luna and Huaca del Sol. I know nothing about archeology, and to be quite truthful, usually find it boring, but this turned out to be very interesting. I joined an older couple from California and we had a great tour guide who was very passionate about the Moche culture and the temple and the excavation work being done at the site. Also in Trujillo are the ruins at Chan Chan – an 800 year old temple and city built out of Adobe. Again, I found the tour quite interesting. Archeology is the main focus in Northern Peru. These are things I normally wouldn`t have done, but am glad that I did. I am however, going to cruise right on through the rest of Northern Peru – as there are only more and more ruins in a very dry desert. So, tonight I head for Piura, Peru, where I can hopefully catch transport to the border town of La Tina before heading into Ecuador, with my final destination begin Cuenca. If all goes smoothly, I should be able to get there on Thursday morning.
I`ve had a lot of questions from you guys about safety and being lonely and bored, etc. It`s all been great so far!! Despite it being “low tourist season,” I`ve met other travelers along the way and Peruvians are very friendly and often sit down to chat for a few minutes before going on their way. Naturally, it helps that communication is not an issue. As far as safety goes, I`ve been walking myself into exhaustion everyday, so that by the time it gets dark, I`m ready to head back to the hostel. I`ve been staying in areas that are pretty busy until 9-10 at night, and lots of places to eat close by, so it hasn`t been an issue. However, I know it exists…the gal I was with yesterday had her camera stolen on a combi, and the Dutch couple I`m hanging out with today had their bag stolen yesterday from a restaurant while having lunch – so my eyes and ears are always alert (as I wrote that I had to glance down and make sure my bag was still at my feet 🙂
Onward to Ecuador…