Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Peru, Day 4

I woke up at five a.m. to the sound of rain hammering the rooftops all over Aguas Calientes. And while I tried to sleep again after that, at six there was the sound of a drill at a construction site to make sure I didn’t succeed. It only last about five minutes, though, but it was kind of the drill-operator to be the morning alarm for probably everyone in the town.

With nothing else to do at six a.m., I headed downstairs for breakfast, which consisted of oatmeal with capuli (a Peruvian fruit) preserves, a bowl of cut pineapple, papaya, honeydew melon, and pepito (a local fruit that tasted like a combination of an Asian pear and a honeydew melon), some bread (like the pita-type bread I had in Cuzco) and cheese, a couple pieces of puffed rice mixed with something that tasted like licorice, and coffee that was full of grounds.

While eating I had a long conversation with very nice twins from Ottawa, Canada, who were traveling through Peru for a month. They told me that they saw a double rainbow that spanned the middle mountain at Machu Picchu yesterday afternoon. Their guide was all about extra dimensions and explained to them the relationship between Machu Picchu and civilizations he’s visited on Mars and Venus. Apparently, people on Venus wear silver body suits and when they have “pure sex” they produce rainbows such as what was seen at Machu Picchu yesterday. I asked the women if the Venutians had to remove their silver body suits to have sex, but they weren’t sure. Not surprisingly, Venutians and Martians have much cleaner oceans and rivers than we have here on Earth, and more advanced civilizations generally. Sometimes it’s good to travel on one’s own and not rely on local information. Not that the women’s guide was unreliable. I’m just saying…

The rain stopped at around 10:30, and with nothing else planned for my time in Aguas Calientes I decided to check out the local hot springs, which were about a 15-minute walk from my hostal. The walk was interesting as it followed a path alongside a river filled with rocks and rushing water. There were also many stores along the way renting out towels and even bathing suits.

Since I wasn't actually planning to enter the hot springs, I convinced the ticket salesman at the entrance to let me pass through to take some photos. It took me another five minutes to walk to where the hot spring pools were, and there I found a number of people soaking in the water.

By the time I got back to town I decided to grab a quick lunch before heading to the train station for my trip back to Cuzco. Unfortunately, I chose the wrong place to eat -- it has since knocked me out of commission and prevented me from seeing and doing many things. The culprit: the place in the photo below (I'm not sure of its name).

I ordered seco de cordero (stewed lamb in a green sauce with rice) and a jugo de durazno con leche (peach juice with milk). No red flags appeared as I ate my meal, which was in fact pretty tasty. The lamb was mild in flavor and the green sauce, which was made with cilantro and had peas, carrots, and potatoes mixed in, was a nice accompaniment. Was it worth 50 soles ($17.30)? Absolutely not. But as I said before, that's par for the course in Aguas Calientes.

After lunch I returned to my hostal to gather my things, and also to get a photo of the hostal's Peruvian Hairless, an indigenous breed. This was probably the friendliest, happiest dog I've ever come across, and it occurred to me several times to take it back with me as a souvenir. Since that was impossible, and against my general code of ethics, I decided to settle for a photo. Below is Martha, the receptionist, playing with the Peruvian Hairless. It's not a good shot, but it's still pretty cute.

I headed to the train station at around 2:30 and found myself sitting across from the same couple from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan that I'd sat with coming up here. It was nice having people to talk with on the way back to Cuzco, though I started to feel the effects of my lunch about halfway through the train ride.

It didn't stop me from eating the food served during the trip. The two pastries and peach tart were nothing to write home about (but they were fine for blogging), but the Inka Cola I had is worth mentioning, I guess. It was basically a cream soda, but the color was unlike any yellow I'd ever seen. It was scary looking, but it tasted fine. It was just fun to drink something called Inka Cola.

By the time I got back to Cuzco I was really feeling pretty bad. I thought perhaps I was suffering from motion sickness, which I never get, but seemed a possibility since the train journey back was hardly a smooth ride. Since I didn't know what was about to hit me, I checked into my hostal in San Blas and returned to town to find something to eat. I ended up buying bread from a bakery and two potatoes from a woman grilling them on a street corner.

By the time I returned to my hostal my hunger had vanished. I took two bites of potato and two bites of the ham and cheese empañada above, and that was it for me...

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  1. I am jealous beyond belief (well, admittedly not jealous of your bad food experiences which, unfortunately can be an occupational hazard when travelling in such places) - but jealous that you are in Peru.

    I was there around 8 years ago, spent time in Cusco (pretty sure I was in that bakery you mentioned in an earlier post), drank mate, trekked the Inca trail to Macchu Picchu, was in those hot springs and loved the whole experience. Am also jealous because, of course, you are in the ancestral home of the spud - no doubt if I was there this time 'round, I would have all sorts of spuds in my sights.

    So I hope you feel better soon and that you still manage to do some of the other things on your Peruvian agenda - I'll be waiting to read all about it.

  2. Sapuche, "tội nghiệp quá" the foods made you sick. Hopefully you will feel better for Day 5 posting :) The night shots at Cuzco are beautiful. Especially, the one with the water fountain. I am on the journey with you every day in your post. BTW, ginger tea is great to settle your stomach.

    Canadian-Vietnamese Girl.

  3. Daily Spud: Haha! Well, if it makes you feel less jealous, I'm no longer in Peru -- I'm in Ecuador now. That's really funny that you recognized the bakery in Cuzco. And I'm impressed you hiked the Inca Trail. I just didn't have it in me. I loved Peru, and I can see how you'd want to come back -- for the potatoes and for everything else the country offers!

    Anonymous: Toi nghiep qua indeed! But I'm better now, and I'm eating as if to make up for lost time. :) Thanks for the ginger tea recommendation. I'm sure I'll have more opportunities to make use of it! Cam on!

  4. Oh, the perils of travel-eating! I hope that it didn't last long and you were no worse for the wear. Speaking of 'wearing', I'm a wee bit skeeved over the idea of rental bathing suits - I thought it was bad enough that bowling shoes are shared! 8-)