Eating Challenge - Guinea Pig!

Trip Start Nov 15, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Peru  ,
Monday, August 27, 2007

Our night bus journey from Ica to Ayacucho was memorable for the fact that I managed to get some sleep! Not always the case...and we met a very friendly local young woman form Ayacucho called Edith (prounced in a Spanish way), a chemical engineer working on her doctorate.

The morning sun woke us and we saw pretty landscapes from the winding, hilly roads and were pleased that our bus driver was saner than most. Finding a good value hotel, we showered and wandered off to the market for some freshly-squeezed juice. All the juice ladies were very friendly and interested in where we were from. We got the impression that they arenīt overrun with tourists there. Our lady invited us to look over the bench into her tiny stall the size of a toilet cubicle so we could see her tiny, new baby tucked up in a little box sleeping soundly. She explained that even though she had a baby, she needed to keep working.

Sitting in the main plaza munching on brown bread (a treat!) and homemade cheese, we could see that an event involving uniforms and again, brass bands was about to start. Asking at the tourist office what the special event was, the Seņorita explained that the parade celebrating their military past (a nearby battle was the last with the Spaniards in all of South America) took place every Sunday. "Every Sunday?" we asked in disbelief - there were hundred of people involved, children and adults. "Yes, every Sunday" she said politely, in a tone that lead us to believe that she had seen and heard enough of these parades from her nearby office to last her a lifetime. I couldnīt help thinking that I would be a bit annoyed if half my Sunday was taken up marching around a plaza in school uniform with my school-mates.

Apart from the parade, Ayacucho seems a proud town - mostly clean (apart from the market area) and organised. Beautiful weather the day we were there, and we are told the climate is generally very good. The colonial architecture is incredibly well-preserved, it is like a mini-Cusco without the tourists and the tourist hassle.

Ayacucho is also famous for serving up cuy - or guinea pig. Weīre always keen to try new food, so we thought - why not? Our restaurant was simple, busy and full of locals so it seemed like a good option. The cuy arrived on our plate after a long wait - we found out later that they would have been killing it out the back as we relaxed with a cold drink. Now, thatīs fresh! The downside was that it arrived on our plate fried and we were to discover that cuy is a naturally oily meat. For some reason, eating a whole fish doesnīt disturb us in the least (and Iīve never understood why some people will only eat fillets!) but tackling a guinea pig with the head on presented a bigger problem. We didnīt find ourselves chewing on the scrawny legs with the same gusto as a chicken drumstick. The taste (apart from being greasy) resembled rabbit a little. All in all, we forced it down and decided not to repeat the experience. Ed had a natural advantge in this eating challenge - heīd managed to consume 600ml of beer previous, I did it sober!

We had a wander around the very pleasant town later in the day, resting up as we needed to move through the north of Peru quickly in the following days...
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