Screaming Llamas!

Trip Start Nov 15, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Peru  ,
Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Leaving Ayacucho in a cheap, crowded mini-bus packed with locals we headed off to a small town to change buses for Huancavelica. At the town, we had a snack and a chat with a local school teacher. He works in a very remote school which is only accessible via a two hour walk from the main road. He explained that he teaches in Spanish and Quecha (the indigenous language) as the local children arenīt 100% proficient in Spanish and at times speak a type of hybrid.

The next bus ride took us through remote adobe villages and mining towns, past desert-like ground with salty rivulets running through. One or two large lakes dominated the landscape at one stage and we were surprised to see that the villages werenīt situated next to them, but on the dusty hills above. We were the only tourists on the bus, something we had enjoyed over the last few days.

While we have been used to chickens on buses for months, we were a little surprised when the bus stopped next to a couple of campesinos (country people) and two llamas sitting obediently by the side of the road. As it turned out, the llamas' legs were tied together and the campesinos with the aid of the bus conductor started to lift and push these large animals into the luggage storage compartments under the bus. They were given some serious llama resistance and liberally coated in yellow llama phlegm for their efforts.

Have you ever heard a llama scream? The sound is like something like a high-pitched alien from Doctor Who (for our Anglo readers) or a special effects sound from a Peter Jackson movie. A sound which drives shivers down your spine, like fingernails down a blackboard. The llama owner sat next to me and I asked him if the llama was OK. He replied that the animal was fine and seemed surprised at my question. 

The trip then passed uneventfully, with the exception of another llama pick-up and delivery on the way. Arriving in Huancavelica, we were less than impressed with the look of the place and our first impressions werenīt helped by a drunk covered in his own blood lying in the small plaza. Some locals and the police came to his aid and carried him off, leaving the stains to be washed away later . Looking for a hotel, we found out that the nice part of Huancavelica was a few blocks away, charming, busy and a friendly.

The town was inundated with juice bars, and we found one which had fresh green paint, wooden chairs and plastic grapes strung around the ceiling. It had a relaxed, friendly ambience that would measure up to any popular cafe in our countries. We were so impressed by our food there that we asked the Seņora to make us breakfast for the next day - I think we were her best customers for the day.

We walked through the cobbled streets lined with colonial buildings and intersected with plazas and churches. Ed had a haircut with a bubbly, chatty hairdresser who was a bit surprised to have a gringo Chino (chinese) in her salon, she explained that normally all the Chinos she sees are from Peru! Ed was pretty pleased when she said that he was a Guapo Chino Gringo (handsome Chinese foreigner/whitey) and he left with a smile and a better-looking head of hair.

The Chinos came through again with a decent, good-value meal...
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