6-21-08 – Summer Solstice
Wooo! Today was a tough day!! We slept in, went out for croissants and lattes, had more lattes, shopped a little, had a long leisurely lunch, had massages, and then a long leisurely dinner. Whoo! I can’t remember the last time worked so hard!!
Ok, ok… today was our free day in Cuzco and Deb, Julia and I relaxed hard. There is not much exciting to report in that so I thought I would take the opportunity to answer some of your questions! So here is all the extra stuff you have been dying to know…
Food- The food here is really interesting! Peruvians eat a lot of soups, quinoa, and fresh fruits. Every single menu has a long list of fruit juices which are literally just fruit thrown in a blender. We had star-fruit juice for dinner and it was fantastic. The juices are really inexpensive and make it easy to make at least one healthy choice at a meal.
Soup is also very big here with 5-10 soups on every menu. We have quinoa, pumpkin, veggie and lentil soups a lot. Desserts are kind of hit or miss, so we don’t have much of that, but starches are a big staple here.
Yes, they eat guinea pig, and no I have not tried it. Enough said.
The cars in Cuzco are very interesting! 90% Daewoos, (most of which are illegal taxis), and 10% Volkswagon bugs from the 60’s and 70’s. There is no emissions testing so the exhaust is a bit overwhelming! Also, people drive like bats out of hell! Everyone believes that he has the right-of-way, and you take your life in your hands when you try to cross the street! The interesting thing, though, is that there seems to be no road rage. There is the constant sound of polite little beeps of car horns, and everyone is trying to get in front of everyone else, but no one seems to get angry. It is kind of cool!
It just so happens that today is the Summer Solstice, and that is a huge holiday in Peru! There is a wonderful sense of expectation in the air as the streets start filling up with people. Local families are pouring in from the country surrounding Cuzco, and the number of vendors has increased dramatically. It is not unusual for us to be surrounded by people of all ages trying to sell us stuff whenever we stop moving. It makes it impossible to sit in the Plaza De Armas, (the main square), but is still very entertaining! The sales people are always coming up with more and more clever sales techniques. My favorite so far is when a vendor walks up and says, “Do you remember me? You said you would buy from me today!”. Since anytime you say “no” to a vendor, they always say, “Maybe tomorrow”, and you usually answer the same, there is a good chance that you DID tell someone you would buy from them!! So you have to be very careful when you talk back to them.
By the time the sun sets today, downtown Cuzco resembles Mardi Gras. There is music, crowds, food, fireworks and vendors everywhere. There are colors everywhere and toddlers run around eating cotton candy while teenagers scan the crowds for their friends. There is a lot of energy in the air!
We finally get overwhelmed by the crowds and head back to the hotel. Tomorrow we head to the jungle early, so there will be no late night Solstice festivities for us. For now, though, I am so happy to have even gotten the smallest taste of this celebration! Tomorrow I am off to find Tarzan!
Love, Anna aka Mud Butt
PS- A belated thanks to Andy and Liteshoe for making sure you all get these messages! Without them, I would be out of luck!!