viernes, 18 de septiembre de 2009

Huancayo

As I'm feeling in a bit of a rut, having been in Miraflores for the past 3 weeks, I though I would share my trip to Huancayo .. partially for readers but also to rehash the trip for myself. The trip started out on a pretty rough note. We decided on a whim that we would take a weekend trip to Huancayo which is a city in the Andes about 8 hours away by bus. In order to make the most of our time (and money) we bought a 2 way night bus ticket. We left Thursday night from Lima and travelled through the night up the long winding road to Huancayo. Not having done our homework, we were unaware of the fact that in order to reach Huancayo by bus you must pass over one of the highest peaks in Peru at 15,700 feet above sea level. At this altitude nearly everyone suffers from some degree of altitude sickness. The members of our group were lucky enough not to get physically sick on the ascent.. but unlucky enough to have chosen the 6 seats in the back of the bus closest to the bathroom. Need I say more?

Anyways, we made it to Huancayo, more or less in one piece, around 6 o'clock in the morning before anything that resembled a coffee shop was open. We were all pretty exhausted and our hands and toes were tingling from the lack of oxygen running through our veins. We needed some coca. So after wandering around the slowly awakening city we found a bakery, ordered some fresh pastries and 6 cups of coca tea. Coca - in its leaf form - is the well known, sure-fire, remedy for the head ache, nausea, and numbness associated with altitude sickness.









Next, we tackled the city market which was an adventure and definate cultural experience. It was also probably my favorite experience of the trip. The market takes up blocks and blocks of the city and is a center where people gather from surrounding towns and villages to sell their produce - fruits, vegetables, grains, breads, cheeses, and of course meat and fish - all of which are exposed to the hot, muggy air of the marketplace and which produce a most unpleasant smell which permeates every street of the city. While the market was not the sweet smelling, fresh, clean supermarket or whole foods coop, it is so incredibly real that I found it so beautiful. Being in the middle of a real commercial center, it is fascinating to imagine that the things that you find in supermarkets and big chain stores find their origins right here in the streets of Huancayo. Even the meat market has an aire of beauty - people bustle around the hanging carcases, the pig heads, and the various pieces of animals choosing carefully which piece of meat they will purchase to bring home to their families. It's so interesting because they are so aware



of what is going on. Meat is not the pre-cooked, plastic wrapped food item in the grocery store freezer - it is the flesh of an animal and there is no getting around it. Also- this is not mass, factory produced meat but farm raised meat that the very people who are selling it have bread and raised as a way to make a living.


I will refrain from posting pictures of dead animals but here is a good picture of a rice trader. Right next to the pile of toilet paper for sale which was so prevalent in every tienda in the market.. yet was strangely so absent in all of the restrooms in the city.















Here is a picture of the fruit section where we got to choose all of the kinds of fruits we wanted to create a delicious fruit smoothie! Right next to this section was the cheese section leading right into the meat section.. not my favorite mix of items.
A little difficult to see i guess but one stand is to the left with a lady with her fruit on display and Elly walking toward the stand to make a fresh juice.





The next day we went to Cochas which is a small town outside of the city. We took a combi... of

course... brought a picnic of fresh foods from the market, and set off for this little village.

Here is the view from the top of the hill where we had our picnic.
































































And right before we had to run through the village to catch the last combi of the day heading back to Huancayo.











































I know not many pictures of people.. but next weekend is Cusco and Machu Picchu!! So I will take lots of pictures of the whole group.

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