South America 2015, Part 4.

Maccu Picchu! Almost! Not quite yet! First, a whole bunch of other stuff that is not Maccu Picchu-related.

A common thing in Peru is for a gentlemen to modify his motorcycle into a three-wheeled taxi with a small exoskeleton and a backseat. It is also common for it to be super-decorated. Many were Batman-themed for some reason. This one reminded me of the Mystery Machine from Scooby-Doo cartoons.

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Peru has about 3,000 varieties of potatoes. The weirdest ones I saw were on a man’s dining room table. He said mothers-in-law would give them to daughters-in-law they did not like to peel for dinner. (They are impossible to peel. They are rhythmically lumpy.)

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I kept seeing rainbow flags all over Cusco. I mean everywhere. I was like, “Wow, Cusco is really a gay-friendly city!” Nope. I was wrong. I mean, Cusco might be a gay-friendly city, but the rainbow flag supposedly represents the seven areas of Cusco. It’s a Cusco thing, not a pro-homosexual thing.

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The day before we went to Maccu Picchu we visited some farms and tasted some homemade corn beer. At the cornbeer house there was a distinctly Peruvian game called “Frog.” If I had to compare it to something familiar to us, I would go with skeeball. It’s a tall wooden desk with a drawer and there are holes drilled in the top and sides of the desk. Most of the holes are just holes but some have spinny bronze elements and there’s a bronze frog with his mouth open in the center. You throw heavy bronze coins from about fifteen feet away and attempt to get them in the various holes. At the end you pull out the drawer and you can see how much you scored.

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I sucked so hard at this game. So very, very hard. My team would have done better if I had stayed in the bus. If one could score negative points, I would have done it.

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You could purchase the bronze elements from the homeowner / beermaker. The wooden desk you would have to make yourself.

After we played for a while (my team lost because of my previously mentioned suckery) we were ushered into a shed-like enclosure with enormous clay pots in the corner of the room. On the table was some Alice in Wonderland stuff – normal-sized ears of corn with freakishly large kernels on it, a bowl of sprouting giant kernels, and two massive glasses of what I assumed to be beer. I expected them to have neat little labels on them. “Eat me.” “Drink me.”

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Our guide Henry told us the yellow stuff is plain corn beer. It’s a couple days old and it is really low in alcohol, about 2%. It is a common theory that drinking the beer helps prevent prostate problems, but it’s probably because the men are drinking such immense quantities of liquid. I tried the beer. It wasn’t bad. It tasted exactly like watered-down white wine. You could taste the fermentation but it wasn’t overwhelming and the bubbles were almost non-existent. The homeowner only makes as much beer as she thinks she will sell in the next day or two because after that it becomes too strong. At that point it is sold to restaurants to soften their meats so nothing is wasted. The pink beer is the same but with strawberries added. Equally pleasant. Here you can appreciate the beer-lady’s fermentation pot and the gourds she serves the beer with. See how bright and well-lit it is in this shed? Skylights, people. I’m telling you, skylights change everything. It would be a dark spooky shed otherwise but because of the skylights, it was delightful. I have drunk the skylight Kool-Aid and I will convert you as well.

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Post corn imbibement we visited a local ceramic artist. He created his own style and then started a factory to both give locals job opportunities and to allow him the money to make his own one-of-a-kind pieces. First we saw the factory. It was gorgeous. There were pieces built into the stone walls.

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Upstairs women were burnishing certain portions of unfired clay so that those bits would be glossy. I had never seen agate burnishers before and I think they’re great. I don’t have anything to burnish but I want one.

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The ceramicist took us all up into his studio which was a masterpiece of organized clutter. Here you can appreciate the magical magical skylight. Being magical. I WILL CONVERT YOU ALL.

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His work is really unique and looks like something that might be in The Fifth Element. Of course, being Peruvian, what’s a sculpture without stairs?

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He had a beautiful front yard…

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…and a small paddock with ducks and two llamas. One of the llamas looked extra-special-stupid eating his grasses.

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Outside he had a hairless dog. I thought they were from Mexico and were called Xoloitzcuintli (I’ve blogged about them before) but they’re in Peru too. Huh.

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Next blog entry: a family lunch and MACCU PICCHU!

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