Sunday, May 30, 2004
Woke up at about five this morning to an awful squalking racket – rushed out to the garage to find Wanpi Two being attacked viciously by a horrible, big, random chicken! It had somehow found it’s way over the high outer wall. Thank goodness I had covered Wanpi Two right up with a blanket, it protected her from the assault - which could have easily killed her, should she have received a peck to the head. Tito kicked the bloody stupid chicken off and we brought the dog inside to sleep. Somewhat ironically, we spent the afternoon and evening at a cockfight, which is a very popular Peruvian sport. I didn’t think I’d like it so much, but went along for the new experience, and because Tito’s good friend Juan raises cocks (no pun intended). Although I think it’s quite cruel, I was surprised to find I quite enjoyed the fighting. This could be due to my feelings of avengement towards the fowl race, but I actually think it’s due to assurances that losing cocks end up in the pot. Recycling always pleases me. The sport is quite gory though, the cocks have spikes (seals’ teeth apparently) attached to their feet so that they can properly injure each other, and a spike through the eye guarantees a win. As the day progresses the betting gets more and more lively (lots of spurting blood!), and the competing cocks increase in quality. They often have beautiful, shining plumage, and spread their neck feathers in an impressive display as the fights begin. The overall winner is the cock which completely finishes the off it’s opponent the quickest; the fastest match of the day was 26 seconds. That cock and his owner go home with 7500 soles (about 2000 US dollars) – a reward that certainly must have prompted many a cock to be raised!
Saturday, May 29, 2004
Wanpi Two arrived today! Unfortunately at the moment she is a fleabag of epic proportions – and understandably totally miserable. Perla is practising to be a vet, and so we took her in to get sprayed immediately. Wanpi Two was awfully pleased to be rid of her extensive collection of parasitical life. She looks a lot better now, and much like Wanpi One, except her eyes are grey and her coat is caramel. Her fur is darker round the head, which Perla says gives the look of a little lion. I spent several hours this evening combing vast amounts of flea poop out of her coat with baby oil, which was distasteful, but highly necessary.
Wednesday, May 26, 2004
Fish and Old Inca Trails
Still no Wanpi. Went fishing today with Tito, his dad and Arturo. I caught two! Brilliant! It was a really interesting day, as after fishing on the beach for a while, we all climbed a huge rock/cliffy protuberance. It is absolutely massive on top, and has a real otherworldly feel with layers of different coloured rock, and swirling sea mist in the higher places. Tito claims the winding paths are thousands of years old, from previous civilisations, and indeed some appear to be cobbled, quite incredible in such a desolate location. The top of the rock was an ancient Inca burial site, and the cobbled path was laid for a king’s journey there. We walked about four kilometres along the cliff edge, stopping to fish off it every now and then. Didn’t catch anything from up there though; the waves crash into the cliff edge with such ferocity that I can’t think it would be an attractive hang-out for many delicious sea creatures. About midway along the cliff edge is a vast semi-circular bite. It is called the Media Luna (Half Moon) beach, and is surrounded on all sides by 200 metres of intensely forboding cliff. Apparently there are paths substantial enough for people to get down to camp there, and indeed there were several large-scale messages (Juan luvs Claudia 4eva) and pictures in the sand to attest to human visitors. Rather intriguing. We finished our walk in the town of Port Eten, where we bought some hot-from-the-oven vanilla buns and munched them contentedly on the cramped bus journey home.
Monday, May 24, 2004
Wanpi hasn’t turned up, but Perla says the Aunt who gave her to us may have another puppy from the same litter which we can have! We’ll find out at the weekend. Today Tito was supposed to start his electrics course, for which we have been waiting a good three months. Unfortunately, when he went to the school he was told that only fourteen students had showed up and they need twenty, so it is still no go. This is extremely frustrating, as we can’t start to plan our wedding until we know when this course will be finishing! Also, a major reason why we are in Peru for this year is so that he can complete this qualification before we return to the UK. How outrageous to mess people about like this! Wait... I know, I know, it’s Peru, baby!
Saturday, May 22, 2004
Yesterday Wanpi squeezed under the garage door, and apparently was immediately swiped by a passerby. I was so upset I couldn’t stop crying all day... I had really set my heart on the little creature. That gap under the door is due to the sodding new pavement. We had meant to fix it yesterday morning, but had to go into town instead. Everytime I try to cheer up I think of the way Wanpi often lost her balance and fell over when she shook herself because she was so tiny. I know we won’t get her back, as anything that isn’t chained down is stolen in Peru, and a puppy is opportunity to make money. We have put out lost puppy posters, but I don’t hold out much hope.
Monday, May 17, 2004
Just got back from a mini five-day holiday with Tito. The longest time we’ve had, just the two of us, in Peru (by far!). Slim Shady melodiously accompanied us on a romantic drive down the Pan American highway to a little tumble-down port town called Pacasmayo. It was formerly very prosperous, and has quite a number of lovely old colonial buildings which are in various states of repair/disrepair. The state of Peru’s ports are a huge warning against privatisation. Private companies completely destroyed Peru’s previously successful export of sugar, sea salt, rice and fish powder by chasing huge profits for individuals without thought for the workers or upkeep of facilities. Pacasmayo used to run a steam engine along the pier, the rail still remains in places, now rusting away in the salty air. The formerly grand customs building is derelict; the neighbouring official’s residences still have beautiful tiling and balconies, but are likewise now abandoned. However, some of the older places along the prom have happily been done up into hotels, which are painted charmingly bright colours, so the front still feels cheerful and attracts plenty of tourists in the high season. Another attraction of Pacasmayo is, of course, the seafood. We ate some really excellent meals, a generous set menu of starter, main, and accompanying soda costing an average of five soles (about 85p). We stayed in Pacasmayo for a couple nights, and then drove further down the PanAm, to the next big city, Trujillo. We stayed at Huanchaco, a thriving seaside resort twenty minutes outside the city. It was somewhat gaudy and overpriced, but would be a lot of fun in the high season. Trujillo town centre is, like Chiclayo, based around a central park/square. Unlike Chiclayo, it has a lot of splendid old mansions with ornate wooden window balconies. They are nice to look at, but are owned by banks and other institutions, thus making the centre of Trujillo undoubtedly aesthetically pleasing, but pretty damn boring. So we sought out the nearby ancient mud city of Chan-Chan for our cultural stimulation instead. The Tschudi palace has some surprisingly well-preserved adobe friezes of fish and birds, and was once the centre of the powerful Chimú empire (1000-1470). It seems the Chimús had quite a taste for cults, sacrifices, and erotic pottery. Jolly interesting! I was appalled at the musuem site to see Tito fondling a dog which seemed to have a serious medical condition, being almost completely without hair. However, it turned out to be a Viringo
, a hairless dog unique to Peru, much favoured by the Chimú people, and now kept in pairs at every Peruvian museum to preserve the race. At second glance it was actually pretty cute, black-skinned, but with blond hair on it’s forehead, paws and tail! This started us off talking about how much we want a dog, but how it won’t be feasible for the forseeable future. Thus, we could hardly believe it when we arrived back to the house and the family came to the door with a tiny puppy! I have named her Wanpi (Japanese dogs say “wan, wan”). She is so adorable, a chocolate brown, half-Pekingese mix, and so small you can hold her with one hand. I ‘ve always wanted a dog, but never had one as they are such a tie. So this a lovely opportunity, we can enjoy Wanpi’s puppyhood, but know that when we eventually leave she won’t miss us too much, as she belongs to the whole family.
Saturday, May 08, 2004
The pavement is finally finished. This would be fantastic, except that it is higher than the previous one, and so we can’t open the garage doors. Tito and his dad are spending the day fixing the doors so that we can use the car again.
Monday, May 03, 2004
Today the family remembered the twentieth year anniversary of the passing of Tito’s grandmother by attending a special mass at seven am. By 8:30 we were back at the house, scoffing a special breakfast of pork, fresh cheese, olives and garbanzos, and listening to Tito’s uncle (nickname: Pig). He certainly likes to talk. As usual, it was tough for me to follow the jokes and racy stories, disappointingly, as they were met with much laughter. Occasionally Tito or his sister Perla translated for me. Sometimes I wish they hadn’t... “He’s talking about his cousin, who had to go to the doctor about his prostate gland. The doctor, a large man with big hands, told him he’d have to have a rectal examination. ‘Oh no!’, exclaimed his cousin, ‘I’m going to lose my second virginity!’. Anyway, the doctor snapped on some plastic gloves and inserted his thick middle finger. Twisting it around, he asked ‘What do you feel?’. ‘That I love you!’ cried his cousin!”. Everyone found this highly amusing. It must all be in the telling, I reckon. I couldn’t help but think how this joke would be met in England, at a gathering under the same circumstances. Perhaps somewhat differently, methinks. An interesting cultural note – in Spanish ‘dirty’ jokes are known as ‘green’ jokes, and this term totally lacks the negative implications of the English designation.
Saturday, May 01, 2004
The pavement is still in the same state. It’s a good job we don’t rely on the car for our livelihood (ie. we are both unemployed). Went to the massive food market by taxi, with Tito and his mum, early this morning. Although the market is seething with people and stock I can’t help but feel somewhat conspicuous. Glavis says the market traders whisper “Look at the Barbie doll!” to each other as I approach (hello? I’m 164cm), and on spying my white legs little boys shout “Leche!” (milk) at me. Nevertheless, the market is superb for deals on fresh fruit and veg. I’m addicted to granadillas - hard shelled and containing a sack of sweet grapey fruit with delicious crunchy seeds, and chirimoyas - known as the ‘custard apple’ in English for the creamy pale fruit. We wondered through the meat market, where dozens of bleating goats, sheep, and pigs lay on their sides with their legs tied. They make quite a racket - not to mention the guinea pigs, rabbits, and assorted fowl. In Peru you can never forget that your dinner was, shortly before, a grunting, smelly beast. I think that is a good thing really, instead of seeing meat packaged as neat pink squares on sterile white styrofoam trays wrapped in clingfilm, Peruvians see meat complete in it’s natural package of skin, hair, whiskers, snot and hooves, etc. They have the objectionable task of removing the meat from that package in their own homes. Perhaps they appreciate the meat more because of that?