Wednesday, 5 March 2014

6) Finishing up in Pachapaqui

We trudged inside, dropped our gear and grabbed a seat. To give you an idea of how little goes on here, these guys still had their Christmas and New Year decorations up. The main room consisted of about 4 sets of tables and chairs, a counter infront of shelves stacked with essentials (namely Inca Kola), and a TV in the corner blaring out the cheesy Peruvian equivalent of Neighbours.
The place was run by a dumpy old lady with gold teeth and highland gear, and her two daughters, who found our presence exciting and the fact that our Spanish was bad hilarious. We asked for food, and today they were serving soup, and Estafado or Pollo, so I played it safe and went with chicken (pollo), not before grabbing a coke to get some sugar in me.
Decent views all round
The youngest daughter brought out the soup which was again an ambiguous liquid with a big lump of meat in it, and before long I was getting annoyingly full. Out followed the main, which was a chicken leg covered in some sort of sauce and a great big mound of rice and my heart sunk as I knew I wouldn't be able to finish it. Luckily Jamie's appetite was in full swing, so a quick switcheroo once I could take no more meant I didn't have to offend them. Afterwards she gave us local tea that even with the leaves fished out tasted weird. We started to pay and the old woman was peeved that I didn't have change, so I paid for the night too. Altogether it came to S16 for the meal and the night each, so for 4 quid I didn't complain. She took us round the back of the building, up a shifty concrete staircase that was about a foot wide, and ducked down through a door that was about 4 foot tall. The room was above where we had eaten, seperated by one layer of wooden boards, and contained 7 large single beds, a solitary lightbulb in the middle of the ceiling, and a window at one end. She pointed to the beds in the corner which had been made up with 3 thick knitted blankets each and I slumped down into mine. It was a 1960s hospital bed and incredibly soft in comparison to the windswept mountain we'd been used to, though it sagged massively in the middle so acted more like a hammock. I could have slept straight away, but this place was obviously a haunt for the truckers, and it sounded as though a load of them were getting smashed downstairs. After a while, the raucous behaviour downstairs ebbed away, and the room started to fill up. She had to rearrange the beds to fit everyone in, and before long I was face to face with a portly Peruvian trucker which was nice, and a chap across from me felt the need to have a 15 minute conversation with his (presumably ex) partner.
Once all the commotion had stopped I fell into a deep, dreamless sleep, and all of a sudden it was 5am and the truckers we're all rolling out of bed to get back to work.
A few hours later I sorted my stuff out, put on my least filthy clothes, and we descended to get some breakfast. Breakfast wasn't your average bowl of cornflakes jobby, it was another chicken leg covered in a green sauce this time, with an accompanying mound of rice. This time we both struggled, and the coffee that tasted like ale did not help it go down, so I apologised to the woman and explained that I was full and had altitude sickness which she laughed off.
Happy New Year indeed
Following that was just the wait for the bus. I sat and watched 2 episodes of something on TV which was entirely mad. One of them was set at the AVON headquaters and had a guy dressed as a woman as the main protagonist, getting hassled by a villain that looked like he should be in a cartoon. It was made all the funnier that I understood basically none of it. This was followed by an episode where everyone was miserable as fuck, but the house maid "Juanita" saved the day and everyone was happy again.
My bum was getting numb so I moved outside to sit with Jamie. After a couple of minutes my ears pricked up and we both looked at eachother. "Is that....Sting?"
It must have been the eldest daughter's day off, because from the building next door came a playlist from Now 58, with the likes of "Girls just wanna have fun", a bit of David Bowie, and more great disco classics. It was a very strange experience to be sat in a place where nobody goes, where electricity is cherished, to hear a compilation of power ballads in a language that no one here could understand.
A little boy took a shine to me, and kept popping up from behind my bag and giggling. I don't know what he was eating but he was getting himself in a right state, covered in blue. I poked him with the measuring stick a few times in a bid to keep him away but this just amused him more, before the woman came out and told him to leave the gringos alone and ushered him back inside. The bus rocked up, we piled on and waved farewell to the shop keeper and her family. It was another decent bus, and they even had Kung Fu movies for the hair raising journey back to Huaraz.


  1. Cracks me up that you called it "estafado" soup (cheated soup) and not "estofado" (beef soup) - oddly very appt, dear Tom!

  2. RE: Small child covered in blue stuff....I see Jack arrived safely in Peru then? We've not seen him in weeks and assumed he'd decided to swim over to see you.

    RE: "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun". That was on "Now 2". How do I know this? I own it. I bought it when it first came out. ON TAPE. Do you even know what they are?!