Wednesday, February 8, 2017

PERU: Huancayo (January 21-22, 2017)

We took a collectivo (shared minivan) for the 20 or so kilometres from Concepcion to Huancayo. Huancayo is the cultural and commercial centre of the Mantaro Valley in the Central Andes and Sunday is market day, so the van was packed with people. I sat near the front to have a good view out the window, but Michael had to sit in the centre of the back seat to have room for his long legs. The locals are short and sturdy, more or less my height. There were even some small women that I towered over.
The collectivo stopped often to drum up more customers and we were charmed by the conductor's melodious cry of "Huancayo, Huancayo" at every stop. The road was busy with other forms of transport, including bicycles.

When we arrived in the big, bustling city, we had to take a cab to our accommodation, which was across the river from the centre, but would still have been within walking distance if we hadn't had our bags with us.
There had been heavy rain overnight and the river was running fast.

Our hotel was friendly and clean, but our room on the second floor was quite dark and cave-like. Hot water came from a tank equipped with a blue solar panel on the roof.

It was a perfect location for visiting the market which occupied several streets just two blocks away. The rain had not discouraged any of the participants: a colourful medley of mainly food items was laid out under green and yellow awnings and the narrow spaces between stalls were thronged with local people. (Both here and at our next destination, Huancavelica, we saw virtually no other foreigners.)

The array of wares was extensive: apart from lots of fresh vegetables we saw dried beans,

... various kinds of flour, including quinoa and plantain,

... honey,

 ... cheese

... cuy (guinea pig), Peru's national dish, both alive

                                                                               ...and dead

... corn, looking very unlike the cultivated hybrids we grow in North America,

... potatoes of several kinds

... plants

... carved wooden masks

... the biggest avocados I've ever seen

... and fresh oregano.

There were also several stalls selling ready-to-eat food like steaming bowls of soup, but the most popular were the ones offering chunks of whole roasted pig.

Later in the day, we walked across the river to check out the centre of town. It was just as busy as the market, with lots of people shopping, eating or just hanging out in the main square.

The square also had some unusual topiary.

We noticed that as we were getting further away from the coast, we were seeing more locals, particularly women, in traditional dress: full skirts over leggings, long single braids, and straw hats.

No comments:

Post a Comment