Angela's Andean Adventures.
Peru and Bolivia 2001 - Part 11.
Tacna and Moquegua.
Cocito and Me at the Restaurant in Moquegua
The weekend was a brilliant one. The first excursion was a day trip to Tacna on Saturday, leaving on the 8 am bus. We didn't have to worry about the ducks being alone all day as their son Willy promised to stop by a couple of times and change their drinking water etc. Even that early in the day one could see it was going to be a really sunny day. We had all dressed up quite warmly and I took extra jackets in a rucksack just in case as Elva had warned me Tacna was usually a cold place. Unfortunately we were sitting on the wrong side of the bus as I didn't know until the journey began that we would be following a coastal route, which was really pretty. We passed some lovely little fishing villages. On the left side of the bus the view was the usual desert vista with mountains beyond. Amazingly in Peru in different areas even quite close together the climatic changes are incredible. Moquegua, only one and a half hours away by bus, enjoys really warm sunshine all the year round and it virtually never rains. They dont suffer from lack of water either as there is a river flowing through which supplies all the needs of the town.
The bus pulled into Tacna bus depot just before 10 am and we were amazed at what a fantastic hot day it was there (me especially having been warned by Elva that it was a cold place). We were hungry not having had time to have breakfast before leaving, so took a taxi into town and had a nice breakfast. Breakfast in Peru is like lunch - people love their meat there more than anything. I chose pork, as a lot of the things on the menu were things I didn't like, eg beef, and a Tacna spicy special that was made with
tripe... Yuk! Whilst in the restaurant street sellers kept coming in and I ended up buying a couple of little ring watches which I got at a good price complete with spare batteries, and I also bought an Andean music cassette off another seller. All up through the main street of Tacna was a lovely central walkway paved in black and white with seats and incredibly tall palm trees, really beautiful. We took another taxi here, but I asked if we could come back later and take a few pictures.
Our next stop was the central shopping area and what a fantastic place. A huge covered area full of little shops and Tacna being a duty free place the prices were really reasonable. We spent a few hours browsing in the shops and I bought a couple of watches and later on bought some fantastic warm nightwear for a cold English winter. Also a small cafetera (in which to make coffee the Peruvian way) and a really handy gadget to squeeze the juice out of lemons and limes in an instant, much better than the ones we get at home. Elva and Hugo bought mostly clothing and I might have done as well except that I already had a lot more luggage than I arrived in Peru with, some of which would be left behind in Ilo and another lot left in Cusco for a future
By the time we finished our visit in the shopping zone, we were feeling hungry again and took a taxi out of town to a big restaurant, which also had live music. Most of the dining area was outdoor but with straw matting roofing, so that the sun shone through here and there and a lot was in the shade. We chose a table so that I could sit in the sun with the other side of the table in the shade. I chose Lechon on the menu but yet again was disappointed in it because Lechon everywhere else has never been as brilliant as the first time I had it from a Bolivian woman cooking it on a fire in the open air when we went to Inti Raymi. This Lechon was three enormous pork chops, which were okay but not a patch on that first tasting of Lechon. With it we enjoyed a couple of Cusqueña beers and then Hugo said we must try the local wine. So he ordered a half litre of white wine for us to share and it was really delicious, unlike any wine tasted before, a cloudy colour and sweeter than I am used to but excellent all the same. By this time the band started playing and it was really nice music even though not Andean - more Cuban style, but excellent. We were probably there for at least a couple of hours and it was great. All the while the sun continued to shine and back outside afterwards we started walking back until a bus came along which took us back to town.
Once there we went to the central area with all the palm trees and took a few photos and enjoying just walking there, enjoying the flowers as well, until we came to an ice-cream parlour (because Hugo had promised me a really enormous ice-cream). And my goodness it was enormous - five scoops of chocolate and Lucuma ice-cream, all smothered in chocolate sauce
incredibly delicious but I could hardly move afterwards and in fact still felt full the next
day! I certainly didn't need anything else that day! From there we made our way to the bus terminal as our bus back was leaving at 5.30. This should have got us back to Ilo for 7.30 but instead took more than an hour longer and was quite a tedious journey. First of all we hit a control point with police who made all the men get off the bus. I felt sorry for Elva, worriedly looking out of the window to see what was going on. Eventually the people were let back on and we were on our way again.
Then about half an hour later we hit another control point and all the men had to get off again. Most got back on again within 10 to 15 minutes but a few were detained and it went on so long that everyone in the bus was complaining, so much so that eventually the bus drove on leaving those unfortunate passengers behind. The reason for all this, as explained by Elva, was because a lot of smuggling goes on. The ones detained were those with a lot of packages. Tacna is very close to the border with Chile, which I suppose is why so much smuggling goes on. Elva had warned me before we set out in the morning to carry my passport just in case I was asked for it. By the time we got back to Ilo and back to the house it was getting on for 10 pm and we were all feeling quite tired. We could see the ducks had been well looked after by Willy and I was able to cuddle them for an hour before bedtime. Also not long after our arrival back, Hugo's work friend Coco arrived and stayed chatting for a while - he was really good fun so we asked him if he would like to accompany us to Moquegua the following morning and he said yes. Elva said to be sure to arrive at English time and not Peruvian - 9 am on the dot! (Unless this is stated in advance people arrive at least an hour
Elva and I were up really early as we had to go to the market first. (Having decided to go on Sunday rather than Saturday). We spent a couple of hours in the market doing the shopping for the week, which was great fun as usual, even though not such a grand affair as it was on saturdays. I also bought everything necessary to cook a traditional English meal for them the following day. Back home we were just sitting down to breakfast when Coco arrived - to our amazement half an hour
early! So he joined us for breakfast as well. Then straight to the bus station although we didn't actually end up getting a bus as several taxis were touting for business and it was a case of haggling with them to get the best possible fare. This was great and a much quicker way to get there than the bus. It was another great sunny day, which got steadily hotter the further we got from Ilo and the closer to Moquegua. By the time we reached Moquegua I could hardly believe the difference - although only a distance of around 90 kilometres, around 55 miles, the temperatures were much much higher with blue skies and sunshine.
First of all we visited a museum in the Plaza des Armas that was really interesting. I loved looking at all the evidence of life in Peru up to 900 years ago, the incredible pottery excavated, the textiles etc. I bought a nice tee-shirt before leaving as a souvenir of my visit there. We then took a taxi to check on Hugo's mothers house as no one had yet been there since the earthquake to check for damage. (She had been staying the past few weeks with Hugo's sister in Ilo). She was really lucky, just a few cracked walls. Whole streets of houses were practically demolished, piles of adobe bricks in the street outside nearly every plot and men working really hard to rebuild. It seemed that the houses built with bricks stood up reasonably well to the earthquake but the older style houses made of adobe bricks were just shaken into piles of rubble.
More Earthquake Damage
At lunchtime we took a taxi and again went outside the town to one of the country restaurants and this one was lovely. This time I was able to see the food on offer before making up my mind what to choose (they wouldn't let us into the kitchen at the one in Tacna) and I chose Cazuela de Pollo which was a lovely casserole of chicken, rice, potato, vegetables, a wedge of corn, and served up with slices of lime and a rocoto salsa. Elva chose guinea pig that comes served flat (as if it has been run over by a bus and then peeled off the wheel! - it is said to be served like this to prevent anyone serving up cat instead!). She offered to let me try some of it but I politely
declined! Hugo chose Chicharon, which is a kind of spicy pork chop that I tried once but didn't particularly like. Again we had a couple of Cusqueña beers and this time Hugo said to try the local wine, a special red one, and this was fantastic, tasted a lot like port and we ended up sharing two jugs of it.
At the Restaurant
Again, we sat at a table where I could enjoy the full sun on my back whilst they sat in the shade. Each table was under a big sunshade, interspersed with pathways, grassed areas, lovely flowers etc, and although no live music the music being played in the background was lively and enjoyable. The largest covered area was big enough to be a dance floor, with a roof but open walls, a great place for a dinner dance on a warm summers evening I felt sure. Now and again during our couple of hours there we could enjoy watching a hummingbird hovering over flowers above the sunshades - I tried to get a photo on one occasion but whether I got the hummingbird in the frame or not remained to be seen - they dart away so quickly again - and looking at the photo later I gave up trying to find it!
From there we walked back towards town again until we reached a point where we could catch a bus. This bus took us all the way back to the bus terminal where again we were able to haggle with taxi drivers and Hugo, Elva and I ended up sharing with two others, three in the front and three in the back including the driver. Poor Coco had to go back separately but didn't mind. Another hot drive through the desert and about 30 kilometres from Moquegua you could feel the temperature descending until as we approached the coastal areas it felt quite cool. By the time we got back to Ilo there was no sun at all, the sea quite grey and choppy and a bit of a sea mist enveloping the town. My next stop was a visit to an Internet cafe, with Elva and Hugo continuing on to the house.
The Fountain in Moquegua
The next day was another really hot day, some of which I enjoyed in the garden with the ducks, but earlier in the day we popped into town, Elva to visit the bank, me to reconfirm my plane ticket for Cusco a a couple of days later, then round to the bus depot to purchase our bus tickets for Arequipa the next day, and then a last minute bit of shopping as I was cooking an English style lunch. I did roast lamb and mint sauce, roast potatoes, made a broccoli bake - a really cheesy one with lots of parmesan cheese - which both Elva and Hugo enjoyed so much she will be making it for them regularly in future. I also made a peach crumble for pudding, which I served with creme chantilly.
Finally the time for departure from Ilo came around once more. Elva was accompanying me and would stay on at Arequipa with her son until the weekend. We would get to Arequipa around 6 pm and stay overnight at her sons studio appartment, getting an early taxi in the morning as my plane would leave for Cusco at 8 am. I couldnt help feeling a little sad to be leaving two such fantastic friends as Elva and Hugo, my main consolation being email - at least we would be able to keep in regular contact even when I got back to
England. I went into town briefly in the morning to send a last email message to everyone whilst Elva got busy cooking so that Hugo would have two meals a day during her absence in Arequipa. I got home just as Elva was dishing up lunch and Hugo managed to get home for lunch as well which was great. He gave me his hat - a baseball cap which he wore to work which I had admired - and it was a brilliant souvenir of Ilo and I wore it everywhere thereafter. He said he could easily get himself another one from work. Elva gave me a selection of all the dishes she had cooked that morning for Hugo's meals the next few days, all of which were excellent, but I could hardly move afterwards. My favourite of them all was Papa Relleno that is usually made with beef but she made it with pork instead and it wouldnt be very long before I had a go at making it myself. We were running short of time and just made it to the bus terminal with about two minutes to spare, Hugo coming with us to see us on our way before returning to work.