Thursday, July 31, 2014

Peru 2: Lunch with a View

When I signed up for the Cordillera Blanca trek, I knew that there would be support in the form of a  mountain guide and a horse for carrying our stuff. It turns out, the complete team consisted not only the mountain guide and horse, but five additional donkeys and a mule to carry our things, a donkey driver to manage the animals, and a COOK! Those of you who know me well know that I am always excited about eating, and more so if the food is unique and tasty. Eating native Peruvian cuisine made from organic market-fresh ingredients and prepared by a professional cook... Ummm... Yes, please! Who am I to argue with that?! Of course, it gets better. Check out the million dollar views of several of these fine lunches. Pinch me please, because I think I may have been dreaming...

Lunch on one of our warm-up hikes outside Huaraz overlooked a ruin of a village. 
Menu: Chinese stir fry made with quinoa instead of rice. The fusion of Peruvian + Chinese is called Chifa.

On the road to trekking campsite #1, it was too cold to get off the bus, so we ate our veggie-stuffed yucca pocket in the bus overlooking this old construction storage site. It is over run with lupine and other wild flowers. So beautiful in spite of the blustery day.

The horse, Canelito ("Little Cinnamon"). Also affectionately called "Taxi," since he was our emergency ride out in case we needed it, he carried items needed for lunch. You will be amazed...

Commence amazement. That is our cook setting up a table WITH a tablecloth, dishes, hot tea, etc., in full cook's regalia, of course. He passed us on the trail about two hours prior. The mountain guide (who is also a trained cook) is watching!  Haha!

File this under "ARE YOU KIDDING ME???!!!" Freshly grilled trout, boiled quail eggs, and sweet yam smothered in fried onions. The first course was an amazing noodle soup with greens, carrots, herbs and an egg beaten in. (There were always two courses for lunch!) Divine!

Oh wait, there was more: a 360* panorama view which included this.

Is this losing its appeal? No, I'm still engaged in eating and panorama views.  Seconds, please!

This spot was windy (and I wasn't feeling well), and somebody HAD to hold the tablecloth down, right? Still can't beat the view. And maybe I wasn't dreaming after all!

Last lunch while trekking. We are looking into the barren hills of the Black Range on the other side of the Santa Rio valley the divides the Black and White ranges, a sad sign that we were nearing the end.

Canelito was always taking a nap when we arrived for lunch. He would look at us disdainfully and then slowly shut his eyes again. Near the end of lunch he livened up and started snacking on grass, only to be interrupted by the cook loading the lunch items and getting him moving again. His halter is a simple rope and he is tethered to some rock usually. Simple, cheap solutions. I'm sure the Tractor Supply Store would not approve!

Back in civilization, we stop for our final outdoor lunch a ways off the main road. The tablecloth was pretty dirty and not used here! Our view is Mt. Huascaran, one of the tallest mountains in South America, the tallest in Peru. This year's "dry season" was a little off, as noted by the layers of clouds on top. There has been a record amount of rain recorded in Ancash province, and many technical climbers were not able to summit their goal peaks. That's one reason to hike instead...

Finally, the answer to yesterday's bonus question was indeed the viscacha, a member of the chinchilla family, and neither truly rabbit nor squirrel. I also forgot to share the picture and story of my souvenir yarn. There are still many pictures and topics to cover, so hang tight. We have to finish talking about eating tomorrow, first and foremost. It concerns one of the best meals I have eaten and how it is made. In the mean time, I am ready for a snack, preferably in the middle of beautiful scenery...

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