Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Details!

After the last few entries, I still feel like there are so many aspects of being down here that I haven't even mentioned. One big one is how crazy the transportation is. Everyday it feels like a miracle that I haven't been in a car accident or hit by one while trying to cross the street. I don't know how the roads here function, but somehow they do. People constantly will turn through a whole lane or two of traffic that is going straight, and somehow don't crash. Then there is taking long-distance buses. I've actually been sort of surprised at how good the bus lines are, for South America having notoriously sketchy buses. It is the rainy season in the mountains though, and there have been several times going through mud or streams with steep dropoffs and no guardrail and local people crossing themselves that have been a little unsettling. There are double decker buses too, which are nice, but when you are sitting so high up and winding through the mountains, I start to doubt the safety of such a top-heavy vehicle. The 22 hour bus ride from Lima to Cuzco was pretty pimp though, even though I was only riding semi-cama (seat reclines into a partial bed). These buses have tray tables, meal service, blankets, pillows, billingual movies, and we even all played Bingo together!

And then of course there is the food. It seemed like there was more variety in Ecuador, though maybe we were just eating at more international places. Ecuador has really yummy lorca, potato soup with cheese and avocado. Here in Peru, I've been eating a lot of rice and chicken. Actually, I'm to the point where when Serena asks what I want for dinner, the answer is anything but rice and chicken. There is really good seafood here though- I have only had delicious ceviche. Ceviche is usually fish, but it can be any seafood, which isn't technically cooked but marinated in lime juice so that the citric acid cooks the meat. It's really light and refreshing and has this great sashimi texture. They eat less yucca in Peru than Ecuador, but it seems like more sweet potato and regular potato. And in both countries, guinea pig is common. I have yet to try it but I want to, though it's usually a little expensive. Oh, and they have crazy varieties of corn. Not like the sweet corn on the cob in the states, this stuff is big, hearty, and starchier. And there's a drink made from blue corn called chicha morada, it tastes like hibiscus juice and is really sweet but good. Ooh, I also had a warm quinoa drink, surprisingly juicy and flavorful and really good too. I am definitely missing vegetables, but at least there are a lot of new fruits to make up for it. A lot of times when I get juice I don't even know what kind of fruit it is, and same with this ice cream that is a fruit that tastes like buttered rum but I don't even know what it looks like.

And then there's the Spanish. I didn't realize how Mexican my Spanish was until coming here. The accents are easy to understand, but they use so many new words I have never heard. Suddenly they are calling avocados paltas instead of aguacate! Suddenly I can say "coger" (to catch, take) even though in Mexico it's a very dirty word. In Mexico, local buses are "bus" and long distance ones are "camiones", but here they are all bus and only trucks are camiones. I had to change my standard "how cool!" from Que chido! to Que chevere! There are a million more differences, but I think you get the idea.

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