Huancayo Travel Blog

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On a sunny Thursday morning, Hayley and Dan (brother and sister from England, live in Kenya), Mark (another Aussie) and I got up early and took a cab, with Rosario in the boot, north-east into the mountains. The drive took about 1.5 hours along a very rough track... I cringed at every crunch. We passed little streams and drove between some pretty spectacular scenery. After picking up saddles at a tiny little village, we drove some more to the stables, which were just a small house by the side of the road and a bunch of horses grazing.

Our guide was crap, and didn´t say a word directly to us - we didn´t even know his name. Anyhow, we all got saddled up and on our way. This was the first time I´ve ever ridden a horse, so it´s a good thing Hayley used to ride and Mark´s dad owned a stud farm, so I could ask all the questions I wanted. I had a lovely calm black mare, who was either pregnant or fat (we found out later she was just fat). We didn´t move very fast which was fine, and after about an hour or so we had reached a steep hill with an awesome view of a distant lagoon and the ice-covered peaks above it. (In contrast to the grassy hills around the area.) We had lunch there, which was included in the US$35 fee for the day: bread and ham, three tiny mandarins, a banana and a bottle of water - somewhat disappointing, but oh well.

Onwards we went, off the track this time, and eventually we were walking along a steep ridge with valleys on either side - quite a view. However, I suddenly became allergic to something - either the grass (apparently I´m allergic to some types) or the horses themselves... will I ever find out? I´ve never sneezed that many times in my life. We came across llamas, cows and wild horses, but no problems ensued. Getting down from that ridge was interesting, as my horse decided she was starving and would stop every few steps to chew grass. Bloody annoying when the other four were about a hundred metres away with their (lean) horses. But, my horse did well and got me across rivers and down steep inclines with little trouble, so I was thankful at the end. The end point of our journey was some random place by the side of the road, and our taxi was waiting for us. With a clap of his hands, the horses ran off - presumably back to their home, while we gave the guide a lift home in the back of the taxi.

Well, it was fun; not too much pain sitting down today, and I´ll definitely keep an eye out to go horse riding again...

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Monday: Walpa Chupe. It´s a thick, brothy chicken soup local to the area (apparently, as I found it in the recipe book put together by Lucho´s wife). I had my reservations about the first class, but it turned out well; I had 5 girls willing to help out, and they were great. In fact, they probably knew more about cooking and preparation than I did. I realised this when I saw them peeling the potatoes with big knives, quickly and competently. I can´t do that - I need a damn good potato peeler! The girls are all polite and help me out when I forget words in Spanish or can´t say what I mean. The soup turned out muy rico and the abuelito and abuelita (the director and assistant of the orphanage) were treated to some too. I was asked for the recipe by one of the tias, so it couldn´t have been too bad!

Wednesday: Pizza. Everyone loves pizza... however, I only had 4 girls to help out as others were busy. Now, some of them told me they´d never had pizza before (amid some giggling) so I wasn´t sure whether they were serious or not. The orphans have quite a varied diet, with different meals every day of the week, but never pizza. Perhaps in the future, though, because abuelita seemed quite impressed by the recipe and copied it down. I used the most simplest recipe for the dough, which is basically flour, beer and herbs. I decided to make a vegie pizza, so apart from the tomato paste, we had garlic, onion, capsicum, fresh tomato, spinach, fresh oregano and 3 different types of cheese. The local cheese, queso fresco, is everywhere, but mozarella was harder to find (in fact, I was given queso fresco when I asked for mozarella which is why we ended up with 3 cheeses). There is, however, a cheese shop in the centre of town where I found parmesan as well. The pizza wasn´t as good as those at La Cabaña but eh, pizza is great as long as it has tomato and cheese on it, more often than not...

Friday: Lamingtons. It was the only real Australian thing I could think of, with a bit of history behind it and fun to make. However, I spent a good few hours in the morning looking for cocoa powder, which doesn´t exist in Huancayo. Well, I was directed to a shop called Cocitos by more than 1 person, but they didn´t have any. They have tons of drinking chocolate and cooking chocolate, just no cocoa. I guess they just put chocolate in their cakes? Anyhow, it was rather frustrating to say the least as I´d already bought the icing sugar for the icing... but not to worry. Melted chocolate, icing sugar, butter and milk will still taste damn good. Today I only had 3 students (I see a pattern emerging...) as the others had to study. The sponge cake was less sponge than cake, as I couldn´t find self raising flour (it does exist though). Not to worry. The cake turned out okay, a little on the small side and stuck to the bottom (no such thing as baking paper or teflon). But lamington in any shape or form is still cake covered in chocolate and shredded coconut: pretty yum. The girls were rather enchanted by the melted chocolate. I hardly ever eat lamingtons in Australia and I honestly don´t think I´ve ever made them before, so it wasn´t a bad effort and in fact it made me a little homesick. I have extra ingredients, though, so I think the residents at La Casa are going to be treated to some lamingtons very soon...


Huancayo Restaurants, Cafes & Food review
La Cabaña is the restaurant linked to Incas del Peru and La Casa de la Abuela (perhaps another brainchild of Lucho). It´s across the road from the h… read entire review
photo by: voordax