Sad to leave

Huancayo Travel Blog

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Saturday: una fiesta, sorta… Lucho had mentioned that there would be some kind of show at the orphanage for the kids before I left. I turned up at the appointed time, 3pm, and watched as a clown and a young woman dressed in a cute blue outfit entertained the kids. They also got me up on stage briefly to say some parting words. Somewhat embarrassing when the clown´s job is to make the kids laugh and after 5 days of trekking and speaking English, my Spanish was sorely lacking. The show was organised by Incas del Peru but I´m still not sure, to this day, exactly what sort of role I had in it; after an hour, the clown left and the lady mentioned that she´d been told I was going to prepare something to eat for the kids. Talk about being put on the spot… it was a lucky thing I had actually brought ingredients to make hot chocolate, which I made as quickly as possible. (An aside: Huancayo actually does have a lot of cocoa, but it´s all marketed as various hot chocolate powder mixes. Silly me.) In the end, it turned out well and the kids were happy.


Sunday: Doing good things for unlucky people… The girls in my cooking class had pleaded to be taken to the Sunday markets one week, and so it was organised. Some of the girls had never been! This was my fourth time. I was accompanied by six girls, those who didn´t have any parents whatsoever (because many kids have one or both parents who for whatever reason can´t take care of them), and one of the tias. Lack of communication seemed to be rife this weekend; I assumed that I would be shouting the girls little gifts here and there, but no one, not even the tia, had any money at all on them! It was a lovely morning though, as we strolled arm in arm in twos and threes down the crowded market streets. The girls bought earrings, rings and hair clips and we ate lunch at one of the many market restaurants. I tried cuye (guinea pig) for the first time (apologies to all those who own guinea pigs at home, lol). I had it ´dorado´ (fried) as opposed to ´colorado´ (with a sauce), mainly because I wanted an ´authentic´ taste of cuye for my first go. A mistake, as not only did it come out some 5-10 minutes later than everyone else´s (and I was damn hungry as usual), it was the flattened back leg of the poor creature, or something. Very tough skin. The meat itself is tasty but as many people had told me before, there´s a lot of bones. I would try it again though, but maybe at a place renowned for their cuye culinary prowess.


Cooking and creativity… As I have a habit of doing, I put a lot on my plate in the last 2 days in Huancayo. I had one more cooking class on Monday, but I also had to finish a calendar that I had started before the trek (that I had been talking about for awhile, so I definitely had to finish it). The calendar was for the orphanage, and was to include all the recipes we´d cooked, plus photos I´d taken and pictures drawn by some of the younger kids. I spent a rather pleasant Sunday afternoon cutting out photos and pictures and decorating the calendar (with the resident kitten asleep on my lap). I had also asked Nilda and Gloria (the sisters who do the cooking, cleaning and reception) if I could cook a meal as a kind of thanks for all their cooking in the past weeks. I had it in my head to cook lasagne, and we decided lunch on Monday was ideal. I also wanted to use up the rest of the ingredients I had sitting in my room so I baked a cake on Sunday night to be iced as lamingtons the next day.


Monday turned out to be hectic. I had a parcel of things to send home, a couple of rugs, books, gifts, etc that I didn´t want to carry with me. I knew it would be something of a mission (especially when I got a long winded answer from Lucho about how to send stuff (he has family in New Zealand and sends stuff there often, so he knows). Apparently there are ladies who sit outside the post office with scales and material, and they weigh your parcel for you and sew a cloth around it. I had seen people with scales around the post office before, but of course when I went I couldn´t see one. I ended up spending about an hour, lining up and relining up as I kept having to do more things, or I filled the form out wrong. In the end, my parcel ended up being 5.14kg which put it in the 5-10kg price bracket (apparently this is what the lady had tried to tell me at the beginning when she first weighed it. Yes, I still have to work on my listening skills in Spanish!). By that stage I just wanted to get the damn thing sent so I paid the extra 100 soles or whatever, using a 200 soles note that I had been given last time I changed money (at a reputable money changer, recommended by Lucho). The lady almost wouldn´t accept it! I know fake notes are a problem, but it had a clear watermark, and I had to point out the little stamp that the money changers clamp onto the notes, before she would (grudgingly) accept it. By that stage there was a line of discontent Peruvians behind me so I was glad to get out of there.  On the way out I was accosted by a nice woman who must have seen the address on the parcel (mine), and told me her daughter wanted to move to Australia to work and how easy was it to get a visa? I tried to tell  her as much as I knew about visas (not much at all) and then rushed around the shops buying things to make for the lasagne.


I ended up making two, which was lucky as there was 9 people to feed (including an English guy who´s travelling around the Americas looking for rare birds, with his Japanese girlfriend in tow. Admirable? Crazy?). Then I went to the orphanage for the last time. Hopefully not forever. We made apple pie, which turned out pretty well considering the girls butchered the base recipe (added too much oil, then too much flour, then an egg which wasn´t even in the recipe), and also considering their incredulity at the crumbly top (I didn´t know how to translate the word ¨crumble¨). After many hugs and photos, I finally took my leave. It would make me very happy to be able to come back one day, and see the kids grown up and happy (assuming they will grow up happy). But sad to think some of them will have to leave by the time I return.


My last night in Huancayo was spent rather unceremoniously – we didn´t even go to La Cabaña for a drink or pizza. I actually spent an  hour on the internet writing up about my last days but lost the whole lot when the net connection went down. I didn´t get to say goodbye to Lucho as he had run off to Lima again, which was a pity, but I like to think that I really will return one day, so it´s not goodbye to the lovely staff at La Casa de la Abuela and its resident animals forever…
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photo by: voordax