Hanging with Cuy Guevara

Cusco Travel Blog

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The Cuy, as it came

Guinnea pig, or "cuy", is part of the traditional Andean diet, so on day 2 in Cusco, we decided we needed a peice.

We went to a place recommended by the Lonely Planet, with a pretty outdoor patio and the sound of roosters crowing nearby. The tree of us ordered three Guinnea Pig Specials.

When the food came out, the cuy was everything we expected -- a big dead fried rat splayed out on each of our plates, still displaying the same surprised expressions on their faces as when they were butchered, teeth intact, with boody little eyeholes, gnarly little claws, and, on my, plate, even a spot of dried blood. Yum.

Now, I'm a huge fan of bizzare food, and I actively seek out whatever weird local delicacies are around in each place I go.

Cuy Guevara
Hell, I'll even eat my friend's strangest concoctions for money. I have a stomach of iron honed from eating the most awful things all through college because I had no money for food. Ever open up your fridge and realize there's nothing there besides years old mayo?

Even I thought the cuy was pretty gross. Not inedible, but gamey and unflavorful. Maybe it was just prepared wrong, but it was pretty unappetizing. We did get through half a pig each before we started playing with our food, stacking the guinnea pigs on top of each other into a dead cuy tower, and molding them into different positions.

The night before, Atousa and I had bought cartons of Che Guevarra cigarrettes for $20 a carton in the main square. I think they're made in Chile, but I figured if I didn't smoke them, I could sell them on Haight St.

Cusco
or in Berkeley to rebellious teenagers. They actually tasted pretty good, though, so we were smoking them on the patio.

It wasn't long before we had created Cuy Guevarra, a fried peice of art with a cigarette sticking out of its mouth and a portrait of Che nearby, ready to take down the Capitalist machine.

The other important order of the day was to make sure we got our tickets to Machu Picchu. We made sure to get directions at the tourist office, which was conveniently right under our hotel. That was the second place we noticed this confusing No Sex Baby symbol that was all over the country. Our first sighting of this ubiquitous Peruvian warning was at the airport, taped onto the window of a small room whose purpose i could only assume was sequestering.

No Sex Baby!
Since we were too far away to read the words, we spent 10 minutes guessing what this symbol meant. Turns out Peru A) really really hates sex toursim and B) loves literal symbolism.

We walked down to the train station on the edge of town, past a lot of stray dogs wandering the streets of Cusco. You know, the weird thing was, there were a lot of dogs, but we never saw any dog poo. It's like Peru dogs know to hide their shame. Have you ever noticed that foriegn dogs are so much better behaved than American dogs?

On the way back from buying our tickets, we hit up a big market where we bought some souvenirs including an alpaca scarf. Also, I guess it was springtime (our fall) in Peru, because there were baby animals everywhere. It was like the whole town was overtaken with fuzzy chicks, kittens and puppies.

Playing with our food
The giant flag in the middle of the plaza supplied the rainbows.

We walked around the hilly, "artsy" area of Cusco and checked out the narrow alleyways of the city, steep and paved with cobblestones wet with rain.

At night, we got 2-for-1 pisco sours at Norton's Rat, a little bar on the plaza with kind of a biker motif and cheap drinks. It gets lively on the weekends, with a pub quiz and the influx of ridiculous douchy tourists trying to hit on local girls.

Pisco is the national booze of Peru, and pisco sours are made from Pisco, lemon juice, egg whites and some other junk. The ones at Norton's Rat are actually really tastey. They had a balcony overlooking the square, and we sat there people watching over the square.

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The Cuy, as it came
The Cuy, as it came
Cuy Guevara
Cuy Guevara
Cusco
Cusco
No Sex Baby!
No Sex Baby!
Playing with our food
Playing with our food
The Cuy, eaten
The Cuy, eaten
Eeek! blood (and teeth)
Eeek! blood (and teeth)
Cusco
Cusco
Cusco
photo by: Vlindeke