My day in Catacaos
was better, in fact it was one of the most interesting towns Iâ€™ve seen here in Peru. Just 12 kms from Piura
, itâ€™s claim to fame is the crafts market which features the famous clay pots and figurines using the ancient techniques. But there was much more than the clay crafts. Carved wood, leather, taxidermy, food products using algarrobina and the local honey, crafts made from seashells, and much more. It was a feast for the eyes to stroll through the market. Apart from the touts pulling at my shirt and persisting for half a block walk, trying to get me to buy or visit their restaurant, it was very pleasant.
Church in Catacaos
School was letting out and there were lots of little kids in the street but they were shy and resisted letting me take their pictures.
After visiting the market I got a mototaxi for Narihuala, another ancient site that is currently being explored and excavated by archeologists. Two young boys got me to take the taxi and told me they would be my guide to the site, and their charm won me over. They had so much enthusiasm I couldnâ€™t resist. So Wilson and Gustavo hopped in the back and the driver took me the few miles out to the site. On the way I was fascinated to see the construction of the adobe houses and the mud and reed fences or enclosures near them. The people were extremely friendly and we stopped several times for me to take pictures and ask questions of the campesinos.
Church in Catacaos
Wilson and Gustavo led me through the site museum, stopping in front of every pot and picture and artifact to explain in great detail what it was. They had clearly done their homework and I was charmed by their earnest manner and seriousness, although at times they laughed and their boyishness came through. They took turns explaining everything and when one made a mistake the other would quickly correct him. I enjoyed the boys more than the site. When we were leaving I stopped to talk to another group of kids who were playing a game that involved throwing down discs to try to make other discs on the ground pop up and change sides. I tried my hand at it and failed miserably and they laughed at me. Then I met their pet lizard whose name I cannot remember (he had a first and last nameâ€¦brother to the kid who found it?) and they let me put him on my shirt.
How do we fit through that door??
The kicker was the straw leash they had tied to its middle. I was thoroughly amused!
On the way back the kids were having a great time joking and laughing and jumping out of the mototaxi to explain more things to me. They kept saying â€śmuffleâ€ť which I think had something to do with â€śdonkeyâ€ť and the driver was joining in the fun too. They dropped me off at a â€śpiquanteriaâ€ť as the local restaurants are called. The touts in the marketplace were merciless in their persistence to try to get me and other tourists to eat in their place. I asked Wilson and Gustavo to take me to a place. There was a woven straw and rush roof that cast patches of sunlight and shadow over the interior and a guy was singing boleros with a very fine voice.
I had the local specialities of dried beef (seco de res) with pieces of fried yucca and plaintain chips (chifles) but the beef was very tough and very salty. It was very difficult to eat. The other was a plaintain and beef stew that was not good at all. The plaintains had hard pieces and the beef in the stew was the same hard dried beef in small strips. I gamely tried to eat them but left half of it in the end. I sincerely hope that those dishes were cooked badly and werenâ€™t a good representation. I was very disappointed in that element. The local beverage is called chicha and it comes from cooking cornmeal and then fermenting it. The weaker version is served cold and is only slightly alcoholic. It has a mild corn taste to it and it was very nice and refreshing.
Flags at half mast
There is another much harder version that I didnâ€™t try. I gave some to the singer and at the end of the meal I left him a tip. The waiter approached before I had a chance to leave a tip and pleaded with me to leave a tip. I was shocked because I always leave a tip. The singer too, as I was leaving, mentioned to me that I should leave some money for him. I told him that I put it on the table where he was sitting! Well, that was the only down point of the visit..the touts at my elbow constantly, the pleads for tips and to buy things, the mototaxis bothering with requests to give me a ride. It left a bad taste. I understand they need money, but itâ€™s overbearing and makes it unpleasant. Other than that it was a fantastic day.
I met a guy named Oscar at a pub near my hotel that night and we shared a few beers and talked. He owns a seafood restaurant in the area and we traded restaurant stories and had a good time. Nothing more to see in Piura and time to get going and get to Chiclayo
. Iâ€™m behind scheduleâ€¦