September 6th, 2007 – by: Belluomo
The ferry crossing
A few notes on things here in Tarapoto. The days get hot in the middle and after lunch everything shuts down for a few hours, so if you haven´t eaten or gotten your cup of coffee before 2 pm then you´ll just have to wait until about 5 for that. The freshwater fish cebiche is eaten at lunch only, probably because it´s served cold and it´s refreshing. At 5 or so the streetside grills start up. The women set up a grill outside their front door, and set up a table too. Then they toss on marinated chicken and plantains and sausages and such. You can get a nice little dinner for a couple soles, or less than a buck. I especially like the ¨Juane¨which is seasoned rice (finally something other than plain white rice in Peru!!!!!!!!!!!) with bits of chicken or pork and a small olive.
Laguna de Sauce pier
It´s all wrapped in a plantain leaf and cooked over a grill or in an oven. The season for the rice can change since I´ve had green and orange-colored juanes. I´ve had cecina which can be grilled ham or sausage and it´s pretty plain and salty. Yucca accompanies everything but I don´t touch it anymore. It´s starchy and totally devoid of flavor. The plantain is ok, either grilled or sliced and fried and then mashed and seasoned but that also gets old after a couple times and I don´t like it either. I just don´t understand why the food is so plain in this part of the world. There is a real lack of seasoning. I remember Emilio Porcelli complaining about Puerto Rican food once and saying that it´s just rice and beans everyday.
Coming from the wealth of flavors and preparations and dishes of Italy, I can completely understand and I also heartily concur. If I were to live here for any length of time I´d have to have a kitchen so I could cook up some variety... The sandwiches here are good. They do a nice hamburger with various toppings and sauces and a really nice shredded chicken sandwich and pork sandwich. In general, the meat here is better than the other places I´ve been in Peru. Lots of grilling too which is good. The wealth of fruits is amazing. I can´t even name all the varieties of fruits I´ve never heard of before in the U.S. They make them into ¨refrescos¨which are watered-down fruit juices and usually served chilled with a meal. There are also smoothie shops and they are almost all delicious.
Family on the pier
For some reason the water shuts off in many places at seemingly random times. It could be late morning and late afternoon but I´m not sure. You are in a restaurant or somewhere and ask to use the bathroom and they inform you, sorry, but there is no water. What a frustration! In the hotels it doesn´t seem to happen so maybe they have a backup water supply? I don´t know, it´s a Tarapotan mystery.
What else? The mototaxi drivers are completely crazy. For that matter all traffic in Peru is completely crazy. The concept of pedestrian right of way is totally foreign to them. The driver is king of the road and woe to the pedestrian who doesn´t constantly look right and left even when he thinks the road is clear.
Laguna de Sauce
This especially is something that drives me crazy and I´m sure I´ll land in a Peruvian prison sooner or later for assualting and killing a car or mototaxi driver for almost running me over. They just barrel down at you as if you didn´t exist, or as if they are hell-bent on knocking you out of existence. They accost you to try to pick up a fare and the taxi drivers are especially annoying because they honk mercilessly to get your attention. I swear that if Peru were to harness the sound energy of all the horns in Peru, they would have enough energy to power the country for years to come, maybe add a little power to the miserably dim light bulbs? Now there is a political platform to run on!