Monthly Archives: August 2008

Your Travel Guide Requete-speaks


I associate Peru with seafood, but usually we eat many forms of starch, fruit, and milk – with instant coffee and herb tea. This diet causes me to crave fried eggs. Today, fortunately, we consumed meat, vegetables, and wine, and I was fortified at last. Then we consumed an item new to me – PISCO SOUR ICE, from the current most popular gelato place, Laritza (the one in Miraflores I used to go to, which was famous in its day and made ices and ice cream from every kind of tropical fruit and left whole pieces of fruit in it, has disappeared). In any case, Pisco Sour ice is really good. I am not sure how to make it but I think that if you used a regular ice recipe, substituting Pisco Sour for the fruit, it would work.

Modifying a lemon ice recipe: dissolve a cup of sugar in a quart of boiling water and let this mixture cool. While it is cooling make a generous 12 ounce Pisco Sour. Add this to the mixture when it is cool. Freeze in a tray, stirring every now and then so that it does not freeze rock solid. The ice will be ready in 90 minutes.

This recipe is theoretical, not tested, and I need help testing and adjusting it. The hardest part is getting the Pisco Sour ingredients and making it. Alejandro is helping us with this by showing that there are easier and harder ways to make a Pisco Sour. I think one of the easier recipes would be good enough for an ice, but I insist on using limes, not lemons. And I am used to receiving Pisco Sours with cinnamon or nutmeg in lieu of Angostura bitters. But I believe the Pisco Sour ice contained neither.


Is Lima, then, a viable place to live? In the long term, no, because the smog and traffic will only worsen and with any small problem the city will run out of drinking water – studies have been done which show why. People do not realize this. A minister of the government recently announced that people in the country would just have to migrate to cities so as to have access to potable water (the streams and rivers having been polluted by mining and other activities), because the country cannot afford to put a source of potable water in each town. There are numerous problems with his statement but one of them is that concentration of people in cities is not a solution to the water problem.

In the short term, I believe I could make Lima viable. It is definitely not viable in the way I have been here these last months, because where I live is too inconvenient in too many ways (it is like living in Metairie, which New Orleans people will understand). Now, they call Miraflores “Choliwood,” and the Paseo de la República reminds me of the Harbor Freeway. We can continue the Los Angeles analogies and say that a part of town everyone but me wants to live in, San Isidro, is Beverly Hills. I do not want to live there, although I would rather live there than where I do. Neither do I feel great desire for the convenient “Choliwood” (which is in other ways something like West Los Angeles), but I like Barranco, which we can perhaps call Venice. (Indeed, I have just discovered that the house I have always coveted is none other than Ricardo Palma‘s house … well, you knew already that I had seignorial tastes!)

I wonder, I wonder, about Jesús María, Lince, Pueblo Libre, and Magdalena del Mar. I like Pueblo Libre just for the name. As the Republic-related name suggests, it has nice nineteenth century buildings, and it is very convenient to my main universities. I have been told to think out of the box and consider living in one of the good parts of San Juan de Lurigancho or even Los Olivos. But where I claim I would ultimately like it is where I liked living before, Lima 1 – downtown. Many people I know speak with some pride about how they never go to Lima 1, the way Metairie and Baton Rouge people boast about their lack of interest in New Orleans. This only encourages me. I wonder.



Filed under Arts, News, Resources

Reading for Pleasure Wednesday: Jorge Bruce

For the third day in a row I have failed to get into the Lima film festival. It is somewhat disappointing, but now I know: you have to study the program way ahead of time, and drop down on those tickets like a hawk the first hour they are available. I justified buying Jorge Bruce’s Nos habíamos choleado tanto as a work related book, but I am reading this lucidly written set of psychoanalytic essays on race and racism for pleasure.

Cholear in one of its more superficially neutral meanings is to mix red and white wine. Here is a better and more complete definition of the verb cholear, and here is an excellent blog post on it. Here you can see the verb in its complete conjugation, including the archaic future subjunctive.

This book contains, among much else, a psychoanalytic interpretation of the only apparently rebellious popular song lyric Cholo soy, y no me compadezcas [I am a working class mestizo or amestizado person, but do not feel sorry for me] (also available at art galleries as a T shirt). This song, interestingly, is a criollo waltz; here its creator, Luis Abanto Morales, sings it:

I also learned from Bruce’s book that although 12% of Lima residents in a fairly recent poll identified as white, only 8% were identified as such by the pollsters. Splitting the difference, we can say that Lima is about 90% non white, which would explain why I so stick out here and why I always feel so out of place if I remember at all what I look like, or see myself in any mirrors. Lima, not Salvador, Bahia, or New Orleans, Louisiana – each about 30% white in my time – is the least white city I have ever lived in. That is why I used to be so shocked to see my own face in the mirror – I do not look normal. And I, as much as any Lima resident, assume white people may be foreign, and look at them and listen to their voices, trying to figure it out.

In daily life, we are choleando, too, or perhaps we are choleados. Our teenager is going to have her birthday party. She grew up mostly in Orange County, California, where she became a fan of chicha music, as she would not have done here for reasons you will soon infer. Somehow she has arranged for a chicha band or DJ, I am not sure, to provide music for the party. Chicha music being working class, cholo, and mountain inflected, the maid has prohibited the party from being given in the house because we will lose class status “in the view of the neighbors.” We depend very greatly upon the approval of our maid, so we are looking for a hall to rent.

In honor of the party, which I will miss, here are LOS SHAPIS on “Chofercito,” a chicha song:



Filed under Bibliography, News, Songs

An Authoritarian Conversation

Where I wanted to be was at the Lima Film Festival, a truly good thing, but so did everyone else. I could not get in, I was too late in trying to buy my ticket, so I went and got my bangs trimmed.

Manicurist: Do you want a manicure?
Professor Zero: No, thank you, not today.
M: You need one, and I need the $5.
PZ: Well, all right.
M: What color nail polish do you want?
PZ: No polish, or transparent polish.
M: This (pale pink) is the most transparent I have. It looks more natural, even, than clear polish.
PZ: Hm. All right.

PZ: This is not natural, it is the color of bubble gum. Pass me the acetone, please.
M: Oh, you actually meant it when you said you wanted no polish or clear polish?

People seem to believe salons and spas are places of luxury and delight, but mostly I find them to be places of discipline. I had a facial also, and although it was less absurd, it was in the same mold. A session of acupuncture costs less than a facial (facials = $18, acupuncture = $14 first visit, $7 subsequent visits). It has much more content, and more of an effect.



Filed under Banes, Da Whiteman

Lima en 1927

This is a promotional film from General Motors, but check it out. You see a good mountain road, better than those I have been on recently. You discover that Lima has the oldest traffic laws in the world – ironic now that traffic is so savage, laws are not obeyed, and the discussion of the many accidents and deaths is the theme of the day. You learn that the one-way street was invented by a limeñoapparently in the nineteenth century (Paris got its first one-way streets in 1909. Footnote 1: London got gas traffic lights in 1868, and electric ones appeared in Salt Lake City in 1912. Footnote 2: [City] buses here and in Chile are called microbuses, I do not know why and should ask, although I have always assumed it was in contrast to inter-city buses (“omnibuses”) which, of course, tend to be the same size. In any case, they are called “micros” for short, and “microbes” as a joke.)

In 1927 I bet the food was fantastic, for those who had it – and perhaps as many or more people had it than do now, I would like to have some statistics on this. I have not mentioned that there is this serrano ham existing mythically in Santiago de Chuco and Huamachuco, but that I could not get any. The butter there is supposed to be wonderful but it is only made by individuals for their own consumption, since not enough can be made to make it worthwhile to distribute.

In general, in both Peru and Brazil margarine and Spam-like products prevail over butter and ham, even among those who can afford the latter. The same goes for instant coffee and powdered milk. And one day in Huamachuco I ordered coffee with milk and was asked, did I mean cow’s milk? I said do you mean you also have goat’s milk, but no, the question was did I want fresh or canned milk? Many people prefer canned milk and I still do not know whether they are just used to it, or whether they like it because it is thicker and thus reminds them of cream.



Filed under Arts, News

Your Travel Guide Reque-speaks

My voyage north has been judged daring and dangerous by the people in Lima. I think so too, although not for all of the reasons they cite. They fear assault, robbery and auto accidents, whereas I only fear auto accidents, and/but I fear these increasingly, based on my recent experiences and observations.

I am in culture shock in Lima – it is cold, gray, urban, commercial, congested, and Third World-ish – oddly Huamachuco, my new paradise, seemed less Third World-ish than Lima to me, and all I lack there is a good bookstore. (I also did not see any L’Oréal products, to which I am currently addicted, but they are soon getting a store which I believe will have them.) And it is terribly cold in Lima at this time of the year in comparison to the sierra – I am chilled to the bone.

Today I have some important travel notes. First, on Huamachuco, because it is hard to get information on it. Next, on banks, because there is information even my astute self was not aware of and I ought to have been, and finally, on important errands to do in Peru.


I have been complaining about the declining quality of the menu of the day, but the juice bar at the end of the calle peatonal (the end away from the square, that is), has a menu of the day for 4 nuevos soles (call that $1.50) that is very good. (My version yesterday included the usual soup, stewed chicken with menestra and rice, and maracuyá juice.) In general, I suspect one should probably now give up, most of the time, on the menu of the day, except in markets, and eat in more upscale places than I usually tend to do if one wants an official restaurant meal.

I am, however, a major supporter of eating lunch in markets. Inelegant though it may be, this is actually cleaner, airier, fresher, and tastier than many restaurants. If you eat lunch, you do not really need dinner, you can just have a merienda in a café, so you can avoid restaurants and restaurant prices entirely, and this is one of the things which enables me to travel, you see.

In Huamachuco there are also three cafés I strongly recommend: LA NONNA, in the first block of the street going from the square down to the market, very comfortable, open 4-11 PM daily, has espresso, sandwiches, teas, and spirits, too, against the cold; DOÑA EMILIA – the bakery and coffee/hot chocolate place, on the calle peatonal towards the end; open 7 AM-11 PM; and DOÑA EMILIA SNACK, Da. Emilia’s daughter’s half café, half restaurant, on the square.

I really dislike staying in hotels which run out of water, for instance, and when it is cold I like hotels which have hot water at least a couple of hours a day. I also prefer to have a window in my room, and I strongly prefer to have at least one lamp with an incandescent, not a flourescent bulb. (These preferences reveal me to be something of a princess. It is not all that easy to find hotels that fit my criteria in these small Andean towns, and this is one reason I recommend camping.) I find that these colonial buildings, unless very nicely renovated, often have really terrible rooms. Low ceilings in a room of unfinished adobe, for instance, just creep me out, especially when the door is also the only window, or when the only window opens onto a busy street and the only way to close it is to close the shutter (as when there is no glass) – I am mildly claustrophobic.

Neither do I like the hotels market people stay in, because they basically stay up all night moving their wares around the patios and getting themselves ready to come and go. There is a lot of clatter and sometimes smelly merchandise (cheeses, animals). You may hear television playing loud through thin walls at all hours, because working people who cannot afford apartments are semi-residing in these hotels. I have also seen these hotels used as places for thieves to move goods through, and I do not want thieves to notice me. Finally, I do not like hotels that also rent by the hour, or that allow people to receive guests.

Because it was a cold and rainy night when I arrived in Huamachuco, because I had not had a window in Trujillo and wanted one, and because I did not know how things would be, I stayed in the HOTEL LLAUTO REAL, rumored to be the town’s best. It cost $18 and was very comfortable; I would stay there again. It had everything I needed and one thing I didn’t, namely satellite television (that was sort of fun, though). It is also supposed to have a restaurant, a sauna, and the Internet, but my impression is that these are only up and running when there is a conference in town. There are two three star places on the way out of town, one of which is called the Los Angeles and has a restaurant called the California, but they do not look interesting. There is a three star hotel near the museum, just of the square but on the side opposite the calle peatonal, which looks expensive but may not be. In a slightly better location than my hotel (just off the square, across from the laundry and next to the best Internet café, on R. Castilla, a street parallel to the calle peatonal), is the GRAN COLONIAL, with a restaurant, rumored to be the next best hotel.

There is also a spiffy looking hotel in the first block of the street going uphill from the square, although I did not check it out. I did look into the patios of the HUAMACHUCO and the SAN JOSÉ, both on the square, and they looked all right – especially the HUAMACHUCO – although I have not seen the rooms and do not know how much noise the front rooms (with windows and little balonies on the square) of the HUAMACHUCO get. Someone told me that the more modern BUENA NOCHE, also on the square, was good, and someone else said it was not. Then there are other hospedajes, but some (although not all) of these look rather tenebrous, at least for me. Finally, there is a new one with a restaurant on the calle peatonal near DOÑA EMILIA, called the KASECI. I found the rooms drab and the restaurant pretentious, and wondered how much restaurant noise would spill into the rooms – but I loved the patio. And there are other places – see this guide I have finally found, with good pictures of the town and its outlying areas.


I lost my debit card and my bank will not send another one to Peru. Finally I discovered that they would send an ATM card that cannot be used in stores, but only at ATM machines. That is, of course, all I need, but the person on the phone could not imagine this, which was why this piece of information was so hard to get. Now all I have to do is wait and see how long it takes for the new card to arrive – the person on the phone could not tell me whether it would be sent by air or by sea.

In the olden days it was possible to get money from credit cards, but in Huamachuco this was only possible through the ATM machines, not inside the bank. I have online access to my accounts, so I could take money from the card and cover it right away from my checking account, but I do not know the PIN numbers to my credit cards since I never take money from credit cards. A person at my bank suggested I try a casino – you can put cash on a credit card at a casino, she said, and it made sense – but I shudder to think how much they would charge.

In Huamachuco I was told that at an international bank (Huamachuco banks are not banks, they are cajas, savings banks) in a city one could take money from a credit card without the PIN, but I asked one today and they said no. I wonder whether this was because I was at one of those little branches which are inside supermarkets, and whether I would get a different answer elsewhere.

In any case, you need an extra debit or ATM card, and/or the PIN number for your credit card, and/or large cash reserves, because the only easy way to get money here is to have someone out of the country send it to you by Western Union. I tried to send money to MYSELF by Western Union – my bank accounts are in Louisiana, and I thought that by using the Western Union website, I could do it, but I failed, because you cannot send money by Western Union on the Internet if you are physically in Peru, which the website discovered I was (I suppose by using the wicked Javascript). I called Western Union Central in Lima, who said I could send myself money if I went in person to the agency. The agency, however, wanted me to send it by credit card, using the PIN number.

Para colmo my bank – a large and venerable U.S. one – could not tell me whether it had any partners in Peru. So be forewarned, y’all! I am carrying dollars and I am leaving soon, but I am curious to know more about the most competent international bank offices in Lima, whether my bank really has no partners here, and the truth of this matter generally. I am also curious to see when and if my new ATM card arrives here.


If you come to Peru, you should bring with you anything you need repaired and cannot get repaired in the U.S. or cannot get repaired there at a reasonable price. This includes shoes, cameras, and importantly, jewelry and silverware of all kinds. (I can give you the name, address, and telephone number of Lima’s best silversmith if you are interested.)

You can also have shoes and clothes made for less than it would cost you to buy them in the United States. And if you are my size (I am tall because I am over five feet, and slim because my stomach does not stick out), all the clothes on the racks are cut for you (it is the same in Brazil). You can easily pick up a high quality wardrobe at a very good price. I mean, if you intend to buy a suit or two, a coat, a blazer, a briefcase and some shoes in the U.S., you could take a trip here to buy these items, and what you saved would cover your plane fare and more.

The best places to shop for fine, tailored alpaca items in Lima are the old fashioned stores around the central market downtown and the Gamarra street market. Beautiful blazers, jackets, and coats go for $30-$70. They are worth much, much more. If you need the sleeves taken up or anything like that, there are tailors everywhere who will do this almost instantly and for a very low price.

Peru also has arguably the world’s highest quality denim and cotton, so you SHOULD buy jeans and T-shirts. Jeans in the market run about $10, although you cannot try them on; in a discount house the same jeans will be $20; these jeans will resemble jeans costing $50 and up in the U.S. You should also fill prescriptions in Peru, they are much cheaper. You should never shop at the department store RIPLEY, it is terribly overpriced, or at SAGA, because it is really just Sears (literally!) – you can do much better.

Things which are more expensive in Peru than in the U.S. – enough so that you should not buy them here – include high quality cosmetics and electronics. Things which cost the same include glasses and haircuts. Facials and manicures are cheaper, but they may not be as good – watch who you go to – and if you get your hair dyed, watch the mixture: a lot of dyed haired women are dyed a dark cellophane red, the color of a candied apple. Important high quality items you should consume in Peru are FRUIT, CHICKENS and EGGS. All of these items, not being artificially produced, have a taste, and the egg yolks are rich, dark yellow, and deep. (It takes six to eight months to grow a chicken naturally, but Louisiana chickens are raised with hormones in six weeks.)



Filed under News, Resources

Lima 1944

When this film was made, Lima was “a charming and comfortable place.”

Part I is set in winter (it rarely gets above 70F, and there is a heavy fog every day). Lima is 4,000 miles due south of Baltimore:

Part II:

Part III:



Filed under Arts

Boicotear la empresa HORNA de transportes

Now it is time to boycott the HORNA bus company and write letters complaining of their service to the newspaper La Industria in Trujillo, Peru, for their complete disregard for human life and dignity. [Upon proofreading: that sentence does not scan in English, but the syntax works well enough in Spanish, so I will let it fly.]

On the way from Huamachuco to Trujillo, just past the turnoff to Otuzco, on a winding, two lane mountain road, ON A CURVE, our bus decided to pass the truck ahead of it. This, of course, meant destroying the engine of the car which was coming uphill in the opposite direction, which only did not fall down the ravine because there was, unusually enough, a guard rail to stop it. Fortunately there were no injuries.

It appeared that our bus, allegedly owned by one of the fancier companies, was not insured. The owner of the company said by telephone that he would take no responsibility for the accident or the fate of the passengers. It took over two hours for police to arrive, and when they did arrive, they did very little. After five and a half hours a bus came which could take us and our baggage to the right agency in Trujillo, were we arrived at midnight, missing our connection to Lima. (The passengers already on the bus warned us that they had had to help push start it in Huamachuco.)

The Trujillo agency said a bus was scheduled for us but none came, so we were left after midnight in dangerous parts of town trying to embark ourselves on passing buses which were going on to Lima. “LIMA LIMA twelve dollars one-two!” shouted the drivers’ assistants. The bus I was able to get on only went as far as Fiori, on the Panamericana Norte, and when I called home to say where I was the entire household began trembling because of what things are like in Fiori, and said I must board a taxi instantly no matter what the cost, so I did, and it cost eleven dollars, one-one.

There is a lot more I could say about this colorful and chilling adventure, which would illustrate the utter irresponsibility of the director of HORNA. Never take an HORNA bus. Take FUENTES to Huamachuco, even though it only goes at night. Take AGREDA, even though their buses are old, just to get back at HORNA and their owner’s utterly irresponsible attitude. Speak ill of HORNA.

I am irritated at the company’s director but also at the drivers’ supercilious and condescending attitudes. They accused the passengers of having caused the accident by telling the driver to go faster (a lie – there is a door between the driver and us, and it was locked, and nobody talked to the driver). They accused us of not being understanding enough of his situation as a working man. They denigrated as irrational and unreasonable our request that another bus be sent to pick us up. This, by the way, is one example of how coastal Peruvians wielding a small amount of power treat Peruvians from the mountains and it is u.n.a.c.c.e.p.t.a.b.l.e.

Yes, there was much more to the situation and it had its fun and amusing parts, but this post exists solely to say boycott HORNA! I will explain the situation further in comments if you wish, and describe the colorful, sweet and funny aspects of the entire scene at another time.


One of the bus drivers (not the one who caused accident) realized I was foreign and tried vaguely to flirt with me. Where was I from? Why was I up in this part of the country? Que me intentara llegar ese tipo, o que quisiera hacer vida social en aquella situación, después de haberse comportado de una forma claramente despectiva con los pasajeros durante tres horas, era el colmo – I was mad. I said, I have come from Brazil to see the land of Vallejo, about which you would not know and which if you did know you would not respect, because you so obviously hate Peruvians and Peru!

Some people got it and others didn’t, and I was mean, but I could not stand the way this bus driver had been speaking to us. I was horrified that the company’s owner had merely washed his hands of the matter, and that both the police and many of the passengers seemed so sure that the company would win any judgment against the car we had hit, because it was a company. (I suppose it is that they know they are not citizens, while I, a delusional American, think everyone should feel like a citizen and claim the corresponding rights.) What is your name? I asked the driver. He gave his first name. Juan Carlos what? What? Juan Carlos what? Oh, you want my last name. Legazpi. Juan Carlos Legazpi. Are you proud of your job and of the company you work for? Well … I guess not, said he. Fair enough, but still I say, authoritarian people váyanse a la conchaetumadre, que me las pelen, I can spit out as many macho words as you.



Filed under Movement, News

Complete Boycott of Starbuck’s and the Catholic Church

I saw in Sunday’s La República that the Archbishop of Cuzco is canceling the lease the traditional and beautiful Café Allyu, on the Plaza de Armas, has held for decades, so as to lease the space to Starbuck’s. This will of course hurt a high quality Peruvian small business in favor of a mediocre transnational one, degrade the Plaza de Armas and the town, lower the quality of life, and so on. We knew Starbuck’s was evil and we could suppose the Archbishop of Cuzco was, but now he is publically exhibiting several of the seven deadly sins and I have lost all patience with everything Catholic from now on.

The Catholic Church, of course, never deserved my patience in the first place. I have been nice about it anyway for nearly fifty years, but this is the last straw. I am sorry if this post offends your Catholic sensibilities. All I have to say is écrasez l’infâme. I am not yet sure what letter writing campaigns or other forms of combatting this evil being perpetrated against the Café Allyu may exist. When I find out, I will let you know.

In more amusing news, La Industria of Trujillo reported Monday that several members of the Santiago de Chuco city council are requesting federal intervention in the municipal government due to apparent corruption, mismanagement, and from what I can gather, mutual mistrust among members of the community. And our featured blogger for today is the Bald Blogger, in whose Wright is Right post I am interested for what it has to say about race, not because it supports non Catholic Christianity (remember, I am an unbaptized heathen and grateful for it).



Filed under Banes, Da Whiteman, Movement, News



Today´s poem, from Los heraldos negros, is a very good description of the Santiago de Chuco area. It is especially interesting now that we know May is the best time to be there – just after the rains end, when everything is in flower. If you do not read Spanish, skip to the next section, as this post says much more and contains travel information that is very hard to get.


Vierte el humo doméstico en la aurora
su sabor a rastrojo;
y canta, haciendo leña, la pastora
un salvaje aleluya!

Sepia y rojo. Humo de la cocina, aperitivo
de gesta en este bravo amanecer.
El último lucero fugitivo
lo bebe, y, ebrio ya de su dulzor,
¡oh celeste zagal trasnochador!
se duerme entre un jirón de rosicler.

Hay ciertas ganas lindas de almorzar,
y beber del arroyo, y chivatear!
Aletear con el humo allá, en la altura;
o entregarse a los vientos otoñales
en pos de alguna Ruth sagrada, pura,
que nos brinde una espiga de ternura
bajo la hebraica unción de los trigales!

Hoz al hombro calmoso,
acre el gesto brioso,
va un joven labrador a Irichugo.
Y en cada brazo que parece yugo
se encrespa el férreo jugo palpitante
que en creador esfuerzo cuotidiano
chispea, como trágico diamante,
a través de los poros de la mano
que no ha bizantinado aún el guante.
Bajo un arco que forma verde aliso,
¡oh cruzada fecunda del andrajo!

La zagala que llora
su yaraví a la aurora,
recoge ¡oh Venus pobre!
frescos leños fragantes
en sus desnudos brazos arrogantes
esculpidos en cobre.
En tanto que un becerro,
perseguido del perro,
por la cuesta bravía
corre, ofrendando al floreciente día
un himno de Virgilio en su cencerro!

Delante de la choza
el indio abuelo fuma;
y el serrano crepúsculo de rosa,
el ara primitiva se sahúma
en el gas del tabaco.
Tal surge de la entraña fabulosa
de epopéyico huaco,
mítico aroma de broncíneos lotos,
el hilo azul de los alientos rotos!


1. The bus which overturned on the road from Santiago de Chuco to Shorey today was not mine. I was already at the police post in Shorey, waiting for my connection to Huamachuco, when news of the accident was radioed in. There were dead and wounded. The policeman, who had just been transferred to this post (in fact, he had only been on the job for two hours), took the report and then asked, “Which of us should go up there?” The answer was that nobody should, because there was not enough gas in the motorcycle to get there.

2. In the chicken place where I was eating tonight because of having missed lunch, the lights went out all of a sudden. People kept coming in, nevertheless, and kept being seated. In the past I would have had a candle, a flashlight, or both, and so would at least one other person (most likely a foreigner or an Indian), but nobody did. Soon, however, each table was lighted by the glow of a cell phone. (Note: broasted chicken has been getting popular here for quite a while and now it has basically taken over. At night, not a popular time to eat, it is often all you can get.)

3. There is Google in Quechua.


On Mondays there is a direct bus from Cachicadán, where I was staying, to Huamachuco, where I now am. It avoids both Santiago de Chuco and Shorey, and goes along a road that approximates fairly closely the trail Vallejo would have taken by horse to travel to secondary school. I wanted to take this bus, but I was told it left at 11:30 – only to discover that in fact it left at 11.

This meant that I had to convince a colectivo to leave soon, soon for Santiago so that I could make the 1 PM bus to Shorey. This was difficult, but I made it, only to discover that the bus driver would not let me on. No room, said he. I do not expect to sit down, said I and he said, talk to the manager. The manager said to get right on. I told the bus driver this and he said, only if the manager will sell you a ticket. The manager said it is too late, you know that at the last minute it is customary to pay the assistant, especially when you are riding a relatively short distance, as you are. I told the bus driver this and he said no, at which point the passengers started shouting, he has no authority, get right on! And there was even an empty seat.

When we got to the desolate Shorey there was an hour and a half wait at the police station for a bus going on to Huamachuco. I bought a bizcocho from the same traveling bizcocho seller who had sold me one in Quiruvilca, when I was on my way to Santiago. She is very beautiful. Passengers who had not taken this route before were nervous and tried to convince a taxi to take five of us. He wanted $50, that is, $10 apiece, but the group only wanted to pay $35, because that would be, per person, twice the price of the bus, which was as high as they were willing to go. He said no. I could have easily kicked in the other $15 but decided this much magnificence was unnecessary since I was sure a bus was coming. It did and all passengers boarded in great relief.

The bus played happy huaynos all the way across the puna, and the man next to me was holding a 15 day old lamb. I do not like riding with sheep, as they smell, but this lamb was very new and still clean. It was nervous, though, and kept trying to get away, which was problematic because it was so strong. I thought I might be able to entertain, interest and calm it as one would a dog or cat, but it was not bright enough to understand my efforts. The owner decided that the best thing to do was cover its eyes with his jacket and hug it tightly. This calmed it down.

There were many road workers on the road and amazingly, they had managed to pave a lot of it in the three days I had been gone. They had leveled even more of it, and they had put gutters and even guard rails on some of it. They looked very invigorated and I think they were enjoying working on a big project like that. I also think they were making more than minimum wage. On the regular (unpaved) parts of the road we drove at 30 km per hour, but on the finished parts we went faster. We got to Huamachuco half an hour early. Since the days are getting longer as we move toward spring, it was still light.

Because I had been to Huamachuco before and knew where I was staying, I realized I should not ride to the terminal but get off earlier, near the entrance to the town at a place known as the Bridge. This is where most people get off and in my excitement at being able to join them, and my concern to get all my things off the bus at this quick stop without dropping anything irreplaceable, I left on the bus my Huamachuco shawl. This is all right because I only bought it for the warmth – it is black and I do not want any more black clothes, and I do not like the embroidery on the one I had, and it is very touristy to be a white person wearing Indian clothes, it is among other things like holding a sign saying “I am carrying U.S. dollars” – and whoever finds it will need it much more than I do. If I miss it I can buy a better one tomorrow for $9.


It is very difficult to find information on travel to the Santiago de Chuco area and I should write a whole, very visible post about this as a public service. Notes toward that are:

1. There has been bus service to Santiago since 1956, so it is not true that I could not have gone before. However, despite the fact that the following information is designed primarily for bus riders, my very strong recommendation is to rent a 4×4 vehicle in Trujillo so that you are not dependent upon capricous bus service, and so that you can get to interesting natural sites in the area(s) you will be visiting. There are many remote places that are VERY hard to get to by public transportation, and there are VERY FEW CABS OR ANYTHING TO TAKE YOU TO NEARBY TRAILHEADS. You can negotiate rides but it takes time. For these reasons, and because of the precarious lodging situation, I recommend a 4×4 vehicle and some camping equipment. This would enable you to go to places like Angasmarca, and to drive from this general area down to Ancash without having to go out to the coast. There are many advantages to taking this route, which I can explain if you are interested. And an additional reason to drive your own vehicle is that you can control its maintenance. Poorly maintained vehicles riding on these precarious roads do have accidents. In particular, buses fall down ravines. (You want something high off the ground, but with a low center of gravity. Buses used to be smaller and I think safer for that reason, but these tall buses they use now are NOT entirely stable.) Also (to cite an example), in Huamachuco you cannot get to the famous baths of Yanasara except by taxi (there are no colectivos). If it is to be cheap, you have to split the cost among a group, which means you need to have a group, which is not easy to do unless you have brought friends and family with you. The cost of a taxi is the cost of a rental car, and with the rental car you do not have to deal with the taxista (usually this is a great advantage, que los taxistas son muy vivos).

2. If you are going to Santiago because you are interested in Vallejo you should also visit Huamachuco, which is, furthermore, a place worth visiting for its own sake. However, it is not entirely practical to go there first. You can get direct buses to Santiago and even Cachicadán, where I STRONGLY recommend staying, from Trujillo. (The relevant companies are AGREDA and HORNA. Agreda is more traditional and has better hours, but its buses are also older and more likely to break down or lose tires.) Then, if you leave Cachicadán on a Monday at 11, you can take a direct bus to Huamachuco. Otherwise, the problem is that the road forks at Shorey. The turnoff to Huamachuco is to the left, and to Santiago to the right, so if you visit both places by this route you end up having to retrace a lot of steps and take two or three buses to get to one place.

3. Another advantage of going to Santiago first, and then Huamachuco, is that you can go straight on from there to Cajamarca (by bus), and from there to Chachapoyas (the non-touristy jungle) and/or Chiclayo, where the new Sipán site is. These last are not Vallejo places, but they are places very much worth seeing and which are easily accessible by public transportation – and which have non precarious places to stay.

4. As we have said, May is a good time to go to Santiago, but so is late July/early August. The Feast of the Apostle starts July 25, but it goes on for a week. There is a second big parade August 1 (that being the day of the feast that produced the 1920 events leading to Vallejo´s arrest), and they finally have the ceremony in which they put the Apostle back in his place in the church on August 2. On the other hand, if you go in May and are a Vallejo fan, you could try to hit the annual event around May 15th (or just before) in which academics from Lima and elsewhere come up for a Vallejo festival.

5. Other famous people from Santiago de Chuco include Luis de la Puente Uceda (I think I have that name right) who broke off from the APRA and founded the MIR (if this has been explained right to me, I need to check the facts here). You can see his house, and you can also visit the Santa María-Paredes house, and if you know the life of Vallejo, you know who the Santa Marías are. All of these people were well off, comparatively speaking, and had big houses.

6. I very strongly recommend staying in Cachicadán, at the Aguas Calientes auberge. It has a restaurant and thermal baths right there. It is otherwise very primitive by my standards, but there is still every reason to recommend it, and I can explain in greater detail if you are interested. Furthermore, the house it is in existed in Vallejo´s time, and Vallejo would visit it when he went to take the thermal baths. (He did not sleep there, but he is supposed to have sat on the famous veranda.)

The best room is LOS CARTUCHOS. If it is not available, try to get one of the rooms upstairs. Be careful, though, if staying there and visiting Santiago, not to miss the last bus. It leaves about 5, if not earlier, and if you miss it THERE ARE NO CABS. If you stay in Santiago, I am told that the best hospedaje is the Cristóbal Colón, around the corner from the bus agencies. I have seen it, although not the rooms, and indeed, it looks promising. Down the street on the other side of the plaza there is the Hospedaje Santiago, which from the street looks as though it may be decent, and I saw a blog post saying the place on the plaza is the best in town … but I did not like the look of it from the outside. This blog post, however, said it was the only one that had working plumbing, and from what I observed of plumbing in Santiago houses and restaurants I take this warning very seriously.

7. Places Vallejo lived besides Santiago, Huamachuco, Trujillo, and Lima, all involve jobs he had when he was out of college money. These are the Hacienda Roma, now a part of the city of Trujillo, the mining town of Quiruvilca, near Shorey on the way to Huamachuco, which I have now seen and whose tenebrous look explains a great deal, that Larco Herrera sugar plantation in the Chicama valley (that is, I am pretty sure it was Larco Herrera´s sugar plantation, not his Hacienda Roma), and that hacienda in Huánuco where he was a preceptor. Ideally one would inspect all of these places – and the location of Antenor Orrego´s house near Chan Chan where Vallejo hid out when he was a wanted man.

8. The war against the Sendero Luminoso was very hot in the countryside around Santiago, and Angasmarca was a red zone. On a trail between Santiago and Cachicadán the army would bring down by mule the piles of bodies of those they said were terrorists.



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Ciliado arrecife

Is there really something sinister about Santiago de Chuco, or am I merely too bourgeois to easily handle so many close encounters with the fourth world as I have been having lately? I could write a long narration about this expedition. Details would include:

* riding slowly through Quiruvilca, where Vallejo worked for a while to save money for college
* changing buses at Shorey
* the truly stunning Santiago countryside, the fact that you can see all the way to the Cordillera Blanca from some of the higher points, and the news that May is the month of flowers here
* the man on the bus, who believes in Christmas, May Day, and no other holidays, and who recommends we all read the Bible and Das Kapital
the fact that the Feast of Santiago was still going on when I got there, on what turned out to be exactly the 88th anniversary of the events leading to Vallejo’s arrest
* how much Santiago and its inhabitants remind me of some of the more desperate towns and populations I have seen in places like Nuevo León 
* how glad I was that I had thought of another town nearby to stay in
* how horrified I was at the hotel there, but how I changed my mind because people were so nice and the countryside was so beautiful
* how this hotel is so primitive that for the first time in my life I did not even ask what the room cost was before taking it, and as of this writing still do not know
* how big and fancy the Vallejo residence is, by any standards but especially by the standards of Santiago
* how interesting the house is, and what good energy it has
* how dark, dank, and filthy so much of Santiago is, and what strange, nervous-deathly energy it has, or appeared to me to have
* how jovial and outgoing everyone is
* that there is a tourist office which tells you the route of Vallejo’s favorite walk, so you can take it, and I did
* how I missed the afternoon bus home and how, very disappointed not to be out in the clean countryside, I was convinced not to wait for the 1 AM one and also somehow forgot that I could look for a room in Santiago
* how I therefore ended up staying with these people in their very tenebrosa house – tenebrosa because it was so fourth world, more than I can take
* how luxurious my hotel seemed when I finally got back to it
* how I gave the people I had stayed with the slip – I just could not take more
* how I feel strange about this because they are the ones who gave hospitality, and yet escape seemed, indeed still seems essential to survival – I am squeamish about having been inside the house, in its conditions, for so many hours, and although what they have to say is interesting, they do not ever stop talking
* how hard it is here, in general, to get any time alone or to think, because everyone is so social … and because like the Spaniards of whom they complain, they keep telling people what to do
* how the light is so dramatic, deep and clear, and the countryside is so beautiful, and again beautiful, and once again beautiful.

Trilce XLVII

Ciliado arrecife donde nací,
según refieren cronicones y pliegos
de labios familiares historiados
en segunda gracia.

      Ciliado archipiélago, te desislas a fondo,
                                  a fondo, archipiélago mío!
Duras todavía las articulaciones
al camino, como cuando nos instan,
y nosotros no cedemos por nada.

      Al ver los párpados cerrados,
implumes mayorcitos, devorando azules bombones,
se carcajean pericotes viejos.
Los párpados cerrados, correo si, cuando nacemos,
siempre no fuese tiempo todavía.

      Se va el altar, el cirio para
que no le pasase nada a mi madre,
y por mí que sería con los años, si Dios
quería, Obispo, Papa, Santo, o talvez
sólo un columnario dolor de cabeza.

      Y las manitas que se abarquillan
asiéndose de algo flotante,
a no querer quedarse.
Y siendo ya la 1.



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