Thursday, October 18, 2007

Peru Day Five

Hard to believe this is our last day of Spanish classes! We bring our teachers gifts of American magazines, some treats, and some extra spending money. Then we learn that we can continue classes once we get home online, one-on-one interaction with a teacher. I vow to do this.

After class we go to a cebiche restaurant called Pescados Capitales. It is a very popular place with an interesting them. The name is a play on the word fish and also capital sins. I don't quite understand the wordplay, but I do know that this place has a theme and they carry it out as much as they possibly can. Which is pretty far.

Our group spend a very pleasant two hours or so. We all ordered different things to share. The menu was something to linger over, it was so extensive and so very entertaining. The menu is themed around sins. The sins include avarice, anger, laziness, lust, gluttony, envy, and pride.

One thing we ordered:

Santa Ira
Holy Anger: Grilled Octopus
The English menu describes it as Grilled teenager octopus into aromatic butter comes with green asparagus, it's necessary to eat warm. The Spanish menu has a lot more interesting innuendo. It is translated something like this: A teenage octopus, perhaps still chaste but we don't know for sure, is submerged in butter, is struck by passion and soon controlled by fire on the grill. It is accompanied on the coals by perfumed asparagus. Indispensably eaten warm.

I almost didn't want to eat it after reading the description, but am I glad I did. It was probably one of the best dishes I have ever had!

Their website is a fun place to visit, even if you can't read spanish at all. Check it out at: You can download a copy of the menu there too.

It was just before this meal that I had a feeling I was not going to escape Inca's Revenge. After the meal, which I really enjoyed, I couldn't deny any longer that I was going to fall victim. What to do? Mentally put yourself in denial as much as possible.

All of a sudden, at the end of our meal, the tour guide from the other day, Fernando, Mr. Crazy Spanglish, suddenly appeared at our table. I thought my god, is he going to tell us he was mugged and lost all his money? Is this becoming a common scam?? I just stared at him and waited to hear his story. Oh, I finally grasp that he is there to lead us on a tour for the rest of the afternoon. I am considerably cheered up by the prospect of listening to his creative speech. A few others in our group were not so excited and decided to go off shopping instead.

Fernando took us to the Barranco, described as a bohemian and romantic residential district in Lima. I enjoyed the area, particularly seeing the creative kind of graffiti practiced there. No obnoxious spray paint on the walls around here, no sir! The graffiti is in the form of carving on the leaves of the aloe vera plants in the area. I think Fernando the tourguide was really feeling the romance of the place, because he asked me an odd question: Are you single, divorced, or a happy widow? I looked at him with an odd expression, confused by an apparent babelfish translation. Dude, I'm wearing a wedding ring, what are you talking about? A little bit later, he asked me how old I was. I told him the brutal truth, forty with three kids. You would have thought I just shot the guy. He gasped loudly and kind of jumped a little. He looked at me with eyes dilated with . . . fright? I was feeling lost in translation. I tried asking him a question: how old are you? He replied 32 (I thought he was older). He then pulled me aside from the group and said he couldn't believe I was that old and how could I possibly have three kids (ok, I'm liking this guy) and he just assumed I was single since I wasn't traveling with a husband and that my kids must be very good and never make any noise because I didn't have any wrinkles. Then, to top it off, he said "your husband is a very lucky man." I just know I was staring at him with the most confused look on my face as I tried to translate his Spanglish and figure out if he was kind of picking up on me.

Dinner that night was on our own. I really wanted to go to Astrid y Gaston, and it was our last night in Lima so this was it! This restaurant is supposedly one of the top 50 in the world, I had to go.

Actually, I did have to go. The Inca's Revenge feeling was not going away. Others in our group were falling vicitim also. I discreetly inquired of Fernando (not the tour guide, the Fernando we came with) if there were any medications available for what was ailing me. He disappeared and then came back to take me from the hotel to the pharmacy across the street to get a medication written on a little scrap of paper. I handed the paper to the attendant and she ripped off a pack of ten white pills from a sheet of them, charged me $9, threw them in a bag and handed them to me. I had no idea what I just purchased, it came with no instructions, no warnings, no nothing. I carefully examined the fine print on the foil backing of the sheet of pills to discover that I had just bought Cipro, a strong antibiotic. OK, I'd be OK. I wanted to go to this restaurant tonight, not see too much of the bathroom there, and then get back to the hotel to start the medication. Fernando, one of my friends (who was almost over the Inca's Revenge), and myself hopped in a cab to meet the others already on their way to the restaurant.

The cab ride was another interesting one. At one point our driver was lost. He stopped the car (in the middle of an intersection, blocking the street) and hopped out. He walked into a small corner market and was gone for what started to feel like an uncomfortable amount of time, leaving us in the taxi alone to hear all the angry honking going on. The driver came out and motioned to the other drivers that his car was dead. Crazy maneuvering began in earnest as people tried to get around us. Then he hopped back into the taxi and drove off. A few minutes later, while trying to park the taxi on an even narrower street, we heard the crunch of metal on metal. Getting out, we saw that he had hit a heavy steel cage protecting a spindly little sickly looking tree. Now I know why the trees on the sidewalks have cages around them.

Astrid y Gaston was a swanky place, lined with wine racks and populated by men in business suits dining together. I ordered one of the most highly recommended dishes, suckling pig. It was poor choice and I should have known better, it was far too fatty for my taste and I really wasn't feeling so great in the digestion department anyway. As much as I hate to admit, I was disappointed. I was expecting something that would wow me, and it just didn't happen. And the menu was translated into English far too well to be the least bit entertaining.

Back to the hotel, we packed up and got some rest, as we were leaving Lima early in the morning for Cusco.

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