Life In Peru - Miscellaneous Observations
By Vic Hanson
Just some odds and ends of daily life in a remote village in Peru...
After two weeks of traveling and being away from home, it was good to get back to Cotahuasi on Saturday night. Much of Sunday was spent in church activities but by Monday morning the mountains were calling my name. I went for a hike along a mountain ridge that runs between Cotahuasi and Alluay canyon, which is one of my favorite hiking spots. There are many ancient trails and ruins there that I love to explore.
Of course after being gone two weeks, a pile of dirty clothes was also calling out, I did four loads of laundry on Tuesday, thank God for electricity and a washing machine. Most people here wash clothes by hand and the water is cold!
On a trip to Arequipa I picked up some food that some friends from the U.S. had brought for me. Raspberry jam, bacon bits for my salads and cheddar cheese for grilled cheese sandwiches, very appreciated! They had brought me a container of Kraft grated Parmesan cheese too; unfortunately it exploded in the suitcase and made quite a mess of their clothes! I also saw some macaroni and cheese on sale for about 90 cents a box at the super market there so I got a couple boxes. What a gourmet treat! I love ice cream and it is available here but in some strange flavors. Morayma, a friend in Arequipa, and I often go out for ice cream when I am there, you can get three scoops for about one dollar. Most people get three different flavors; I get strawberry, strawberry and strawberry. Anyway, I also got some boxes of strawberry ice cream mix, add a cup of milk, mix for four minutes and freeze. It's not Baskin Robbins but is pretty good.
At 11:30 one morning I took my milk pitcher to get two liters of fresh milk. It usually arrives about 1:00 to 2:00 pm but you have to take your container there early to "reserve" the milk. Whatever is not sold right away is made into cheese. It was perfect timing, for some reason the milk arrived early (maybe the mule walked faster) and I was able to get it right away, saving a trip back to pick it up. While I was pasteurizing it, I was finding things to do in the kitchen. Too often if I leave the kitchen "just for a minute", it turns into a "few" minutes and then I hear the milk boiling over on the stove and making a mess. The only good thing is that forces me to clean the stovetop.
While getting the sugar and refresco mix (like Kool Aid), I found part of a bag of non fat powered milk that I wanted to mix with the "whole" powered milk I had recently bought. A little background info, most stores, especially the open markets, sell dry food staples in bulk. They have large bags of oatmeal, sugar, flour, rice, etc. and you can buy what you want by the kilo. The only problem is that the large bags are usually open so the shoppers can see (and feel) the quality of the rice, sugar or whatever. There are often bits of dirt, food from the next bag over, etc. that get mixed in. Sugar is the worst for some reason, (or maybe it is just more noticeable) seems to be lots of dark specks in there. But it is much cheaper than buying individual prepackaged small bags. That is how I buy most of those items, including powered milk, which I use to make oatmeal mix. I mix the oatmeal, powered milk and sugar ahead of time, then when I am traveling to the villages I just have to take one container and it is all ready to use. While mixing up the non fat and whole powered milk, I saw something black in the powder, which was unusual, as the milk is not normally sitting out like the other items. I started to dig it out with a spoon and it turned out to be a dead fly! The good news, I didn't boil over the milk this time. I should still clean the stovetop though.
Vic Hanson is the founder of Adventure Cotahuasi Tours, which offers pre-planned and custom adventure travel tours in Cotahuasi Canyon and other areas of Peru.
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