15May Morning. We awaken early, and it’s already hot before 8 a.m. Mototaxis, which had quieted down at a reasonable hour, are plying their trade, though with a lot less horn-honking than in other towns.
Eventually we wander out toward a lake and a waterfall recommended as local sights.
The lake is pleasant enough, but more a place to swim and eat and hang out in deck chairs. Three monkeys chained to a wooden structure cavort in its rafters or get up to what mischief they can with visitors. We visit with one [named Nora, though it appears male], and remark “Poor thing” to each other because she is chained to a post. Moments later a Peruvian family shows up, and the mother and daughter stand looking at Nora and saying “Pobrecito” over and over.
But Nora has lots of fun with Ragna’s tripod and video camera.
We walk around the little lake, but the best photograph I can manage of the place is an abstraction:
So much for the lake.
Beyond that the road seems to be closed, but the guard lets us by to go to the waterfall.
Just before the waterfall is another place for swimming and snacks, advertising a panoramic view of the cataract – and in fact you can see the top of it, high on the opposing hillside. With some doubts, we order lunch. Meanwhile another monkey helps the proprietor with repairs, comes and sits by us for awhile, and even has a go at kitchen work.
The walk in to the waterfall is dark, green, short, and pleasant. Plenty of signs urge us not to pick flowers, to assist in keeping the water pure, and to keep mining out of the area. The waterfall is nothing particularly dramatic, but I run around behind it for the sake of Ragna’s video camera.
We drive out the far side of the town, along a dirt road that may or may not lead anywhere. Now we’re really in country, the land fertile and jungle-ish, with plenty of trees, bushes, and birds, and few homes. We pause to watch a quiet farmhouse that doesn’t seem to be reached by a road. We stop near a bunch of banana plants, to chat with a farm-worker and his young son, each carrying a machete, the son bursting with pride. The man is curious about us, as we are about him. The entire area, he says, is owned by a single rich man. He, whose little house we can see, and many others live on the land and work their little portions of it.
Further on, we pause again, and Ragna goes into a yard and shoots video of the women there. They are, though I don’t realize it until I happen to step into the yard’s entryway, bathing at a small stream, pouring the cold water over themselves, in their underwear. I quickly retreat. Ragna gets to shoot video of them, while I content myself with a composition of bright red flowers, bright hanging laundry, and a bird.
It’s tranquilo here. The countryside is bucolic, but not dramatic. Each turn reveals a wide vista of gently rolling green hills sparsely populated by cows. I would gladly explore further along this road, but Ragna needs to go back to the hotel, and we do.
On the drive back, we see a man with huge sacks of produce, slogging along on foot on this very warm day. He is startled but delighted when we offer him a ride – somewhat to the disgust of a station-wagon-ful of local officials of some sort, whose faces suggest they think peasants are made to walk. We leave him off on a side street in Lama.
In the evening we take a moto-taxi to Rincon Sureno (sp?). It’s an appealing place, with plenty of wood, lots of old stuff on the walls, pleasant music at a reasonable volume, and a roofless area with plants. We sit there.
It turns into one of those meals. I remember my parents talking on and on about the fine meals we ate at this or that place. I couldn’t be bothered. Food was food.
The wine is a delight. I’m no wine buff, but it smells great, tastes great, and goes down so easy you’d not have imagined you were drinking an alcoholic beverage.
The salads are imaginative and good.
The fish is excellent too.
After awhile I feel like a kid given free run of a huge toy store – where should I turn my attention first? I want just to sit and drink more wine; but my fork kept bringing delicious bites of breaded fish to my mouth; and there was the avocado and heart of palm salad.
Another enjoyable moto-taxi ride brings us to the heladeria, where we finished off with bowls of good ice cream – again sitting outside, in an outdoor area sheltered from the street.
We stayed at Hotel Cumbaza, with no complaints. Non-budget, but pleasant, with an adequate dining room. We stayed in an especially nice and large room, @. S./ 150 per night.
A related restaurant, Rincon Sureno, served one of the best meals we’ve eaten in Peru. [see main text]