Guinea Pigs, Cocktails, and Fireworks

It’s my 50th blog post! And guess what?? That handsome couple we got to tour around Peru is now engaged!!! There could be no more appropriate time for cocktails and fireworks. And it’s Peru, so guinea pigs are making an appearance too.

I’ve been to Cuzco twice. That was enough for Ivo and me to spend several happy lunches daydreaming about living there for a month or two. Why not? If the parade of historical wonders isn’t convincing enough, Cuzco is also packed with fancy bars, great food, and incredible parties. The coffee is strong and the Pisco is quality. The city itself looks almost more European than South American. It’s a weird mix of charming cobblestoned streets, cathedrals, and grassy squares and typical South American red and blue houses. It also has actual weather, which is something I miss terribly from Kentucky. In Lima, it never rains, and the weather ranges at most from dim hazy gray to bright hazy gray. In just a few days in Cuzco, we saw both actual rain and vividly blue, sunny mountain scenery.

On our latest visit, our poor Machu Picchu climbers were understandably exhausted. Still though, Anna and Ben toughed it out, and both nights we managed to enjoy the city till about midnight. One of the highlights was our evening in the Republica del Pisco. We got recommendations for a few good Pisco bars, but we happily stumbled onto this one first. The place had live music and a very slick vibe (reference the chandelier hanging over the bar), not to mention a quirky menu that featured bizarre twists on the classic Pisco Sour. We ordered a round of appetizers and jammed out while debating who needed to back down and go for a chilcano next.

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“Who the shit actually orders the rosemary orange Pisco Sour, man, it’s just on the menu for show…”

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On our only other free evening, Ivo and I took our guests to Pacha Papa. We’d been to Pacha Papa on our last visit after asking every friendly local available about the best place to get one of Peru’s most notorious delicacies: “cuy”, or roasted guinea pig. Several restaurants do technically serve cuy, but only as a sort of sampler or as the meat in a chaufa (a fried rice dish). Pacha Papa, however, is among the two most highly recommended local restaurants for a proper cuy. It was a joy to get to go back. Ideally, we would have parked ourselves right in front of the beautiful outdoor stone oven again, but it was a rainy evening, so we all collapsed onto a booth inside.

The highlight of Pacha Papa for tourists like us is their shameless cuy presentation. The little guy is brought out in full form, riding a bed of veggies and greens. True, it takes the chefs about a full hour or so to cook just one, so you do have to spend a painful 60 minutes enjoying wine and the other fantastic food on their menu and (in our case) great conversation with worldly friends. But hey, it’s worth it.

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As if Cuzco was rewarding us for our courage (or for only ordering one guinea pig instead of two), we exited Pacha Papa and walked smack into a festival. Ivo grabbed us a huge bottle of beer and some cups, and we watched the locals light up what I believe literally translated to a “tower of fire.” If somebody ever wants to start a religion worshipping me, make it mandatory to have these at EVERY festival. Basically, the builders take as many fireworks as they can get their hands on and strap them all together into a massive Rube Goldberg construction where each blazing explosion sets off the next. Coupled with the local music and Spanish cheering, it was a hell of a send off! Thanks for cooperating, Cuzco. And Anna and Ben, if you guys want a tower of fire for your wedding, Ivo and I are on it. Congratulations!

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2 thoughts on “Guinea Pigs, Cocktails, and Fireworks

  1. Is it bad that I would totally be the person ordering the rosemary orange pisco sour? I love pisco sours in the original form but I am also a sucker for a craft cocktail and the rosemary orange sounds like it would be right up my alley.

    I am also a huge chicken and slightly afraid of the cuy in all his glory. My son and I were recently at a pet store and they were selling guinea pigs (as pets…definitely not for eating). I think of those cute guys when I see the one on the plate :-).

    The fire tower sounds like a really awesome sight to see!

    • As hard as I laughed when I saw it on the menu, the rosemary orange Pisco Sour was actually great! I don’t think I’d make it my regular, but it was totally worth trying. Haha, yeah, I feel a little guilty about the cuy. Poor crispy little dude.

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