Good morning and welcome to Summit Up, the world’s only daily column starting your day with a few observations from below the equator.
Yes, it’s true ” as if winter wasn’t long enough in Summit Up Land, we decided to freeze ourselves for a few more weeks in South America, and we’ve picked up a few things down here we just couldn’t resist sharing.
We’ll begin with a disclosure ” anyone who’s ever owned a guinea pig or otherwise has a strong affection for the little critters should probably skip the next few paragraphs.
It seems the creature best known in the U.S. as millions of kids’ first pets is also a typical plate of food in Peru, called cuy.
Surely, we couldn’t travel thousands of miles and not sample the region’s fare, could we?
So we ventured to a side-of-the-highway village known specifically for its heaping plates of pig and sat down at one of the small cuyerias ” essentially a plastic table set up in a family’s front yard.
As we waited for our mysterious meat to arrive, we noticed the cuy arrive at the table of a couple locals sitting next to us.
It had been plucked right off the grill and plopped face up on top of a plate of noodles, potatoes and a chile relleno.
Its four legs stuck straight up in the air as if rigor mortis had just set in.
Seeing this got us slightly worried (not to mention a tad nauseous) that we would be able to go through with it; suddenly, chomping the legs off the little bugger didn’t sound very appetizing.
But, we wiped our brows, cleared our throats and smiled as our plates arrived.
As for the experience actually eating the meat, we’ll spare you the grueling details of the various organs we picked through and just say that it was very salty.
Suffice to say, that lunch was a once in a lifetime event we don’t plan on ever repeating.
Aside from the food, bus travel is also a guaranteed adventure down here, and not always one you’d like to remember.
Our first experience with this came at the end of a 5-day trek through the Andes to reach Machu Picchu.
We loaded onto a small bus to head back to town after visiting the anicent Inca ruins.
As we waited for the driver to haul us back to civilization, the bus began to roll backward.
Hmm, we thought, we didn’t think the driver was even on the bus yet, how could we be moving?
Oh, the driver’s not on the bus!
Luckily, he was able to dive in the front door and throw himself on the brake pedal seconds before we plunged 20 feet into the Urubamba River below us.
Suddenly, we had a much greater appreciation for Summit Stage bus drivers. We’re pretty sure they always use the emergency brake.
We’re out skiing the Andes and sampling Chilean wines.
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