(written 10/25 @ 11PM) No internet at all for an entire day and a half now! It's a bit annoying as I have tons of photos to upload and some really fantastic video (though I do need to edit that still).
Today started somewhat oddly – I woke up and noted that the power was out. Grabbed a quick hot shower (the first truly HOT shower I've had since last Monday in the US) and breakfast then headed out towards downtown to meet up with the three other solo people. I was shocked to discover that the power was out over the entire town and was unable to upload last night's blog and photos as planned.
Breakfast was interesting. Of the other solos, Peter (yes, there's two of us) and Sarah (alas, with an h) both expected to take their time and were planning on sticking around for many days after. April was looking about between, and I personally was concerned more about having fun and the spirit of the trip rather than being a tourist. It was interesting how different we perceived things, and at the end we sort of came to the agreement than none of us would travel together. Ultimately Sarah heard about a friend of another Junketeer down in Lima who wanted to come and got him to come along – leaving three of us loony enough to go solo.
After breakfast, I started to roll towards the huge street fair and was interrupted by a parade running through the main street. Watching guys in business suits performing a stiff military style march was topped only by the three extremely well dressed fireladies MARCHING IN HIGH HEELS. That takes some serious skill.
The street fair itself was awesome, and I really wish it was nearer the end of the trip because there were a fantastic amount of trinkets I could have bought for donors – but
I didn't want to carry them the entire way. Instead I wandered around and ended up with a decent bush hat (~$7) to replace my $2 power rangers baseball cap (ugh), two rough native style scarves ($3 each), and six meters of thick black plastic to wrap around my backpack as extra water proofing ($4).
The street fair was about ten blocks long and the funniest bit was constantly running into the other Junketeers, sharing tips about what we were buying, etc. It was clearly unusual for so many non-locals to be wandering the fair, the locals seemed to enjoy pointing us out and discussing how many of us there were. On the plus side I did get to meet a bunch of people I hadn't met yet as well as a few random people that had nothing to do with the Junket!
Next up was heading to Calle 13 de Noviembre (wonder if that means something, independence or the like?) where all the mototaxi stuff is supposed to be. Unfortunately it was entirely closed (probably due to the power outage), much like the rest of the normal shops. Thus I still need to procure a helmet as well as some extra shirts (the plan was always to buy some cheap t-shirts down here, but I haven't gotten around to it so I've been alternating the same two shirts for six days now – I don't care on the road, but right now I have to hang out with people and it's weird!).
Quick walk back home to drop off my loot, then I wandered randomly towards Plaza Vea where supposedly they had "equipo" (generators) and a huge grocery store that would be up and running. Sure enough, they did and it was. Bought some bottled water, some snack food, nice quality soap, and a decent shampoo+conditioner (I was going to go the whole trip without washing my hair but it was getting itchy heh). Worst thing though was that I planned on buying some sunblock here as I only had a little bottle and I'm quite red in spite of all the SPF30 I've been putting on (10k feet closer to the sun with a lot thinner atmosphere)… but a small bottle of SPF45 was 60 soles! I'd rather burn than pay $20 for a three day supply of sun screen… Instead I bought a 15 soles giant bottle of recuperative lotion so my sunburn will heal better. ;)
Random: At one point they started playing some song and six women in uniform started dancing near the checkout line, apparently advertizing the Plaza Vea VISA card. Completely surprising.
From here it was straight to the Junketeers sporting afternoon (organized by the sporting minister of Huancayo)! This was quite fun and a bit hilarious. After awhile of sitting around at this school, we ended up playing five a side mini-futbol against a very good team from Huancayo. Around 7-8 of us (out of the 40 or so there) played, with it almost all being British chaps (I didn't play out of fear of turning my ankle, since it's still not fully healed). How to describe this…
The shortest guy on our side was at least a head taller than the tallest guy on their side. They tried to play slow and controlled, our guys just ran at the ball constantly full tilt like their lives depended on it. I don't think the locals really knew how to deal with it, and ultimately we ended up losing 7-6 in a very close match that was quite impressive considering none of our guys had played together before. I think the biggest advantage was that the locals kept miscalculating the aggression of the Brits and the length of their legs.
Once the futbol was done we moved into the gym to play basketball – not a single one of us had played in the longest time, and we knew we wouldn't have a chance here. Surprisingly their team was quite tall as well, all of them easily taller than I am and at least a few over six foot. Let's just say… we got crushed. Handily. In 20min we scored TWO baskets. By the second half they just stood there and let us shoot, knowing we would miss, then rebound it and nail a fast play. Horrible. I played for a bit in here and while I had some good steals (still got that speed!) I also had a breakaway layup off a steal and completely missed it… horrible. We also had a 5 on 5 women's game, which was fun to watch because all our women played barefoot (insert joke here) and slid all over in the dust… they fared a bit better but we were still soundly trounced.
This finished up around 5ish and I walked back home to shower and relax before going out to the big dinner. Literally two minutes after I walked into my hostel it started POURING rain. This time a cold shower felt nice though, and the other four guys were hanging out so we just kinda chilled for a bit and I got to review my video finally. Some really really great stuff.
Six-thirty-ish we went off to the Big Dinner. This was quite uncomfortable – lots of people crammed into this restaurant trying to talk with loud music and no acoustics. I personally hate this as I have the hearing of my dad at times and I really can't follow a conversation with that much going on (one of the reasons I hate clubs and bars with loud music). Long story short, we had a good dinner and lots of 650ml beers and everyone was quite happy. For the record, guinea pig has very little meat on it and is quite hard to eat – and doesn't really taste like much. Gamey dark meat chicken maybe.
Eventually the five of us piled off to go home because our nice hosts at the hostel asked us to come home by 10:30PM. :( When we left almost everyone was still partying and there was much chiding – personally, I don't need to party it up out here, I do that often enough at home. I'm hear to do something new and different, and the only different here is trying to figure out wtf a Brit means when he says some random stuff like "you must have been daggered." Regardless, one of us did have to sit in the back on the ride home and the taxi driver got lost (again), but the hosts did let us in without complaint when we arrived at 10:18PM.
We did, however, decide that tomorrow we will take an easy morning, then pack up and check out and head downtown and grab a hotel near everyone else for the rest of it. I'd like more internet and I'm honestly a bit sick of walking 1.5 miles at least four times a day (I know, I know, I could cab it but it's ridiculous to cab that short all the time).
Tomorrow is driving, paperwork, and a meeting with the town mayor. Hopefully add getting helmets and some extra t-shirts in there and editing some video to upload for all you folks!
Don't you think $20 is worth avoiding skin cancer in your future? Perhaps it's just expensive since most of the locals have darker skin and don't need sunscreen, so there's not much of a market? When I was in El Salvador on a Habitat trip I ended up giving my bottle of sunscreen to a local volunteer at the end of the trip. She had unusually light skin for a Salvadoran and was burning quite a bit - she was very happy to have the sunscreen as it was so expensive there.