This evening's colourful introduction to cosy Pai was a visit to the town's night market. Marie, Claire and myself went exploring the street or two that comprises the market: primarily to grab a bite to eat (actually, we grabbed several), but also just to peruse. The food is definitely one of the market's highlights: although some of the dinner-food isn't so crash hot (my "omelette and rice" dinner was rather ordinary), the snacks are incredible. The shmontses are arrayed in abundance: some of them quite amusing, althogh most of them just regular hippie junk. The highlight of the market, however, is the nightly dance show: a large group of young local Thai girls perform an elegant traditional routine, garbed in their finest silks; while their friends accompany them with flutes and violins.
Last night's Flamenco was so good, I just had to go see it again. The fact that it was still free, and still next door, also provided plenty of incentive. My friend Deanna (and her buddy Jenny) left this morning; but I had a new crowd to take along to teh show tonight, including my mate the Sicilian. Tonight's show was very similar, but somewhat different: about 2 of the 5 performers were new; and most of the songs and dances were also new. However, the style and the ambiance were identical to that of the first performance. Once again, great fun and a very impressive show.
This evening, Deanna and I went to see a Flamenco show here in Barcelona. Flamenco is that most famous of Spanish dancing: you know the one, with the Riverdance-like foot-tapping, and the women in long flowing dresses, and the hairy guys twiddling cheesily on their guitars. It was very convenient — it's right next door to the Kabul hostel — and what's more, the show is free for all Kabul guests! The performance was beautiful, dramatic, stern, and yet fun — a combination that nobody can pull off quite like the Spanish can. The jug of sangria that we ordered wasn't bad, either. We caught the 9:30pm show, which was just as well: because the 10:30pm one was totally packed-out.
This evening at the Hostel Inn, I stuffed myself silly on the delicious all-you-can-eat BBQ dinner, I slurped away on the giant bucket of serve-yourself capirinha (after all, this is almost Brazil here), plus I enjoyed the great Tango show that they put on after the meal. Since I booked a tour to the falls for 9am tomorrow, that should have been all I did for the night. But I was silly enough to convince myself that I was being told the truth, when an Irish guy suggested that we go into town for "a few quick drinks". Hah: Irish — drinks — "a few" — "quick" — who was I kidding?! Anyway, I can't say it wasn't fun, staying out at the pubs of Puerto Iguazú until 4am; but as for tomorrow morning — that was Not Very Fun At All™.
Last night was fairly quiet at the Cloud Forest Hostel. Only about 6 of us for dinner (including Patrick and myself), and not much else to speak of. But tonight, we had a massive crowd (most of which was YABFTG — yet another big French tour group), and an impressive traditional dance show, from a group of local little village girls. I guess that even here in Chugchilán, Friday night's a big one.
Baños may be a tiny little town, but it's party time down here, 7 nights a week. And of all the places to party on "bar street" (the street that we're staying in), the Leprechaun Bar has gotta be the most kicking. Patrick and I came here for the first time last night (after our Tungurahua tour), and we scored the customary free shots of Flaming Bob Marleys. Tonight, there were so many hopeless gringos trying to dance salsa, that we ended up virtually having a salsa class right there on the dance floor!
The people of Amantaní really are a great bunch. Each night, they throw a party for their gringo guests, complete with live music, traditional folk dancing, and family-size beverages. After dinner with our island family tonight, we were taken across the island (in the pitch dark) to the local hall, and partook in one of these nightly celebrations. If they really do this every night, then I have no idea how they keep it up: 'cause they sure do put on a good show.
Huayno is a traditional Quechuan style of music and of dance in the Cusco area. The music has a lot of guitar and high-pitched singing, and the dance has a lot of foot-stamping and stiff-leggedness. This afternoon, Abram — who conducted a salsa lesson with us last Friday — taught us Amigos students this strange, difficult, and surprisingly tiring dance. Good bit of fun for a Friday afternoon, but it seems more like a stand-up comic routine than an actual, romantic folk dance.