Patatas bravas is a simple dish of boiled potatoes, chopped into pieces and covered in a hot chili sauce called salsa brava. This evening, patatas bravas became the first tapas dish that I've ever tried in my life — it may be one of the more common and ordinary of tapas, but boy do them potatoes taste good! I tried the dish at a place in central Madrid called Las Bravas, which is a crazy tapas bar that's crowded to the hilt, and where the only way to order is to push your way to the front, and to scream the name of your dish out over the cacophony. Highly recommended as an introduction to Spain.
Catania is Sicily's second-largest city (after Palermo), and one of the island's most crowded and traffic-infested. It's not high on the average tourist agenda — but like so many big and ugly cities, it's often near-impossible to avoid. This morning, my route up the east coast of Sicily led me through Catania: and I decided that seeing as I was in the area, I might as well at least check it out, and see what the place has to offer. So I came, I saw, I got lost, and I eventually found my way out.
One thing that I remember quite vividly about Manhattan, from my last visit here, is the honking. Manhattan drivers honk at each other all day long. They'll honk if they're bored. They'll honk to the radio. They'll honk jingle bells. They'll just honk away any old time. Which was why I was shocked to discover, when I started exploring Manhattan today, that an effort is being made to change this — everywhere you look, you can see signs saying: "Don't honk, $350 penalty". Fortunately, despite the signs, the honking continues, and enforcement of the new fascist honk-free régime appears to be minimal. Manhattan's famous, trademark noise lives on. Vive le honk!
The last and the most spectacular thing that we saw today, on the Argentinean side of Iguazu Falls, was the Garganta del Diablo (lit: "Devil's Throat"), the biggest waterfall in the national park, and an absolutely, unbelievably, mind-blowingly massive stream of water. Do yourself a favour, and save this baby for the end of the day: it doesn't get much better than this. You could stand and stare at it for hours. We did. And the catwalk takes you right to the edge of it, where you have a simply phenomenal view of the thing cascading down all around and below you. Enjoy the photos below.
After we finished our tour of the Potosí mines today, we had some fun outside. Our tourguides got three of our packages of dynamite, ammonium nitrate, and fuse; ran about 50m down the road with them; and then ran back before they exploded. One of the packages got stuffed inside a cute little teddy bear. Poor little guy left this world with a big bang. Check out the video here.
Just after lunch this afternoon, and just before our handicraft-making session, our guide Orlando heard the noise of pigs nearby, and quickly gathered us and led us on a sprint through the trees, in the direction of the noise. When we reached the spot, we were just in time to witness about 100 wild pigs running past us in a mad stampede. Fairly common occurrence, apparently — but you still have to be both fast and lucky to actually witness it. Not sure what the pigs were stampeding after, either: maybe someone struck mud?
Chris and I were wandering around Puno after dinner this evening, when we encountered a big festivity taking place in the middle of the street, just round the corner from our hostel. Not sure exactly what the locals were celebrating; but they had a good old bonfire going in the middle of the (dirt) road; there was a most impressive brass band playing; and an impressive number of locals (with surprisingly few gringos) were standing around the fire in a big circle, with a few dancing in the middle. Good fun to watch, and everyone seemed friendly enough about letting us in to the circle of spectators.
There are many things that I'll remember about Cusco, after I've left (which I will do, one day!). But if you were to ask me what Cusco sounds like, there's one noise that would always, inevitably, spring to mind before all others. And I'm afraid that it isn't anything terribly nice, like the twittering of the birds, or the wailing of the Huayno music, or even the honking of the taxi horns. It's those damn fruit peddlers, who ride around the streets all day in their over-sized tricycles-slash-mobile-shopfronts, and who advertise their wares using a fat, blaring loudspeaker. The horrible, loud monotone can be heard almost anywhere in Cusco, all day long: "papayas platanos chirimoyas, manzanas piñas limones zanahorias, muy fresco muy barato, papayas papayas naranjas, tenemos platanos dos soles por kilo, platanos platanos chirimoyas...". It's a sound that I'll always remember, and that I'll never cease to detest.