I was a bit desperate for lunch today, so I wandered into the first local-looking restaurant that I stumbled across. It was a bit late — about 3pm — and when I asked them what they had on offer, they said that all they could give me was Jolke. I had no idea what Jolke was, but I was starving, so I said bring it on. Big mistake. Disgusting brown soup with horrible meat and various spices. Basically looks and tastes like a bowl of $—%#. Try and keep away from it during your next visit to Bolivia.
I already knew that Tipón was famous for its Incan ruins. But what I didn't know, before today, was that the town of Tipón is absolutely mad about cuy. If you're in Tipón at lunchtime, your choices of cuisine are many and varied. You can have cuy in the park. You can have cuy at a restaurant (every single restaurant is a cuyeria). Or you can have cuy wherever the hell else you want. Ohhh... what's that? You want... something... else? As in, something that's... not cuy? Cuy, cuy, cuy, cuy... Lovely cuy! Wonderful cuy!
After our tour of the Pisac ruins this morning, Jesus and I went for a very expensive, very classy, and very big buffet lunch at a hotel / restaurant in Urubamba (next town along in the Valle Sagrado). It was quite an excellent meal — or so I thought at the time. Endless plates of pasta, chicken, bean stew, alpaca (first time for me!), and mouth-watering cake. It was all positively delicious. It all cost a whopping USD$15 per head (about s/50 — you can get a 3-course meal in Cusco for s/2). And about 5 hours later, it all rose right back up, and gave me a violent bout of food poisoning. Beware the top-dollar, top-brass buffets: because clearly they ain't always top-quality.
At this evening's celebratory drinks for Amigos' birthday, I decided to order a cocktail called a cholo lindo. I didn't know what it was, but it sounded local, and I was game for most anything. But not for this. It was full of anís — a really strong, particularly foul liquorice-like substance — and just the smell of it made me want to pass out. I got through about ¼ of it, and team Amigos helped me finish the rest. Cholo lindo: never again!
I don't know what it was that we put in our home-made pasta tonight that was bad. But whatever it was, it was real bad. Jack and myself cooked up some quick pasta napolitana at Loki tonight, using ingredients that we'd bought at the San Pedro market. Pasta, tomatoes, packet sauce, cheese, avocado, onion, spinach, etc. A few minutes after finishing it, I felt sick. Then, later, I vomited it all right back up. Then, I had diarrhoea for two days. Talk about food poisoning. Something from that market was deadly.
Went down to Market St in SF today, and at the cheaper end, I found an awesome army-surplus-slash-cheap-outdoor-gear store called Kaplan's. Got myself a really big, quite ugly, and definitely waterproof poncho, which can cover me and my massive backpack with its vomit-coloured Army-camo protection. For $10, I'm very happy with my purchase, which should keep me dry even in the wettest and most remote corners of South America.
Seems like I'm losing my knack for finding good hostels, because this place was dull as batpoo. Very nice building and all, but hardly any kind of common hangout area, and almost nobody else around to meet and do stuff with. The best word to describe this place would be: sterile. Sorry, Lonely Planet, but you've let me down again. Maybe the ones further down the list for each city are the better ones. Anyway, next time I come to Oaxaca, I'm staying somewhere else.
Steve and Cody took me to a bar in Playa tonight, called "Señor Frog's". For 300 pesos (USD$30), they'll give you anything they've got, totally unlimited, for 3 hours. Considering that a single Margarita (a massive one — app. 700ml) is 190 pesos, this is an awesome deal. But it turns out that getting through more than a few of these jumbo frozen cocktails is quite a challenge.
Bought this on the bus to Valladolid, when a peddler got on during one of the (many) mid-trip stops. It tasted alright, but it really looked suss. By the time I'd drunk about two-thirds of it, I noticed a few mosquitoes floating around at the bottom, and I decided that I'd pushed my luck far enough. Total miracle that this stuff didn't hospitalise me.
At the corrida in Santa Elena, they were selling fresh mango slices in a cup. When I bought myself some, the lady asked if I wanted some chili on it. Chili mango? Ah, what the hell, I thought, and I tried it. Ugh! Not my cup of chili.