Monday, December 7, 2009

Rocio’s birthday party

You know what we haven’t done yet? We haven’t taken you to a birthday party. Peruvian birthday parties have three things in common – lots of food, plenty to drink, and music for dancing. Rocio’s party had an unusual twist that we’ll talk about shortly.

Here are your hosts Rocio and her husband Anton. The party is being held at the home of Rocio’s parents in Posope, which is a small town not far from Chiclayo. The food we’re being offered is rice with pork….but not just your routine everyday pork. Twenty four hours ago this pig was doing whatever it is that pigs do. Today it’s the featured menu item. That’s what I call fresh! Anton did the cooking over an open wood grill and did it well. The meat was soft yet crunchy (if that makes sense) and had a sweet, tangy flavor. Don’t bother to ask him for the recipe. When I asked him he mumbled something about the sauce. Obviously he’s one of those temperamental chefs who is not about to give away his methods.

Now that we’ve had our fill of pork it’s time to start dancing. This is when most guys get uncomfortable, but don’t worry about it. Number one, we’ve had enough to drink to reduce the natural anxiety brought about by even the thought of dancing, and two, we’re all in the same boat. It’s my experience that men on a dance floor the world over, including me, look like we’re either having seizures or stomping out forest fires. There are no exceptions at this party.

To provide the music it is customary to rent one or two speakers slightly larger than the average refrigerator…..

…..together with equally large sound boards that are so complicated you need a technician to operate them, then crank the speakers so that eight bazillion decibels of heavy Latin music washes over the guests. Fortunately Anton and Rocio elected not to play them at that level so I was able to preserve what little hearing remains to me.

Sometime around 4:00pm Rocio received a text message on her cell. It was from a friend who was one of 11 university students that had hired a guide to take them to an historic Incan oasis in the desert known as ‘Laguna del Inca.’ They were lost and in trouble.

Because of my lack of Spanish I am not clear on the details, but as I understand it the combi (mini-bus) dropped them off short of where they should have been. The guide became disoriented and the group started wandering aimlessly. This was at 9:00am. Any provisions they had including water were long gone by the time the text message was sent. Rocio phoned the police, who sent a rescue vehicle and were able to locate the students within a short period of time.

The young woman (fourth from right) sent the text message and is relating her experience. She said several of them were experiencing dizziness and felt close to passing out. It is nearing summer in Peru, and the last place you want to be lost in is the desert. We have cut back on our mountain climbing and are usually off the mountain by 11:00am because of the brutal heat. Those students were wandering in it for over seven hours. Fortunately it all turned out okay. The dancing resumed, and the party finished with the traditional cake cutting.

One word of caution in closing….never attempt to leave Posope late on a Sunday night. There are too many travelers and too few vehicles. Trying to get a seat on one is like running a timed obstacle course with 50 other contestants. Make that 100.

Tom & Maribel

1 comment:

  1. Wow - glad Rocio's friends were all ok! What a dangerous situation to be in.