So let’s see, the last time we ended we were talking about guinea pigs.
Except I never talk about guinea pigs. Rodents aren’t my cup of tea or cup of anything else for that matter, but one morning our trip leader, Juan de Dios, told us we were having a true Peruvian lunch at someone’s house.
“Do you want guinea pig?” the cook asked me.
No answer. I think I was choking.
“Are you vegetarian?”
“I am now.”
But then I wondered. Maybe I should live like Mark Twain or Tarzan, so I said I'd try it. An entire fried guinea pig, including the burnt head, was carried to my platter.
“My God,” I said, grabbing more bread, dreaming of a grilled cheese sandwich, as the guinea pig body lay across my plate crispier than a freshly fried onion ring from Burger King.
I ate all the side dishes and kept asking everyone if they were eating their guinea pig. Some were, some weren't. Those that had eaten the rodents were still alive. Should I? Shouldn't I? I couldn't look at my plate, and I wasted about forty minutes until it was time to go. About to leave, I peeked at the carcass. How could I take off and never have tasted a morsel or even a sliver? What would that guy from Wild Kingdom do? What was his name, Marlon Perkins? He was probably dead, but what did he die from?
I cut a infinitesimal slice from the leg and slid it into my mouth. A little overcooked but it resembled the flavor of… Chicken! I shuddered, jumping up from the table to catch the bus. How come everything tasted like hen? And if it's all the same, why do people go looking for something new?
But guinea pigs are so coveted in Peru that when we were invited into a farmer’s home in an old Inca village, ( see top photo) they were crawling all over the kitchen.
It was a one-room house with a floor guaranteed to never show dirt—a genuine dirt floor. At one end was the bed for the parents (the kids sleep on the floor, see photo below) and at the other, were the guinea pigs that multiplied in the kitchen and were saved for special occasions.
The bathroom is in a little alcove around the side of the home with a small tub. We weren’t allowed to view it. No master bath, half bath, Jack and Jill, or shower.
Yet I looked along the street and didn’t see anything for sale.
Peruvians in the city don’t live like this, but the average income is only $5000 a year.
By the way, citizens of this country can't stand paying property taxes, which are cheap, about a couple hundred a year. So most don’t mail in their checks, and when the tax collector comes, they kick him out, and he goes!
Guess he agrees with them. Nobody likes to pay taxes. Yeah, Peru!