Saturday, 4 February 2012

It's my birthday and I can randomly introduce a new blog feature if I want to...

Today is my birthday. I'll write about the whatwherehow of that later, but today's post is my gift to myself:

The gift of self-indulgence.

Today I want to introduce a new feature of the blog which I hope will enhance your reading experience while also helping to indulge my fantasy of pretending I'm a travel writer. The new feature is, until I can think of a punchier title, called Snapshots, and its purpose is two-fold.

First, I have realized that many of our travel experiences don't fit into my blog posts, either in terms of length or content. Often, we see, hear or experience something so random, unique and, more often than not, bizarre, that it doesn't really go with everything else I describe in a normal post. For a while, I was struggling to figure out how I could share these experiences without overloading you with information every time I write. I'm hoping my Snapshots will help rectify that problem by providing you with a- you guessed it- snapshot of a specific situation we have witnessed, either by a written account or through a photo.

The second goal of the new feature is to enable me to post more often. I simply do not have the time to write a long, informative, cohesive blog post more than once a week or so, and that is clearly unacceptable for my avid readers (Hi Dad!), who deserve better. The Snapshots will help me to post every few days, albeit with shorter posts.

So here it goes, the first of what I hope will be many Snapshots of our experiences.

Snapshot: A bus somewhere in Peru

You know, I like street food as much as the next person- that is, the next person masochistic enough to eat something with such a high probability of making them sick. But even I have my limits.

We were sitting on our ten hour bus from Copacabana, Bolivia, to Cusco, Peru, when the bus slowed down, almost to a stop, on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere. As we were on the top level, we couldn’t see what was going on, but in our experience buses often stop for the most random reasons in the most god-forsakenly lost places that we didn’t think anything of this particular halt in our journey. 

The bus picked up pace again and seconds later, a woman dressed in traditional clothing appeared coming up the steps to our level. With her followed an over-powering stench of cooked meat.

The woman stopped at the top of the stairs, balanced her brightly colored bag on the ledge over the stairway, and pulled out a gigantic leg of what we guessed was roasted pork. We watched in fascination as she unsheathed a large butcher’s knife with the other hand and proceeded to hack at the pork leg with powerful, full-armed strikes of the dull knife. 

Once she had roughly cut off what she considered to be a portion of the meat, she put down the knife, grabbed the shredded meat with her bare hands and put it in a clear plastic bag, glistening pork fat running down her wrist and forearm. Then she started yelling.

“Cerdo! Cerdo caliente!!! Cerdocerdocerdo calienteeeee!”

At first, the only response was a muted bewilderment from the passengers around us, which wasn’t surprising considering the fact that we were on a bus. Ignoring the blatant lack of interest in her product, the women continued to chop away at the flesh, pausing only to try to grab our attention with her refreshingly direct sales pitch.

“Cerdocerdo caliente cerdo!!”

Slowly, one by one, several people- all of them locals- made their way up the aisle to where she was standing. Each bought a bag of the hot, fatty meat before ambling back to their seats, picking at their snack with bare hands and licking the grease off their fingers. After each sale, the woman would hack off another portion, and then another and another, until the thick leg had been whittled down to the bone. 

The strong smell of the meat permeated the entire cabin and my stomach growled in response. But I still had six hours to go in a bus without a bathroom, so for once I erred on the side of caution and decided against stuffing myself with meat of mysterious origins while in a moving vehicle. Feeling quite proud of myself for taking such an important step in self-control and responsible decision-making, I sat back in my seat and quietly judged anyone around me holding a clear plastic bag.

Once she had sold what she had, the woman wrapped up the remaining bone, wiped her knife off on some toilet paper and headed back down the stairs. Soon after, the bus slowed down to another stop, presumably to let the woman off in a place just as desolate as the one from which she had come.


  1. You gotta eat that sketchy meat guys!! Love the Blog! Happy Travels!

  2. LOL I love your post AND snapshot, What a laugh! happy you being wise regarding strange food. Well, if you were not so enthusiast to taste new things you would have never appreciated what we made you taste (I am doubting my sentence means something in English)....Looking forward the next one

  3. Happy B-day! Love your story, more snapshots!