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HUANUCO AND THE CHARM OF ITS PROVINCES

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HUANUCO AND THE CHARM OF ITS PROVINCES

We leave the hacienda behind a little sadden though intoning several songs viva voce; Huánuco is certainly fun. Our taxi driver-guide takes us now to Tomayquichua, a Town 18 kilometres away from the City conformed by old houses, narrow streets, nice people and extraordinary settings. The moment we arrive we hear firecrackers and we all grin, the party goes on.

There is some sort of ongoing feast in the Town; there is a fair, fireworks, dancers with multicoloured costumes everywhere, and stands offering typical dishes bordering the plaza. Some young ladies practically stick brochettes of fried guinea pig in our noses; food vendors call us whisking their smoky stews cooked in earth pots. After so much liquor we are starving and in view that we have arrived on a party day, we cannot miss the opportunity to keep on celebrating.

We invite our taxi driver Jose to our table at one of the stands at the plaza. The glasses with chicha de jora, an alcoholic beverage made of maize, which lighten the afternoon even further, are the first thing at the table. Jose tells us that Jose Maria Arguedas, a renowned Peruvian author, used to come to this small Town, which inspired him to write his novel "The Charming of Tomayquichua".

We order several dishes to taste their variety. Soon the table is set with spicy guinea pig, pachamanca of pork, spicy cheese, spicy beef, chicken with potatoes and maize, and fried cracklings with mote. Chicha keeps flowing, the band is playing somewhere in the plaza, the firecrackers still soaring the skies, and Tomayquichua has charmed us.

After lunch we go walking to the house where once lived Micaela Villegas, The Perricholi, that famous singer who became Viceroy Amat's lover during the colonial period. The house maintains the typical architecture of the Province with high ceilings and arches on the doorways. One can still appreciate part of her personal suite, such as a bed, a dressing table, some small tables, and perhaps the most interesting thing is her photograph, probably the only one existing.

We return to Huánuco, wave Jose goodbye and fall on our beds totally worn out. It is already nighttime when we wake up and the sky is clear again; actually we do not want to go dancing but we have plenty of bottles of liquor that can amuse our night. We ask for permission to start a small fire that later Janice turned into something more like an altar to worship fire for the large amount of firewood she put into it.

We chat, laugh and listen to the stories. There was something especial on that night of moonlight sitting beside the fire amongst good friends, something like an ancient, almost forgotten, habit where people used to sit around a fire at the end of the day to tell tales and legends.

Peruvian Schumacher

It is our third day out of Lima and we still find it hard to get up early in the morning. It is eight o'clock and after breakfast we go out in search of a car that would agree on taking us up to Tingo Maria. We find a taxi driver willing to take us and since we have been lucky thus far, we accept his offer.

It is a 135-kilometre trip from Huánuco to Tingo Maria. The scenery begins to change and the vegetation becomes denser the further ahead we go. The curves and turns are also abundant and unfortunately our taxi driver believes he is a formula-one pilot and has us all smashed against one door first and the other then, at unison with the oncoming turns.

We simply had to stop in midway in order to buy some pills for our dizziness in a shop sitting alongside the road, though the weird thing was that our driver seemed to not notice what was going on. We lastly arrive in Tingo, as locals call it for short, and the heat is scorching.

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