Monthly Archives: December 2012

Arequipa – Day Trek to Capua Waterfall

Let’s see.

I left Indonesia last month with the idea of trekking to Machu Picchu, but at the last moment chickened out because of the cold weather (yeah, it’s not a valid excuse, but it is the excuse that I’ve been using, successfully). On second thought, it is actually pretty valid–born in Jakarta, a city at sea level with average temperature above 30 degree centigrade and humidity above 90%, I was surely not made for such weather and altitude.

After the timid decision, however, I kept on meeting people who have done various treks to Machu Picchu: Inca Trail, Salkantay, Lares, you name it.

So, when I arrived in Arequipa, I felt my body was itching for a little bit of adventure….in the most convenient way. That’s when I searched for a day trek. In peruadventurestours.com I found an interesting description for a place called Capua waterfall, which is an original trek discovered by the tour company.

I signed up for the backpacker service, which meant I would be traveling with public bus instead of the private transfer car.

I was picked up in the morning by Jarly, my tour guide, a man in the thirties, then we proceeded by taxi to the so-called bus terminal. Turned out it was not a bus terminal, but a place where the bus waited for passengers. We waited inside the bus for almost half an hour, waiting for the passengers to fill the bus so that the bus driver could ‘feel’ okay to start the journey. It was probably half-full when the driver finally decided to leave. Our destination was a small city near a cement factory in the outskirt of Arequipa called Yura, between 30 minuts to one hour by bus. Traffic was a bit crazy in the morning, but I did enjoy the erratic view of the city, along with the many local people in the bus, signified the real Arequipan life that I wouldn’t see should I sign up for regular touristic tours instead.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA[The local bus to Yura]

After we got off from the bus, we started to climb a steep hill. This was of course the point when I started to curse myself for satisfying the looking-for-adventure side of me. I was sure Jarly could do it in no time, but he was very kind to stop and checked on me from time to time. I’d warned him that I walked like a snail and he just smiled in understanding. Gee, that must be one of my best days.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA[My first steep climb–this is Jarly seen from below]

When we reached the top of the hill, there in front of our eyes were these dry never-seem-to-end hills, up and down. The sun was fierce but the wind was blowing quite hard, balancing the heat. As far as we could see, there was NOT a single human being. That alone was a total bliss for my soul.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA[Not a single soul. Love it.]

There was no tall tree, just cactus, occasionally. Jarly showed me the fruit of the cactus that people used as juice in Colca Canyon (forgot the name). The taste is sour (right, Jarly?).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA[Juice, anyone?]

As a good guide, Jarly also told me about the Inca along the way. I think he was a big part in making this trip a pleasant journey. His passion for adventure and travel was clearly shown during our conversations and I personally think it did make a difference–during this short trip, he was not merely a guide who blabbered memorized stories and intended to arrive at the destination as fast as he could to finish the job quickly, but he was more like a travel companion who made sure I enjoyed the journey as much as the destination.

After walking for about 1.5 hours (I think), we suddenly arrived in a place that looked like an oasis. Right in the middle of these rocks, there was this green valley.

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We walked down the hill and in the valley, until we arrived in a small river. From here, we changed our shoes to sandals and walked IN the river. Ah, my favorite part, soaking my sore toes to the chilling water.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA[Really, really, loooove this spot! So beautiful and magnificent.]

We walked in the river and had to stop from time to time to climb the big rock that was blocking the way. I must say, the excitement just began for me.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA[In some cases, we literally had to crawled our way on or around the rock. What a productive day.]

There were two (or three) places where the water fell from above. Too bad I was too busy concentrating on (and enjoying) the walk to take out my camera. I finally took out my camera when we had arrived in the final destination, last waterfall. Here Jarly took out some bananas, drinks and snacks. It was enough for me, but I think it would be better if he brought sandwich to fill the demanding stomach.

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After about half an hour, we had to leave. Jarly said the wind got colder in the afternoon and the water level rose. And he was right. I could feel my foot was dipping deeper in stronger current, and the wind was blowing harder and colder. We finally arrived in Arequipa at around 6 in the afternoon.

All in all, this 2.5 hour walk (5 hours return) was one of the most memorable moments that I’ve ever had, not just because of the variation in the path (dry landscape, oasis, river, rock), but also because of the serenity of the landscape. Listening to the winds while at the same time being greeted by the magnificence of the landscape were memories that I would carry and cherish for as long as I live.

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Culinary Adventure – Cuy

Hari ini, Genara (my Spanish teacher) mengajak saya ke ‘cuyeria’, rumah makan yang khusus menyajikan cuy atau guinea pig. Cuy adalah makanan khas yang bisa ditemui di beberapa negara Amerika Latin, termasuk Peru. Di Cusco, banyak restoran di tengah kota yang menyajikan cuy, namun harganya relatif mahal dan tidak terlalu orisinil karena sudah disesuaikan dengan lidah turis asing. Di restoran-restoran ini, cuy disajikan dalam bentuk potongan, dilengkapi dengan pasta dan sayuran, dan bisa diperoleh dengan harga sekitar 60 soles. Cuy terenak sebenarnya ada di daerah Tipon, sebuah kota kecil berjarak setengah jam dari Cusco, namun karena saya sudah penasaran luar biasa untuk mencobanya, ditambah dengan kemungkinan bahwa saya tidak sempat mengunjungi Tipon, maka saya tak keberatan untuk menjajal cuy di Cusco.

Restoran yang kami kunjungi berada di luar area turis, sekitar sepuluh menit naik taksi dengan biaya 5 soles (Genara yang menawar, tentunya). Sebuah cuy utuh di restoran ini dihargai tiga puluh soles, tapi karena kami minta supaya cuy disajikan setengah untuk masing-masing, harganya jadi tiga puluh lima soles karena ada side dish ekstra.

Saya pernah melihat guinea pig yang masih hidup, yang menurut saya imut sekali, gabungan antara hamster dan kelinci (sebenarnya sih nggak mirip sama sekali dengan kelinci, tapi entah kenapa saya merasa begitu). Tapi, ketika melihat separuh guinea pig terpampang di piring, harus saya bilang bahwa tak ada keimutan yang tersisa. It’s just like a dead rat.

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Ingatan akan tikus mati tentunya tak menggoyah keinginan saya untuk mencoba, walaupun sedikit mempengaruhi selera.

Dengan gagah berani saya mulai menarik kulitnya dengan tangan, lalu menggigitnya. Ternyata liat. Menurut Genara, cuy yang sangat enak harusnya mempunyai kulit yang crunchy, seperti kripik ketika digigit.

Setelah mengunyah kulit yang liat itu, saya merasa perlu istirahat dulu sebentar dan akhirnya mulai mengutak-atik side dish yang ada di piring. Ada dua jenis kentang yang rasanya biasa saja, dan ada sebuah gorengan yang ternyata sejenis paprika yang diisi dengan sayuran. Nyam nyam, di luar dugaan saya suka dengan rasa sedikit pedas yang dikombinasi dengan kriuk tepung di bagian luar dan sayuran di dalam.

Kembali ke cuy.

Saya menguliti cuy di piring saya dan menyisihkannya, karena setelah kunyahan pertama tadi sepertinya tak ada harapan lebih lanjut untuk memakan kulitnya. Daging cuy ternyata empuk dan rasanya…yah…tidak seperti daging lain yang pernah saya makan. Tekstur dan empuknya mungkin mirip daging ayam (kalau saya makan dengan mata tertutup dan berusaha memikirkan hal-hal indah), hanya rasanya agak melenceng sedikit ke arah yang tak dikenal. Saya membalik cuy di piring, dan ternyata ada olesan bumbu berwarna hijau yang sekilas mirip saus pesto tapi tentu rasanya berbeda. Saya sebenarnya suka dengan rasa sausnya, tapi entah kenapa kalau dimakan bersamaan dengan daging cuy menurut saya kok malah jadi ‘off’—di mulut saya terasa seperti tengik dan…yah…rasa itu memunculkan bayangan tikus mati tadi.

Saya mulai mengutak-atik side dish lagi. Kali ini saya bertanya ke Genara bulatan kehitaman yang ada di piring saya sebenarnya apa, apakah sejenis kentang?

“Bukan, itu campuran kentang, bumbu-bumbu, dan organ-organ di perut guinea pig.”

Ahem. Okelah. Saya toh pernah makan jeroan kambing dan masih selamat sampai sekarang, jadi tak ada salahnya mencoba. Saya mengambil sepotong, memasukkannya ke mulut, dan detik itu juga hampir memuntahkannya lagi. S**t!

IT TASTES like S**T!

That’s it. Tak diragukan lagi bahwa ini adalah pengalaman pertama sekaligus terakhir makan jeroan guinea pig.

Setelah menghabiskan cuy (hampir), saya memperhatikan restoran yang mulai ramai oleh pengunjung, yang semuanya orang lokal. Kebanyakan dari mereka ternyata memesan sejenis cuy (saya lupa namanya) yang digoreng tepung (cuy yang saya makan dipanggang). Di piring, tampilannya jauh lebih manusiawi. Bahkan menurut saya dari jauh tampak seperti ayam goreng tepung raksasa. Menurut Genara, itu adalah menu yang baru belakangan muncul dan semakin populer, dan merupakan spesialisasi di Arequipa.

Aha!

Saya akan meninggalkan Cusco di hari Minggu dan tiba di Arequipa hari Senin (delapan jam perjalanan dengan bis). I’ll definitely try one over there.

So, until the next cuy (or whatever the name) adventure.

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