all text and photos copyright 2017

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Happy, I'm feeling glad, I've got sunshine in a bag...

We were now at 7800 feet above sea level in the town of Matucana, the capital of Huarochiri province. Founded in 1647, Matucana is a colorful, carefully-kept, happy-seeming community where even the dogs are really, really good at chillin':

there is a cat with striking smoky blue eyes, worthy of Daniel Craig,

and love is in the air.

Before beginning to explore, we hit up the public restrooms, and were consequently hit up by the local snack seller for half a Peruvian sole apiece for the privilege. No idea if she was actually entitled to the charge. There was a baño sign beneath the cat, so most likely; either way she had the necessary credentials, being both nearby and insistent.

After paying up, I tried and tried to ask her the name of that blue-eyed cat sitting on her counter but she flat-out refused to answer. Perhaps my Spanish is worse than I thought. I even bought a few chocolates and Chicklet Gum with an alpaca on the label from her -an attempt to loosen her tongue. Paying customer and all that, right?

Not a chance.

It seemed like a good time to break out the cheese and crackers. Not to mention the wine. The sunshine and fresh air and the excitement of exploring enhanced our appetites. Mike and April and Royce had been in Matucana before, but on a market day. Then the center of town had been bustling with festivities, families and food stands, and musicians.

Today we relaxed on benches, cups of wine casually in hand, and though the street had plenty of activity, we had the park in the town square all to ourselves, rather peaceful, the sounds of water flowing in a fountain and the cooing of pigeons, wind in trees and, wait...the boisterous sputtering of Tuk-tuks.

Tuk-tuks! Omigod! One of my favorite things in the whole world!

For those of you not familiar with the joys of tuk-tuks, they are the toughest, most adorable, three wheeled, up to three-cylinder engined, open-sided, burpitty bumpetty vehicles known to man.

Begging indulgence, even before I had savored a plastic cup of wine, or three, I simply HAD to go for a ride in a Peruvian tuk-tuk. Our schedule would accommodate my little whimsy, couldn't it?

It would. I did my happy dance.

April was up for a bit of fun as well so we left the guys behind and waved down the nearest tuk-tuk. We offered the driver 20 soles for a tour of the town, an offer he accepted quickly with a smile. Obviously we had overpaid, but what of it? Figuring it was worth every penny we girls plopped ourselves down in the slightly uncomfortable (yet another part of the tuk-tuk charm, yes, I have it bad) back seat and our fantastic ride buzzed away with us down the street.

Of course there aren't silly things like seatbelts in tuk-tuks. All a tuk-tuk requires is a sense of humor and willingness to take things as they come.

Our driver zipped us around, we grinning like little kids, to all the places at the edges of town where the road ended. Past puppies and children playing, the adults watching the children, working, or standing around talking, April regaling me with stories from her time in Africa, and of tuk-tuks she has known across the globe.

Matucana itself is situated in a beautiful valley. Past the buildings with their flaking, often colorfully painted concrete walls, sometimes with murals of sheep and bees and plants, the metal roofs held down with rocks, the sweeping green and blue hillsides begin. Beyond that the Andes rise, magnificent and white against the sky.

local honey for sale

While we were tooling around in our tuk-tuk the boys went out to play on the trains. Literally on them, in a working train yard. The poor fellow on duty there was just about wetting himself for fear that the idiot white tourists would get hurt as they clambered about.

Which they didn't.

Royce did, however, get some great shots there, and also of the local fussball table,

don't you just love the hand-drawn faces ?

and made a little friend as well. This cheerful bit of boy is named Sebastian, playful and a natural in front of the camera.

When April and I unfolded ourselves from the tuk-tuk, and after thanking our driver profusely, we found the two of them, thick as thieves, grinning over the images on Royce's viewfinder. Mike was happily exploring the nearby area to his hearts content.

On Royce's suggestion, before we left I gave Sebastian and the nearby children the chocolates I'd purchased from the baño lady. The smiles were worth every penny.

You can see why Mike and I like to travel with Royce and April; regardless of language differences, they always seem to know exactly the right note to hit with the folks we meet, a skill for the traveller that's right up there with being able to laugh at yourself, to be open to new things, and to never lose your sense of wonder. Friends with those attibutes are a treasure indeed.

“A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles.” – Tim Cahill


  1. Sounds like great travel partners! I laughed out loud about the cat with "Daniel Craig" eyes. Glad you're having fun on your adventures!

  2. Yes, I want to travel with you and your friends! Good traveling companions make all the difference :) Beautiful photos Natalie, now I want to go there!