Monday, September 1, 2008

16 August 2008

Ica ~

Today was an ideal vacation day. After getting my best night of sleep in weeks, we casually got ready and made our way to the Plaza del Armas where we had a very casual desayuno Americano. After bumming around town, we caught a taxi to one of the many bodegas (wineries) which surround the town. We arrived at the bodega Catador where a group of tour guides were waiting for us at the door. Marco to the initiative and began showing us around the vineyard. He spoke very clearly and slowly while giving Adam and me a tour of the step by step process of creating their pisco. The tour was free and the samples were free, but I elected to give a tip and buy some nectar. We then passed the next two hours or so at the vineyard restaurant eating and drinking some pisco straight. We figured it best to do some relaxing before going to Cuzco.

The longer that I’m in Ica, the more I appreciate it. I love how each city “works” differently, and it is fascinating to try to understand Ica. One aspect I love is the taxi system. There really aren’t buses here and few people own cars, so almost all the transportation is via taxi. The taxis though aren’t your typical yellow cabs. Instead, they are small three-wheeled booths with an engine. These three wheelers engulf the street and seem to follow no rules, going against traffic, forcing their way through uncontrolled intersections. If a road is wide enough for two cars to go side by side, four will race through the intersection, hoping to force their way into one of the two slots. Additionally, all the cabs are always honking their horns. When empty, the cabs honk to signal they can pick up a rider, creating an urban cacophony. Apparently lights on the tops of the taxis, signaling vacancy, just aren’t as cool.

Upon returning from the bodega, Adam wanted to make a phone call. For this reason, we returned to a shop near Plaza del Armas. While Adam made his call, I stood out on the street where I was overly conspicuous. Not only was I the only white person on the street, but I was the only person wearing shorts. Despite being in a desert, shorts aren’t always culturally acceptable. I wasn’t sure if it was because of my physical characteristics or because of my shorts, but I definitely was getting dirty looks while loitering in front of the phone shop. With time, the awkwardness only increased and reached a climax when a funeral procession proceeded down my road, engulfing me and my shorts. The pallbearers lead the procession carrying the casket at their shoulders. Behind them a band marched amidst at least 100 mourners. I couldn’t go anywhere. I just stood there letting the procession flow by me. I got some dirty looks and some scandalous ones. However, I determined that I was too much of a target for too many things, so I left Adam at the phone booth.

Photo Credits:
1. Adam drinking straight Pisco at the bodega
2. Taxis on a street in Ica (from Flickr)

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