Cusco Stories and Tips

Abandoned at the Chicharia

Travel Photo by IgoUgo member

Coming back from Ollantaytambo and heading back to Cusco we decided to ask our guide if he could take us to a Chicharia. The guide said he knew of one and would take us there since we were a good group.

What is a Chicharia, you may ask. It is a place that sells chicha which is traditional corn liquor that people in Peru drink. Chicha sort of tastes like the liquid in a can of corn with liquor in it. It is cloudy, tart, has a big foamy head, and gets its color from the corn being used to make it. Our guide said to find a traditional Chicharia look for a broomstick with red ribbons, flowers, and corn attached to it. Newer ones have signs to tell you chicha is served there.

When we first entered the yard area of the Chicharia we were each given a coin. We were told that Peruvians play a game to pass time. We were supposed to throw our coin into the mouth of a pig statue from far away. None of the people in our group got it in.

When walking around the yard area we saw an area which housed guinea pigs. We were told that on special occasions cuy (guinea pig) was served with the chicha. When I saw what a guinea pig looked like at this place, I no longer had a desire to eat one. They looked kind of like a fuzzy tribble or mouse. I would forever equate eating cuy with eating a poor Peruvians family pet, after that.

Next, we went into a room with a few wooden benches and tables. There were a few older ladies holding pitchers of chicha. Our guide told us that the recipe for chicha is passed on by oral tradition from mother to daughter. We were each given a glass and pitchers of chicha were handed around. Before we drank, we were told we had to give thanks to the earth god for giving us the chicha to drink. This is done by spilling a little chicha in four corners in the form of a square. I drank a cup or two after that. We encouraged our guide to chug a pitcher of Chicha. He did so after we cheered him on.

After drinking it was time to head back. I decided to go to the bathroom here before heading on the bus. It was only a short time. When I headed back for the bus, I saw it was half way down the road. I started running after it, scared I would have to spend the night here until another tour group passed by. The bus was a long way off but I still could see it. One of the men from the house called out for me to wait. It seems he had the cell phone number for the tour guide. He called the guide and the bus headed back. So much for this being an impromptu stop, I guess the tour usually takes people here! Back on the bus I got ribbed for missing the bus. However, I was not the tour guide who had just drunk a picture of chicha and had forgotten a passenger.

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