Monday, March 31, 2014

Last Day in Cochabamba

Many of my trip colleagues were interested in going to the market on the last morning we were to be in Cochabamba. Not me! Bolivian crafts are beautiful, but I have already purchased many things from the craft sales that Mano a Mano does in Minnesota. Also I knew my large suitcase would be full of things for me to bring back to the Mano a Mano office. So I was delighted when I was invited instead to go watch our lunch food being prepared.

While waiting in the hotel lobby for a ride I wandered out street side to take photos of interesting vehicles that went down the busy street.

I have seen these somewhat informal taxi vans in many places in the world -- and have ridden in a few of them too!

Here is a scheduled bus such as we might find in city transportation systems in the United States -- and I've ridden in these too in other countries.

What I don't know is what role these very colorful buses play in the Cochabamba transportation system, but I certainly enjoyed seeing them.

Trucks like this are a common sight, carrying people, cargo, or animals.

About 11:30 we found ourselves in the kitchen, only there was nothing for which we could help. I did find the cooking process, however, to be fascinating. The dish being prepared is associated with Carnival in Bolivia and when I saw how time-consuming it was to prepare I could understand why it is regarded as somewhat a holiday dish. In the photo by the window is one of my trip colleagues. He has culinary training, and was taking notes to see if he can replicate the dish.

The pan on the left began with 20 onions and about 12 cloves of garlic. When this was cooked down, then the women began to add a red spice of some sort. They explained one never stirred this spice into the onion mixture, for stirring would make it "hot, hot, hot!" The first time about two teaspoons of the spice were dropped in and simply allowed to simmer its way to the bottom. Then the onions were pushed to the edge and a well created in the center and about one cup of the spice was dumped in and the onion mixture gently folded over the top. The jar holding the spice was a re-purposed glass jar that could easily hold four cups of whatever this spice was and eventually all of it went into the onion mixture. Later at the luncheon I didn't hear anyone say anything other than delicious, and no one found it "hot, hot, hot!" In the large pot of the left pieces of rump roast were simmering under a layer of cabbage. When the meat was considered cooked it was removed and chicken pieces put in for cooking.

Meanwhile down on another floor in the building, in another kitchen, a huge pot of rice was cooking.

About this time with 4 women and 1 man in the kitchen, I decided there was too many cooks in the kitchen and went to another room to read and simply be quietly out of the way.

When the shoppers arrived we went up to the sixth floor verandah room where we found the "appetizers."

Here are bowls of fava beans and corn.

I was amazed to find the cheese I had been enjoying starts out like this. Every time before I had seen it in small slices on a plate. I had no idea it started out in a beautiful wedge like this.

Here is some of the dish for lunch. Couldn't get it all in one picture. One places some potato pieces on the plate, then a layer of rice, and then a layer of the red onion sauce. Much to my amazement the beef roast and chicken had been sliced into smaller pieces and then fried. The meats were then placed on the top. This is very good.

Here is part of the group at the luncheon.

And one of the trip colleagues expressing our thanks to the Bolivian hosts.

The others disappeared after the lunch, but I stayed at the Velaquez home waiting for Segundo to finish up his last pieces of work and last good-byes to his family.

Late in the afternoon we headed for the Cochabamba airport. We got there early enough we had time for a snack and conversation with the family members who had driven us to the airport.

From this food stand we got empandas and banana drinks. The U on the end of the name of the food stand made me think it was a Polish word!

We flew to Santa Cruz because our flight from there to Miami went out early on Sunday morning, and it was somewhat easier to go down to Santa Cruz the night before. Our flight out of Cochabamba was at 7 PM so alas all of the trip was in the dark.

At Santa Cruz we were met by a driver who took us to a hotel. I had a very nice room,

It had a nice large bedroom, a sitting room though the doors seen in the picture, and a nice bathroom. For Santa Cruz the temperature was cool. Slept well now that I was down to sea level!

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