Posted by: Jessie Kwak | September 17, 2009

“The Pearl of the Andes”

Ah, Tarma. We chose Tarma because it looked interesting on the map, and it would break up our journey to Tingo Maria, thus saving Rob from the dreaded 8-hour bus ride. When the bus dropped us off in a remote part of town with nothing in sight but a cevicheria (in the middle of the Andes?), I had begun to lose faith.

I finally caught the stomach bug that Rob just got over, and Andean ceviche was the last thing that I thought would make me feel better. But we dropped our bags inside and sat down to a feast so huge that we could barely make a dent in it. I ate valiantly, not wanting the waitress to think that I didn’t like it (it was delicious). The octopus pieces were some of the most tender I’d ever tasted.

She directed us to the center of town, where we found a hotel and began to wander the streets.

Tarma is larger than I thought it would be (60,000 people), and apparently they’re pretty big in their sports. As we wandered we found that nearly everyone was listening to the same soccer game on the radio—it turns out that Tarma’s team was playing in Huancayo. At the same time, a basketball game was going on at the coliseum. I didn’t catch who Tarma was playing, but later that evening we were witness to an impromptu parade of honking cars and truckloads of horn-playing fans, all painted with the team’s name.

Tarma is fascinating, and we’ve barely scratched the surface since we arrived yesterday. We’ve decided to stay until Sunday’s football game (Tarma hosts Cerro de Pasco), which gives us plenty of time to explore the surrounding area. Stay tuned for awesome photos, and an account of our trip spelunking the Gruta de Huagapo….

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