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Plagues and plates in Peruvian paradise


SUNNY SIDE UP Ciara Galvin in the seaside town of Máncora, which boasts surfing, ceviche, and year-round, sun-drenched skies. And the odd locust.

Diary of a home bird

Ciara Galvin

Go to Máncora, they said. It’ll be grand, they said. Turns out our last stop in a beach town in Peru was, in fact, not grand. We were basically transported to biblical times, as we had to deal with a plague of locusts. Yes, you heard me. Locusts.
Instead of sipping cocktails on the beach we were swotting away flying bugs. The locals seemed to enjoy the nightly show of me in a restaurant screaming as locusts head butted me and flew into my lovely plate of cured raw fish.
A daddy long legs back home would see me breaking out into a sweat and seeking Pop’s assistance, so you can imagine my delight at being faced with a three-day plague. On the third day, they took it up a notch, resulting in a very agitated Ciara. Let’s just say that standing on the side of the road waiting for a delayed night bus with flying creepy crawlies everywhere was not one bit cool.
That said, and despite the infestation, Máncora was lovely and a fabulous way of ending our month-long stint in Peru.
Tasting different foods was definitely a highlight, even if sometimes I didn’t know what I was eating. Phileas’s friend Fiona (our local guide in Lima) brought us for a local delicacy on our first night. I must have missed the memo about the menu because it was a whole six days later before I realised I had already eaten cow’s heart. Phileas broke the news to me after I relayed my disappointment about not having tried it. For the record, it’s delish, so much so that we got it a second time, on a night out. It was far from my usual Supermac’s on a night out, that’s for sure.
I’m now also a fan of the aforementioned raw cured fish dish, ceviche, and got used to enjoying it twice a day. The ‘Bolivian bulge’ turned into the ‘Peruvian pounds’. We were probably a bit too good to ourselves. The ordering of dessert at most meal times was justified by ‘experiencing the culture’ … even if the dessert was a very American chocolate fudge brownie.
My Spanish is coming along, and by that I mean I now have about six words. I blame Phileas’s fantastic knowledge of the language for my laziness. She was miffed to learn that I downloaded a Spanish learning app nearly three months into our trip. Manzana is apple by the way, and I finally learned how to spell ‘Hola’.
The mosquitos are another plague that are still causing me grief and my mayonnaise-like deet got binned weeks ago. Between the gargantuan bites and war wounds from a jet ski, the pegs aren’t in great shape. I suppose my first mistake was agreeing to hire a jet ski, the second, letting Phileas the adrenaline junky drive. No sooner was I on the back of it I was in the water with a mouth full of sea water. And typically we got stranded at sea with no petrol as the owners whistled and waved flags at us. Eventually our Irish compadres took a message to shore about our ‘gasolina issue’, and we were towed in. Or I should say, I was towed in, as Phileas decided to swim to shore.
The new bank card is still nowhere to be seen, so I’m still using the ‘Bank of Phileas’. Good news though: a fellow Rober, Gabrielle, is joining us in the coming days, and she will be hand delivering the allusive ATM card. I part ways with the group to return to the Emerald Isle on July 26. Let’s hope I can manage to get through Bogota airport unscathed with my random grouping of Spanish words.
Pray for me.

In her fortnightly Diary of a Home Bird column, Ciara Galvin reveals the trials and tribulations of a twenty-something year old who has recently spread her wings and flown her parents’ coop.