Carnival saw us escaping Cuenca. We headed south to Ñamarin a small indigenous community just outside Saraguro. Despite not really being sure where we had to get off the bus it all worked out because Jose our host was there at the bus stop waiting for us!
From the main road we headed up the steep hill to the village. It was a world away from Cuenca and thankfully anyone playing Carnival kept it to themselves. I still don't get what is exciting about chucking freezing cold water at each other but I guess you have to be Ecuadorian to really appreciate it.
After the first of our fab meals cooked by Jaunna with produce from the garden we spent the first afternoon enjoying the great weather, the garden and the village. Everyone was really friendly including a man who insisted on shaking our hands. Nothing strange in that you might think except for the fact that he didn't have a hand to shake. It was all a bit disconcerting. Him and his friend also seemed to be a bit shy of soap and water so the whole experience was a bit overwhelming. Phew indeed!
On Sunday we took the camienta into Saraguro to see the markets. It has a regular market as well as a field where you can go and buy a cow, horse, pig, etc. The pigs in particular seemed to find the whole experience too much - mind you I think anyone would if you saw what this guy did to one of them. He got a pair of plyers and yanked on his teeth then stuck his fingers into the eye socket of the pig. It was hardly any wornder that the poor thing squeeled like you have never heard. The indiginity of it but no-one apart from us seemed to bat an eyelid.
The afternoon was spent chilling and walking in the village to try and build up our apetites for dinner including a vist to Jose's cuys. He had a whole shed devoted to them and the whole process was much more complicated than I realised. Not just the food he gives them but the whole breeding process - I also never knew cuy's could jump! Mind you if you knew what was coming you would probably try to get away as well. The food Juanna served us was amazing but the more we said we liked it the more we got!! The problem is it was all so yummy it was hard to resist.
On Monday we went with a couple of blokes from the village to the Inca Baths and the waterfalls. Our so called 'guides' were still pissed from the night before so it made for an interesting tramp. Even more so when we were blessed at the entrance to the baths. I use the term blessed loosely because the guide basically took a mouthfull of Zhumir then spewed it all over us - not once but twice. He then did it again when he told our fortunes. I was clearly blessed as my fortune was all good; Scotty less so as it seemed to go from bad to worse. Even when he tried to do it again it was no better but lets hope his tale of woe of problems with papers, students and health come to naught.
We had just one last meal then headed back into Saraguro for the bus home. Good times!