While working on posts for my native Singapore's National Day this past August 9, Bolivians were celebrating their own Independence Day on August 6 around us in Copacabana, the little holiday town on the shores of Lake Titicaca.
Babs and I spent the morning wandering through the throng of people all around town to take in some of the local colour. And how!
These guys reminded me of one of my favourite Frank Sinatra tunes, Come Fly With Me:
Come fly with me, we'll float down to Peru
In llama land there's a one man band, and he'll toot his flute for you...
Come on fly with me we'll take off in the blue
I was humming the tune to myself for the rest of the day.
Babs's stomach hasn't been at its iron-clad best since we got to South America, so we haven't been grazing at local markets and street stalls in Ecuador and Peru as much as we'd usually like. But today there must have been something fortifying in the festive air, because today was the day when Babs felt brave enough to get back into the street-snack saddle.
Well could you resist these fresh-carved pork sandwiches?
We started with one to share. And then I went back to get one just for me. Make sure you get yours with mayo, mustard and muchas picante (hot) sauce.
And then we wandered into the town's Mercado Central (hooray!) and sat down to sip some Api Morado, a thick, sweet hot beverage made from boiling purple corn flour with sugar, cinnamon, cloves and -- apparently -- a touch of pineapple and lemon. See this recipe from BoliviaBella if interested.
Quite the traditional tonic, it would appear.
The women at the next stall over were offering fried dough fritters drizzled with sugarcane syrup. It would've been rude not to try one.
The verdict? "What's not to like," says Babs, "It's got carbs, fat and sugar. Just about everything your body is hardwired to seek out. This is the perfect food."
Back on the street, we find another local specimen of perfect food -- churros!
Now a wee bit more sated, our minds now turned to loftier things. We meandered uphill to the Moorish-style Copacabana Cathedral.
It's a big day for blessings. Believers bring an assortment of framed photos of loved ones and effigies of anything else they want holy water sprinkled on -- vehicles, models of their houses or shops, etc.
It finally made sense to me why street vendors were selling models of rather bland looking houses, apartment blocks, hotels and shops on the long uphill road leading up to the church.
I was thoroughly amused to find a model butchery in the mix.
And so I took a moment to give thanks and ask for blessings for all my favourite purveyors of magnificent meat: Espirito Santo, Pampas Plains, Stocks Farm, The Ginger Pig, O'shea's of Knightsbridge... and whomever it is that supplies that nice lady that makes those amazing pork sandwiches.