Peru, Day Five (July 16, 2009)

Awoke early and had an interesting local breakfast -- pineapple, melon, papaya, sweet bread, tamale de pollo, and a strange sausage-like dish that we discovered was a mash of carne, rice, pepper, and spices stuffed in intestines. It was actually quite savory, but the rubbery texture was a bit much.

We caught a mototaxi to the Rio Abiseo National Park office, where we met up with El Professor's former professor, Esteban Alayo. He welcomed us with open arms and promptly ushered us into a truck, in which he and an associate drove us to the park.
But first there was an unexpected stop in the village of Huincungo. Everyone there was gathered in the town plaza watching some kind of program on stage. Beautiful young girls wore homecoming-queen-like crowns and carried bouquets of flowers, while an older man emceed and sang the most off-key version of the Peruvian national anthem imagineable.

Then followed a sweet parade with the beauty queens, all sorts of school children, soldiers, and officials from the park.

We were later told that today was the anniversary of the town's founding.

After the parade, we visited the Centro de Interpretacion for the RANP. It was a small, but nice museum, and the interpretive ranger was knowledgeable and friendly. I could have happily spent all day in the park, but Senor Alayo had to get back to work. They dropped us off at the Restaurante de la Selva just in time for a late lunch. We made arrangements to drive four hours to Moyobamba tomorrow morning, where we'll meet with the director of the National Institute of Culture for the San Martin district. I'm looking forward to the trip. I love driving across this country.

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