I find it highly entertaining that the red plastic flags on sticks outside peoples homes announce that their chicha is ready. It’s a blue corn concoction that ferments for 3 days before it is ready. Once it is ready, the flag goes out. The chicha apparently is consumed that day only, as the next day the flag is gone. Never fear, there’s always another place with a flag.
We had gone for a walk around Ollanta, and I was taking photos of the flags. Mostly, the chicherias are a dirt lot behind a stone wall – not very welcoming. But at the far end of town we passed by a house with a lot of laughter inside.
The women in the front room saw me taking a photo and smiled and waved me in. Jason looked like I’d be crazy not to go in, so we agreed we’d share one quick drink. The last time we had chicha, it wasn’t good.
The hostess filled a glass with the foamy mixture, and to our surprise, it was much much better. Her kids were called in to play with Bode and they took him out back where there were baby ducks, guinea pigs, cats, dogs, a cow and a donkey to entertain.
The locals were extremely friendly. They asked us a bunch of questions, and told us about the chicha. Most were extremely happy and talkative, if not drunk. They encouraged us to take photos every time Bode picked up an animal. What I really wanted to photograph was this experience, which at the time seemed unreal.
The bowler hat wearing woman serving up her brew, the man showing Bode the correct way to hold a baby guinea pig. The line of men sitting outside laughing and yelling “Bode!” when he managed to grab a duckling. The woman in the corner posing for photos drinking chicha and holding her ‘to-go’ bottle.
The woman in red who invited us to stay at her house, and wanted a photo of the two of us. When other ladies got in the photo, she shoved them out. Meanwhile, the kids were having a blast and the ducklings were drinking chicha foam.
At the end of the night, our bill was 2 soles (about 75 cents) but this was one of the most memorable experiences I’ve had in Peru.