Cuy, chicha, pachamanca, and a few repairs.

Repairs of body and gear, that is.

I’ve now been laid up for well over a week in Huaraz, (in)patiently awaiting my back and knee to mend. As such, there’s not much to report on the biking front. Ogre’s sitting forlorn, complete with puncture, in the garden at Joe’s Place.

Still, at least this enforced break has given me a chance to catch up on writing work – I’m pleased to report that I’ll be submitting a story on Bikepacking the Huayhuash to the lovingly crafted Privateer magazine. And, I’m continuing to write weekly profiles on bike-related projects and advocacy groups for Worldwide Cycling Atlas. Please get in touch if you know of anything interesting.

The good news: my shredded tent has been expertly repaired by Wuicho at Yurak Janka, for the princely sum of $20. If you’re in the area and your gear needs some TLC, this is definitely the place go. Charlie’s lent me a tent pole that I’ve modified for the Tarptent, until I can get a couple of new ones sent out. Repeated visits to the chiropractor have helped ensure my back heals correctly, I hope, and the swelling in my knee is finally appeasing. Unfortunately though, I expect I’m still a ways off from being able to ride, with some recurring sharp, needle-like pains in my lower back, and restricted movement in my left leg.

With the rainy season approaching, this delay has scuppered my timeline, and I’m thinking through my options. As much as I’d prefer to ride, busing to Cuzco may make more sense at this point, and resting up further there.

While I figure things out, here’s some info and a few stray photos of a mainly gastronomic nature…

Aside from innumerable budget Menus (4-8 Sol for 2-3 courses), good eats and drinks:

California Cafe: Nice veg soup for 10 Sol. Killer brownies (5 Sol) and choc cake (8 Sol). I’m told the coffee is pricey but good. Wifi.

13 Buhos: Chilled out, popular bar with locally brewed beers. Good sized juice for 5 Sol. Upstairs, there’s a buffet – all you can eat – for 10 Sol. 12-2pm. Wifi.

Brasa Roja: Biggest ever burger? 8-18 Sol. Very popular with locals. Wifi.

El Fogon: Chicken ‘n chips, and excellent parillas – meat grills – that can be shared between several people. 15 Sol pp.

El Horno: Best pizzas in town? El Campesino is my favourite (17.5 Sol).

Jose Olaya: Sunday food market, specialising in regional cuisine – pachamanca, cuy, etc… (see pics below).


Huaraz has a local food market in Jose Olaya that springs to life every Sunday, serving up various regional fares. This particular dish is called Pachamanca – an assortment of meats baked using hot stones – and will set you back 15 Sol (around $5).


Each section of the dish is intricately wrapped in banana or corn leaves. Chances are, you’ll find lamb, pork and chicken amongst the various mysteries. Potatoes provide additional filling power. Tucking into pachamanca is a pleasingly messy affair; and the meat is incredibly tender.


Christmas has come early! More little bundled surprises.


For the full experience, pachamanca is best washed down with a chicha, a local beverage derived from maize. This one tasted tangy and fermented. Some recipes are said to include the use of saliva…


Sunday lunch: roast cuy and potatoes (10 Sol). Not a meal for hungry cyclists. Turns out guinea pig are scrawny, rubbery little creatures. Probably best enjoyed uncooked as a pet.


More local fare, at 1.5 Sol (60c) a pop. A lady sells these particular empanadas curb side, just off the the Plaza de Armas. They’re my lunchtime treat. The crust is excavated with a spoon, and the shell is filled with a spicy sauce. Mess-free!


Her friend sells these delicious apple slices, which I try and resist.


More temptations from the ladies. These little numbers are called alfajores, and wedge a layer of condensed milk between a kind of shortcrust.


Another favourite of mine: coconut clusters. Like most street treats – be it a slice of pineapple, a bag of popcorn or some sugared peanuts – the price is a generic 1 Sol (35c) a bag.


Moving on from sugary delights. The good news is that my tent is now repaired. Incredibly, it’s come out almost as good as new.


Amongst the plethora of repairs that were needed, the bug netting needed to be sewn back, having pulled away from the silnylon. Here, you can see how the pole sleeve has been replaced, and reworked into the original one.


The finishing touches.


Thanks are due to Wuicho, who I met last year. A keen cyclist, he even included inviting me to his home for breakfast. If I can get back on the bike, we’re planning an overnighter.


Wuicho, incidentally, was responsible for my Carradice bag mods.


A sad sight: this is all that was left of my original poles. Note ‘hydroforming’ – these poles were bolt straight before running the rapids!


On the subject of repairs… The pins and sliders on my Bagman support have shaken loose. Luckily I brought spare leather straps, which will do for now. News sliders are on their way – I’ll be sure to locktite the pins into the place next time.


Cyclists have come and gone through Joe’s Place, including these two couples from France, also headed south. One is aboard a Cannondale, the other a Thorn, complete with Rohloff.


Probably the most common mechanical problems for long distance tourers are damaged rims – a good reason for travelling light. Huaraz has a lively downhill scene – the replacement rim that Swiss rider Christian tracked down was a colossus, shown with a spoke key for a sense of scale.


A handy mechanic, he soon had the goliath rim laced up. Luckily, the existing spokes worked, as there are only one or two lengths available in the shops here.


He’d also wired up this neat gizmo to their handlebars – it has a 12V output, allowing them to charge everything from USB-powered devices to their camera batteries, via a Son hub.


And lastly… a Kona doppelgänger. Downhill enthusiasts will no doubt recognise this not to be a Stinky Five – one of the original freeride bikes…

9 thoughts on “Cuy, chicha, pachamanca, and a few repairs.

  1. Susie Moberly

    A feast for the eyes AND stomach this time. I do hope your back and knee recovers soon and you’re able to continue with your travels… LOVE your posts… (I have been following you) but too pre occupied with family (and a problem knee ) to sit on this computer!

    Keep posting

    LOVE your posts and photos which greatly inspire me

    X Susie X

    1. Cass Gilbert Post author

      Thanks Susie. I’m afraid Peru can’t compete with the gastronomic delights of Thailand, but I’m certainly not going hungry.

      Hope your knee gets better too!

  2. Lucas

    Feel better soon, Cass! Looking forward to reading more about your trip in Privateer.

    Maybe I’ve missed it, but have you written in-depth about your Tarptent Moment anywhere? I’ve been using a Contrail for years and have loved it, with the occasional exception of extreme condensation (despite my efforts to combat it). I’m curious about other models and I’m thinking about buying another one soon — the Moment is certainly in the running.

    Also, little care package heading your way soon…

    1. Cass Gilbert Post author


      Overall I really like the Moment. Light, stable, very quick to pitch, and freestanding if you have both poles. However, due to the internal carbon poles, it can’t be rolled up in a ball and packed in seatpack. I had a Rainbow before, which was far roomier, and could be packed down in any shape – perfect for the seatpack, for instance. I marginally prefer it, but it can’t be pitched freestanding.

      My only issue with Tarptents for touring is that the poles tend to be a little on the long side – making them a bit awkward to pack in panniers. As such, I stow mine a baguette-style bag, or in my PR handlebar roll.

      I guess condensation can always be an issue with single skin tents, but I can’t say it’s been a particular problem with the Moment.

  3. Neil

    Mmm, pachamanca. Maybe I’ll be able to finish it next time…
    Your photo documenting of Huaraz street food is becoming quite comprehensive! Next: borrachitos, papas rellenas and maybe sneak in a (not exactly street food) California Cafe choco brownie?


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