I've just moved into a house in Larapa , an upper-middle-class neighborhood about a 10-minute cab ride to the east of Cuzco. The house is right next door to the Universidad Andina del Cusco, nestled in a mountain valley. It's a three-story building, and my room's on the second floor with a small balcony and windows facing the west so that the late-afternoon sun warms it before the Andean winter night sweeps in and chills everything.
Speaking of chills, I've been properly introduced to the Peruvian way of drinking with friends (in this case, two couples share the house with me: Helard, a Peruvian man, and Elise, his Dutch wife; and Perico, a Peruvian musician, Brittany, his American wife, and Amaru, their 9-month-old son). Whereas in the States everyone gets their own glass when the liter of beer comes out (or, more likely, everyone gets their own liter), here in Peru, when several people get together to drink there is only one glass for the entire party. One by one, each person takes the same glass and fills it with beer, and when done empties the residue (i.e., the backwash) into another glass that is passed along with the drinking glass. It's in stark contrast to our way of drinking in the States, where you have your drink and I have mine. It's more communal, and it requires patience, because "bogarting" is unheard of here--you take as much time as you want with your drink and nobody complains. Unfortunately, as I've found out, it's also a good way to share various germs. After the first night of beer drinking, I came down with a hell of a cold that I assume I got from sharing beer (and, residue cup notwithstanding, everyone else's backwash).
So last night and today I've been combining the healing powers of both the Andes and the Amazon by drinking a blend of uña de gato (cat's claw, a medicinal Amazonian bark) and coca tea. It's not the most pleasant-tasting tea in the world, but coca has relieved me of headaches in past, so I figure I should give it a try. (I also tried out the healing powers of chicha, a fermented corn drink, last night. I'm not sure if it helped, aside from making me slightly buzzed and causing me to pee about eight times in two hours, but it was fun. More on that later, as I still need to do "research" for my grand chicha post.)