Cajamarca is the dairy region of Peru, so we Wisconsinites feel right at home. There are a lot of cheese shops although to our amusement the large grocery store also sells Crystal Farms cheeses (not Wisconsin’s finest, unfortunately). No novices to state and county fairs, we were excited to experience the Cajamarca Fongal, or state fair, in late July. Cruz had cautioned us that the Fongal had diminished over the past few years and that people got really drunk, but as that didn’t sound much different than Milwaukee’s Summer Fest or the Wisconsin State Fair, we weren’t dissuaded.
On Thursday we arrived around 5:30 and it appeared that the Fongal was not yet in full swing. We watched some sheep and alpaca get unloaded, visited the few food and craft booths that were open and generally tried to avoid the cow and other animal pies in the field.
There were two types of food booths: the ones that sold packaged products and the ones that sold various hot foods. The Fongal was not as clean as the Mixtura and this adventure was shortly after we arrived in Cajamarca, so I wasn’t keen on eating any of the hot foods. We did get tastes of various products and bought the soy puffs, some fresh cheese with herbs and chocolate. As usual, the vendors were really nice to us and patiently explained their products. It gets totally dark by 6:30 (every day, that’s life near the equator) and there wasn’t much happening, so we left about that time.
On Saturday we again walked over to the Fongal around 5-ish, thinking we would check out the scene while it was still light and return later for the Kurt Cobain concert. Yep, Kurt Cobain “Peru” was playing. We were cracking up over that and Matt even said to the ticket seller “Kurt Cobain is dead,” which earned him a laugh. While the fair was busier than on Thursday and more booths had opened, we unfortunately arrived just as some traditional dancing and cow showing (not related) ended and then the events were over apart from the concert. My sweet tooth overcame hygiene and we indulged in piccarones, fried sweet potato/squash doughnuts topped with sugar cane syrup, that are quite similar to my Auntie Rose’s famous St. Joseph’s Day tucinelle. We caught a few songs of an opener band and then headed home with the intention of returning later for Kurt Cobain.
Instead we ended up in Cajamarca for drinks with Cruz and the new American teachers. We went to a place called Full Skee (which we understood to basically mean “you are full of sh*t”) where they had a huge drink menu, including many American favorites. I had a very tasty American cosmopolitan before switching over to a Peruvian pisco sour. The place had excellent drinks, a good vibe and nice music but was oddly well lit. No beer goggles in Peru, apparently. We got home around 1:15 and while Kurt Cobain was still in full swing, Matt and I did not stop in at the Fongal. Expecting a Nirvana cover band, I was surprised the band was rocking “Sweet Child of Mine” and “I Love Rock and Roll” instead. I suspect poor Kurt was rolling in his grave.