Friday, 23 January 2009

Lomo con tres pimientos

After my Spanish lesson I stopped of at Capucino, a newly spotted cafe opposite the University. This is situated on the far North West of town in Avenida Ramon Mujica, next to Hotel Rio Verde. The two are separate and the cafe is really a restaurant, inside with fierce air conditioning and outside shaded tables text to its armed guarded car park. I entrusted my fast disintegrating bike to its care.

I ordered a beer and set about my homework, to write three paragraphs on alternative therapies. Dawdling over the beer I sensed that I unnerved the overly attentive waiters who really couldn't work out if I was just passing flotsam or I was going to stump up for a real meal. Anyway, they were too polite to bother me much and I prolonged their uncertainty by asking for some chiflas and a second beer.

I was drawn to remain a while longer by the arrival of a group comprising 2 Peruvian business women and 2 agricultural consultants from the US. Eves dropping their conversations I learned that the business was seeking to overcome various trade barriers to their entry to the US market in growing and selling avocados. Peruvian Avocados are great and seem to sell locally at about 50p a kilo. One of the consultants was on the technical side, stipulating the various processes needed against fly and fungus infestation, while the other had a more political mission, explaining the way in which such applications would proceed, albeit slowly against the undertow of regulations and bureaucracy. They reassured their clients, who were after all buying dinner, that Peruvian avocados would not threaten the home grown Californian produce but only the Mexican market where the fruit was of poorer quality.

Well I did call for the menu and the waiter seemed relieved. I try not to rave about meat dishes but I consumed the most delectable peppered steak accompanied by a gratin of potato and cheese and a glass of Chilean red. In passing I noticed a cocktail on offer called the kiss of an adolescent and wondered about its appropriateness!

I imagine that this insight into business here in Piura reveals some of the tensions with the neighbouring US. As a trading country, El Peru is an emerging force but relatively weak against the power held by its Northern partners. One forms the impression that around here the US calls most of the shots, either by stealth or power.

Exploring the hotel next door, the Rio Verde, it revealed itself as a 5 star paradise with a central concourse comprised of a beautifully presented pool and magically lit palm trees. I believe it is priced at around $100 a night but be careful that you don't get shunted to the annex next door.

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