Until the Cows Come Home

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Martin Hash
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Until the Cows Come Home

Post by Martin Hash » Mon May 06, 2019 3:36 pm

My son, Haven, lives in Peru with his Incan wife, and my half-Incan grandson. Haven ended up in Peru when him and his siblings went to Machu Picchu, but he didn’t come home. My wife thought there was a girl involved and obviously she was right, like always. Haven didn’t speak Spanish when he went to Peru but his Spanish-speaking friends say he speaks it better than they do now. In fact, Haven got a U.S. license that lets him translate legal jargon in courts, and be present when contracts are to be signed between Spanish and English-speakers. I asked him if he still did computers, which is how he made his nest-egg, and he told me he does the Spanish translations for computer services at the many schools he works for under the table since he’s not a Peruvian Resident. Haven never dressed like a ninja, with every part of his body covered from the sun, when he lived in the U.S., but he does in Peru; my guess is that he dresses like that so locals don’t know he’s a gringo.

Haven Carrying Felix.JPG

Whenever we fly down to visit Haven, he always takes us places that gringo tourists don’t go; this trip we flew to Cajamarca, an Incan city in mountains of Northern Peru. As usual, he would tell us nothing about where we were going nor what we were doing, but he did tell me immediately when we got off the plane, “you’re going to like this place; the cows know their names.” That definitely got my interest but what did he mean? Haven expounded no further, per usual, but I kept wondering if cows even have names?

What I found surprising about Cajamarca is that it was a tourist town for Peruvians; we never ran across another American, nor any other nationality for that matter. Our primary mode of transportation was by van, and there were a lot of them, attesting to the tourist-town nature of the place. Equally abundant we the 3-wheel mini-taxis so prevalent around the world but not in the U.S.

3-Wheel Taxis.jpg

No more info on the name-knowing cows was forthcoming; we made tour after tour of this fascinating place without mention of the main event. We saw indications of cows everywhere: from every third store being a cheese shop, to nonhomogenized milk in my coffee that left scum all over the sides of the cup and spoon. I kept waiting until it was almost time to fly back when finally Haven said, “we’re going to see the cows,” I knew just what cows he was talking about - the cows that know their names.

The place was like an amusement park out of the 1950s: strange statues, an odd museum, homemade berry liquor at the gift shop. We walked through the place to the cows, a long row of stalls with their names on them. We sat in some bleachers with all the Peruvian tourists. The cows were supposed to come in at 4:30; an old guy cracked a whip, yelled something through a megaphone; it could've been a cow's name, but no cow came. The old guy cracked his whip a bunch more times, and yelled louder into the megaphone... Nada. The crowd was starting to get a bit restless when a single cow finally wandered through the gate; there was a sigh of relief among us tourists. After a while, all the cows meandered on by, I suppose they were answering their names, I don't speak Spanish that well.

Haven was not impressed. “These cows are stupid,” he said. “They can't tell time; sometimes a cow comes to the wrong name; and they can’t spell: the 'Yuly' cow went to a stall named 'Yuli.' No cow here is going to take my job.”


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