"Lunch in Monte Alegre village" Departamento de Loreto Travelogue by JessieLang

Departamento de Loreto Travel Guide: 149 reviews and 427 photos

We had a home-hosted lunch in the village of Monte Alegre (pop. 120) today. There were 12 of us in each of the two houses. I dined with the Capillo family—Louisa and 5 of her children. The youngest is 2. Her other children (4 more, I think) are no longer living at home, and her husband, Teobaldo, was out on the farm and didn’t join us. Louisa is a grandmother now. Jorge was in our group and interpreted for us; Neil went with the other group. We brought gifts for our hostess, and her toddler immediately grabbed the box of candy.

Louisa and her daughter Maria prepared a tasty feast for us:
Monkey brain fruit (it looks like monkey brains—not that I’d know—but it is a fruit)
Paca (a rabbit sized rodent, cooked in a way that tasted almost like corned beef. Good!)
Patarashka (veggies, rice and fish, wrapped in a leaf and boiled. The leaf adds flavor)
Boiled yucca (also known as manioc or cassava)
Fried banana plantains
Tacacho (boiled lumps of mashed corn)
Palm fruit
Lemon grass tea and cocona juice (a small yellow fruit in the tomato family)

Two large palm leaves, 5-6 ft. each, were overlapped on the floor and the serving dishes were placed on the leaves. There was no silverware—we bent down to get our food, and ate with our fingers. We did have benches to sit on while eating, but the family just sits on the floor. The beverages were safe for us because the families had been given bottled water to prepare them. The menu for the other group was very similar to what we had, except that they ate capybara (a big pig-sized rodent) instead of paca.

When we entered the house, I saw some brightly colored paintings on the walls (some on canvas, others painted directly on the house wall) and asked about them. Louisa's oldest son, Diomar (age 20), is an artist. I met him and bought a painting. The Amazon River scene includes our boat, a dugout canoe, and some birds.

After lunch we up the path to where the villagers had set up tables with their handicrafts. Diomar was there with many more of his paintings, but I had the one I wanted. I bought earrings from Louisa and another woman.

Before leaving, we looked at the village's Wooden Cross Church. This is a religion that came from Brazil in the early 70s.

It is a very small church, and the congregation (15 families) comes in 3 shifts. Usually just the adults attend. Morning services are at 3, 3:30 and 4 a.m., and they come again between 4 and 5 p.m. A woman who belongs to it told us all this.

  • Page Updated May 9, 2016
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