Cusco, Peru—As my friend and I were playing with a vender’s pet parrot, a local friend asked, “Hey, you happen to like guinea pigs?”
“Nah. I was never a pet person.”
“Me, neither. But do you like guinea pigs?”
“Well, they’re really not that interesting. Besides, they’re too soft. I prefer some solid musculature on my animals. Like dem’ German Shepherds.”
“No! Muscular like a German Shepherd is bad. In fact the mere thought if it makes me sick to my stomach. Bodies are better when they are light on the sinew.”
“Well, okay, I guess to each their own. But big dogs are cool since they’re always rowdy and ready to make noise. Guinea pigs just chill on that hay stuff and don’t do anything.”
“But they make good noise when you…” He squeezed his fists together and turned them in opposite directions, as if he were wringing a wet towel.
“Yeah, but pets always squirm and yelp when you give them a bath. Trust me, I’ve had a dog. But look, I hope your guinea pigs enjoy it when you clean them.”
“Ahh, hope is a dangerous thing, my friend.”
Ten friends and I were trekking through the mountains surrounding Machu Picchu when we parted some branches and found ourselves in the middle of a primitive ranch. The tour guide, Elvis, turned to us and asked, “And who is ready to try Peru’s most famous delicacy?”
Every hand went up.
Elvis reached down into a pile of grass and grabbed a loose guinea pig. Then he grabbed it by the head and torso and wrung its neck like a facecloth.
“Could I get another head count?” he asked. No hands went up. Except mine.
“Gregory, what a brave man! I shall skin it and clean it in the nearby stream, and then I shall remove as many of the intestinal organs as I can and fry it for you.”
Me: (hesitatingly) “Yes.”
“In fact, I shall let you see the entire process yourself! Come with me to the stream.”
“Um, err…I found a comfortable boulder here…maybe I could just sit and wait till—“
“Go on, Greg! You’re brave, remember?” All my friends behind me shouted.
“Haha, yeah well…”
Elvis slapped me on the back. “Amigo, this will be the finest meal you have ever tasted.”
“I sure hope so,” I said.
But hope is very, very dangerous thing.