All the locals around here stare openly at Matt´s giant red beard.

Peruvian men don´t have the genes for  growing much in the way of facial hair, so his is a real novelty around these parts. Yesterday, we sat in a shady spot and did our normal thing – watched the Sunday market in the Plaza De Armas in Pisac, Peru. We were quietly resting when Matt suddenly exclaimed, ¨Aha, I caught them! I caught all four of those ladies staring at my beard!¨ He pointed toward four Andean women across the walkway from us who were sitting on blue tarps in the bright sun selling onions, peppers and carrots. They all smiled and quickly looked away, giggling.

We waited, resting for a few more minutes. I let my eyes drift over toward the row of women. I waited until they all stared again, because I knew it would happen . . . and then . . . just when all eyes were on Matt, I reached over next to him, still staring straight ahead and with no emotion and without looking at him, I gave a good solid yank on his beard.

They all fell into fits of laughter again, this time whispering to one another behind their hands. Then we got an idea. We practiced the whole schpeil in Spanish a few times first. Then I went over to talk to the women.

¨Hello! Good Afternoon!¨I said to the ladies in Spanish. ¨You know, if you want to touch his beard, it´s ok with me. Only ONE SOLE.¨ They knew I was kidding. They shook their heads and the laughter started again. ¨But, you can touch it for free if you´ll let me take your picture while you´re doing it!¨

No takers. Darn. We would have traded – a little touch of the beard for some onions . . . why not?