Tuesday, May 8, 2018


Excursion around Sicuani 
Sicuani has hot springs in one direction, the Raqchi archeological site and healing waters in the other direction. The city itself harbors few tourists. We brought three Taquile young Taquile friends with us. Juana is our goddaughter and hasn't been on an excursion since she was a child. Delfin also hadn't been on any of our excursions except many years ago to Silustani. Kusi had been to Sicuani with her family and us two years ago, but since she is starting college next month; a vacation seemed like a good start.
Juana got some free postcards at the museum.
The central plaza even has palm trees.
Sicuani has a pleasant central plaza with lots of plants
Sam and Delfin relax in front of a Palm Tree
The city has painted murals

We visited the Incan archeological site of Raqchi, a sacred place for Viracocha. 

We hired the same Local Guide, Denis, as two years ago.

Stone steps built into the wall of a terrace

We climbed to the mirador-viewpoint high above the ruins for an overview.

On part of the trail was like a bower, a tunnel of lush plant growth.
Girlfriends in the bower
It even had purple mushrooms!
The long corridor is oriented to correspond with the December (summer) Solstice:

Juana and Kusi wash at the Inca fountain for women
The Town of Raqchi is a town of potters. Denis's father is a skilled potter and was working on some commissions for various museums in Cusco. His pots are beautifully finished and all hand-built without a potter' wheel.
Church in the town central of Raqchi

The San Pedro natural cleansing waters are for drinking and diarrhea. It is rather like that medicine one takes before a colonoscopy. The Taquileños place quite a bit of credit to the healing powers of this process, so Delfin, Kusi and I decided to go for the experience. Delfin was an old pro, having come here a couple of times, but Kusi and I struggled. The grounds are quite lovely with fountains and beautiful gardens.

For the chemists, the following is the analysis of this water, of which we drank about 20 cups, until our diarrhea came out clear.

San Pedro Eye Bathing is a different set of water where one places open eyes in the water to bathe them. Sam compared it to his antihistamine eye drops. It stings quite a bit so you only leave your eyes in the water for a moment. Afterward, my eyes felt quite relaxed.

The Town of San Pedro was lovely, with this statue in the main square
Tupac Amaru Museum

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Harvest and School and Life

Harvest has begun on Taquile
We approach the Autumnal Equinox in the Southern Hemisphere and crops are beginning to mature.The major crops on Taquile are Potatoes, Quinoa, Oca, and Corn. Oca is a tuber in the oxalis family with pretty yellow flowers. Quite sweet if placed in the sun for an couple of hours before cooking.

Here we see the beautiful quinoa, tall stalks. Many people are now putting plastic or scarecrows around their quinoa to save it from the birds.
In the foreground is oca in bloom with yellow flowers.
Gonzalo and Pelajia have begun harvesting their quinoa. Here it is drying in the sun just after harvest:
The potato fields are all in bloom. We have been enjoying new potatoes since Carnaval. Up to now, most have been from "volunteer" potatoes among other crops, but some further harvest is beginning. We have some problems with a "guzano," a grub sort of worm in the potatoes, so sometime I hear the joke that our harvest is in competition with the guzanos. Most have looked very healthy this year so far.
A few fields were planted very late, these potatoes may be quite small and will probably be used to make chuño, or freeze dried potatoes. Sam and I helped Celbia cultivate this small field of late planted potatoes:
School Starts
Just as autumn signals harvest, it also brings the first day of school. This is a day of pomp, with gifts of pens for the students, speeches from teachers and the mayor, and the school student body president. And, naturally, confetti.

The grade school children get gifts of pencils, balloons and lolipops.
Fun and Play
We celebrated Eufrasia's birthday with pineapple and mangos in the afternoon, and then Sam and I cooked supper. Coconut cream in Asian style vegetables with quinoa on the side instead of rice. And no, I didn't take of picture of the meal. Darn!
Of course, playing with children is the most fun. Lisbet can be quite organized with flower blossoms:
Here she poses for us before a large cantuta bush (almost a tree) in full bloom:
Community Radio
I am a volunteer for KVNF, Mountain Grown Community Radio in Paonia, Colorado, so naturally, I am interested in this little community radio station on Taquile. Besides, I had a couple of announcements to place on the radio and a visit to the station was the best way.
This DJ uses his video pad and a cell phone to play the music. The other DJ I visited runs the music from his two phones. Checks the levels with a radio in the window. It works!

More Solar on Taquile

Putting advanced solar knowledge to work.
We didn't waste much time using our increased solar education after the solar courses by Asa and Bradley. In Puno we bought two more solar 100w panels plus 100ah batteries, all sized perfectly based on what we had learned.

As always, everything is carried. Here both Santiagos, German and Sam with solar panels rest on the path up from the port.
Santiago and Alicia are presidents of the Huyllano sector of Taquile this year and therefore will be hosting the Choral singing practices for Easter. They needed better power for the electric piano, or teclado. Because their own house is so small, the practice will be held at Santiago's parent's house (later the panel will be moved to their own house, which is under construction). Here Sam, German, Santiago and Delfin are at the roof of Santiago's parent's house, stabilizing the placement of the solar panel. Part of our trade for this installation are some beautiful vests which Santiago is sewing for an order I've accepted from a high school friend from Hermison, Oregon.

The second installation was over the ridge on the Puno side of the island in the home of Delia and Jesus-Santiago. Beautiful view from their house.
Notice island of Amantani in the background.
 This panel is mounted on a pole instead of up on the roof. This allows for angle adjustment if the roof isn't facing the right way, and also gives excellent air circulation under the panel for cooling.
Sam is happy to see the 10amp charge controller light up when properly installed.
Delia and Santiago had planned to delay buying a new panel until next year, just buying the battery and hooking it up to a little 30w panel they already had, but we got a good deal from ElectroSol in Puno for two panels and figure we can postpone completion of the trade with them for their handmade textiles until next year.

Excursion to Inca Ruins

Hot springs and Inca Ruins with Friends
February 27, 2018 Our final adventure with Brad Burritt, Danielle leCarre, and Asa Burritt-Carre was to take a dozen or so Taquileños on an excursion to hot springs and ruins. We split the cost for a big van, brought a lunch and took the highway west of Puno. Here we are at a brief stop in the town of Loripongo on the way, with Elias, Rita with little Lesly, Edith, Lisbet and Natalia with her baby on her back

Our first stop was the hot springs of Laraqueri, which have been improved since last year. Price went up from one sol to three (still under one dollar). A roof over the tubs provides shade shelter, the dressing area has curtains and a bench, and the walls between the tubs are higher, providing more privacy. The water is scalding hot. In previous years, the cement tubs cooled the water after 5 minutes or so, but this year the place was BUSY! Each tub is emptied and cleaned between uses, but since it is still school vacation the cement didn't have time to cool down. Definitely therapeutic. Many of us didn't even use our full 20 minute allotment.

Cutimbo is a seldom visited archaeological site southwest of Puno. It shares the round tower architecture of Sillustani (ruins also nearby), but also has square structures and caves.

The cave (really a deep overhang) features rock art: note the llamas and people.

Edith in her city clothes before the cave
Asa and Brad before these enormous rocks. Note the serpent behind Brad.

Eight corners on this rock.
We had good weather all day, watching the play of light and shadow across the distant valley and mountains.
Tara blends right in.
Puma deeply carved into a large stone.
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We came home tired and happy. The next day we had time to visit some solar shops and finally send our North Fork Friends off to the airport. Their visit was fun, educational, THE BEST! We hope to see them all in Peru again soon.