Sunday, March 19, 2017

Excursion: Cutimbo


Family excursion to hot springs and more ruins
Carnaval ended with a blowout on Sunday night. Fredy's boat had come with cargo and was poised to return to Puno empty on Monday, so we decided to fill it up with passengers and begin a family excursion in spite of hangovers and exhaustion after a week of parties. We especially wanted to include the family of Francisco and Juana with their daughter and granddaughter, Olga and Rosie. School will not start for a week, so this was our last chance to include the kids.

First thing in the morning, we hiked up to Olga's family to talk them into coming.
Tara, Rossi, Juana and Francisco in their kitchen
 Olga's brother had sprained his ankle during Carnaval, and needed to return to Tacna for his work, so the offer of a free boat ride convinced them to come. Olga deferred, but we filled the boat and started the journey:
Rossi with Tara, Amantani and Taquile in the background
Sam with Lisbet
Kusi and Edith, girlfriend cousins on the boat
Esteban's son-in-law, Demian, lives in Puno and runs a bakery with a brick bread oven plus owns cars to distribute the bread. One of his vehicles is a big van (combi) that legally carries 15 passengers. We hired the combi, filled it with 18 passengers, including Demian's extended family and went first to the Loripongo hot springs about a hour drive from Puno. Simple place, where they empty and clean the tubs after each use and fill them with fresh and very hot water. It doesn't take too long to cool down enough for a luxurious healing soak.

Ruperta and Eufrasia got up early to roast chicken with sweet potatoes and potatoes in the bread oven to add to our lunch.  Good thing, because Sam and I only brought boiled eggs, cheese and bread for 12 people. Turned out we had a feast of a lunch after the hot springs.
Our driver waves; Eufrasia dishes out the chicken
Rossi and Juana enjoy their meal


Cutimbo
Driving back toward Puno, we stopped at Cutimbo, Inca and Pre-Inca ruins about a 1/2 hour drive from Puno, but with no regular transportation, thus seldom visited. Rain had started, so part of our group waited in the bus while the rest of us wrapped ourselves in plastic and hiked to the top.
 With both round and square chulpas, this archeological site is of high quality rockwork, comparable to Sillustani and the Sacred Valley.
 The perfectly-fitted rounded rocks contain low-relief carvings of puma, monkeys:
bas-relief carvings on the rocks
puma
We took shelter in front of this restored cave, buriel place with pictographs (behind a proctective fence and with a full time guard), to do our coca leaf ceremony. The guard (watchiman) did not join our ceremony but was extremely friendly and forthcoming with information. He said this was Pre-Inca, about 1100 a.d. and that there are many more such sites. This one has been fence-protected for 17 years and is reconstructed as far as the bones and pottery placement.

note pottery (far left) and bones

see the stick llamas?
Even in the rain, the site is beautiful, rich with vegetation, including this native tree that reminds me of manzanita.
native tree

We finish the day with everybody's favorite: pollo a la braza.

Most of the family stayed on the mainland and helped Esteban work in his potato field between Puno and Juliaca. We stayed to write the previous blog and print pictures of the excursion to give away. We all rode the boat back to Taquile together on Wednesday.


Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Carnaval 2017

A full week of celebration
Carnaval is Mardi Gras. TaquileƱos who are working in Tacna, or Lima, or anywhere in between, come home to dance, to be with their families, to support family members who are leaders of the groups. Nine different group leaders are authorities of the celebration, leading dancers and musicians from house to house.
Silvano, Sam, Tara
 Unlike New Orleans, Rio de Janeiro, and other Mardi Gras celebrations, Ash Wednesday is our BIGGEST party day, with all nine groups gathered in the central plaza in a grand dance competition, cacaphony of several bands playing different sections of the rhythm all at the same time.
Colorful, with paper streamers, all set for the big day on Wednesday.

Sam and Tara in the Plaza on (Ash) Wednesday

Twirling yarn "wiichi-wiichis" as we dance

Three (or four?) groups converge

Sam is invited to sit next to the group leader, an honor
 Sometimes it is a rock climb, in all our skirts and regalia, to dance to the next house:
large group, rock climbing
It all ends on Sunday night. This photo is too late in the day, but does show the change of clothes. The younger people shed layers, including to nearly day-glow skirts and run a VERY energetic dance all around the plaza until they go off to group or private disco-ish parties that go on most of the night.


Solar Installations 2017

Professional Solar Installer Comes to Lake Titicaca

Empowered Energy Systems, LCC, Brad Burrit and Danielle Carre, came to Peru for a visit and we put them to work, installing two PV systems.
Brad and Danielle arrive in Puno in time for a taste of Candelaria
Our first installation was one 65watt panel for a single mother who lives with her daughter and parents, Olga and Rossi with Francisco and Juana.



Next day was to the Capachica Penninsula to the home of Armando and Asunta in Llachon. This area has grid power, but they had been running their house on a 220volt extention cord from the neighbors and this was no longer viable (besides scarey dangerous). To have installed their own meter would have been much more expensive than Solar PV. Besides, they live on Taquile part time and the monthly grid fee was prohibitive. This will be the first solar electric in Llachon.

The community does not have a public water sysem and has considered installing a solar-powered system such as on Taquile. Their grid power is not strong enough to pump the water they would need.

We traveled across the lake in a smaller boat, usually an hour ride, but the motor failed and we ended up with a makeshift sail. Sailing across Lake Titicaca was a first for Sam and I. It took 6 hours (would have been faster in a REAL sailboat).
Silvano had to hold the pole of the makeshift sail
Of course, installation begins with a coca-leaf ceremony blessing the 100watt panel: may it always be safe from lightning, may the family thrive with this ecological power source.
The visit and the installation went really well. We had a good crew to help with the Solar.
Sam ties the light-weight LED light strip to a ceiling beam.
Brad prepares wires for the panel to battery connection.
We have the whole istallation done in time to get dressed up in typical Llachon clothing and get our picture taken--and even bring Brad and Danielle on an exploratory hike around Llachon!
Panel installed! Capachica typical clothing photo shoot.
 Asunta prepares and excellent lunch and catch a ride back on Fredy's boat, towing Lino's beside us.


Back on Taquile, a godparent ceremony:
Brad and Danielle have quickly found their hearts captured by our extended family on Taquile. When German (pronounced "Herman") and Natalia ask them to become godparents to their beautiful 4-month-old daughter, Leyda, they agree. The ceremony involves giving the child her first haircut as part of a sacred coca-leaf ceremony. Sam and I cut Natalia's hair when she was a baby, so this is especially sweet for us, our grand-goddaughter to be in this special relationship in our Colorado community.
Brad, Danielle, Leyda, Natalia and German, a new family.
It was a whirlwind week already for Brad and Danielle, but we weren't finished yet. They did get a full day, Monday, to explore Taquile, sort of a rest day, if you count hiking all over the place at an altitude of nearly 13,000 ft. a rest.
Bradley, Herman, and Daniella near the old ruins on Taquile
 Back to Puno to get ready for their flight to continue visiting in other parts of Peru, we take a group of young TaquileƱos to the archeological ruins of Sillustani:

Plus to the Mirador overlooking Puno, the Condor
Finally a fond and tearful farewell at the Juliaca Airport. This post covers exactly one week, February 9-16, 2017. Amazing to see what we packed into a short seven days, so full of heart and accomplishment. Sam and I know we have new teammates in our relationship with Taquile. Thank you, Brad Burritt and Danielle Carre.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Construction projects


This time of year seems to be a big opportunity for construction projects. Delfin is building an addition to the family tienda; German (pronounced “Herman”)  is breaking ground for a new house for his new family with our goddaughter, Natalia; the parents Erica, of one of our favorite little girls, are building a huge new structure in anticipation of their Matrimonio in May. In addition, two community work projects are beginning this week. One is a new boat dock on the south end of the Island; the other is an improved trail along the SW ridge that faces Puno.

Taquile is made up of 6 sectors, or suyos. Three of the sectors will alternate, two days at a time, working on the dock—which may take a couple of weeks. The three others will simultaneously work on the trail. Usually Sam and I get in on these public projects, such as when we helped build a dock in 2010, or dug the trench for the water pipe for the solar water pumping project in 2013. However, this year we are hosting two friends from Colorado during these projects, and will be busy putting them to work installing solar energy on a couple of houses. More about that in a future blog.

The dock project was in its second day. Above you see the men mostly out in the water and the women carrying medium sized rocks. It was sunny and hot; hard work. The workers will be paid, but they MUST show up on time and every day their suyo is required to be there.
A week later, we see progress

chipping along a sedementary line will break the rock

All hands with pry-bars to lift a giant rock.
Below Sam, Delfin, and German are excavating rock where will eventually be the floor of the new house.  The rock is sedimentary and can be broken along the lines of the geological layers.


These following pictures are from the construction of Erica´s parent´s house. Sam had a height advantage, passing up the buckets of cement mix to be poured into the forms around the top of the first floor. This will hold up the wooden beams that will form the floor for the second floor.
Mix by turning the pile three times (no dust masks, yikes!)
Then add water to the center and use the wet mix

Sam had a height advantage

 I helped the women carry the micro-mini rock/sand to mix with the cement from a quarry near the ruins.
the quarry

The chainsaw masters were cutting eucalyptus trees for the second story floor boards. They needed to turn and lift a big log so we women stopped our carrying to help pull. It took a couple more men from the cement project to get it to move.