Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Blessing the Boat in Progress

21 January, 2015 Wednesday, Puno, Peru

Lino is a master carpenter and boat builder. He and his son, William, have been working on a new boat, a 12 1/2 meter -- about 38-foot -- tour boat for the last two years. They started with funds from selling the boat they had finished and which we helped put into the water in 2013. A couple of times they had to stop and work on other boats to make money for this one. All of the family has pitched in and, although they call it Fredy´s boat, it is really of the whole extended family.

It floats upright in a backwater of Lake Titicaca, just past the fancy Liberador Hotel, in the community of Chulluni. Chulluni is where most of the families from Uros live while they are not entertaining tourists on their reed floating islands. The outer hull is all made with a strong, water-resistant wood, handmade tongue and groove boards, well finished. The top is fiberglass over plywood and the front over the cabin is painted metal. I´ve never seen a boat with such beautiful pictue windows all along the sides. Tourists will love the clear views. It has a bathroom WITH a sink for handwashing, still to be installed.

A lot still needs to be done to finish it, not too much woodwork: floors and some of the walls. The biggest expense will be the 6 cylinder diesel motor. With the strong dollar going up against the Peruvian Sol, this will be tough to get together, perhaps $9,000 for the motor alone. Close to $10,000 to finish the whole thing. Sam got the truly bright idea of initiating a Kickstarter campaign to buy the motor. Big donors would be able to use the boat if they came to Puno. It´s an idea.

So we made a blessing ceremony. First Valeria brought her manta with an uncuña (food-carrying cloth) full of potatoes and chuño (freeze-dried potatoes) and fish, with a fresh salsa to spark it up. Then we opened the estallia, the ceremonial coca cloth and everyone came forward to choose coca leaves and imbue them with their prayers for the success of the boat. Lino took the role of Shaman and sculled the little dory out among the reeds to offer our prayer-laden offering to the Mother Lake.

Afterward, beer and soda and lots of coca sharing before we disbanded and came back to Puno to buy the groceries for the next couple of weeks on Taquile. We go to Taquile tomorrow morning and I will not be posting again for awhile.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Lima-First leg 2015

We landed in Lima early in the morning of Friday, 16 January. Alejandro met us at the airport. He grew up in Lima (and north in Huacho); is the husband of Noemi, our goddaughter. They have three delightful children so we are the grandparents (¿"grand-godparents"?) of Alexander nickname Chani, age 6, Dayana, age 3, and little Bianca, 10 months (born March 12). Sunday was a good day for a family outing to Lima Central, the Plaza Mayor and Parque M            with ruins from the XVII century  plus a section with kids rides.

Sam is fabulous with wrestling and tickling and paper airplanes and lifting high in the air. He was making this little zzoop sound as he lifted Dayana up and so she would reach her arms up and say zzoop to ask to be lifted. So sweet.

Daddy Alejandro with baby Bianca

On Saturday we went into the central part of Lima to buy our airline tickets to Lake Titicaca and to get some efficient LED lights for the house of Noemi and Alejandro. We knew that Delfin and a dance troupe from Taquile were in Lima and had talked about meeting downtown somewhere, but could not connect by cell phone; did not know how we would meet. ¡There they all were in the Solar Gear Stores! Where else would you expect to find a group of people from a village with the most intense use of solar energy anywhere?

More details later. I write this from Puno, now, hanging out at 13,000 feet, first day aclimatization to the altitude, so taking it slo-o-o-o-w.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Textiles from Taquile on sale

How did we get these textiles?
Since our first visit to Taquile in 1986, we have acquired a strong collection of the fine quality weavings and knitted goods from Taquile Island. Most of these items were traded for solar panels and  related accessories. Now that panels can be purchased within the country of Peru, we bring highly efficient LED lights, which save on battery wear and tear as well as simply giving a lot more light for the same power. These, and other energy accessories, we also trade for textiles.

We are now preparing for a 2015 trip between the middle of January and the March Equinox. Follow this blog for stories from Peru whenever I come to the city and get on a computer.
Did I tell you that the Taquile Island community has been deemed a 
Read down this blog to learn more about our relationship with the people and place of Taquile. 

How can you get textiles for myself or gifts?
You could travel to Peru. We are always happy to advise you about how to avoid expensive tours and stay with a family in our community on Taquile Island, where you will be housed and welcomed as a guest at reasonable rates (see our blog entry about How to Visit Taquile Island).
Much easier is to come to the fairs where we have them on display. For the 2014 holiday season, we will show them on November 1, between 8am and 3pm at the Holy Family School at 786 26 1/2 Rd, just north of interstate 70 in Grand Junction, Colorado. Our booth will be located between the two buildings, outside. Weather promises to be good if a little windy-- just the right weather to try on the exquisite knitted wool hats! We will bring a small sampling of our pottery to this show.

We have two more shows for the Holidays: The Friday and Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend, November 28 and 29, we will be showing all pottery near Denver at the beautiful Arvada Center on Wadsworth.

Then we return to the Western Slope for our final show: We will have textiles again, as well as a large selection of our pottery at the Paonia Holiday Art Fair at the Blue Sage in Paonia on December 5-6, 2014, from 3pm to 8pm on Friday and 9am to 5pm on Saturday.

We added one more, 
The Annual Snowflake Bazaar     in Delta, Colorado    
December 13th, 9am-4pm
Located at the Center for Spiritual Living      
658 Howard St. (next to the old Cleland Park)  in Delta, Colorado

See you at the Fair!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Going Away Party

Our last day on Taquile was Friday 26 April, 2013.
(Note: I wrote this blog entry after returning to Colorado, 
so the sequence is out of order with our visit in Lima) 
This entry completes the 2013 stories.

We had time to hike to the top of the island to the ceremonial site called Mulcina.

As is our custom, we had a party for our last night. We baked a banana cake in the Ulog Solar Cooker:

We danced:
Sam with Eufrasia.
 It's hard to keep the women's head cloth, the chuco, on her head as she twirls and swishes the skirts. Eufrasia is holding her head down because it is about to fall off.
Silvano with Ruperta

Even little Clever joined the dancing
The moon rose that night exactly behind Ilimani, a 6,438 m (21,122 ft) Mountain across the lake in the Cordillera Real in Bolivia. As the moon backlit the mountain it appeared to be on fire. By the time we grabbed a camera the light had struck a pathway on the lake:

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Lima for a few days

On Sunday April 28 we flew to Lima in anticipation of our May 1 airline flight home. Our god daughter, Noemi, lives there with her husband, Alejandro and their two children, Alexander  (pronounce it with a Spanish accent), age 4 in kindergarden and Dayana, nearly 2 and still nursing. Alejandro does piece work knitting alpaca sweaters on their own knitting machines; Noemi works with him on the simpler parts.
Alejandro with his knitting machine
We stayed in their home up 192 steps on the hill in the Rimac section of Lima. Definitely not your tourist accommodations, but they have electricity and running water, a shower and really cool washing machine. The spin is separate, like those bathing suit spinners at some swimming pools. Our clothes got dry very quickly on the line after a quick spin. We enjoyed spending the time with the family and getting to know the kids.
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One day we rode the new electric train to the end of the line, Villa El Salvador, and had a wonderful ceviche lunch in that town famous for its seafood. Clean and smooth ride, very fast and modern.
Lima's electric train

Typical Wiring in Peru; contrast with the modern electric train.

I don't think DMEA (our Colorado Electrical Co-op) would approve
One day we went around on our own, in particular to visit the solar store to see what is available in Photovoltaic panels and efficient lights. No LED lights in the 12 volt section as good as what we brought to Taquile this trip. We did buy a couple of LEDs rated for the 220 volt grid for Noemi and Alejandro's home. We replaced a 60 watt incandescent with a 5 watt LED, which gave a lot more light. Then for the kitchen a 7 watt to replace the 8 watt florescent in the kitchen. Not quite the energy savings of replacing the incandescent, but a lot more light for the energy use.
Lima is a city of many variables. These dancers from the jungle livened up the street on Labor Day.

Wednesday, May First, was international Labor Day so no school for Alexander. We went to the Zoo!
Lions and Tigers and Monkeys, Oh My!

We tried to buy more LED lights for their knitting workshop on the way home, but the shops were closed early for the holiday, so we gave them money to buy the lights.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Improved Wood Cook Stove

April 22-24

Monday, April 22, in Puno we spent much of the day buying parts for an improved wood cook stove for Eufrasia. We've had this dream for over a decade as we observed smokey kitchens and worried about lung damage of the cooks and the children.

Felipe Huatta Cruz had taken a workshop in estufas mejoradas in Lima, and we contracted him to come help install such a stove in Eufrasia's kitchen. The old kitchen had NO CHIMNEY, only an opening in the ceiling, and was horribly smokey. Even the bedrooms on the upper floor became intolerable when someone was cooking with wood early in the morning.

The essential elements that make the stove clean burning are 1) a chimney, 2) a damper and 3) a primary air source UNDER the fire.

The base for the stove is a terra cotta shell, or concha, with three burner holes and a flue hole at the back. Ruperta helped choose one in the market in Puno.
Buying the terra-cotta concha in the market
Adobe blocks and rock make the structure.
Concha in place on the adobe layout, showing the ash pit
Under the firebox is an ash pit and primary air source. We bought a metal plate and had holes drilled in it for the ashes and air. We pounded a stake to enlarge the holes in the center for ash to fall through.
heavy duty metal plate for the floor of the firebox

mudding everything in place
 A bent piece of rebar held up the firebox floor with the holes.
We bought the metal plate too small, so Felipe bent a length of rebar to hold it in place.
 The terra cotta was completely surrounded by clay and smoothed on the top so the pots fit tight.
Hole knocked through the stone and adobe wall for the flue opening

Showing the damper plate
 Artistic sensibilities entered the picture with careful finishing of the mud surface.
smoothing the clay

filling in with clay mud

 We bought sheet metal, which Silvano and Sam cut the long way and rolled into chimney pipes.

Silvano fabricates the stove pipe from sheet metal
Sunny courtyard for making the stove pipe; Lake Titicaca in the background.
Cap on the top of the stovepipe to keep out the rain
The chimney needed to be tall enough to clear the second story.
Lifting the stove pipe into place
 A small "mouse hole" was left at the base of the chimney outside to assist the draw of the smoke.
Wiring the base of the chimney to stakes in the adobe wall
 As soon as the job was done, we tested the freshly made stove with its first fire. 
Eufrasia is a Happy Cook 
 Note the shiny pots; Eufrasia scrubbed all the soot off because the new stove design will keep them soot-free.
Silvano feeds the fire for supper.
 Delfin improved the steps between the kitchen and the dining room the next day.

We cooked on it while the clay was still wet and ¡the kitchen was 99% Smoke Free! ¡Hooray! Even better for breakfast the next morning. No smoke in the bedrooms.

Now Ruperta wants one right away. She grew up in a smokey kitchen and already has some lung issues.


The "Mayor of Colorado" in Illave

Last year Sam and I were invited by our friend, Eduardo Mamani, to demonstrate solar cooking in the the City of ILLAVE, just south of Puno along Lake Titicaca. 
(See the story HERE)
During that visit we showed pictures from the 2010 visit  in Colorado of our Taquile friends in Colorado, including a couple of Neal Schweiterman and his family. (See that story near the end of THIS POST ). We mentioned that they were considering coming to Lake Titicaca the following April, which resulted in an official invitation from the mayor for a formal visit. Eduardo organized this formal visit for Sunday, April 21.

Neal, Liane, Katia, Nancy, Sam, Tara and Eduardo hired a private van to travel together to Illave. First on the visit was a beautifully catered breakfast of locally produced food, especially lots of quinoa. The television cameras were hovering around Neal, taking lots of pictures of him eating quinoa! Later I learned that the story was about local products, how a visiting dignitary from the United States was enjoying the various quinoa dishes.

After breakfast we adjourned to a reviewing stand in front of the Municipal building and before the central plaza. The plaza was completely empty; swat teams of police were keeping the people out of the square! The only audience at this point were all the government staff from the municipal building. After a couple of brief speeches and the introduction of Neal and his family, we descended to the plaza to raise the flags. Illave's mayor, Mario Huanca Flores, raised the Peruvian national flag and Paonia Mayor Neal Schwieterman raised the local flag. We noticed that part of our entourage into the plaza included a plainclothes policeman. Neal noted that in his career as a policeman he had BEEN a bodyguard, but he had never had one. After the flag raising the police stepped aside and the people were welcomed to fill the plaza.

Next Neal and Liane were presented with gifts of traditional Aymara clothing, a poncho for Neal and a manta for Liane, white felt hats. And a key to the city!

Thus attired we were entertained by a colorful and meaningful folk dance performance. About 75 dancers depicted the building of a house in traditional Aymara ceremony: a live llama, incense, a skeleton house structure, poles and reed mats to make the roof, whirling skirts and ponchos, flutes and guitars and mandolins.

Finally afterward, a visit to AMARU MURU, a magic door in the wall, apparently solid stone. Legend tells that this is a door to the spirit worlds. Eduardo led us in what he called "a magnetic circle," and the police escort who had followed us there joined us in the circle. Afterward we all hugged. Pretty cool.