Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Community Trail Building


Imagine how the Incas made their roads and buildings. What we saw was a panorama of perhaps 800 people, red sweaters and hats against the green fields and grey rock, building 600 meters (think over 6 football fields long) of improved trail about 5 feet wide. Taquile is composed of 6 suyos or neighborhoods (thus the 6 dance troups). In this massive community project, each suyo completed 100 meters of new trail. Men using wedges and big hammers pounded and split the sandstone rock into blocks; the sound is chink, chink, chink of metal on metal. They carried rocks in wheelbarrows and on their backs. Armando had a nice sheepskin to pad his back from the heavy rock. Think two feet by three and six inches thick; I can't guess the weight.

Women sorted gravel and brought it to the trail, carried bags of sand from the beach (a long climb), bags of cement from the boat (the same long climb) and smaller rocks. Very hard work. Very. Sometimes they found sit-down work.

We walked the whole length of the job, greeting and receiving greetings from people we've known for years as we went. We played with some of the children--Cusi and Sarita babysitting their little brother Johel. We carried a few rocks, our token contribution, but then joined in the rock placement work. Just like any rock walkway project (only without the truck to drop off the pallet of flagstone), we worked with Armando to help put the puzzle together of which rock fit where, and chipping or leveling the sand underneath to make a level path. In some places, culverts were made with rock passageways for water to flow underneath. In other places several levels of rock were built up to reduce the dips, level the trail.

On the boat returning to Puno yesterday, we met an engineer from Puno who had consulted on the construction of the trail.

The whole project was done in three days, the authorities walking up and down to pass out coca leaves. It's a beautiful trail, smooth enough to walk upon in the dark without a flashlight, no stairs. I personally grieved some of the beautiful living rock that was split apart to build the trail, but no one else seemed to care, and really, Taquile has a lot of rock.

1 comment:

  1. A 2 meter x 600 meter trail in 3 days! It would have taken us 2 !/2 years to get it past the budget committee.

    And the reward was a fine trial with coca leaves as a reward! I'm very much looking forward to seeing the photographs! 800 folks in red sweaters! Michael Potts (CEO of Rocky Mountain Institute) and I were discussing this evening what it would take to reinvent our present system of capitalism. He has been looking at happiness, and how we create, measure, and experience it in our lives. I had the idea when I read your story of the trail that the experience of working together to create completion of a product that will serve for a long time to come must, of course, grow in happiness as the years go by.

    Have fun, be safe, and give our love to our Taquileanian family!
    Judy and Amory