Friday, March 16, 2012

Puno to Lima, wild ride

Wild ride to the airport in Juliaca yesterday: roads were all blocked by the informal miners who want to keep mining and polluting without restrictions. We hired a taxi (for a small fortune) to take us on the back roads past the ruins of Sillustani. The ride included a run through a flooded zone where the Toyota Station wagon bumper pushed a wake through the water. Sam and I got out of the car to run around the flood and wade a stream. A bus full of passengers made the same run; they were sympathetic to me "madrina," as I walked barefoot to put my shoes back on in the car. We got a flat tire just before finally reaching the good pavement; Sam helped change the tire and it was done before I could even reach in a grab a camera. We arrived at the airport 5 minutes from flight time to learn the flight had been postponed for an hour. Excellent. Direct flight to Lima in about an hour and a half.

For more about the miners

It's tricky because you want to sympathize with people who work hard, and some of the talk is that the formal mines aren't so good about environmental protection either, but apparently with no regulation at all the informal miners are really making a mess.

In the meantime, we're in nice hot Lima. We stayed one night in a beautiful 150 year old building hotel in the center of the city, marble staircase, nice carvings, high ceilings. Our guide friend, Eduardo Mamani, was also staying there for a conference in Lima this week, so we took his advice. They have a safe luggage storage. Eduardo took us to a nearby market for breakfast. Then we repacked, stored our luggage and went off with only our daypacks to Felipe's house. He lives up a steep staircase (Sam counted  190 steps) in a pretty basic situation but has running water and electricity, little gas stove, even a cool washing machine with a separate high speed spinner to drive out the water.

With Felipe as a companion and guide, we shopped for mosquito netting, which we will need at our next visit, north of here in Huacho where Noemi lives. Then we rode the electric train all the way to the end of the line, Villa El Salvador. The train is brand new and still free. We met a nice woman who recommended a restaurant, ate ceviche with an excellent lunch and returned on the train. The 35 minute ride would have been over 2 hours by bus. Clean, quiet, fast: quite impressive.

Fredy came from work to be with us for a couple of hours before bedtime; we may see him one more time if he can get a little more time off work.

Right now we wait for Celbia and Asunta, who are riding the bus from Puno. We had bought direct bus tickets for them, but the blockade and subsequent strike has delayed everything and they are on a slower bus. They should be arriving soon (4 hours later than we planned; I'm sure glad we caught our plane, or we'd be on the same bus) and we'll all go to Huacho together. Noemi's husband, Alejandro, is with us, all on the internet as we wait for their arrival.

Soon to see my eldest god daughter!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Last night on Taquile

March 12, going-away party on Taquile; about 45 pople came. We made a huge chicken soup. Dessert was banana cake from the solar cooker!

Musicians came with their mandolins and guitars, played traditional peruvian dance music. I wore 4 skirts and twirled and danced. The full dance floor shimmered with twirling skirts.

We ended the evening with a coca estalia, a ceremony of prayer and the burying of sacred coca leaves. Several people spoke, sharing our cariƱo, our deep heart connection. They wished us well and wished for our safe return.

Gracias, gracias, yus pagara sunki.

Lachon´, Capachica

Sam and I peeled off from our Putina excursion to visit Asunta and Armando and family (Kusi, Sarita and Yoel) in Lachon´ on the penninsula of Capachica. They live in a beautiful spot on a high point overlooking the lake. They built a big dining hall a couple of years ago, the thatch roof had failed so a few months ago they put up a calamina roof. The windows overlook the lake. A comfortable tourist room adjoins the comedor, which is where we slept.

The weather was really windy. As we soon learned, the Taquile Collectivo boat had to turn back to Puno. The waves were so high and dangerous that they couldn't continue. In the meantime, Sam and I were watching the waves from our cozy viewpoint through the picture windows of the comedor. Several tourist boats heading for Amantani or Taquile stopped off at Lachon since the water was too rough to continue. It's green and beautiful, terraced.

The family was so welcoming that they actually butchered a sheep for us! They'll turn the leftovers into charqui, or jerky. The sheep belonged to little Sarita, whom Sam taught to walk when she was a year and a half old in 2006. Armando said that they wanted to have sheep meat for the men who helped install the new roof, but she didn't want to give her sheep for that, but when they asked her if she would give it for Sam and Tara, she enthusiastically agreed! I can't say that we had wished for such a gift, but we certainly felt honored.

Armando will teach the upper grades of the private elementary school on Taquile this school year, which starts next week, so they won't be in Lachon´for the tourist season again, in spite of their nice facilities.

Putina: Hot Springs Excursion

We traveled with a group from Taquile to San Antonio de Putina to enjoy the hot springs and a little adventure. Our group included Eufrasia and Delfin, Ruperta and Silvano with their two little boys, Ivan and Clever, plus Fredy. W stayed two nights, three days. We had been there 8 years previously and found it relatively unchanged.

The town is full of hot springs, even a little stream ran under the patio in our hotel. They could dip from the flowing stream to bathe. We didn't need to, naturally, since we went to the hot springs at least once or twice a day.

The town has a big play pool, which we went to the first afternoon. Water tepid but good for lots of little boys to play and splash and make noise. The private baths are a very slow fill, though nice and hot. The smaller pool up the hill is much quieter and hotter. They had added an octopus shaped slide since we were there last time. The private baths filled up a lot faster and were actually too hot and needed diluted with cold water to even be able to enter.