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.

Sillustani and The Condor

April 20, Saturday

A bus load of people to the Incan and Pre-Incan ruins of Sillustani.

We bought little notebooks for a group of 8 kids from Taquile. At the last minute Neal and Katia had to refrain from coming so we added even more.
Plus Eduardo, the guide. This is the first time we've had a full guided tour. Very informative and interesting.

We started by visiting a local family to see how they live.
Visiting a traditional Aymara home
 Then to the ruins. Round chulpas, funerary towers. A circular Inti Watana where we held hands and made a magnetic circle and also a coca ceremony.
Eduardo was an excellent tour guide
Here was the group:
Nancy, Liane, Sam and I, the non-Peruvians
Taquile adults: Ruperta, Valeria, Luz Nate
Taquile kids with their ages: Juana Luz 15, Ivan13, David 14, Kusi 12, Edith 11, Cecilia 10, Sarita 8, Christian 10, Clever 8

After the tour of Sillustani, we had the bus drop Sam and the TaquileƱos off at the base of the stairs leading to THE CONDOR viewpoint so they could climb to the top. Ivan beat everyone to the top of the stairs, but didn't know about climbing the statue up to the condor so Sam was first!

Visitors 2013, Part 3

April 10 through 22   (pictures coming later)

Friends from Paonia joined us for over a week for a lot of fun. Nancy Schwieger came for her 4th visit in 10 or so years, arriving with her long-time friends, the Schwieterman family: Neal, Liane and 11 year old Katia. WAe met them at the airport in Juliaca on April 10, took a day to rest and adjust and see the markets in Puno, and then on Lino's new boat, came to Taquile for one night.

Early the next morning we went to the Capachica Penninsula to stay with Asunta and Armando in Lacho´n. It is only about an hour and since us foreigners were paying the gas, several family members came along for the visit, especially including Asunta's 3rd grade daughter, Sarita, who is living with her grandmother, Celbia, who also came. Armando's uncle, Valentino, is known for his kayak rental business, and since Neal and family are expert kayakers, we were able to rent for a family rate and toodle around the shoreline and out to a point for a couple of hours before lunch.

The next morning we hiked up the the Cerro Karus, ceremonial site and the highest point on that part of the Capachica Penninsula. Armando told us a legend about the time when the area of the current Lake Titicaca was not a lake, but fields with high hills that are now the islands of Amantani and Taquile, and the ruler, Karus, was a wise leader. Invaders came and they used signal fires on the high points to communicate across the wide valleys. They stored food in tunnels and even tunneled across to the other high hills. Eventually they trapped the invaders in the tunnels and sometimes you can hear the screams of their ghosts.

Saturday the 13th we returned to Taquile. Katia had a great time playing with the other kids, so did Sam and Neal. Katia said, ¨We speak 'kid language,' laughter and signals, we don't need words.¨

Sunday we met the mayor, Zenon Tipo. One day we had lunch with Juan Quispe who was in Paonia in December of 2010. One day we made watia, earthen oven roasted potatoes and oca. We hiked to the top of Taquile, the ceremonial site called Mulcina.

Then back to Puno and more adventures in a different blog.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Selva- Into the Amazon

Over the Andes and into the Rain Forest to the east.
We accompanied Lidia to visit her neice and old friends in her birthplace in the Sandia Region of Puno Province on the eastern side of the Andes. Our first stop was San Juan del Oro, famous for its award-winning shade-grown coffee.
View from our hotel

Poinsettia TREE 15ft tall

Green coffee beans--ready to harvest in June & July

Mushrooms abound in the moist climate

Roadside trash: High heeled boots and corn husks

Three millipedes--mating?

We spent a night and two days in the next town east, Challuma, with Lidia's girlhood friend, Matilde. They grow oranges, coffee, mandarin oranges, coca., sugarcane, cacao (the pulp around the beans is sweet and juicy), and grapefruit.

Matilde in her kitchen doorway. Lots of firewood here.

Girlhood friends Lidia and Matilde
There we had the privilege of participating in the coca harvest.
The leaves cure in the sun for 2 hours

In the coca field

Miko picked 6 to1 faster than Sam and I
Cure the coca leaves
in bare feet stir with a stick
walk on sacred ground

Easter on Taquile 2013

Easter on Taquile starts with choir practice for a couple of weeks before Holy Week. Then, beginning this year on Thursday, April 28, each of the 7 choir groups gather to sing in the various churches. Taquile has an Adventist Church and two Catholic Churches, the big one in the main plaza and a smaller one out on the south end of the island in the sector called Huayllano. Silvano and Ruperta, Delfin and Natalia all sang with the Huayllano group.

Huayllano Church singing, back view toward the front of the church.

View from the front, showing the musicians.

Friday was the biggest night of singing, when all seven choirs met and sang in the big Catholic Church on the Plaza. It was a vigil, music starting at 7pm and rotating through all the groups until the wee hours.The women were cautioned not to wear too many skirts, because the church would be crowded. However, Silvano asked me why I only wore three! I wasn't dressed up quite as much as 4 or 5 would have been.

Ruperta was in charge of the meal for the Huayllano choir on Friday before the big sing. We helped peel potatoes. Two big pots of soup were served.

In celebration of Harvest, Christ Rising, this day is designated to pay the Pacha Mama for the whole year.
Early in the morning, most families make their own personal offering in the form of a despacho, a package of prayers designated to be dispached to the Pacha Mama via the village shamen or pacos. We included coca leaves picked out of a beautiful handwoven cloth called an estallia, leaves chosen for their perfect shape, imbued with our prayers in sets of three called a k'intu. We added flowers and sweets, small drawings of our dreams and money both real and symbolic. All was wrapped in a paper package and then again in an estallia and brought to the top of the mountain to the pacos to be burned at the end of the day.

The officers of the community, or authoridades, meet in two ceremonial locations to offer coca leaves in prayer for the year. We attended the ceremony at the highest point on Taquile, Mulcina, where the pacos sat behind a wall through an arch, the authoridades sat before a large stone table in an enclosed courtyard with the people gathered around. A band played intermittently. We had several rounds of choosing our k'intus. Sam and I attended the whole ceremony and joined the procession down the hill at sunset.
Here are some pictures:

See the snow-capped peak through the arch?

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Vistiors on Taquile, part 2

Taquile's tourist season is just beginning. Our family had almost no tourists in January and February, but we have helped to host several groups since we've been here.

Two women who live in London but originally come from Poland and Slovakia had interesting perspectives on such topics as universal health care (better in Poland than England and SHOCKING to think that people in the United States, of all places, don't get the health care they need if they cannot afford it). Two other women, one from Germany and the other from Switzerland, only a short train ride apart; they met on a tour in China. They had their own private boat and guide, but didn't buy any textiles from the family; hardly even looked at them. I wonder what their tour cost and if it was budget, luggage space, or mere disinterest that kept them from buying.

We met a couple from Germany who camped on the beach for over a week, university students. The first time we saw their camp on the beach and their (as yet unused) fire ring of rocks with twigs ready for a fire, Sam got mad and told they they shouldn't be taking firewood from the local people. I checked with Delfin and he said that as long as they only picked up a twig here and there that it was okay. They said they didn't have much money and so were camping, and yet they (of course) own computers and are certainly richer than about anyone on Taquile. Sam apologized, and near the end of their stay we invited them for lunch. They dream of a dance and performance school to encourage children's creativity, located near the Baltic Sea in northern Germany--and of a particular magnetic nearly perpetual motion machine....

Our Paonia friend, Carolyne Metzer, came for about 10 days. She jumped right in to play whole-heartedly with the children. When she was on the boat, she met a couple from Gunnison, a town near our Paonia hometown in Western Colorado. Kelsey and Bryce had planned to only stay on Taquile for a few hours, but stayed overnight and later said that it was the best part of their Peruvian vacation. I'm sure they will visit Taquile again someday. And I'm sure we will connect in Colorado.

Kelsey, Bryce, Carolyn

Sunny Carolyn Metzler on Taquile

Warm and emotional group goodbye to Carolyn after a super 10 day visit