Tuesday, April 30, 2013


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.

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