Sunday, March 24, 2013

Puno scenes

Lachon and Family

March 16-17-18
On the Capachica Penninsula with more family

On the route from Juliaca to the Capachica Penninsula, which is on the north side of the Bay of Puno, we saw serious flooding from the heavy rains this year.

We visited Asunta, who is the elder sister of our oldest god daughter, Noemi. Asunta is married to a man who grew up in Lacho`n (accent on the last syllable, I can't seem to make it right, so will probably skip the accent from now on). They have three children, Kusi Quollur, age 13, named for the planet Venus and an Incan Princess, Sarita, about 10, and little Yhoel, just starting kindergarten. Sam took a sweet picture of the three children on his iPod that you can see on Facebook.
Lachon is within the Bay of Puno, so reeds are abundant.
We took the Monday market boat from Lachon to Taquile with all the colorful market vendors.
festive boat ride
Don't you love those hats? They are called monteros and I am having a terrible time trying to describe them in words.

The Ugly Cost of Gold

March 14-15
We took a little personal vaction together to some hot springs north of Puno. In the past we have brought our Taquile family here, so this time on our own. The water is wonderful, free flowing and hot; two different pools, one smaller and slightly more primitive, the water yellowish with minerals, the other clear blue water and a bit more polished.

On March 15, early morning at the smaller pool, we had just retired to the private bath pool when someone knocked on our door. I called out that we had just entered and our time could not be up yet but they persisted and said we should just get out for a minute. We did, to find several police people plus some suits. ¡¿WHAT?! We're at the pool; our documents are not with us; we're worried. But no, it's the local television station accompanied by the tourist police. Tourists are rare in Putina and they want to interview us. So they do. I'll post the link as soon as they send it to me.

One of our goals is to get to know the large Department of Puno (Departments are like U.S. States) and we were curious about the big mines high in the mountains above Putina. Posters show beautiful glaciated peaks above the mining town of Rinconada. This day was overcast, so our hopes for mountain views were weak, but this was our free day for the excursion. Turned out that the purpose of the tourist policewoman was to help us enjoy our visit. She helped us get on the right bus to Rinconada after a quick breakfast.

The bus ride was fine, full of helpful and friendly people. A pair of men generously gave up their forward seat so we wouldn't have to sit in the back.

Baby ¿talks? on cell phone on the bus
The early part of the bus ride went through rich green valley up the Rinconada River (need to check that river name). Saw a couple of fishermen, one with a pole and another with a net, higher altitudes had large herds of alpaca.

Then we came to the mining area.

Through the rain spattered window the beginnings of destruction.
Most of the mining appears to be hydrolic. Earth moving equipment shovels piles of earth on wooden structures. With huge pumps and long hoses, the earth is washed out, the gold collecting on the structure, placer mining style.
Overturned earth as far as the eye can see.
detail of what I am calling the sluice ladder
Acres and hecters and miles, as far as we could see, it was destroyed earth. Not even birds.
Then we came to the garbage dump.
20 minutes of rough road worth of garbage scenery
Then we came to the town of Rinconada.
Coal-black mud was everywhere.
It was snowing, a snow that mostly melted as it hit the black mud that covered everything onthe ground. At one point I it seemed that the road was paved with smashed plastic soda bottles. The worker housing was made up of row upon row of corrugated tin-walled and roofed structures about 10 x 15 feet (less that 5 meters square), windowless, uninsulated.
Snowing on the astroturf soccer field. The only green anywhere.
 We had our own drinking water, but were later warned that maybe even the soup broth was contaminated with mercury.
View from the restaurant
Not a tourist destination.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Taquile Island-March 2013

Assorted Family and Taquile Images. Stories may be coming.

potato flowers in bloom

Sam shows off the efficient LED light strip at the Taquile Market

Kusi gets a new backpack while her Grandma Celbia looks on

Celbia in her clean and organized, wood-fired kitchen

Students are happy we bought their school supplies

Dancing with Lisbeth-Jasmin while new padrino, Nathan, looks on.

Nathan with his new family

Edith carries the baby--Solar cookers in action in the background!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

New Solar Water Pumping Project

Wednesday and Thursday, March 6-7
One year we were on Taquile during a dry April and into May and the nearby water wells dried up. We helped carry water in heavy jugs on our backs for a long distance for cooking and washing dishes. When I returned to my hot and cold running water in Colorado it took me many months of sweet gratitude every time I turned a faucet until again I could take this blessing for granted.

Using funds from the entry fees that tourists pay to come to Taquile Island (a UNESCO World Cultural Site), the community of Taquile is implementing a big clean water project. Our son, Silvano, was on the town council when they made the plans and he led the argument to use solar power instead of a fossil fuel pump. They've hired some engineers and will have three tank and pumping stations to get water to a very high point about a mile and a half from the well. It will provide neighborhood faucets of clean well water throughout the south end of the island.

Please click on these pictures to see them large.

Picture: a line of people, many in colorful red sweaters or hats, a mile and a half long, snaking up the hill and down the ridge.
Listen: Chip, Chip, Chip, Bang, Clink, Chip: Metal on metal against rock.

Community members received nominal pay to dig the trenches to bury pipe. I was told that 900 people showed up to dig and break rock. Every two people in our sector were assigned 5 meters to dig to a 40cm depth (15 feet and about 16 inches). Most of the section assigned to Sam and me was dirt with soft sandstone underneath, but one huge rock presented a challenge. Silvano helped out with an 16 pound mallet and 2 inch chisel and the men just plain busted the rock into pieces. The rock was a hard sandstone and on the border with the next group up from us so it was a joint effort. We finished early so Sam went up to help in a super rocky section uphill and I moved down hill to Silvano and Ruperta's sandy section. Some rocks were much harder, maybe a granite and they gave up short of the 18 inches, the depth not as important in non-agricultural areas. We worked in the very first section, Huayllano, and finished all our trenches on the first day.

Day 2, rainy and therefore a slow start. The men hiked down to the shore and carried huge rolls of the heavy plastic pipe up to the trenches.

Carrying the heavy pipe up all the terraces was creative hard work.

Nice loops: This group moved the tubo by separating the loops; easier to climb over rock walls and up terraces.

Since our group was the first next to the planned solar installation and the tank, we fed the pipes into the proper position and were able to start connecting them right away. It started to rain; we were all connected, so our whole sectore quickly buried the pipe and finished the job before lunch.
That is Silvano at the middle top, making connections.

Then we hiked up the line and dug a section to the second and then the third pumping station. Sam and I ended up walking to the top of the whole project. Many of the other groups were still digging and connecting and hauling pipe. Sam helped lift one big roll of pipe up over rock walls and terraces, and then unwind it and we both helped pull it into position. The workers there were really appreciative.

Postscript, Completion by mid April:

Two big arrays: One pumps clean water from a year-'round well near the lake up to the big tank and the second array pumps up to a series of three tank stations. Total power 45-185 W panels for a total of 8.3 kilowatts, pumping about 60 liters per minute. From the tanks the water is gravity-fed to neighborhood faucets serving about 2/3 of the island. The system is battery-free and only pumps when the sun is shining. Since people collect rainwater from their roofs they don't really need this water during the rainy season.

April was dry, and we had water to a faucet just above the house. Silvano would fill a tank and then siphon to fill all the tanks at the house. 

Friday, March 1, 2013

Arrival in Peru

Uncle Marvin and Aunt Wanda brought us to the Grand Junction airport, possibly the easiest airport inthe world, in style. We flew over the snowy Rocky Mountains, pointing out all our mountain familiars in appreciation of Colorado and the beautiful place where we live. Houston to Lima went well, immigration control and customs in Peru too, but it took over a worrisome hour to get our luggage. Waiting with us was someone we know! Nilda from Chincheros and Cusco, Peru, founder of Traditional Textiles of Cusco. She travels quite a bit and had been in Denver at some conference. We had news for her; she didn´t know that Juan Quispe had lost his wife.

When we finally emerged from the luggage claim at 1:30am ¿who was waiting? ¡Our goddaughter, Noemi, with her husband, Alejandro with their two little ones, 4-year-old Alexander and 19 month-old Dayana, plus Noemi´s half sister, Illiane! The kids were all in bright happy spirits in spite of the hour, amazing. We took an airport taxi to their neighborhood and our hotel and slept for 4 hours. Noemi and Alejandro came to the airport with us and we checking in nice and early and had time to go to the Santa Rosa market, which in near the airport in Callao for breakfast. The visit was expremely brief but wonderful. We will return to Lima at the end of April to visit them before we catch our plane to come home.

Cloudy view and only brief glimpses of the Andes brought us to the green and wet zone of the Altiplano and the Juliaca airport. Again, we see someone we know at a Peruvian airport: The owner of our hotel and his wife were headed for Lima for a few days and put us in their airport shuttle to Puno and the hotel.  Where Delfin and Eufrasia were waiting. Eufrasia is our Co-mother since her youngest daughter, Natalia, is our goddaughter. Delfin is her middle son. We did the initial important errands: fresh juice or smoothies at the morket, changed money and bought coca leaves. We also visited the travel agaency of our friends, Lydia and Eduardo. Lydia immediately took us out for tea and long conversations. We may travel with them to visit her family in the jungle near Sandia in early April. Eduardo is also the organizer for the visit of Paonia´s mayor, Neal Schweiderman, to the municipality of Ilave, which will happen in mid April. Lydia invited us to breakfast the next morning at her house.

Next arrived Silvano, our ¨son¨ and Fredy. Fredy has given up working in the Chicken raising businesses near Lima and is currently working on a tourist boat to and from the islands and living in Puno most of the time. We all had a typical dinner together and brief conversation before bedtime.

The altitude is affecting us with headaches and a bit of restless sleep in spite of exhaustion. As I write this the following afternoon we can see acclimatization kicking in already.

Walking to breakfast with Eduardo, we heard Zumba music coming from an upstairs room above a gym. We checked it out. Every morning at 8:00am. ¡We will definitely join in when we are in Puno again!

(¡¿Don´t you love that upside down punctuation!?)

Lentils and Rice for breakfast; plenty of food and fine conversation including lots of possible tour plans for our coming visitors and ourselves.

Silvano found us on the street outside the boot repair place and we eventually met with Delfin and Eufrasia for lunch at the market. Sam and I, still full from breakfast, just had carrot juice. Such a pleasure, its easy availability. They had bought vegetables and other staples with money we´d given them last night. Everyone eats very well when we are here. We separated after lunch and Sam and I went to Laycacota Market for fruits. Such beautiful fruit stands in this country: mounds of apples and guyabas and bananas and tangerines and pears and tiny greenish peaches. I think people make a beverage from the peaches, which I have enjoyed though I´ve never wanted to buy the fruit. After Paonia Peaches, really....

And two watermelon.

We go to Taquile tomorrow morning and may not be back in computerland for at least a week.