Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Blessing the Boat in Progress

21 January, 2015 Wednesday, Puno, Peru

Lino is a master carpenter and boat builder. He and his son, William, have been working on a new boat, a 12 1/2 meter -- about 38-foot -- tour boat for the last two years. They started with funds from selling the boat they had finished and which we helped put into the water in 2013. A couple of times they had to stop and work on other boats to make money for this one. All of the family has pitched in and, although they call it Fredy´s boat, it is really of the whole extended family.

It floats upright in a backwater of Lake Titicaca, just past the fancy Liberador Hotel, in the community of Chulluni. Chulluni is where most of the families from Uros live while they are not entertaining tourists on their reed floating islands. The outer hull is all made with a strong, water-resistant wood, handmade tongue and groove boards, well finished. The top is fiberglass over plywood and the front over the cabin is painted metal. I´ve never seen a boat with such beautiful pictue windows all along the sides. Tourists will love the clear views. It has a bathroom WITH a sink for handwashing, still to be installed.

A lot still needs to be done to finish it, not too much woodwork: floors and some of the walls. The biggest expense will be the 6 cylinder diesel motor. With the strong dollar going up against the Peruvian Sol, this will be tough to get together, perhaps $9,000 for the motor alone. Close to $10,000 to finish the whole thing. Sam got the truly bright idea of initiating a Kickstarter campaign to buy the motor. Big donors would be able to use the boat if they came to Puno. It´s an idea.

So we made a blessing ceremony. First Valeria brought her manta with an uncuña (food-carrying cloth) full of potatoes and chuño (freeze-dried potatoes) and fish, with a fresh salsa to spark it up. Then we opened the estallia, the ceremonial coca cloth and everyone came forward to choose coca leaves and imbue them with their prayers for the success of the boat. Lino took the role of Shaman and sculled the little dory out among the reeds to offer our prayer-laden offering to the Mother Lake.

Afterward, beer and soda and lots of coca sharing before we disbanded and came back to Puno to buy the groceries for the next couple of weeks on Taquile. We go to Taquile tomorrow morning and I will not be posting again for awhile.

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