11th - 25th Sept
On Sunday 11th I woke up feeling decidedly crap...another tummy bug!! Sods law... I was supposed to be going to a birthday party for my salsa teacher so lots of salsa dancing. I had been really looking forward to it all week!! Anyway I eventually managed out of bed and began to move around slowly. Yeina needed more painkillers and her hubby has left for Cusco for 2 days! I had given her painkillers earlier that were the next stage down from what she had been on. They were now finished! I had a few of a weaker strength so said I would come up when I was feeling a little better. She had some herbal capsules for the stomach...cat’s claw.. to help me too so we agreed a swap. It did help. Interestingly there were a few of us in the area feeling under the weather that day. We couldn’t get out of bed that morning. Some said there was a strange energy around!! It is the one thing about this part of the world....the energies are very strong here. You feel it in various places, from the ruins to nature..the trees, the stones..all around. I think this is what draws and keeps people here...they love the energy.
I must admit meditation has become part of my life and it feels good. I have a real problem..as I am sure many of you know...getting my brain to switch off so to encourage some quiet brain time each day is quite a relief actually.
Anyway I thought I was not starting another (heavy) week of work without a little fun! I’m not dead!! I’d received a text from Annabelle to say there were men all waiting to dance! Both of us have been at the salsa class since the start ...about 8-12 weeks now...on and off. OK says I..time to pull it together and go. Raymi and Wimmie stay at the opposite end of Urubamba from me so to walk would have taken me about 50 mins. For the first time EVER there was not one but two moto taxis at the top of the hill above Ccatan...Fab!!! I jumped in one and was there in 10 mins..Great!!! As I arrived at about 5pm (5 hours after it started) I met some of the boys from our salsa class leaving. Inside there were another 5 males of varying ages from Cusco. They were Raymi’s friends... 2 were teachers and as I danced with them I discovered who they were. They were great to dance with as they gave you very clear direction. There was an older guy, who I discovered was a Spanish teacher, but he was a little sleazy..us girls all agreed that! Anyway I stayed for about 3 hours and then Annabelle and I left. I didn’t eat anything as my stomach was still not quite right but I did have a glass of a very nice red wine I took with me (sheer chance actually as I had no idea which was a good one) and that really hit the spot. Elise (from the Spanish school) was still there saying she would stay just an hour or so longer..needless to say she was there until 5am!! She had no classes on Monday morning unlike the earlier start Annabelle and I had! I had to be ready for a 6am collection the next morning! This was for the buying of the tools etc we needed for the greenhouse project.. a lot of stuff actually. (See my next blog for that). There was an American girl at the party whom I had met once who was working for another NGO. She knew a different version of salsa and was very good. The guys were all trying very hard with her...one of them succeeded! The writing was on the wall as we left. I asked Raymi about this style of Salsa..I think he called it Salsa en Linea...he thought it too effeminate...he preferred the more manly Salsa Peruana. It was very funny watching him describing and imitating the different salsas. Anyway it had been a lovely few hours and cheered me up. The traditional “birthday cake in the face” had been kept up and we were all wearing some of the icing by the end!! I’ll put a few of these photos on facebook.
Wednesday night is my favourite as this is our Salsa night as I have told you. I absolutely love it. I’ll need to look into possibly classes when I get home. I know what I am learning will be different as this is Salsa Peruana.....If not I will go for the Zumba... not quite the same but at least a little dancy.
The following weekend (17th) Annabelle and I had agreed to go walking. She was going to be in Ollanta at her boyfriend’s so we agreed to meet at Heart’s Cafe for breakfast at 8am. This meant a 6am start for me!! It does mean you get the main part of your walk done before the sun gets too hot though. We walked to Puma Marka... a good 2 ½ hour hike at a good pace. It was beautiful and so tranquil. The views from these ruins were amazing! We spent an hour there just sitting enjoying the peaceful atmosphere. The weather is trying to change at the moment.....a bit more cloud and rain. When it rains it tends to be quite hard rain then the sun comes out again...so not bad as long as you have a jacket with you. When I got back to the cafe there was a tour company and their group in. This company..Contour Travel.. visit our cafe and if they don’t eat their full allowance of food, the children (ie Living Heart) get the rest. After they have eaten Sabrina (the manageress) gives them a little talk and thanks them for visiting. She asked me if I could help her so I told them about what we were doing and our new greenhouse project. They also kindly left us T shirts and pens for the schools which was lovely. Sabrina and I also had our picture taken with them.
Yeina and Nino were having a full day inauguration of their new children’s theatre to which I had been invited. There were going to be lots of helpers as Yeina was obviously still in a lot of pain. It started at 2 and finished at 10pm. I eventually arrived about 4pm..in time to see some young musicians and see the holistic blessing of the organisation. This very traditional ceremony included asking Pacha Mama (Mother Earth) for her blessing, burning holy wood and blessing the building with the smoke wafting it around using condor feathers (although I am not a fan of buying these because it encourages more killing of these beautiful birds). Everyone there then took 3 coca leaves, splaying them out like cards, breathing a prayer onto them and burning them in the special small fire, sending their prayers to the heavens, and finally toasting the new business by first giving some of the chicha (a local drink) to Pacha Mama and then taking some yourself. It was a lovely little ceremony and all very interesting. Before I left Julio, who stays in my hostel, sang a few songs. He is a music teacher in a local school and he sang very well. He wanted some photos so I duly obliged as I had my big camera with me.
On Sunday: Decisions....decisions.... the Bioferria in Urubamba, with all the nice foods and organic/ hippy things or a day just chilling at Ccatan?????.....Guess what won???? Yep.....Ccatan!! I was pretty tired. It had been a big week preparing, supporting and starting the new greenhouse project so a lot of early mornings and stresses. Jess was now relaxing and sunning herself on a distant beach...hopefully getting herself well!! On the Thursday I had to be up at 4am. I had my salsa the night before...and I wasn't missing that! This meant I had only four and a half hours sleep!!!! Surprisingly I was still reasonably OK that night as I didn't get back until 7pm. I did go straight to bed though! I wasn’t too lazy on that Sunday though as did a lot of hand washing..it’s either that or walk 30 mins to the other side of Urubamba with my stuff and wait 2 days to get it back...so the hand washing wins every time. I have it down to a fine art now. I use the electric shower, which I now know how to set to maximise the heat, and the basins we now have at Ccatan...before that I was improvising using various sized saucepans for my different coloured clothes. It rained on and off all day too so that makes you feel more tired and lazy. I also worked on my blog and nibbled lots of food...just what I needed...a pig-out day!
The following week I have been focussing on getting things sorted...I only have about 2 weeks left before I return home....where has the six months gone!!!!!!!!
I managed some of it but as usual things got in the way and meant I lost some valuable time....things like us not knowing to pay the Claro sticks so no internet and no bills to pay them with so that took us a half a day to sort! All in all we did seem to get through a few things though so that was good. By the end of next week I want to be in a position where I have very little to complete here, which is urgent and needs files, and I am tidying things up before I go...... Yes I am continuing to work with Living Heart when I get back to the UK. I’ll be fundraising...so watch this space to see what I have planned and hopefully you will all support my fundraising efforts. I will also be writing some grant applications, time permitting, to help us expand our efforts. We will explore what I can and can’t do when I am home but I will definitely skype with them regularly. I have found that great while I have been here. This is a great way to keep in touch with home but also Shona, my sister in Australia. The world is a small place really! The time difference for us and Peru works in quite well. Early afternoon for them is early evening for us.
I’m off for a week’s holiday in the first week of October then I only have one week before I have to be packed up. It is incredible what you gather up in 6 months though!! I have started sorting some of it out now!
This weekend....well Sunday...has been another first. I became godmother to a little Peruvian girl today. You will have read about the little disabled boy, Jose Antonio, we support with Rita’s visits each week. Well the family decided they wanted the children christened and asked Rita, myself and Sonia’s daughter (as Sonia felt she was too old) to be their god mothers. They are called spiritual mothers here. This is a reasonable commitment cost-wise before the event. The god mothers have to completely kit out the children for the day. Now I know you are thinking ..yey they saw you coming Heather but to be honest these people live in meagre conditions but spend a lot on costumes etc for all the different ceremonies. Anyway Sonia, Susannah, Rita and myself attended with all their relations at the local church to us..Torrechayoc. This was a lovely service.. the priest conducted the main service then invited all those who wanted christened to come forward. Like home the godparents and parents had to reply to the questions re following in the faith...we just repeated what Rita said! The children were then blessed with water and a prayer and the candles that were given to them by Rita were lit and they held them for the rest of the service. This menat a lot of candle wax on some of the clothes by then end but Lonita was trying hard to keep it off her pretty dress. The children..Juan, 15, Lonita, 8 and Jose Antonio, 7 looked great in their new suits and Lonita’s lovely white dress. She does need a little cardigan to wear with it though as she was cold so I gave her my big black cardigan to wear which she never took off until I left later that afternoon...I’ll need to see what I can do. It was really lovely as periodically Lonita would come for a cuddle and just hold onto my arm and cuddle up for about 5 minutes then disappear and play with her friends. Because the family are so involved with Jose Antonio she does get left out a bit. Juan is that little bit older so it is easier for him but Lonita is struggling with it. She is a bright wee thing and girls don’t get encouraged to continue with their schooling so we are trying to help some of these girls as an NGO. We are looking into whether this is an area we could get funding for in each school...to allow the girls to go to higher education and then support their areas with their new found knowledge, e.g. nursing, teaching etc. While working in the schools there were a number who could have really benefitted from it. Anyway after the service we took photos and all went behind to have them officially registered and christened. The next bit was like a wedding...Rita had a plastic bag with lots of sweets, little biscuits and confetti...we had to put in some 10 and 20 centimos. At the main doors we then took handfuls from the bag and threw it in the air. Outside were children and adults all scrambling for whatever they could get as we threw it. We then all climbed into Martin’s car and headed for Rita’s house. This was a little closer than Crisologo and Paolo’s house as we would have struggled to get back from there, late on a Sunday afternoon. Paolo had prepared a roast pig, and turkey which she had brought down. With this we had a slice of melon, broccoli, a special tortilla stuffed with corn and other ingredients wrapped in maize leaves; and risotto in a lovely sauce... it was absolutely scrummy. They served Susannah and I first as god parents and the plateful was huge! Having said that I ate my way through it all. Martin commented that I had a good appetite...I agreed To wash it down they had bought beer which Susannah and I also partook in. Rita had made Apio soup...with papa frites...celery soup with little potato croutons..This was to aid our digestion after so much meat.... It seemed to work They had a small band and a young girl singing traditional songs. Once we had finished Lonita and I were coaxed to dance and then the others got up. Eventually we had everyone up dancing. We were eating out in the small back area at Rita’s. These are open areas, unpaved but smooth with people constantly walking on them. We had fun dancing around the table showing them Scottish twirls and so on. At about 3pm we heard the thunder and it started to rain. Martin wanted home so Susannah and I said our goodbyes and thank yous..with lots of kisses and hugs and left. It was a lovely day.
This wasn’t the only service I attended that day. At 7am...yes 7am.... I attended another service...an Andean service in a retreat next door to Ccatan. I knew they happened but i had never attended one. Because Susannah was there Sonia was going and had invited me. I had never been in Samana Wasi either so was keen to see it, It was lovely. It reminded me of the Holy Isle actually. There were only a handful of people at this service and it was centred around the 5 elements..a very traditional Incan ceremony. We stood during this one and finished with kissing and hugging, wishing everyone a good day. The short service was followed by some excerises to free up your energy and a prayer. Because we had the christening later we didn’t have time to go for breakfast as this takes one hour...shame really. It would have been nice to chat to the people there.
.............Anyway a fun filled, busy day with lots of firsts for me.
Well before I sign off again I have to share the new “friend” we found in our kitchen....a huge tarantula!!!! It was eating another slightly smaller (but bloody big to me) spider. All the Peruvians just say...ahh they won't kill you but MY GOD THEY ARE HORRIBLE....too hairy for my liking! I must admit before I go into the kitchen now I lean in and switch on the light on and make a lot of noise before I go into the kitchen!! I took a photo of it and got as close as I dare but it doesn't do it justice! To be fair if it is visible at least I know where it is. When I can’t see it I am wondering if it will be in a pot when I lift it out! A week later I noticed it was dead on the floor so I’m not sure what happened. I think there are other tarantulas around though, so I just have to be vigilant. One of the girls found one under her pillow one day! Talking of beasties just when I thought I was bite free I was drinking some cheap wine in the evening air with a friend here which resulted in 3 new bites on my legs...I’d just like to know how the hell they get half way up my leg!!! Since then I have found them on my back, on my arms...almost everywhere!! I noticed though that I now have little fleas in my room at night. I think with the warmer and wetter weather..it is now coming into their Spring.... there are more flying insects and mosquitoes around. There are also clear corrugated sheets in the roof that act like windows. They don’t fit very well so flying bugs do get in. These sheets are great for letting in light but not for keeping the bugs out! Oh well!! Thank goodness for creams and antihistamine tablets.
Another thing I discovered this week......
MOTOS – I’ve just discovered that motos are glorified bicycles with 3 bicycle chains driving the 3 wheels...one up front and the 2 back ones. I’m a girl so had never considered how they operated! I thought of them like a Reliant Robin...the same as Del Boy’s in Only Fools and Horses...you know the one?? I knew they needed petrol but never thought anymore about it. While Ineke and I were going to Sonia’s one day we had to get out and he turned it up on its side. Another moto driver stopped and helped him. They put the bicycle chain back on and off we went again. Amazing!!! It runs on very little petrol, is cheap to travel and gets us from “a” to “b” quite speedily....not a bad little mode of transport., economically and environmentally.
Well mis amigos my blogs will be coming to a close soon when I leave Peru.... ....but I do intend to return next year...I’m not sure for how long..we will just have to see how things are going....
If you have enjoyed my blogs maybe I could start them up on my return to Peru...you can let me know...but in the meantime..until my next entry which won’t be too long as it is about our new Greenhouse Project...photos are already on facebook......Hasta luego.