end Sept to mid Oct
This is beautiful time, watching how quickly everything grows here. The rains have come a little early. The large expanse of fields are changing colour so fast there is something new to see most days. As each area was planted at slightly different times it makes for interesting shades of brown (as the little seedlings just start to shoot) to vast areas of green (for the more mature plants). I know this is common place for most of you reading this, but it is still lovely to see and amazing how quickly the maize and potatoes are coming up. With the heat and rain it is no wonder. There are always people working the ground too as obviously the weeds like it too, so with pick- axes (with a slightly larger blade), the preferred tool, they use this to keep the trenches clear for the water to flow past each row of maize. Various methods are used to divert the water into each channel from heavy plastic to dirt dams. They have obviously agreed with the water marshall when they will get water which is more important on the dry days.
Pisac also seems to be prone to high winds. One of these days I expect to see a pair of my knickers take off from the washing line and fly across the valley!
We’ve had a few incredible lightening storms too, of which we have a great view, being part way up the side of a mountain.
At the school all the beautiful events continue. These are not solely Peruvian but considered by UNESCO, and others I think, to be a necessary part of engaging and respecting children and humanity itself so appropriate ones are incorporated into the school calendar.
We have had “The Day of the Student”, where the teachers and parents all perform for the children. Each class took its turn. I became part of the teacher’s spoof, where characteristics of children were greatly exaggerated and which the children loved. This ranged from the mischievous child, the child who is late because of helping at home and then crying as they enter, the mother who needs her child at home and a discussion with the teacher about their education, the studious child, the best behaved teacher’s pet, to myself and Fielding, who were the new international students and who understood very little Spanish...and so on. Some of the performances were dances (from various countries) and then taking some of the children up to dance too; funny sketches, music etc. The parents here are from the communities high above Pisac, from various countries and now settled here, or are visiting for various reasons and possibly staying a few months. Everyone seemed to thoroughly enjoy the wide variety of entertainment.
Later that week (it was a very busy one) was the “Exposition” in the centre of Pisac. This exhibition was not just to show off the work of the children and show that we are not just an arts and crafts school but also an oral exam for the children. The younger classes performed spelling tests or arithmetic using rhythm as is the Waldorf way, and did this as a class, as well as a musical piece in Quechua . This was impressive to say the least. This was followed by the older children speaking publicly and individually describing a set topic, and were open to questions too. This is not easy for any child and proved too much for one poor boy who eventually gave up and hid his head while the rest continued. I did feel so sorry for him.
I am delighted that internal fundraising has also begun here. The first smaller event was a Gastronomic festival which always takes place, with each class (and now parents helping) would provide a different dish and would sell this rather than just giving it away. There was also a sales table too. The next is a huge event that will take place in Cusco and where we hope to get many more people to attend. There will be music, dancing, a sales tables, discussions and leaflets etc handed out. I am going to visit the agencies to see if they would be interested in a tour of the school with their clients (for a small fee). This we are finalizing at the moment. It will be more structured than before and anyone that has visited knows the beautiful experience they feel while there. We already have one interested agency so that is good. Getting the right balance between the experience for the tourists and not causing too much disruption to the school will be important so Hugo and I have a meeting with the teachers soon.
All funds raised within Peru are to be doubled by a very kind donor in the US.
The medics are here just now and we will be doing a clinic in Amaru this week. 2 of the older students from the school are helping them with the Quechua to Spanish translations for the full week they are here and the medics tell me they are really great; listening and learning so repeating what is needed especially when giving out meds, without being continually told. This is such a great opportunity for the students and hopefully others in the future too.
My big focus, at the moment, is on the website but there are a few other things (some already mentioned) which take me away from this, so it is taking a little longer. I'm hopeful to get the bulk of it rearranged, as we've already agreed, over the next few weeks. This should make for a clearer message and much easier navigation for anyone looking at it, with less extraneous info on the initial pages and a few new pages added to guide you to the next, so plenty to keep me occupied.
As for my day to day life I am very settled in the house so will continue here for the time being. The garden is beautiful. It is more a wild garden with various types of the birds, including various types of hummingbirds. There are a pair of very pretty yellow and back birds and they have taken to pecking my bedroom window early in the morning. I’m not sure what they are after but it tends to be the same windows each day; upstairs and downstairs. Cheeky little things! There are various vegetables (although the lettuce and spinach are now finished so we are waiting on the rest coming up). I’m ever hopeful I’ll have the energy, one day, to visit Cusco on a Saturday and buy some seedlings rather than the seeds, that are taking a long time to come up. (Something always seems to get in the way and use up my energy). There are various varieties of herbs all over the garden and little rocotto plants too. There are a large number of fruit tress - apple, peach and various fruits that I’m not sure of. It really is very pretty. There are no manicured lawns and it would be nice to have a nice grassy place to sit; they are all a little rough but overall it is very peaceful (most of the time). The funny thing is the birds have such a food supply in this garden that often when we go to look and pick some stuff it is already half eaten, including the rocotto which has quite a kick! We have to laugh and now understand the “pecking” order!!
The tranquility has been majorly disrupted by the recent local mayoral elections which happen every 3 years. For 4 days before the elections, and into the night, the megaphones, music and car horns were blasting, encouraging everyone to vote for one person over another. (If volume didn’t work a little back hander seemed to be in order). It really was pretty unpleasant. I am surprised the speaker systems could cope!! Since then there have been various celebrations and incredibly loud music, as well as people talking which echoes all over the valley. This is the downside of living in a valley as everything travels!
Even the wildlife can cause a bit of chaos. I was working quietly at my computer when I heard some incredibly loud screeching. It was an animal, that much I knew, but couldn’t fathom what or where it was. After a moment I got up to see what it was. No-one else was around, only me, which made me a little more nervous. Sorry I can be a bit of a wimp at times! After scanning the area I eventually saw a rat up in the top corner of my neighbour’s room and next to a small gap in the roof. It was screaming and screaming!! I couldn’t figure out what the problem was but it’s tail seemed stuck until it eventually pulled hard enough for me to see the head of a small weasel holding on tight and biting into its bottom with the full tail in its mouth!! I couldn’t think what to do! I know nature is nature but it was gruesome to watch. I clapped my hands and shouted but to no avail. I eventually went back inside and turned up my music. A few moments later I saw the rat escaping across the patio along the wall to my house (so I quickly shut my door) along my window ledge outside and off along the roof tops that slant down to the other small house and garden below. Veronica, my neighbour, had been telling me that if she leaves food uncovered in her outside kitchen, something was eating it. She keeps some food in her room but the food she doesn’t clear up is usually over the floor the next morning. She thought it might be a rat but I’m now thinking it is the weasel; that this is his domain and the rat was an uninvited guest or would have been a large meal if he could have hung onto him!!
I’ve also seen a few little possums here. We had a little incident some time back when Larissa, my other neighbour, found 2 possums stuck inside a large water reservoir. It was empty but they couldn’t get out as the concrete walls were high and sheer. Her friend helped retrieve them with the use of thick gloves, a large stick and a plastic dustbin, as they can really bite. One we released back into the wild but the other we realized had something stuck in it’s tongue and through it’s cheek. The poor thing looked in agony. So we arranged for the local family to kill it, to put it out of it’s misery, as none of us could do it. They used a big stone to do it!! The family then said they would eat it! I think the family were also looking for the other possum but fortunately didn’t find it.
Oh, the fun we have here!!!
Meanwhile to relax amidst all this chaos I have been reading avidly. A beautiful friend gave me her old kindle and this has been a godsend. It is surprising how much is free on Amazon. Currently I’m reading lots of nice romantic novels which make me feel all cosy and is a lovely way to relax. Don’t mock..you all watch stuff on TV and I don’t have one! The DVDs have taken a back seat..in fact Veronica now has my old laptop for the time being and is completely addicted to all the films I have that have Spanish language as an option so it is working well for us all! I’m onto the classics now and really enjoying them. As a nice little treat and inexpensive is the sweetened puffed maize they sell here. I munch on this while reading. A good sized bag is 1 sol which is 25p and can last me from 1 day to 4 depending on how greedy I’m feeling at the time!
I thought you might like to hear of a couple of little asides. One day I decided to try the bus from Pisac to Cusco to see if it was any quicker. The combi was empty and the bus was just about to leave Pisac. (The bus sits in the centre for about 10 mins before heading off to Cusco). Seat belts are now compulsory here, for those sitting in the front, and the combi drivers usually ask you to put them on as we are entering Cusco or see a police car at the side of the road. It is not unusual to be stopped. I usually put it on anyway, just because of the way they drive!! . On the bus I sat behind the driver who appeared to be wearing one, and to any watching policemen he looked legal. From where I sat, which was behind him, I had a clearer picture. I had to avoid the dangling seatbelt attachment ( a heavy lump of metal) that should have been secured to the wall!! So this wasn’t going to do him much good then! The buses are pretty rickety and I have been on one when we stopped and all the tools were brought out and there was lots of banging under the bonnet to get us going again. To be fair the bus was in bad shape before but better after. Obviously you need to be a mechanic and a driver to get the job here!
The combi is always quicker I discovered. Even if we have to wait 30 mins on it filling we always overtake the bus at some point.
I also took one of the buses travelling in and around Cusco recently and had forgotten that people often jump on to play music or to try to sell you things. This doesn’t happen on the longer hauls, between towns. On that day a saxophonist had jumped on and he was pretty good. It made for a very pleasant journey that day.
Oh well my friends that is all for now.
I’d love to hear how your lives are progressing too. Please drop me an email.
Sending you all love from Peru.