Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Unexpected surprises!

Just when we thought our adventures on this trip were coming to an end... chance events added surprise! We left our beautiful town of Ollantaytembo with its cloud draped mountains and steep cliffs, we walked down the narrow cobble stone street, until we reached the plaza. It had rained in the night and the peaks around us were covered with fresh snow. We hunted for and quickly found a 15 passenger collectivo mini van...the drivers only leave when the van is full, and we were the last two to board. Traveling through the beautiful farmland of the Inca's Sacred Valley, we reached the town of Urumbamba. Here we switched to a smaller collectivo that would take us to Chinchero, an indigenous Andean village situated at above 12,000 feet. It is located on the "Alto Plano"...a high plane in the Andes with rich farming opportunities, for plants adapted to this climate. Here we found a motorcycle with 2 passenger seats , with a sort of fabric tent to protect us from the wind...Our driver took us down a side road to the location of a large country fair...What luck!,...this fair was held only once a year ...and we happened to be here! The fair is held of, by, and for, the local indigenous community... The women were dressed in colorful (mostly red with black accent) hand woven dresses, vests, shawls, and distinctive hats. We looked around and found ourselves to be the only outsiders present...But we felt wecome and talked freely with the people. We found livestock, crops, a huge variety of potatoes, and the weavers markets. Judy's eyes lit up at the wide variety and high quality of weaving the benefit of knowing that all profits from anything we bought would go directly to the weaver. There was also guinea pig racing, and the prettiest guerra pig judging...they were all dressed up in beautiful clothing! There were also food booths where among other things you could get roasted guinea pig. The Chicha...homemade Peruvian beer booth seemed to be very popular with some of the men. I also enjoyed the cows, bulls, sheep,pigs, and goats on display and for sale.
After several hours of looking, talking, and bargaining we decided it was time to return to Cusco. We took a collectivo back to the town center of Chincherno, to locate a mini van for the trip back into Cusco. As we stood waiting I checked for my camera...and it wasn't there...What a sinking good camera and 6 weeks of stored photos! I quickly searched my day-pack with no success...I couldn't give up with at least trying to return to the fair...After a quick ride back...I started walking across the fair grounds to the grand stand with the half baked idea of asking the guy with the microphone to announce that I would offer a reward for the return of the camera. Just then I felt a hand on my shoulder...and an indigenous woman weaver with whom we had bargained earlier said."Yo tengo algo de ustedes!" (I have something of yours! )... I absolutely could not believe my ears! But I was soon rejoined with my camera. It must have dropped from my pocket when I tried on a sweater... The local culture would never permit the people to ask for a reward...but I paid the two people involved with a generous "propina" (gift).
Monday... Nice to wake up back at the Ninos Hotel in Cusco...the place is simple but comfortable. Our major task of the day was to hunt down an artist that we had seen on display three days ago.He had invited us to his studio to see more of his work. We are especially drawn to his sensitive portrayal of the faces of the people of Peru. His studio was that of a prolific and varied artist with unusual skill. He was an older man, who had painted his whole adult life, who loved painting the people, landscapes, cultures of Peru, and he was successful as an artist! His work range from an accurate realism, to some quite abstract pieces with great color and texture balance. We bought pieces of his the task will be to get them home. True to his tradition he invited us to join himself and his wife for lunch in a nice restaurant. It was a treat on well prepared Peruvian food.
I expect this will be the last of this series of travel blogs... We return home on Thursday... It has been an incredible six week "viaje", with so many experiences, faces, and good people! If you have enjoyed this blog I normally post a new blog each Friday dealing with a variety of topics throughout the year... I hope you will stay tuned in...