Arequipa, Barranco and then NYC

Arequipa rocked, the highlight of the trip for sure. It was a real city, without a culture of people trying to cater to outsiders, even though there were endless tour companies offering trips to Colca Canyon, the deepest canyon in the world, and the two volcanoes, Misti and Chachani. We got there Monday morning at 1am and on the cab ride from the bus station felt the energy of the city, people outside, bars and discos rolling, couples making out. Tuesday we went to the old nunnery, Santa Catalina, about 400 years old, a small city in itself, lots of beautiful narrow brightly painted streets and open air courtyards and quarters. We then saw the famous ice princess mummy, Juanita, who has her own museum - she was found about ten years ago after a volcano melted some ice on top of a 6500 meter mountain, perfectly preserved, and the museum was dedicated to the sacrificial act during which she was killed and buried and the many artifacts that were found with her. Yeah we saw her - she was small and brown and very dried out - pretty eerie.

Tuesday afternoon there was the parade for the anniversary of the town, and then the all night festivities - I've never seen anything like that, every citizen of the town on the streets, in the plaza de armas and all around it, until about 3 or 4 am, and a huge number of them until 7 or so. All were friends, lots of sharing bottles in the street, straight up citywide revelry all night long.

The earthquake wasn't cause for any real anxiety in Arequipa, but we of course realized it was much bigger on the coast, and had our families and friends asking about our safety the next couple days. I went on a two-day trek to the volcano Chachani, which was cold and pretty hard, but beautiful - we were at 19,500 feet, I've definitely never been that high. I went with three Irish folks, a married couple and another girl who's staying in Peru til November, and who might work at the Museo - I was lucky to be with them, they were great people and perfect to trudge through the altitude and strenuous climbs with. We met up later with Maya for dinnner at Johnny Coyote's, a knockoff Johnny Rocket's, red circle logo and all.

We flew out the next morning to Lima, stored our bags and went to meet Tammy Leyland of the tour agency Crooked Trails (www.crookedtrails.com) at her apartment in Barranca. Louisa had recommended that we speak to her - she had been involved in a similar doc on responsible tourism. We talked for awhile about our experiences, our respective docs, her agency and its goals - then we interviewed her for about an hour. She was perfect, a great way to end our filming - she clearly distinguished between community-based and eco tourism, and had a great perspective on tourism in Peru, with lots of specific stories of impact and responses.

We then went to an outdoor food and artesenal market in Barranco, the coolest hood in Lima - had one last plate of ceviche (raw fish much fresher and tastier than sushi) and one last drink of two kinds of chicha, one purple, one beige - bought souvenirs, took some more pictures, reminisced, then got a taxi to the airport for the huge hassle of flying home. We got to NYC, sans mochillas, at around 11 am and booked it home. Now we log the tapes and find a Spanish speaking editor. Buen Viaje.



we were enjoying the first tv we´ve seen in over a month in our hostal in arequipa last night (not only do we have a tv, but we have a tv with cable) and about halfway in to the cheesy american horror movie we were watching on cinemax, chris said ¨do you feel that? my bed is moving.¨ thinking he was teasing me after my admission that i´m a wuss when it comes to horror movies, i laughed. and then i felt my bed move. we sat still for about half a minute and felt our beds shaking slightly. ¨earthquake. cool,¨ we said and went back to watching the movie. arequipa has its share of earthquakes, some big, some small, and so we assumed this was normal. a couple hours later at an internet cafe we learned it was not normal and not really cool. there was a 7.9 earthquake off the coast near picso, south of lima. the woman running the cafe got a call about it and quickly switched over the tv to the news. as we were watching live coverage from lima, we saw a live aftershock. as i watch the news and as i read more about it, i´m very glad we decided to spend the remainder of the trip in arequipa and not on the coast as we had considered...

peru is large and after leaving ollantaytambo, we decided not to cover too much ground in our last week here. sunday we travelled to puno, a city on lake titicaca. on monday we headed out onto to the lake to visit the floating reed island of uros qhantati where we were to meet victor and cristina who are a part of toursim cooperative on the small island that is part of the network of communities that are working to manage tourism that klever is a part of: (http://www.chaskiventura.com/cuscoperu-es/c1-5-isla-titicaca-flotante.html).

the uros islands are almost beyond explanation. they are small anchored islands built with layers and layers of reeds on which a small number of families live and welcome tourists with handicrafts and a brief and unique experience. you have to arrange a visit to the island of qhantati in advance. the boats don´t stop there, so they don´t have people showing up on their doorstep at all hours of the day. we settled into the reeds and interviewed victor and cristina with the help of a woman named andrea from seattle that we fortunately met on the boat on the way over who spoke fluent spanish and who fortunately agreed to be our translator. cristina makes the best trucha (trout, which they raise in a small pool in the center of the small island) in all of peru and we ate an amazing meal of it, quinoa, and fruit salad before victor and cristina kindly rowed us back to shore so we could catch our evening bus to arequipa.

we arrived in arequipa to find out it was the beginning of the annual celebration of the founding of the city. on tuesday during the day, the streets were filled with marching bands and parades. after visiting the large and beautiful monastary of santa catalina (http://www.santacatalina.org.pe), we stopped to watch a parade. a man came down from one of the floats to offer us some chicha, which provided a great distraction as we were attacked from behind with confetti and colored powder and pulled into the parade to dance with our hair and faces now pink and purple. as soon as the sunset, the street were filled with revelers who celebrated until dawn. at about 9am the next morning, the only person on the street was a garbage man pushing a cart filled with empty wine bottles.

arequipa is an amazing city and a great place to spend the last few days of our trip. chris went this morning to climb the nearby mountain chanchani and he is very excited to be stapping some crampons to his boots and climbing to the snowy 6000 meter peak. in the meantime, i´m happily going to be exercising my sorely under-used city legs and exploring the streets of arequipa. tommorrow we will celebrate our last night in peru. saturday morning we fly back to lima, conduct one last quick interview for the film and then catch our plane back the states.



Our original production plan relied heavily on getting to know a lady from the museum´s collective in Huilloc, spending a few days with her in her home and letting her become one of three or four major characters in the film. Our first day of filming was at the Huilloc school that the museum built, with about 30 women from the collective present, sort of a casting session for us, and after the President spoke, another lady asked to speak - she was animated and interesting, and we figured she´d be perfect.

We translated the footage from Quechua with Miguel, and after this session, we asked if it was possible to stay with this lady for a couple nights in Huilloc. He said sure, and we arranged to go a week later. Whe we got there, however, we had been placed with a guy named Gabriel, who we talked about in another entry. He was cool, but wasn´t our character. We had her name written down, and walked around town trying to find her. We were sent to her house, but she was in Cusco for the week. We got to know her family though, and learned a lot from them about satellite TV and the informal people´s court in the area, Rondos Campesinos. We left Huilloc with some great interviews, but not a real portrait of somebody like we had wanted.

Our schedule filled up, and we decided we had enough characters for the film - Klever, Sonia, Miguel, Joaquin, and about 20 others who we had spent a few hours with. But the last week, we decided we really needed a portrait of a lady from Huilloc or Patacancha who was involved in a weaving collective - a lot of our film focuses on these, and we still didn´t have any personalities to represent it. We were talking with Louisa about this, and she recommended a friend of her´s named Elena from Patacancha - she had her husband had just started a ´tourism vivencial´- a room in their house for tourists - and we would be the first to stay there. She was also a great weaver, but not a part of the museum´s collective - there´s some issues with the musuem in Patacancha among some people, and there´s another separate collective that has formed. While we were talking with Louisa about contacting them, Elena and her husband stopped by her home - a great coincidence, one of many many many that have happened. We arranged to stay with them Wednesday night, and meet them at 3 that day at the cancha, the football field in the middle of town.

Albizu Maya and I left Cusco Wed morning and Albizu and I got a taxi to Patacancha - it was our last week, so Maya stayed with the little camera to get some ´tourist camera´ shots of OTT. We got to the field on a very small path hanging on the side of a mountain, and Elena was there waiting for us. We walked up the hill to her house and into our room on the first floor - extremely nice, brand new beds still in the plastic, a table and chairs, some symbols and such painted in a line along the wall - and a brand new bathroom with a toilet, sink and hot shower. Much much nicer than Huilloc, and even my place in OTT. Their room was on the second floor, separated from ours by logs with cracks in them, and accessed by a ladder and a ghetto platform. The house was beautiful though, painted yellow, with arched roofs made of the same red tiles you find in OTT and Cusco, not tin like most of the other houses. Her husband Juan was working on the Inka Trail, so she was there alone with her three kids. Better for us, bc before, when we´d asked her questions, Juan answered.

Albizu and I first went down to the high school, just below the field, which had been built 5 years ago by an NGO from Holland that has a hotel in Cusco. It´s by far the nicest school around, probably in the whole of the Sacred Valley - they have 16 teachers, the rooms all have computers, they have a video program, and they buildings are beautiful, yellow, about ten of them in a sort of semicircle. They have environmental education with a big field for planting. We met the principal, sat down with him in his office, told him we were with the museum, and asked for an interview. He was a very intense, interesting guy, shook your hand with his other arm on your forearm for extra emphasis - but he had some beef with the museum. That didn´t help us. I told him ´soy no el museó´and tried to get around it, but it was kind of impossible. He asked what the ´condition´for the interview was, if he was going to get paid, so we just left. Disappointing, bc he was definitely a character, but one less to edit.

We went back up to the house, past a campsite with 11 tents for a group doing the Lares trek thru the town - in the summer months, there´s usually at least one group camping in the town everynight. We sat with Elena in her kitchen, a very dark sooty room with a huge brick and mud stove fire and no chimney, kind of like a cave. There was a black plastic sheet hanging in the middle, and behind there were lots of guinea pigs squeaking and popping. We sat on small stools and rolled the camera for about three hours - Albizu led a conversation with her about lots and lots of things, the history of the town, her marriage, weaving techniques, where to sell, what get the best price, tourism in the town of course, her parents, her school, her kids. Her husband´s brother came in for dinner - some soup with potatoes and carrots, then more potatoes, different kinds, really fresh and flavorful, but still, potatoes. We had a lot of tea, got very cold even with the fire, and finally went to our room. She followed with all of her weavings and displayed them for us. I bought a scarf for my dad that she had made last week, it took her two days.

The next morning, she and her friend constructed a loom in front of the house, which they do everyday, and they started weaving. We filmed all this for about an hour, then said goodbye and hitched back to OTT. We filmed more of Lucho in his studio, the firing of the pieces he had made, the final touches and paints. We hung out with Luis all afternoon, played chess and watched The Incredibles. I took him around the alleys, into some places I had never been, including a really nice hostel with movies and huge couches called Chaski Wasi. I took the camera and filmed as it got dark in the alleys, then we met Bill and Michelle at the nicest restaurant in town, Mayupata, with candles and a fire and pretentiously decorated plates of food. Louisa met us there with her daughter, Nina, one and a half. After, we went to Chaski Wasi, Louisa and Lucho came along, they both knew the owner, Cati. We had Pisco with orange juice and grenadine and got really tired - went home around 10.

The next morning, Maya and I went to Macchu Picchu. Huge money for the train, huge money for the entrance tickets, big money for the bus to the site from Aguas Calientes. We had issues getting our camera in, it looked too professional, but I showed them my student card and they just made us leave the tripod. We stayed for five hours, wandering around the city, filming tour groups as they explained things. The most interesting part for me were the rooms to the right of Wayna Picchu, with rocks piled in the courtyards, lots of unfinished bedrooms.

We got back around dark and packed and said goodbye to our families. We left early the next morning, after saying goodbye to Sonia and the Hearts Cafe, our meeting point almost every morning.

We got to Cusco, found a hostel for the night and went to the Plaza de Armas, where the anti-protest protest was just starting. Hundreds of people were there, lots in their traditional clothes, the others in their maitre´d or hotel uniforms, there was a parade of dancers, lots of signs and posters, Keep the Peace, Don´t Mess with the Tourists - then about an hour of speeches from people from all different sectors of tourism, lots of different towns. Really really perfect for our film, it was great to hear all this. Klever was supposed to speak, but he and his folks from Cachiccata arrived late - disappointing. After the speeches, we met up with him, interviewed two presidents from other towns in the network, some volunteers from Lima who were working in Chilca teaching English, and a lawyer for the network, who gave a great interview about how the network benefits everyone in the towns. We went to Jack´s Cafe, the model for Sonia´s Hearts Cafe, had really great food, then met Fiona at her office for another interview and laid out our itinerary for our week of travel. We went to El Molino for more tapes - we´ve shot over 50 hours now - and then went to Rafo´s house, where we hung out with he and Angel and Albizu all night, watched Borat which we bought at El Molino and they had never heard of. The next morning, we took the bus to Puno, where we are now. Maya´s feeling really ill with stomach problems, she´s cracked open the antibiotics she brought in anticipation, and hopefully we´ll make it to Arequipa tomorrow.


mucho trabajo

let´s catch you up to speed on this week which is essentially our last week of production: today is our last offical day at the musuem and we´ve spent most of this week shooting around ollantatambo, conducting final interviews and getting lots of shots of activity and locations around town. we spent some time with a scottish woman named louisa who has lived in town for several years and has started a group called ¨leap local¨(http://www.leaplocal.org/) that helps travelers connect to guides, housing, etc themseleves instead of going through a travel agency. we also spent some more time with joaquin randall at the albergue, the hotel that his parents opened when they settled in ollantaytambo (http://www.elalbergue.com/en/). we talked about the history of the place, his own history, and his run on the mayoral ticket in the last election. we´ve also continued our filming of lucho at the musuem and his peruvian pottery process.

we´ve done a bit of traveling as well. on sunday we went with albizu and the other CATCCO volunetters, bill and michelle, to a festivasl in moray celebrating the inka new year. albizu´s family lives in the neighboring town of maras and we stopped by their house, had some tea and met his grandfather. at moray we watched what must have been a four hour ceremony in the round inka terraces that have made moray famous.

after moray, we headed to salineras, a site of active salt mining. needless to say it was like another world with its salt pools terraced in a narrow valley. albizu found a long salt pipe-like tube, broke off a piece for himself which he held in his mouth like a cigarette and gave the rest to me. it´s good luck to receive one of them, he told me. i thanked him. it broke a few minutes later.
tuesday afternoon we headed to cuzco and met with klever at his office. we talked a bit there and found out that there is going to be an anti-protest protest in cuzco on saturday to make the protesting teachers and their supporters aware of the effects of their methods of protesting on the economy and on the tourism industry in particular. afterwards we met up with albizu and another scottish woman, fiona, who has a travel agency in cuzco, which klever´s brother just happens to work for (http://ecotrekperu.com/index.html), and who also does a bit of work with sonia from hearts cafe. we treated ourselves to a fancy dinner at an italian restaurant right off the plaza de armas that raphael had recommended to us. we had salad with arugula (which i have missed very much) and some of the best pasta ever.

it was back to ollantaytambo yesterday with albizu in tow. chris and albizu headed straight to patacancha and huiloc for one last visit and will be returning this afternoon. we´ll then finish up our filming and our work at the museum and probably begin saying our goodbyes.

tomorrow we will (finally) be going to machu picchu, saturday to cuzco and then sunday we will begin some serious (but fun) traveling. first stop: lake titicaca.

more photos up: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mayamumma/sets/72157601044243609/

mi familia

every night when i come home with the camera bag on my back, my backpack on my front, my camera over one shoulder and the tripod over the other, alicia (the mother in the family i am staying with) groans: ¨mucho trabajo, maya. too much, too much.¨ one night at dinner last week, alicia and her husband reynaldo insisted that i have a day without work. we agreed on saturday. reynaldo had to work that day. from what i understood, he was going with a bunch of men to work on an irigation system on someone´s farmland.

alicia and reynaldo had referred repeatedly to ¨la chakra.¨ reaynaldo often goes there to work. up until recently i had thought this was a name of town, but recently came to understand that ¨la chakra¨is a plot of farm land. the family has a plot about an hour´s walk from ollantaytambo, near huiloc, and on saturday, alicia, gaby, conrado, lorenzo and i piled into a taxi with bunch of bags for a day of libertad on la chakra.

(and guess i should explain a bit about my family before i go any furthur. alicia is 33 and her husband reynaldo is 66. he lived in america for about 12 years, most of them in new york. he learned english while he was there, but has forgotten most of it. our dinners are usually spent talking about ny, which he loves to tell animated stories about, and reminding him of english words for things. alicia and reynaldo have 2 children, gaby is 5 and conrado is 10. gaby and i communicate mostly by making funny faces at each other over the dinner table. they have a 14 year old boy named lorenzo living with them as well. he is from a town a day´s walk away and is living with the family so he can go to school in ollantaytambo.)

as soon as we got to la chakra, alicia put conrado and lorenzo to work gathering rocks to make a horno (oven). a cousin of reynaldo´s and 2 kids who lived nearby came over to help. they built an amazing small round domed oven out of the rocks, first letting a fire burn in it for about an hour and then collapsing it and placing all the food on the hot rocks to cook for another hour, covering it with paper sacks and dirt to keep the heat in.

while we were waiting for the food to cook, gaby went and picked some purple flowers and brought them over to me. she carefully peeled away the purple petals to reveal a tiny white flower in the center attached to a sharp little stemen. she pushed my hair away and put the flowers in my ears for earrings and i did the same for her. we then brushed away the dirt and peeled back the paper from the horno and ate a large lunch of chicken, yams and plantaines. it was a good day off.