What a day. Today was made of high points and low points (granted none were really that low, considering I'm more then 2000 meters above sea level). High point was definitely the motorcycle thing. Learing how to do something awesome in the most beautiful place in the world is hard to beat. Doing it on a rocky dirt road, seeing the clouds churn over the mountains, definitely something I will never forget.
The low point is tied to "what technology did I miss most today", a segment I am starting on this blog which I never plan to return to. My liquid cooled core i7 computer perhaps? No...The electric turkey knife? Definitely not...how about a particle accelerator? wrong again. No, the correct answer would be the washing machine. Allow me to explain why washing machines are so awesome. You don't have to wash your clothes by hand. I don't know if any person reading this has ever had to wash clothes by hand, let alone with a bar of soap on a slab of stone surrounded by clouds deep in the Andes, but it's a puta (thats my clever way of cursing without being offensive, if your bilingual well then fuck it). Let me give you the quick lowdown. Theres a big bucket of water, and another bucket with your clothes in it. Theres a table with a big slab of stone, and another piece for you to stand on so your feet don't get wet, except they do, of course. You take each article of clothing, one by one, and place it on the stone. Then you rub it with soap. Then you fold it and rub it against itself. Then you rinse it. Then you scrub it. Then you rinse it. Then you scrub it. Then you rub it with a brush. Then you rinse it. Then you cut yourself (down the highway). Then you rinse it. Rinse again. Then you hang it up on a piece of wire. Wash again if blood is interfering with the cleaning process. I had less then ten articles of clothing to wash today. It took me forty-five minutes. I gave up on the process with my socks and just kind of mashed them into a ball with a bunch of soap and rinsed em. Whatever.
Fortunately this was followed by a high point. After lunch (beef rib soup with potatoes, the beef hacked off a large chunk with a machete in the backyard, and rice and some kind of fried unidentified meat which was the best part of the meal) I went to the local artisans coop, which is actually just the house of a couple who lives across the street (granted thats a third of the way across the town). Mariana was the only one their when I got their, and she explained how the coop had been formed years ago when her husbend Rene decided that the life of a logger was destructive to the forest, and that he needed to use local ingredients to make art which didn't hurt the ecosystem. That being said, they aren't crazy hippies, just really down to earth, awesome people. They have a bunch of powertools, and I basically went in their and right away went to work. I did some wood-burning on Tago or Tagua seeds (google images if your unfamiliar), carved a flute out of bamboo (no idea where the bamboo came from, i haven't seen any) and took a whole bunch of pictures of art for Mariana. Mariana and Rene speak the most English of anyone I've encountered here yet, he knew how to say "how much" and "We going to how" (still working on that one, but I nodded and said claro). I'm getting by better in Spanish every day though, so it shouldn't be a problem for long.
Cecillia told me they have a female Australian volunteer coming to stay with them in a week, so of course I am fantasing about a georgous girl with a sexy accent living across the street from me (Who might even speak my language!). Since I'm excited about it she will probably have been in a horrific toxic waste accident as a child, and will be missing three quarters of her epidermis, but hey, maybe she has super-powers (like English-speakingness).
I also went for a long walk with Brian today, into the cloud forest. I can't describe how beautiful it is everywhere here. Every turn unfolds another view of breathtaking mountains and trees reaching into clouds like twisted ancient moss encrusted fingers. There are ferns here seven meters tall. I saw the most beautiful green bird I've ever seen, and a brown hummingbird that sat watching us for thirty seconds. We found a massive patch of wild blackberries, much smaller then the US variety, and I held brain up so we could pick the choicest berries. It seems like the diet here is about a quarter foraged ingredients. The tea which is the drink every day is made from various grasses or herbs picked in the forest, the fruit is whatever was found that day, and everything else is potatoes, beef, and eggs (which I found out today the store doesn't even refridgerate, which is interesting...). It rained on part of our walk, while we were literally walking through clouds. As in, the clouds that were raining on us, we were walking through. Pretty awesome. I raced Brian and won, granted I've got two feet on the kid, but I was pretty seriously outa breath afterwards. Only notice the altitude when I'm excersizing, at all other times I just enjoy the amazing air. It smells like green and flowers and awesomeness here. Everyone is super nice and friendly. There is no theft, I left my computer on my bed in the open house all day. This village is awesome. Break for dinner.
Just had dinner. Beef soup, again, except this time Elvirea made me some homemade hotsauce by request, which made it alot better. Also, some fried river fish which look like smelts, I ate all the bones before I saw Brian and Elvirea deboning them. Whatever, they were delicious. Speaking of dinner, as an indication of the economic status of Las Tolas, you should know my family doesn't have forks. Or knives. In fact they only have spoons, and only tablespoons, and they are kept in an empty pepsi cub on the kitchen table. Likewise, they only have bowls. Still, it's hard to complain when a family insists you have seconds on something when theres almost none left and they haven't had any. These people share everything. They have big hearts.
Tomorrow I'm off to the finca, to do what every describes as "Mucho trabajo". Awesome. In truth I'm looking forward to it. Its 40 minutes away by car or motorcycle, and even though I'm taking a car to get there, Mecias promised me I could drive back on the bike, and a forty minute ride through the most beautiful mountains in the world is something to get excited about.