Sunday, September 26, 2010

Rocks and Logs and a Cockfight

Had a couple of pretty eventful days.
Two days on the Finca. First day we were hauling rocks to build the base of a water tank for the panela. This involves going down to the river (about a mile down the mountain) and making a bunch of stacks of big rocks. Then you fill sacks with them, and load them onto the mules. Kick the mules all the way up to the top of the mountain, and empty the sacks. Repeat four times, eat lunch, and pass out immiediatly. Wake up after an hour, and drive a motorcycle back to town.
Day two. Go back to the Finca, via motorcycle. Going there is scarier then coming back, as its all downhill on the way there, and its alot of hairpin turns on rocky roads after long downhills. Where day 1 was stone, day 2 was wood. I felt kind of like I was playing age of empires, I just wondered where the gold was. Find every fallen tree, hack it up into ten foot chunks with chainsaw and machete, and then tie a couple of logs to the mules. Chase them up the mountain to the Fabrica (where the panela is made, aka the high point of altitude and the low point of energy). Repeat five times. Be exhausted, eat lunch, and pass out. After half an hour go to the place where we built bridges before, to meet a group of peace corps volunteers who are in town for 3 days. There are about 15 of them. Hike down the mountain and over the trail which seems painfully familiar (after I carried a bajillion pounds of bamboo over it). Get to the campsite, and go swimming in the river, which is cold, but awesome. Climb back up the mountain, and then get on a tourbus of all things (I didn't realize they could even make it out here), and ride back to town, but not before drinking some Naranjia (lulo) juice and downing a couple of fried mashed-potato pancakes.
Today I just bummed around the village. The peace corp people had a meeting which I went to the first hour of, and was insanely boring, and then I basically spent the day working in the artisans shop with Mariana and Rene, and swooning over the new volunteer they have, who is Austrian, not Australian. Her name is Nina and she is pretty much the most awesome person I have ever met.
Tonight there is some kind of Yumbo dance which I am looking forward too, as Brian is apparantly to dance in some kind of loincloth made of chicken feathers, and a matching headband. Should be hilarious. Tomorrow is some kind of tourist town or something. We shall see.

Last night was the Yumbo Dance. Brian was in full loincloth and headband, and nothing else, and a group of other kids in costume did this dance. There was also "El nino de mosq" or the mosquito kid, in a full body furry mosquito costume. The dance was very cool, on the volleyball court under lights surrounded by thousands of moths and butterflies.
Didn't do the tourist thingy. It was 16 bucks, and though I don't really mind paying that, I imagine that something which you are paying for is a touristy version of what I do for real every day, and holds little appeal for me. Instead, I went back to sleep till 10 (awesome!) and had some crazy lucid dreams. Afterwards I walked an hour and a half to Tulipe with Nina, which is a town nearby. Beautiful views all the way, and plenty of wild raspberries and sugarcane to munch on. There is a Yumbo museum in Tulipe which was simple but nice. There is a path about a kilometer to a nearby giant yumbo pool, which was pretty awesome, and then right by the museum there are a bunch of other smaller pools together connected by a simple aquaduct system. From what I got from the museums spanish information boards, the Yumbo's believed that the water purified them, and shamans would do rituals by the pools while the people bathed in the holy water. The pools were built at an even grade so that rain water from nearby terraced hills ran naturally into the pools. They believed that the purification ritual was important in bringing them to clarity so that they could go to another world as immortals when they died.
After the Museum we went to lunch in an amazing little restaurant, we saw the woman who is the only doctor in the village sitting there, so we went to say hello, and decided to stay for lunch. The couple she was with were the proprieters, and when we explained we wanted lunch they got up and cooked for us. Fish or Chicken? We went with fish. It was fried tilapia, with a big plate of rice, beans, patacones, and avocado. While we waited the guy went out to pick cherry tomatoes by the side of the road. The food was amazing, the fish really crispy, and by the time we left the family had practically adopted us. They gave us all kinds of hugs and candy and told us to come back every day. The nurse who works in the village 2 days a week then showed us her house, and afterwards we started to walk back to the village.
It's all downhill on the way there, and all uphill on the way back, but after five minutes of walking a bus passed us and we waved it down (all buses pick up everyone here, as there is only one road so they are going your direction anyway) and it happened to be filled with people from Las Tolas, so we got a free ride back (a trip which goes up 150meters in elevation) which was awesome. Worked in the artisans shop for a bit and now I am going to study some Spanish until boredom puts me into deep napping state.
Walked to Tulipe, a nearby town, about an hour away yesterday. Very pretty, saw the Yumbo museum and walked to the nearby Yumbo pools where people went to purify themselves. Also saw a Yumbo dance the night before that, and yes, Brians costume was hilarious.
Wen't a cockfight last night (a legal one) with Nina and Mecias. Watched a whole bunch of chickens kill eat other while people gambled and drank beer. Alot of fun. There is an arena for it and it is clearly the only type of facility for sports in the village. I made a five dollar bet which I should have won, but I got gyped. Figures at a cockfight. I didn't lose my money however, which was good. Very violent. Got some good videos which I will post next time i'm in Quito. Off to the Finca tomorrow for hopefully the rest of the Panela making process, although based on the last couple weeks, I need to do a ton more backbreaking labor before we are ready.

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