March 2nd, 2008

Twentieth report from Peru.

Well, Jim and I are into the home stretch now since we fly home in a week but we are still having adventures. Yesterday, Jim went to Macchu Pichu and I sketched for the day around Ollantaytambo. The first thing I did was try to borrow a stool from the hostel. I emptied out a pop crate and sat on it and kept smiling and saying please and eventually I walked off with a stool.

I did allot of sketches of the women in the market. It was hard work since they kept moving about but I did my best. In the afternoon, I did streets and doorways and it was great because they didn´t move.

Last night, I had supper by myself at the Heart restaurant. Not only was it a fantastic vegetarian meal (the first in a long long time), brown rice, vegetables and two veggie sausages, but the money from the cafe goes to assist kids that aren´t growing due to malnutrition and parasites. This morning, I took Jim back there for breakfast and we invited the English woman who started the project to join us.

After packing up we went to the market and got a collectivo for Urumbumba. What is a collectivo??? It´s a minivan for locals that inexpensively takes people where they want to go. The down side is that they cram in absolutely as many people as could possibly be crammed in and then they stop road side and pick up others. Jim and I were facing a sea of wonderful faces. I thoroughly enjoyed the collectivo ride. Jim was not sure he enjoyed having his head hit the roof of the van and being squashed between three large adults and not having a back rest or anything to hold onto. Of course he could have been one of the poor folk that got picked up along the way and had to stand bent over for trip.

After arriving in Urumbumba, we got a mototaxi ( a tuk tuk) to drive us up the mountain to the Foundation Ninos Del Arco Iris. This foundation started by a dutch woman works with over 200 homeless children. They have eight expensive posh rooms for rent and all the money goes to the project. Needless to say this is a far far cry from our usual accomodations but I told Jim that he could just consider it my trip to Macchu Pichu. I was at Macchu Pichu four years ago and it is so expensive I decided not to join Jim on his day there.

Anyways we arrived at the Foundation Ninos Del Arco Iris and its Sunday so nothing goes on there today and also there are no meals or shops to get food. Litterly it´s at the end of a mountain road in the middle of no where. I was a bit disconcerted by the armed guard at the cate, but eventually he let us in. After settling in, we got a taxi back down the mountain and I took Jim to the area that I painted four years ago. One of the highlights of that trip was discovering salt fields, where the water comes out of the mountain hot and salty. The locals have made hundreds of small dyked fields which they flood. Then they rake their fields daily and eventually harvest a crop of salt which they transport down the mountain in sacks on the backs of donkeys. Anyways I dragged Jim to the special spot this afternoon. He is less that enthusiastic about big heights but he got there. (Of course I was the one that huffed and puffed and stopped often on the path up the mountain).

Then we tried to flag down a mototaxi to take us to Urumbumba to get food but no luck and we walked most of the way. Finally we found a restaurant and I ordered american vegetable salad for 20 soles. The waitress assured me that the vegetables were caliente (hot) A plate of beef, rice, french fries, eggs and uncooked cabbage, avacado, tomatoe and cucumber arrived. Yes the waitress assured me this was the American vegetable salad!!!!!! So much for a healthy meal since I couldn´t eat any of the fresh vegetables because they are washed in polluted water. Another meal of eggs and rice!! Home cooking is looking ever so appealing.
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