1. Arriving in Cusco

Nov 2, 2008

Hello all!

(For a couple of you whom I haven't spoken with of late, I've come to Cuzco to help one of the native healers build a center, planning to stay a month, and expecting unforeseen adventures.)

Well, I'm here. It's still pretty unclear what the month will be like, but at least I'm on the ground and sort of have a sense of my surroundings. Don Francisco's house reminds me a little of a lot of places I visited in Egypt, in that the whole neighborhood is made up of sort of half-finished houses. People get some land and build what they can, with a plan for more, and then the whole thing stays in transition for years (I'm not complaining: who am I to call that kettle black?)  There are plenty of dogs wandering around barking. The family is big, by my standards anyway. Wilson is about 18; Alfredo is 15; Emperatrice is probably 10; plus grandchildren Erini and Ronaldino, with whom connecting is so wonderfully easy, as with little children everywhere. Grandma is here too.

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My work will be helping the construction crew, which is just a couple of guys, to finish the floors of this building.  

 did score a room with a view, at least a view beyond the dusty little courtyard, out over the rooftops. It's not a very lighted city so I can still see quite a few stars. Tho the whole building is unfinished, some parts are farther along than others. They found a piece of carpet, and there's a sink in another room, so I can camp here pretty comfortably.

Despite the fact that there are three languages in play and none truly shared, we are communicating pretty well. I down-loaded a couple of translating programs (single-word only), so we have conversations using the laptop.

Monday. Thought I'd be a worker today, but the "maestro" of cement/plaster/tile did not come.  Looks like it's gonna be about skimming plaster on walls and doing ceramic tile, which is also what I have been expecting. So I have a day off already. Went into the city and walked around a bit, in the public markets mostly.  It was pretty warm, but when it clouds over and rains and blows, it gets cool quickly.  Also the power is intermittent, and has gone off as I type this in an internet cafe. Everyone else left, which must be a sign that it probably will not come right back, so I guess I'm not gonna send this today. It'll be a 3-day letter then.

Tuesday. Power's back on. No water tho. I'll get in the habit of filling a few bottles and keeping them on hand. Well, I said i didn't know what to expect on this trip, and it has taken an interesting turn already. It seems that my host has been unable to get the construction guys to come back. Evidently they have another job going somewhere. Anyhow, he says I'm welcome to stay with him anyway and we'll maybe do some interesting things. So I find myself in the enviable position of having lots of time to explore all possibilities here. And that will begin tomorrow.


Jeffrey

Greetings from Cusco. Been here over a week, so I thought I should check in as promised.  I've put a few photos up on Picasa to show a bit of my first week here. If you click on them you'll see some descriptions. Here's the link:

http://picasaweb.google.com/jpbackstrom

I haven't really gotten to help with the construction project as of yet, because  the crew has been away, and the techniques are quite different from anything I've done before. So I've had to be satisfied with reading, hiking, and exploring. And enjoying don Francisco, dona Juanita, and their family.  Three children remain at home, and two grandchildren live here too, and don Francisco's mother, at least temporarily.  The images will give some idea of what the daily routine looks like. there's not a lot of space.

Photo


Clearly don Francisco's life work is to be in ceremony. I went with him and Dona Juanita to Sacsayhuaman one day. This is the site of the a massive Inca structure, on the hill just above Cusco. What a pleasure to sit in the open, blowing into k'intus watching the despacho build into a beautiful offering bundle. Learned a new Quechua term "sumac" -- sweet, or beautiful. And most frequently applied in "sumac pachamama". K'intus were offered for Our ayllu at home, as well as for our new US president. Also received the pampa mesayoc  rite in this setting, which was quite wonderful.

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