Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Valle del Colca 17.9.9 - 18.9.9

I am back in Chivay. This time I was able to have a good wander around the village and spent a lot of time in the local market. I am particularly fascinated by the women in their beautiful traditional dresses. I had a cup of something warm and herbal - limonillo I think they called it, it had lemon, chamomile flowers, mit and lots of other unrecognisable herbs boiling up in a pot of water on a little cart. On the side she had lots of bottles of crazy looking liquids, red and yello and pink and noxious green, which she squirted at random into the drink. Apparently they are also made of various herbs.
I asked in the information office and apparently tomorrow not many ´carros´go to Sibayo, but if I am lucky I should be able to catch one at 9am in the morning. Since it is dark, freezing cold and there is not much to do, I will be in bed very early!

Well that was an adventure, albeit a succesful one, I think. The combi didn´t leave until about 10am so I had plenty of time to observe the market being set up, drink some more crazy herbal stuff and buy a few of the impossible "models" of crochet pieces that one of the ladies makes. The combi was mad, everyone got in and it filled up. Eventually we left, a mini-van full o 12 people, max capacity, or so I mistakenly thought. We made a tour of the village, stopped outside a house where they poured a jerry can of petrol into the tank, stopped at the petrol station to put air in the tires "so they will bounce" grinned one teenaged boy, and returned to a block from where we had started, in the meantime cramming 3 more people in along the way, including two French tourists who came frantically running along behind for 2 blocks chasing the van until the driver finally relented and pulled over . Did another block, arriving back where we started!
Finally, with much ceremony and horn tooting, we made our way slowly out of the village, grinding up a hill so slowly I tought that at any point we may start to roll backwards! A couple of kilomtres out of town the driver pulls over to cram three more people in! Luckily they weren´t goping far, only 15min down the road. The road turned ito a rocky dirt road half way there and the ride became jarring, although by then the van had half emptied out so it wasn´t too bad. We we got to Sibayo my heart sank - a dusty, crumbling, sleeping village in a corner at the end of the world. Not for the first time I felt sure I had come on a wild goose chase. I began to walk, slowly, notonmg a hostal and restaurant and a few small local grocery shops. 5minlater the village ends, strange that there is no plaza I thought. I retrace my steps, bidding goodbye to the two teenage lovebirds who continue ahead. I find a restaurant, desperate for the bathroom and as a pretext order a Sprite, which is warm and I manage to drink only half of it before summoning up the courage to question the taciturn girl behind the counter. She passes the buck by sending me next door. There a woman gives me directions to the church, in the plaza, next to which there is apparently an artesania shop. I keep walking, this time taking a mistaken left diversion up a hill. Halfway up a small lorry passes and I stop it to ask directions, whereupon three laughing boys are happy to set me straight. Eventually I arrive at the end of the very long village to find a beautiful plaza, old and crumbling, and the church even more so, but breathtakingly beautiful set against the backdrop of the mountains beyond. Unfortunately the artesania shop is closed - apparently the woman had ´just´gone to lunch. I am suggested to wait about an hour but 10 min later a little man pulls up breathless, on a bicycle. He lets me in and we talk for a while about the weavings - they have none left. There is one new one, without properly finished edges and one small one, which he goes off again on the bicycle to fetch, returning 10 min later empty handed. They didn´t want to sell it. I am prevaricating but finally decide to take a risk and order 3 of them, leaving a deposit of 300 soles, and get a handwritten note on a scrap of paper as a receipt, with lots of names and id numbers and signatures to make it more official! So I have to find a way back there in January to pick them up - the weaving take several months to make.

The return journey was no less novel, a differenty combi, this time with a couple of dead sheep on the back seat, wrapped in plastic hessian ready to go to market, we cram three of us into the remaining space and then , miraculously, one more! Of we go,. not very fast but with all the rocks and bumps it feels like we are flying along. A few kilometres out a man in a knitted pattern jumper and cowboy hat waves us down and argues for a while with the driver to let him in, there is not a scrap of space left, the drivers offers the roof. The man is unconvinced and keepsbeckoning to the passenger seat, which already had 2 people in it. Eventually he agrees and climbs up on the roof, off we go again.

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