Saturday, 27 February 2010

House Proud

February 25th.

The streets outside the hotel are completely torn up; thick mud blankets every nook and cranny along the sidewalks and storefronts.

I sit in the hotel cafe, eating breakfast, and I notice a woman across the street, doing her best to keep the little portion of sidewalk in front of her store clean.

Almost poetic... I can visualise a short movie clip about it. Unlock big wooden doors, take bucket of water, sprinkle on sidewalk with fingers to distribute some moisture for dust control. A first sweeping of said dust from nooks and crannies in and between the old broken tile and concrete walkway. Long stringy mop is flipped and switched about to clean the doors and frames.

Dressed in the standard highland outfit for an older peruvian city dweller... straight black skirt, nice shirt (this one is red), and cardigan. Heavy stockings and sensible shoes complete the outfit. Not a hair out of place. The roundness of middle age.

She is all business as she dumps buckets of water onto the sidewalk. Taking a firm grip on a broom she scrubs at the sidewalk and then sweeps the water into the great void where the street usually resides. She continues to dump, scrub and sweep even as the foot traffic walks through. A losing battle to be repeated every morning, or so I imagine.

A couple fo cups of hot, sweet coffee lifts the headache that had accompanied the morning. I have a slower day planned... quick visit to a nearby village, walk back, and then to the orchidarium for a peek.

The village, Huanca, is a very small satellite town, who`s dainty main square displays 3 statues of women making pottery, for which this town is known. There is also a male figure somehow depicting leadership. Figures.

Some of the things I see in my wanderings:

A plant nursery, where they are starting trees to be planted in a reforestation effort.

A brick making yard, where I see, well bricks... I learn that the formed earth and straw type brick is called adobe. I also see an alternate building technique called tapial which is a pressed mud wall construction. According to Janet (my english speaking guide!) structures made of adobe do better in earthquakes.

There was apparently a large earthquake in 1970, and most of Chachapoyas was destroyed. Now I know why the city looks tidy and organized.... because it is all new. It really does look different than most other places I have been in Peru. Uniform colour schemes and all.

Anyway the town homes made of Adobe fared better apparently.

Now back to my list:

A beautiful climbing geranium in a vivid shade of red. Didn`t know geraniums climb.

Still more more medicinal flora. If there are plants for hair, teeth, bones, skin, and digestion, just to name a few, I wonder how many cups of brew that equals a day for complete coverage?

An amazingly steep canyon. Get too close and...

A cool plant that is used as indoor insect control. It is incredibly sticky. The flies are attracted by the aroma and...

Locally made ceramics, very rustic and pretty but I can`t see successfully bringing it home in my backpack somehow.

After a quick lunch we enjoy a nice long walk back to Chacha, all the while keeping an eye on some very big, dark clouds heading our way. Thankfully they pass overhead before dropping their motherload of precipitation. The wind was nice though.

We picked up a taxi to take us to the Orchidarium. Many cool pictures, although I am still having trouble with my camera focus. This place is part of a network of places trying to keep the rarer orchids from disappearing altogether. Many poor locals go deep into the rainforest in search of plants to bring out and sell. Difference between eating and not, unfortunately.

I see an interesting looking animal, possum like, called an Uvon. They are found only in the area surrounding Kuelep. The animal is young and full of beans. Unfortunately it is also leashed and so can`t run said beans out of it`s system. The explanation is that it was found abandoned as a baby (?) and being home raised can not be released into its native habitat. Or maybe it makes a cute pet. No way to know for sure.

So it was not really the quiet day I should have had, and I am seriously overtired. There will be another piper to pay, unfortunately.


Random info: The mosquitoes here seem to bite through clothes. Losing battle.

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