Sunday, 3 February 2013

Sunday morning catch-up

On this pleasant Sunday morning the power is once again off in town, and the scuttlebutt has it that it will be late afternoon before we see it again.  This means a morning without coffee, sigh. 

The generators have been brought out in order to have the flag raising ceremony as usual, so music is blaring and microphones are working.  Extra loud this morning too it seems.

I wandered over to my property yesterday and took a couple of pictures of the new fence and by default Manuels’ family working on the almost cleared land.  They are fast workers to be sure.

My fence:  and the view beyond...

The sun has favoured us here for the past several days, and I have been meandering around simply enjoying being here.  No huge long hikes, just the couple of kms between here and the property, with a couple of trips up and down the mass of stairs up the road thrown in for exercise. 

Janet invited me along on a visit with the owner of a local eatery to discuss adding breakfast or dinner options to their tours.  Not a bad idea when most tours start long before the restaurants open.  I have been asking around about the myriad sights to see that are not on the main tourist hit list, with the thought of putting together an “extended” Chachapoyas tour for those who want to go that bit further.  Just an idea.

My vocabulary of “understood” Spanish is noticeably improving, but I am still sputtering and stuttering when I try and speak.  Frustrating.

Another round at the market, and there is but half a pigs head left on the counter…  There will definitely have to be some market tutoring when it comes to things like cheese, chicken and beef.  A) not my strong suit to start with and B) there are just too many choices and vocabulary specifics involved.  The cheese I bought a few days ago is very salty goat cheese, better for cooking, so I passed it along.  One day when Janet is headed that way I will tag along and play silly gringa again.  I did manage to find the small store that sells fresh unsweetened yogurt… the stuff you buy in the supermarkets here is sickenly sweet.

Spent an evening helping Jose and Donna put beds together in the new hostal.  I was irritated when one of the young tourists looked into the room and asked me in English “why are YOU helping them?”  to which I replied “Well, why shouldn’t I?  This is what people do… help each other”.  Young snot.  Wanted to cuff him up the ear and tell him to join in. 

Next day I took my boots to the curb to give them a good knock together to shake some of the caked dry mud off the bottoms, bent over, started banging them together and promptly put my back out.  Ouch.  Two days of baby steps, bed rest and Tylenol 3.  Managed to shuffle slowly around the square but stairs and treks were a non-starter.

On one such shuffle it dawned on me that there is a serious baby boom happening here in town.  Strollers and strapped-on kids everywhere.  I managed to get my hands on a wee newborn to coo over for a few moments while anxious papa looked on.  At baby stage they just think I am another adoring fan.

Add a couple of years and I become something akin to a circus clown… craning necks and wide eyes.  It is really kind of an odd power to have.  Their first glances become stares, then comes the double and triple takes.  It is at this point I usually wink or make a face, which must reassure them because they usually smile and the peek a boo game begins.  Sometimes to the ire of their mothers… like when they are walking up a sidewalk in front of me and said small unit keeps slowing progress by turning around to engage with me.  Fun most of the time.

The bank card I have been using since I got here will still  not work in the banks’ machine.   I had this problem last year at this bank.  Stupid.  Was working, now it doesn’t.  I know it is not the card because it is working at a different institution, which charges double the fees for half the cash.  GRRR. 

The hostal is full right now, albeit with Peruvian families that are here caring for relatives who have had surgery.  I got the lowdown on the Peruvian medical system, and it is not so rosy.  Apparently here there are doctors and hospitals, but they carry no supplies whatsoever?  If you need help someone needs to go to the pharmacy and buy… bandages, needles, medicine, sutures… everything.  What if there is no one to get supplies?  Apparently it is the patients problem? 

There are two people here who have had surgery, and their families and the doctor are all staying here.  Surgeons must come from Chiclayo… 10 hours away.  First you go there for a consult, then when there are enough patients the surgeon comes here, does the surgery, stays for a couple of days to make sure you survive, and then goes home. 

Better not get sick, huh?...  And better always have emergency money hanging around.

Still, this town is booming and a lot of expats are wanting to call it home.  I spent a pleasant couple of hours with an American woman who is trying to decide between Chachapoyas and another town in Equador.  Lots of talk about politics, the environment and gun control.  Not the kind of conversation I am able to have with the locals here yet.

After a breakfast of apples and yoghurt, with an energy bar in to quell some queasies, I think I will take advantage of the nice weather and tackle another round of stairs to get some exercise.  Today I am feeling a bit on the bored side, so will see if I can find something to do…

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