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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Setting a Record--Two Posts in One Morning!

 I started to respond to Laura's comment on my blog about Bad Art Night being one of the very best things that happened this past year, but decided I should write about it in the blog and post so more people can hear about it.
 We meet twice a month on a Friday night and bring whatever type of art we want to work on and explore.  The beauty of BAN is we can experiment without expectations and desires of perfection.  I've loved seeing what people bring and how they challenge themselves.  We've seen photographers try painting and non-artists try water color and several other art forms.  I watched fascinated as Beverly used wire cutters on coat hangers to create a new form, Laura and Kristine and others worked on transfers from digital photos, Nancy taught us all how to make 'squishies' with acrylic paints and glossy paper, and I started inheriting everyone's cigar boxes to decoupage and cover with buttons and beads to transform them into treasure boxes.  I even made bad art jewelry one night, though it only proved beauty is in the eye of the beholder because many women picked up the necklace at open studios and looked at it with fascination.  It didn't sell, but I think it came close.  
  I'm sure I'm not the only one who has grown artistically in both my thinking and my interest in creative expression from attending these nights.  We've formed a great camaraderie and many new friendships in our shared experiences with art.
  I highly encourage others to try this with friends and let it grow.   Here's a link to help get you started:

Last Post of This Forgettable Year

 I'm sure many people are writing their end of the year blogs today...and I hate doing what everyone else does, but I'm doing it anyway.  When things are on my mind, I feel compelled...
 A year ago I said this was going to be a good year--11 is a favorite and a lucky number.  I might have to chose another favorite.  This year sucked for many people.   I've seen friends lose houses and businesses, and everyone's finances took a nose dive again.  I have high hopes for 2012.  Things have to change.
 Every year I write down a few things I'd like to bring into my life for the new year.  I've done this since the early 90's and I don't read it again till the next year.   Sometimes it's only a word; sometimes it's a phrase.  I can't say it works well--I'm still writing annually about some things I've wanted to change that still haven't, but I'll write it again tonight.  Maybe I should try reading and focusing on those topics monthly this year and see if it brings about anything new.   I keep it hidden away and always use the same small stocking-shaped pad of paper, so I can also look back at each year.  I also try to keep it positive--instead of "don't do this", I think of what I'll do instead.
 Yesterday was Matthew's birthday.  I had a hard time getting him to say what he wanted to do last night--eat out?  where?  At one point, he told me he was going to cook.  Then it was dinner out and a movie.  Then walk down the street to Cafe Gibraltar.  Sushi?  Movie?  Nothing?  It made me think about how hard it is to say what we really want.  I do the same hoping he'll figure it out on his own.  I also wonder if he was disappointed his son didn't drop by at some point during the day.  He called on his way to work, but hey, he drove down highway 1 and was within 1/4 mile of our house.  He could have come over for 5 minutes to give his father a hug.   It's not like Matthew hasn't been there for him through thick and thin.
 By midday yesterday, I finally tried for reservations at Gibraltar, but as I thought would happen, they had only very early or very late times available.  So Matthew agreed on sushi.  I decided not to mention I'd been there the night before with 2 friends from the Thurs. night knitting group.   I didn't even pick up the was his night to order anything he wanted.  And wouldn't you know, he ordered several things we'd never had together before--and one of them was the roll I had the previous night with Michele!  I still didn't tell him till half way through the meal.  Dinner was good, and he was happy with the gifts I bought for him, so the day ended on an up note. 
 Today, the last of the year, is a good one for cleaning up loose ends--the office remodel, my inventory from Savvy Skirts, a few necklaces sitting here that need findings, paperwork for Wise Woman Weaves, etc.  And then starting the new calendar, a new jewelry business program Terri recommended, some organizing...and exercise.  Lots to do...I'd better make a list, so I can check off what I do and feel accomplished.
This is from last year's trunk show at Savvy Skirts, which just closed at Harbor Shoppes.  Sheri returned all my inventory yesterday, which was bittersweet.  I know she's planning on reopening in a better location later in 2012, so I hope to continue our relationship.  She's awesome to work with and did a fabulous job with the shop--so I'll look forward to April.  Her energy inspires me!
  Time to start working on that list.  I'll start by writing it....

Friday, December 23, 2011

Too Much Bad Art Fun

 Such a busy time these days, but I managed to get a massage in this afternoon after morning Pilates and lunch with Jed.  I've spent the week rearranging my office to accommodate my new computer--I needed a flat surface for the trackpad.  And I needed to combine my office with my beading/jewelry creating, which I'd never done.  I've gone through drawers and moved things that haven't been moved since they were brought in here.  Good time to vacuum under and around everything too.
 I've also done some knitting for my nephew Jeff.  He's moving to New York and I wanted him to have a warm hat to wear from his auntie this winter.  The colors were inspired by Laura, and I found a style that's long enough to cover his ears.

 So tonight I decided to go to Bad Art Night even though I'd had a busy day.  Matthew was making calzone, so I said I'd be back in an hour, but fortunately told him not to wait dinner for me.  He made Italian calzone--Italian sausage, mushroom, and cheese. 

 I only took knitting with me tonight since I wasn't going to stay long, but when I got there, it was so much fun, I couldn't leave.  Linda did an awesome water color, but she added more with pencil and stamps.  She's amazing to watch.  Chris was inspired to do Zentangles by Nancy for the first time, then he took the strip he'd done and was going to wrap a coffee can with it.  At the end of the evening, at least for me, Laura and Kristine gave us all BAN gifts.  We have enough very cool stuff to do Bad Art for months.  I'm so excited because in a sense, they've issued a subtle challenge to us to figure out things to do with the contents of the boxes, including acrylic paints.  I know this will stretch my thinking about art.  Good goal for 2012.  
 I make no resolutions...not since the year I made the one about never making another New Year's resolution.  It's the only one I've ever kept.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Blogs...Writing, Reading, Privacy, Who's Reading?

 I woke early this morning, around 4 or 5 am--not sure since the power outage knocked out my bedside clock--and started writing this blog in my head. what was I writing?  I know it started because my brother-in-law heard the word blog at lunch yesterday and asked what is a blog and what do you mean, I've been in your blog?  Don't you have to ask permission to put me in it?  Who writes them?  Why?  Who reads them?  Why?
 So that made me start thinking about all of that and more.  I know when I wrote about Peru, I had at least a dozen people tell me they'd read all about it and loved hearing my stories.  I also know my own husband has never read my blog and shows no interest in it.  Funny, my blog-reading peeps all know how I felt about the trip and the canopy walk in particular, but Matthew had NO idea.  I mentioned it last week and told him it wasn't my favorite trip (after he said how he'd love to return to Peru), and he was so surprised.  And you all know how I feel, right?  Duh.
 I've always been a writer; I used to love writing letters the old-fashioned way using snail mail.  I even loved the act of writing and of course, used multi-colored pens.  Some of my friends from high school remember that!  Oh, THOSE were notes written during class, especially history.  Sorry, Mr. Woods.
 But now writing isn't so easy with fine motor coordination being more difficult, so typing is the way to go.  And using the blog allows me to journal my thoughts and share with whoever is interested.  But who is reading this?  I only have 10 followers--oh, it says 11, but I was trying to figure out how it works when I first started and became my own follower.  Another duh.  I see some with hundreds of followers and wonder how they ended up with so many.  I know more than 11, oops 10, read my blog...and some subscribe to it as well.  I can't see who subscribes, but I know of one, Laura, who often graciously makes comments.  I love getting comments!  Does that sound a little like begging for them?  Well....  It's really the only way of getting instant gratification after writing something.
 The privacy part of blogging is interesting.  I notice in one person's blog I read, she rarely mentions others by name.  I don't use last names, but do use first occasionally.  And if I mention a nephew, like yesterday, that narrows down about whom I'm writing.  And I often use photos too.  Does one need permission?  Not really...this is a 'personal' writing space, and since I'm usually not saying anything derogatory, it shouldn't matter.  Besides, have any of you realized how we already lack privacy in our lives?  Do you ever wonder how your ads on Facebook and other places seem to be oddly geared to your own interests?  Hey, they've hacked into your searches and followed you!  Who's they?  Well, I don't know everything, but I do know all my friends aren't getting ads for knitting and bead making like I do.  Big Brother is alive and well, and I'm not talking about the TV program.
 Okay, enough of that ranting.  One thing I enjoy about blogging, both writing and reading, is adding photos of what's being discussed.  So no picture today since you've already seen my new computer, and I'd better not add one of my bro-in-law after yesterday's series of questions.  But I do thank him for giving me something to think about.  
 So is anyone out there?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Small Steps and New Aches

 So here it is:  my new the IMac last week.  Never one to do anything the easy way, I bought the trackpad instead of the mouse.  Now I have to learn how that works and since I never liked using the pad on laptops, this is a new challenge.  The computer is beautiful, the graphics awesome--I'm transfixed when the screensaver comes on. First, they're always different, so I never know what to expect, and second, it's like watching a colorful slide show.  
 Many things are different on the Mac--like finding commands I often use.  I did sign up for a class, and my first one is this week.  I'll see how helpful this is before signing up for another one.    I bought the one-to-one, so I don't have to sit with 15 other people and have someone ask, "How do you turn it on?"  I've been in that class before and it wasn't fun.  Nor did I learn anything especially when they partnered us up and I landed with the one who didn't know how to turn it on.  
 What I need to find either in the app store or online somewhere is a good, simple program for inventory of my jewelry and textiles.  I have Quickbooks on my PC, but it's more than I need.  I would like something that keeps track of what I have by number and description, where it is (who's selling it--me or a store), price, and sale point.  On Quickbooks, I can archive something that sells, then recall it as needed.  I can also call up who has what by company/store, which is helpful.  But it also has way more it does, like invoices, which I don't need.  So if someone out there is reading this blog post and has an answer, please let me know!  
 So what else is new?  I have a new hair style....way shorter.  
I needed a change, so this was it.  People seem to really like it, but I keep hoping it doesn't start looking like an old-lady perm.  Hey, it's naturally curly, but still.  
 My oldest nephew turned 30 today.  I find that hard to fathom since I was just cleaning out a drawer full of pictures and there he was at 5 looking so sweet and innocent.  Not that he's a devious 30 year old--I leave that to his brother (notice I'm not mentioning which one, though neither of them read my blog). Jeff's always been considerate and thoughtful of his aunt and grandmother...and now he's moving to New York City, so he'll be far away from us.  His youngest brother is in Hawaii, his father is moving out of the area, and Garret is hoping to spend 1-3 months in Australia, so they're all migrating...and Nana and I are still here.  Times sure have changed.  When I was younger, my parents told me I had a 35 miles radius for moving!  And duh, that's what I did.  
 I am cleaning out drawers and trying to organize my office, so I've been finding all kinds of memorabilia.  I found a picture of myself Jay took at some event, maybe 20 years ago.  It's a close up of my face, and I'm amazed at how I've changed.  Sometimes it's not so good to look back.  I also found old love letters (which I saved) and many plugs, 3 mouse(s?) for the PC, and cords I don't use or need.  I LOVE getting rid of these excess things, but now I have to put them somewhere else.   This is all part of the out and eliminating.  What I realized is I started with an office and a dresser room when we moved in, but now they're also used for jewelry making and textiles, so the dresser room, renamed the loom room has been taken over with yarn and a huge loom, but is still full of dressers and clothes.  The office still has all the old furnishings, but I've added many MANY bead containers and accoutrements without re-organizing.   This must be my time of year for changes.

 Oh yeah, I also named this post "New Aches"...that's because my right shoulder and arm ache every morning lately.  Today I figured it's the new not-mouse I'm using and trying to do on the Mac.  I'm probably stressed from the freakin' learning curve of trying to get what I want it to do, plus I notice my fingers are far from relaxed on it.  Half the time, the hand is hanging off the edge of the keyboard table instead of on the trackpad and the fingers are stiff.  No wonder I ache.  Back to that learning curve.  
 I did get a free app for creating jigsaw puzzles to help me manage the trackpad better.  That was so slow!   Just have to keep practicing.  
 The holidays are coming...guess we all know that.  The damn music started in Nov!  I've done no shopping and have no ideas.  I don't really buy much anyway, though I do have a few things I should pick up.  Matthew is taking me on a little jaunt this month for a couple of days as a gift, so I need to come up with something for him.  I often get him something new for the kitchen--and I, of course, reap the rewards.  One year it was an electric pasta maker, and yeah, I do love pasta.  As I often say, "I met him 20 lbs. ago."  
 So there's no escaping the holidays this year.  We used to head for Mexico and last year it was Costa Rica with good friends.  I want to return to CR so maybe next year.  We have no travel plans at all for 2012...talking about maybe NYC and DC since we've never been there.  Odd to travel so much to other countries, but haven't seen that much of ours.  I've been through the South a bit and we've hit several western states together, but never back east.  Could be this year.  
 Small where the hell is the right click on something that doesn't have a right/left side???

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

New Mac; New Learning Curve

I decided to practice on the new IMac I got this week since I have always been an avid PC user since the 80's.  I've already locked myself out of the computer once and frozen the's a lesson on patience.   Not my strong suit.  I know I can't add pictures today to the blog since I have no idea how to do that...  but I do have my first one-on-one class next week, so maybe I'll feel more comfortable and know how to do more by then.  I'm going to keep a notebook of questions to ask.
Shows are over for this season, which is great.  I like doing them, but it's so much work to get ready--create enough things to show, plan displays, set up and take down--that I'm always glad when they're behind me. I did have a good time and enjoyed showing my new jewelry and textiles.  This was a good year for fingerless gloves, felted hats, and handmade flowers.
Hey Check it out....I just added a photo to my blog with my IMac!  I'm so easily impressed with myself.  It's always the little things that make the day go better.  
 I was just happy I could find my photos on the new computer.  The Apple guys transferred docs and pics from the PC to the Mac and I can find the docs, but haven't yet figured out how to open them.  
I do love my new keypad so maybe it will inspire me to blog more.  I told a friend I'd try not to become MACavellian or a MACabee...I've never been one to join cults.  But no promises....

Monday, November 14, 2011

Getting ready for Open Studios

This weekend is Open Studios on the coast, which means I'm crazily (is that a word) creating jewelry and textiles for the event.  I recently got inspired to use the chain I bought for bracelets in some necklace designs.  The second one is much heavier, and it will be interesting to see how people react to's funky and such a statement piece.  Sometimes my work takes a certain personality to wear it--bold and confident and not afraid to be different.  I should have said unique...sounds saner.

  I did add an interesting variety of beads to this and the charm at the bottom says "dream."
I also finally added new scarves to my website.  I've been very remiss in updating the site, and I don't work very hard to sell from it.  Maybe this year I'll try for a few things to see if they sell.  I like the creation part more than the business end. 
Here I've combined my crocheted wire with the Italian mesh I bought last year in Florence. 

And I've woven rayon scarves without the chenille...they're soft and have what weavers call a great 'hand' but not as soft as chenile:. 
Stripes of hand-dyed chenille in many colors on one scarf

Variegated yarn with a solid weft.

Stripes in greens in a vertical direction

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Open Studios 2011 Nov. 19 & 20 11-4


 This year, instead of having a boutique at my house, I am participating in an Open Studios event with many other artists.  We have locations up and down the coast, and I will be showing my work at Laura McHugh's new home in Half Moon Bay.  It's much easier to find than my house!  She's right off highway 1, just south of 92, on Poplar's west side.   Laura's address is 285 Poplar St. HMB.
  This year I have new woven chenille scarves, knitted fingerless gloves, felted  hats, and of course, many unique beaded pieces of jewelry.  Our bees have also contributed this year--wonderful fresh honey we've named Granada Gold!  I only have a limited amount, so come early to sample the honey and take home your own jar.
   I hope you'll come by to say hello, do some holiday shopping, and find something fun for yourself.  Maps of where the artists' studios are open.are available through the artists and in local businesses.  Email me if you want me to send you a flyer and map.
 Thanks so much for your continued support.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Random and Out of Order Pictures

monkey island greeter

tapir fur--this was the baby; full-grown is all one color 
the family demonstrating squeezing the sugar cane which eventually becomes rum, but we tasted it right out of the shoot...and strained through a cloth we'd rather not talk about

dinner our last night at the Ramada next to the airport--causa, a Peruvian dish with potatoes, avocado, crab...delish

Had to cross yet another suspension log bridge to get to the island where Explorama has their other lodge and the river people tribe we visited

our dance partners--well, mine was a very ancient man, so he's not in this picture.  They later took off those tops when we were buying from or trading with them.  Matthew said maybe I should have brought some bras to trade....

the little tarantula I saw on our walk on our way to the rum factory

How we relaxed after lunch on our tours when we were at a lodge.  I suggested getting a couple for the living room. 

Matthew getting the energy treatment from the shaman--and yes, he's as hot as he looks.  No, not the shaman, the temperature in that hut. 
Silly new hat purchased in Cusco--crocheted with a plastic covered bill like a ball cap.  Kept my hair from flying all over in the boat.

Cool flower arrangement in our bathroom at the lodge. 
Can you guess?  This is the result of that canopy walk...and you thought I exaggerated.
Many colorful macaws and parrots around the camps/lodges.  I won't comment on these two....but aren't they pretty?

Yeah, me and my new friend.  Don't tell Fancy and Farwell.  They think I save myself for cuddling just with them.  Oh, the face is because he started sucking my neck for the salt.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Our Last Day in the Amazon

  Just as we sat down to dinner last night, the rain started up. Abelardo said if it was just a small bit, we might get outside; otherwise, it would be too slippery. Before long, it really started to pour, so our evening tour, which I know includes tarantulas and snakes, didn't happen.  We ducked out as the show started which we'd already seen.
 Today we were to go to the Yague Indians' village, then to the rum factory. But we ended up being connected with an OAT group of 12 or 14 and the family of 6 we came in with (the dad is a doctor and they've lived here for 15 months, but are now headed back home to Mississippi), so we first stopped at a clinic OAT helps sponsor. The clinic was started by a female doctor from Wisconsin who came here 20 years ago on vacation and saw a need for medical care. She was able to get sponsors to build the clinic, which has continued to grow. They have both medical and dental facilities there. Whitney said it's similar to the one her husband worked in in Trujillo.
We then walked to the Explorama lodge where they have the shared toilets and showers and rooms with mosquito netting over the beds. They're actually putting in some private bathrooms for some of the rooms. We walked over to the village and had an explanation of the tribal customs and how the younger generation are leaving for the city to get better jobs. They have been exposed to Tv and the Internet, which has caused this change. They no longer want to wear the native costumes, etc. Then the group performed for us, then asked us to join them, so many of us danced around with a tribe member. It was inside a large thatched hut which was very hot, so by the end of the dance, I had steam coming off me. We were then invited outside for a demonstration of the blow gun and several people tried it, including Matthew (who already has one at home).
Each person had a little section set up with their wares, mostly bracelets and necklaces made from the local seeds and dyed fish scales, woven baskets, carved objects, etc. Nothing that I found really exciting, but we did buy a few things. We brought pens and pencils, I had some beads, though no one wanted to trade for them, and Matthew had a pair of Tevas he wanted to leave behind, so did trade for them. At the end, we handed out pens and pencils to the kids, then the adults came to get some too. I also gave always the beads I brought. One of the older women came over and gave me a bracelet as a thank you. We enjoyed this very much and did it after the rest of our group headed back to the lodge, so it wasn't a show.
Lunch was the usual buffet—the food has been very good and healthy. Everything is grown locally. Right now watermelon and papayas abound, which has been a delight. Today they served fresh red beets at lunch—yum. They also had beef (probably water buffalo) stir-fried with potatoes and onions, rice, yucca in french fry shape, beans, cabbage salad, and bread pudding and watermelon for dessert. This is no place for a low-carb diet!
After lunch we had another siesta time in the hammocks, then headed over to the rum plantation. On the way, I saw a tarantula walking along, so stopped to point it out and let the kids see it. I was proud of myself—no screaming or anything. We also saw the water buffalo along the way.
The rum grower has a small operation where he makes both rum and molasses using a very old machine that's horse-driven while the sugar cane is manually fed into it. We went into the house for the sampling of 4 different types of rum...none of which I could stand. I only tasted two of them since Matthew had tried the clear straight one at the bar one night. It's ghastly—takes like rubbing alcohol, only stronger. They had one with molasses added to it, which was a little better, but not much.
We returned here to our lovely air-conditioning around 3:30. Now we're getting the clothes ready to leave behind. I asked Abelardo if someone in his village could use the clothes I'm leaving, and he said he's been saving what people leave every year for the past 3 years, then his wife cleans them and at Christmas, he gives them out to people. I'm so glad I asked! This is perfect....and I'm giving him 2 shirts, 1 tank top, 2 pairs of pants and a pair of shoes! Oh and one very well worn and used white jacket! Matthew has a pair of zip-off pants and some shoes. Feels good to lighten the load....
Tomorrow we head to Iquitos, then to Lima for our first flight. We stay overnight at the Ramada, which is right next to the airport, then walk over the next morning at some ungodly hour for our 7 am departure. The family with the 4 kids will be leaving with us—those kids are adorable and so well behaved. Whitney says they're sorry to be leaving now and could have easily stayed another 6 months. They have a home in Miss. waiting for them, and the kids can return to school after being home-schooled in Peru. Their ages range from 10 to 4, so she's been a busy mom.
All in all, it's been a good trip, though hectic and sometimes difficult. I prefer trips where we have a home base and aren't in and out of suitcases so much. One night, I was totally disoriented, I couldn't remember the configuration of the room, so had to find a light in the bathroom to know where they'd put the toilet!
As always, I'm happy to come home to my kitties!

Sunday, October 23, 2011


I got my wish for a better day today. We got to get up leisurely and be out by 7:30 when they serve breakfast, the Abelardo said we would meet around 9 to head for monkey island. Another family was with us, but they were just here for the morning—he is one of the owners/administrators of Explorama.
I figured we'd be seeing monkeys in trees like we do in the wild, but when we got there, we were greeted by several who climbed up on us and wanted to play. They also like to lick our skin for the salt, which was plentiful since it was already hot and humid and I was sweating profusely. My hair hates this does the rest of me.
Anyway, we had a great day seeing about 7 or 8 types of monkeys, some who came over to us or took bananas from us, and some who just stayed in the trees, but came fairly close to get food. They're all ages, and most are rescued from people who had them as pets and gave them up or were found and needed attention. They're used to people and love the attention. As we were heading to the hut for a little talk by Abelardo about the kinds of monkeys there and what the company does for them, one grabbed my hands, climbed up into my arms and ended up lying across my right forearm. He posed for a picture, then wrapped his tail around my neck and stayed. We had to convince him he had to stay outside when I went in....  We have great pictures, but they won't load here since it takes so long, but I'll add them if the Ramada on our last night is ANY faster. 
  I loved being there. They also have chickens, one with some new chicks, and a macaw and a dog running around. The people who work there love what they do, and we met a woman from New York who is volunteering there for a week. She's the first female we've seen working in the Amazon...
  We returned here to Ceiba Tops for lunch, and will have a boat trip this afternoon. We were supposed to go to an inlet to fish and see dolphins today, but the water is very shallow there, which is near where we were this morning, so we already know it's too shallow for the boat, plus no dolphins would be there. It was fine yesterday for the group who went fishing—that's how fast things can change here. He said he'd take us to see the large lily pads and find some dolphins along the way.
  Before lunch, we brought our Kindles down to the hammocks and relaxed there for an hour or so. As we sat there, we listened to thunder first in the distance, then closer and louder. We never saw the lightening and it never started raining here. They say the seasons never change here and no one can predict rain—it comes whenever.
  By the time we were to meet Abelardo at 3:00, the weather had changed again and the skies were blue. We headed out on the open air boat and before we even left the dock, dolphins were close by. These were small gray ones and easy to see and watch. Plus, they were fishing, and the fish would leap out of the water to get away from them. We did find a pink dolphin out farther—it's much larger around and longer. We only saw it briefly, but kept trying to coax it to the surface. Finally we gave up and headed to the island where the lily pads are. It was a small trek uphill to the stairs that led to the fish pond and lily pads. We were standing on a covered wooden bridge over the water and a young girl came over and slowly made her way near us. We smiled at each other and said hello...or ola. Abelardo asked if we'd like to see the village, so we headed across the bridge. The little girl tapped my arm and handed me 2 hibiscus she'd picked for me. Then she followed us around till we got to her house and she went inside. Everyone we saw greeted us and smiled. They have many chickens and baby chicks roaming around the village, several dogs, lots of human babies too. We came to a house where Abelardo showed us a sugar cane press and the owner offered to show us how it works. His wife pulled the cane through as he pressed down at each joint to crush it, much like a garlic press only on a larger scale. They brought it through several times, and with each squish, cane syrup poured out and into a bucket below. Then he doubled the cane, put a wooden stick through the bend at the top and twisted. He kept wringing it until every drop was extracted. Then his wife held up a towel and he poured the liquid through it to strain it and they offered it to us to taste. I only took a small sip, and it was really good. They drink it in this form, but in larger quantities, they heat it and make a rum type drink called cachaca. Matthew tried it here one night—i prefer it in this form. It was very strong.
Being in the village was special and almost just as momentous was my bathing suit getting wet. We went into their whirlpool, which is far from hot, thank goodness. Had fun talking to some people from the OAT tour and then the Aussies arrived....they have 29 in their group that arrived today. It will be a full house tonight.
Tonight we're meeting Abelardo after dinner for a night walk in the jungle. Thank you, Barbara, for insisting I bring your DEET clothes.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

No Amazon Woman

  Well, I guess I can say I finished the canopy walk...two fingernails less and a strong understanding that I'm not, nor will I ever, be considered a trekker. And thank goodness for that~! We got our wake-up knock at 5:15 this morning, but I was already up. Huh? Me? Yeah, I know....but I fell asleep reading at 10, so actually got my 7 hours in.
We were the last to arrive at the boat, though we weren't late. The Peruvian family with 3 young kids, an English-speaking couple who could be from Canada or the US, and 2 Peruvian young ladies were on this trip with their guides. For some reason, the 2 girls are sharing the guide with the family, which is unfortunate for them since the little girl, who's the youngest and about 3, whines and cries a lot. Well, a parrot did bite her finger when she was offering it food at lunch... Anyway, our boat ride was 2 hours long—we went to their Explor-Napo lodge, which is 75 miles down the Amazon from here. We got there in time for breakfast...this is their most rustic place with open rooms and mosquito netting over the small beds, shared toilets and showers. We used the toilets...very rustic. Okay, my oh oh for the day is I'd spent much time covering much of my body in repellent before getting dressed this morning, and when I went to the bathroom at the lodge and dropped my drawers over this hole with a seat, I realized my butt was hanging out with no repellent on it! Now I know that's a little indelicate of me to mention, but hell, it was sort of funny...especially since in order to get any toilet paper, I had to swat away the mosquitoes and flies. I know my mom is reading this and wondering for the umteenth time why the hell I love to travel. Today I wondered that myself. We were given a nice breakfast, then took off with our guides in separate groups heading for the canopies—with 14 platforms varying in height up to 122 feet above the ground. They boast having the longest suspended canopy walkway measuring over 1/3 of a mile. But before we even got near the beginning of THAT, we had to hike in for an hour through the rain forest. We did see some little monkeys and many bugs and butterflies. Oh, and they have a toucan, a parrot, and a gray-winged trumpeter who hang out and pose for pictures at the lodge where we ate. That's also where the little munchkin got bitten.  And later the trumpeter attacked her during the shaman's talk.  She had a bad day too.
I was already done in by the time we got to the canopy entrance, and have I mentioned I don't particularly like heights...and really really hate suspension bridges? Picture a series of 2x8s surrounded by nylon cord mesh on either side and heavy rope above the mesh to hang on to. It was horrifying. At one point, I decided I was like the proverbial chicken crossing the road...just get me the fuck to the other side. That's when the first nail went....I rammed it right into the vertical rope that holds the canopy mesh up. The second nail cracked soon after. I thought going fast would get me out of there faster...but of course, there were 14 of these platforms to get to. It's not like I wanted or could stop in the middle of the bridge and admire the tree tops, check for birds or whatever else is crazy enough to live up that high. Finally we got to the last one, headed back down and guess what? Another hour's trek to return to the lodge, but that's not where we ended up. We were led through the herb/medicinal garden to an open, fly-ridden thatched hut where the shaman explained each plant and what it's good for, bringing each to us to smell or taste or rub on our arms. We fanned ourselves to keep the flies off and the humidity down....and at the end, he asked (through the interpreter) for a volunteer to be energized through his healing practices. Matthew jumped up first...the shaman first inhaled something that looked just like a cigarette, then blew the smoke into his hair and over his shoulders, then he took the bouquet of leaves of a hallucinogenic-producing plant and tapped his head and chanted, then went over his body with the leaves and tapped and chanted more. At the end, he had Matthew open his eyes and palms up, gave him some oil made from orchids and roses that smelled wonderful. He was told to rub his hands together and then put this on his face. He did the ritual with the father and his son, then I did it since no women would get up there...and talked Carla, the oldest of the two Peruvians, into joining me. It was very relaxing....and we finished just in time for lunch, so I didn't have to sit with the flies buzzing me any longer.
Lunch was back at the lodge's dining the way, everything here is buffet. The food isn't bad—very tasty and basic, lots of fish, salad, fresh vegetables, but last night's dessert was JELLO, so I'm hoping that's not repeated. Lunch today was fish, yucca trying to look like french fries, sweet potatoes, rice, cabbage and tomato salad with watermelon and cake for dessert. Oh, and lima beans, which I actually tried and liked. I think they always have some kind of beans for the vegetarians.
After lunch, I thought we'd boogey back to the Ceiba Tops lodge where we're all staying, but noooo....we had about an hour before returning, so it was suggested we head for the hammocks. All but the family did that and we all napped in hammocks under another thatched hut...and then it started to pour! I definitely felt this was the best part of the day---lying in a hammock in the rain forest, with rain pouring down protected by the hut. Just as it was time to leave, the rain stopped and we headed back. It did rain on us once and we had to pull down the plastic for the open windows, but no sooner did we have it all together and tied, the rain stopped and we hoisted it all back up. The ride was long and hard with small seats and aching legs. I was happy to return to our air-conditioned room!
This is definitely the most strenuous 'vacation' I've ever taken. Quite frankly, it's the last strenuous trip I think I'll take. We have 3 more days to look forward says we have a bird-watching hike BEFORE BREAKFAST, then head out after for more. I've already told Matthew I'll be skipping the bird tour. I'd skip the whole day, but it's the one where we visit an indigenous tribe who will trade for things, and we've brought things to trade—pens, pencils, beads... We're not sure what we have in store tomorrow....just hoping it's a stay-in-the-boat tour.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Amazon Woman

So to continue, Susan missed MP completely as well as all meals at the fancy hotel due to illness; Ginger made it from the train to MP, then had to sit most of it out due to the same. The rest of us had Santiago, our guide, lead us for 2+ hours around MP with explanations about the history, the sun dial, about how the different neighborhoods were set up... He is a good guide, though a bit long-winded and would stand in one place too long with much information—hard to stand still all that time and not have my mind wander. Things haven't changed much—just like back in school. Too bad I couldn't knit and listen...
I was worried about not being able to keep up, even had dreams a few days before about the steps being about 4' tall and impossible for me to climb, but I did fine. The place is so fascinating, you can't help but want to continue to see more. However, at the end of his walk and talk, I was ready to rest or find some shade. The day was beautiful and perfect there, but now it was noon and the sun was getting warm. We found a building with openings and a roof, and stayed for 10-15 minutes to enjoy the breeze and view. Then we decided to commune with the llamas who had tired of the tourists and headed downhill to munch in peace. We joined them, sitting on the grass nearby. They're very docile and peaceful animals and one even came within about a foot of me to eat.
When we got up to leave, my body had stiffened and the climb up was not so easy! I made it—what choice did I have? And this is why I carried Ibuprofen with me. We had a cool drink before heading back on the bus down the winding road to Agues Caliente. Everyone talks about the bus ride and winding road, but those of us who have driven to Tahoe or grew up driving the roads in places like Hillsborough—no sidewalks and narrow roads—know the drill. Matthew and I shared a pizza for lunch, then met up with the group for the next train ride into Cusco. This train felt luxurious compared to the one in that morning! Much wider seats and more leg room, which was good since we had 3 ½ hours on this one.
I have to digress a bit because I didn't mention the ceremony the last day in Chinchero with the weavers. A few of us brought gifts to the women—i brought notebooks, pens, pencils, some glass beads in two colors, and two colorful shirts. Nilda had all of us circle around the things we'd brought with the weavers, then each was able to choose what they'd like. While they were doing this, I brought out something I'd brought for a snack on the plane that was unopened—Trader Joe's cinnamon and sugar pita chips! These women rarely eat dessert, so it was really fun to walk around and offer them this sweet treat. One woman's young daughter was also there, so I went to her first. They seemed to really like the snack, but the funny part was the beads. They were yellow or green and enough of them for each to have a few. But at first, the little girl and some of the women got really excited because they thought it was candy. One woman missed the explanation because she grabbed a couple, then realized what they were and handed them off to someone younger. Teresa, who owns a yarn store that handles all their own dyed yarns in Taos, and her mom who helps with the dyeing brought them indigo for dyeing, which she'd been told they need, so they was given lovely thank you gifts from the ladies, including a huge hank of indigo yarn. Nilda showed us the green house—or plastic-lined structure that houses their indigo plants and dyeing. The plants aren't growing, but they keep trying—it's hard to come by, but can be found in other areas. They had several covered vats with yarn being dyed using the women's urine as the mordant to set the dye. Yep, smelled BAD. I think Nilda said it takes 4 or 6 weeks to set and if it dyes blue right away, it will wash right out and that's the end of that batch.
Okay, let's catch up...after Machu Picchu, we went back to the hotel Marqueses in Cusco. We got there after 6 pm, so a few of us went back to the place we'd been to before. Matthew and I shared cuy—guinea pig dinner. It was just okay as far as I was concerned. I'd rather have chicken. The last day our group was together as 13, we all went our separate ways to shop or site-see. Matthew and I went to the Church of the Sun which blends the Inka ruins with some Catholic influences from the Spanish takeover. From there we went to Nilda's weaving center to pick up a piece she had washed for us and we invited her to dinner next month when she comes to San Mateo to teach knitting classes. Then we walked down the local market and back up...and I was amazed at how I could now do it without losing my breath and becoming totally winded.  Of course, now that I'm acclimated, I'm leaving...
We had a nice farewell dinner with the whole group, then Susan, Matthew and I departed the next morning at 7 for the airport and the rest of the group left for Lake Titicaca.
We're now in the Amazon...left our hotel at 4:45 am today heading for Iquitos...long time in the airport since we were slightly delayed. But we're here now and it's hot and humid...duh. Our guide's name is Abelardo or Abelito – he'll answer to both. He's our private guide for the 4 days. He took us on an hour walk (I could have sworn it was longer given the sweat I produced) in the rain forest on this property. Tomorrow we do the big day—up and out around 6 so we can get to the other Explorarama property for breakfast then do the canopy walk way up high. Ooh. Ugh. I wonder if having a pisco sour for breakfast could help?
More to write later,but once again, this area has wifi but it's very slow....again.  no pictures will load either.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Machu Picchu

I haven't mentioned our hotel in Ollantaytambo, which was quite nice. We had a room overlooking the front lawns and flowers. It's spring here, so everything is in bloom, which makes for a beautiful setting. This hotel, Pakaritampu, has three pet alpacas who get fed on the front lawn everyday. I woke and peaked out and what a great surprise! Our room had a little sitting room and lots of space, plus a TV, which we hadn't seen in awhile. We don't really watch when we're away, although we did put on CNN just to see what's happening in the world. When I get online, my netbook shows the time and also the weather at home, so I'm quite aware El Granada had better weather one day that we had in Peru. Yadda yadda...always the way.
This must have been a Sunday, since Matthew was craving pizza. We were on our own for dinner, so we walked uphill to the square to see if any pizza was available. Ha! Before we even got to the square, we passed about 3 pizza places, then just about every restaurant there had pizza! They're obviously a huge tourist stop because the train for Machu Picchu boards there, so pizza is the universal food. The one we chose was pretty good. On our way back to the hotel, we stopped and bought ice cream on a stick...mine was called “Sublime” and it was pretty close.
The next day, we had a fabulous breakfast at the hotel, then got ready to go. We boarded around 11, and only had to walk down the block to the train station. We got there early, so had to stand and wait in the sun for awhile, but we had reserved seating in 'executive' class, so didn't have to rush to get on. Turns out the seats are pretty small, face each other and have very little leg room. I was facing a man from DC and his wife, and this poor guy was way over 6'...his legs had to stay in the aisle until the porters came through with drinks and snacks. Then he squeezed them under the table. Ah, finally a reason to be happy to be short. I think the ride was about 1.5 hours long, and fun to watch the landscape change from mountainous and terraced to lush jungle. We also were descending to 9,000 ft. wow...who thought that would be a dream! But I'd been having a lot of trouble breathing in Cusco and the Sacred Valley, which is much higher.
When we arrived, Matthew headed out with Sylvia and her daughter Amy for Machu Picchu. The rest of us had opted to go the next day only, so headed to the hotel for welcome cool towels laced with citronella and some pisco sours. We were taken to our rooms, through a maze of buildings and lush landscaping. Our room was near one end of the property and looked out at trees and flowers with great bird sounds. This was our most expensive hotel, which was obvious. It's called InkaTerra. They had 4 bags on the bed, two with plastic slippers like you get in a spa and two with robes. I already mentioned my afternoon of getting lost on the property—but I didn't really explain that I have NO sense of direction and cannot read a map, so it was predictable, if not desirable. It was my own personal adventure, after which, I deserved a rest in the nice room. No altitude problems, but it was more humid here than we'd experienced. Speaking of which, I've been silently laughing at a memory of my sister Marianne and I going to Tahoe many times when we were single...she always had me laughing about 'altitoot.' No kidding!!! Even Beano had no effect.
We were scheduled to have dinner as a group at the hotel's dining room, and it turns out Greg, Cari, and Susan were sick, Ginger was at dinner, but not feeling well at all, so it was just Sylvia an d Amy, the 3 from Taos, Bob and Ginger, and Matthew and me. The dinner was three courses, and they were very good. Turns out, as we found out the next day, a group had arrived from the Sacred Valley that day or the one before to stay at the very expensive hotel at the top of Machu Picchu (about $800 a night up to $1200 or more for a view room) with some ailment that was going around Sacred Valley, so they were all in bed sick and unable to check out. I guess the 6 who went to dinner that last night picked up the same thing since 4 of them ended up ill.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Pictures from Peru

Dyeing day in Chinchero at the weaving center...this was purple with cochinel, which are a fungus found on a specific cactus plant.
Notice I'm not lifting this heavy vat....but someone has to document and take the pictures.....

Some of the lunch prepared for us at Nilda', which I'd never had before, greens, favas, salad, tortillas, and a cuy came out also...guinea pig.  They eat their biggest meal at mid-day.  Below is us not following the tradition....eating a bigger dinner.
Fancy dinner enjoyed by about 8 of us at the restaurant where Matthew and Susan took a cooking class that day,  The food was excellent...I missed a picture of the alpaca carpaccio,which was my fave, and this pasta and curry dish weren't mine either.  Everything was so pretty and colorful, I took pictures of them all!  Below is my beef dinner with the two sauces and pasta.  
And just so you don't think all we do is eat....
Here I am trying my damnest to figure out what the Peruvians have done for centuries.  I never quite did.....
What can I say--it was Sunday night and Matthew wanted pizza!

In Chinchero at the ruins

This woman was in a weaving co-op and taught us how to make soap from a root they use and a cheese grater.

This is the big one--the reason so many come to Peru...Machu Picchu.  Amazing  place...fantastic.  And another thing to check off our bucket list.

The touring group...
 We sat here with the llamas for awhile just enjoying their company as they munched their lunch.  But then we got up to leave and my body had stiffened after all the climbing and I could barely make the hike back up!  But I did!  ok, I didn't go all the way to the very top...Matthew did it the day before so I'll just check out his pictures.
More later but wanted to get some pictures on the blog since the connections have been so slow.,  We leave tomorrow for Lima back to Milaflores where 3 us have a colonial tour and all the rest go on to Lake Titicaca.  Time to repack...again.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Still Complaining about SLOW Internet Connections....

 I managed to get caught up with the blog today, but might not get any pictures on here tonight.  Dinner is in 15 min and it could take that long to cut, paste, and post!  So here goes: (by the way, we're having a good time, but I feel we've been gone a month)

 The surprise turned out to be a shaman, which we found out when we unexpectedly stopped along the side of the road near a ravine and were told to bring coats. Cari introduced us to Pedro the shaman and said he was going to do a ceremonial ritual for our trip. As Nilda and Santiago collected wood for a fire, Pedro laid out a square cloth and started bringing out and opening many packages of colorful things, which he laid out in some order only he understood. He spent quite a lot of time getting ready, then stood and blew three times on some coca leaves and chanted. We were each given 3 leaves and told to make 3 wishes for our trip, blow on them, then distribute them over the offering he'd prepared. Nilda explained in the Peruvian culture, a incantation is very important and done when needed in families. The shaman had put many sweets in the pile, including sugar and candies, plus other things. He laid them north, east, west, and south and to Mother Earth. He then wrapped everything up and tied it together in a square and Nilda went up to him...and he chanted in Quechua, dragged the cloth over her body in front and back, then tapped her 3 times on the forehead with the cloth, and finally put it in front of her to blow on 3 times. Each of us in turn came up to the front and did the same thing. We then walked over to the wood which had been readied and a fire was set. After sprinkling wine over the offering, it was laid on top and more wood was added to maintain the fire until the offering was burned completely. We were then told to find a largish rock to place on the fire till it was covered, and we were done.
We headed up to Pisac and Nilda and Pedro got off the bus before we ascended up the mountain. When we got to the Pisac ruins, we were told they could hike in to see what was there and back or go the 1.5 k hike back down to the lower parking lot where the bus would meet us. Matthew opted for the 1.5 and everyone else went along with that idea...Sylvai, Susan, and I opted to stay on the bus. We were happy to sit and talk, knit, stretch, and not walk. The group was gone over 2 hours! They had no idea what they were in for, and although they saw something they thought awesome, I think most were very tired and sorry they took that route. We'd had a long day and our hotel was still 45 min away. It's now after 5 and we didn't get to the hotel till 6 or later. We arrived in the dark and all we could see was a dirt road off and a very dark place. We went into the lobby where after giving passports and finding our luggage, two men helped us find our room—in the dark over a lawn, down a dark path, over more lawn and up some steps I could barely see and to the last room in the last building way on the end. We got in and immediately noticed a nasty odor like mold or fungus. We had three low lumpy beds, one of which was under the pole for hanging clothes, which in most rooms would be called a closet, but this was just a horizontal pole. To get to it, you'd have to step on the bed up where the pillows were. No place for clothes other than that—no dresser. Of course, we had 2 extra beds, if we could both fit in one of them, so the other could be for our suitcases. But 2 minutes in that room and I knew I couldn't stay there for 4 nights. We headed out to make a change, and a few of our tour mates saw us and asked how our room was. We explained about the smell, so they came to investigate, and Teresa, the youngest in the group led us back to the office and spoke Spanish to the desk clerk and got us a new room. We were now in room 1, right next to the office. Several people helped us move our stuff into that room and we were down for the night. We did run into Cari at one point, and she was very upset with the situation because several people's rooms weren't what they should have been. She decided to stay there the next day, go to all the rooms with the manager and get everyone in the best rooms possible since this is what she'd/we'd paid for.
Turns out they had some water damage in their better rooms, so they put us in whatever they had rather than informing Cari of the situation and letting her decide what to do. The lighting here has been dim, Internet goes off and on, but even when it's on, it's very low and slow. I've never before seen a wifi connection that said both connected and no signal. Huh? The shower would be okay if it didn't flood the bathroom because of poor design, and like most places in Peru, you don't get extra towels, so we mopped up the floor with the second hand towel.
Cari ended up switching a few of us around the next day, and gave us their room which was above where we were...larger and high ceilings, and she and Greg took room 1. I really appreciated her concern for our comfort, especially after that first night fiasco.
The highlight of that place was the two brothers who worked in the restaurant, Jose and Gonzalo. They spoke English well and were the ones helping carry our bags that first night. We had breakfast there every morning, and they made fresh bread, fruit, and eggs any way we wanted plus a fabulous mixed fruit—papaya, kiwi, peach, etc—juice that I loved. I hate anything cold in the morning and rarely drink juice, but downed theirs daily. Their dinners were just okay, but always served with such smiles. The last night we were there, Matthew and I decided to eat there and Jose made me a special drink instead of the customary pisco sour, which I'd also come to love.... He made this one with fresh fruit, and it was awesome.
Rather than go through each day, since I'm so far behind on my blog, I'm going to combine our 4 days in the Sacred Valley and Chinchero. We were picked up by Flora and a driver the first morning to be taken 45 min away (up and up more to 12,000 ft) for our first weaving session. Flora turned out to be Nilda's sister and the driver was Nilda's husband. The first day we were taught backstrap weaving by several young women and Flora. Nilda showed up later to see how we were doing, which wasn't well. First, they tied us to our weaving around our middles and the other end was tied to a stake. Most of the women chose to sit on the ground, but 2 of us knew we'd blow our backs out if we did that, so we had stools. Those stools helped, but felt like rocks after an hour or two...even when they put some woven blankets under us. All I can say is it was fun to learn, or try to learn, and I hope to try again to see if I can master it better. The youngest of the group, Teresa, picked it up fairly quickly, and the rest of us had a learning curve. I won't say where I landed on the curve. We had lunch there with Nilda, which was really something. They served this fabulous soup—we'd been eating quinoa soup everywhere, which is delicious and so healthy. We thought that was lunch until the main course arrived, which was fava beans, salad with all fresh vegetables, greens, soft doughy tortillas unlike what we call tortillas, two kinds of potatoes, and cuy...guinea pig, which is a specialty reserved for special occasions, but can be found in some restaurants. We all tried some of everything and then were ready for a nap, but Nilda said no...back to work! They had a new pattern for us to try....oh goodie! I'd just barely figured out the first one.
The women from the village come to the center to weave and also sell their work when they have visitors. They set up on the lawn at the adjoining courtyard. I should explain we were working in a courtyard that couldn't be seen from the street. The houses are similar to the Spanish style with the house surrounding the center courtyard. This is Nilda's home, though she lives in Cusco most of the time so her boys can go to school there. The adjoining home belongs to her 82 year old mother who can be seen weaving and selling as well. She's quite beautiful with gray hair and black braids. So I couldn't sit on the ground...but Nilda's mother does it all the time with no problem. It's all what you're used to.
While I was enjoying my day of mind-exploding learning, Matthew was taking a traditional Inka cooking class with 3 others from the group. They were all supposed to take the other class together, but changed their minds when this came up. Too bad, because it turned out to be less than expected. Not so much hands-on, a long day of watching things getting prepared and cooking slowly, and not eating lunch till 4:00. They didn't get back till after 5.
The next day we returned to Chinchero and did natural dyeing. I'd experienced this in Laos, but not on this scale. They dye yarn several times a month for their weaving in hugh vats over open wood fires. Young and old women do the labor—lifting heavy, hot pots off and on the fire, stirring the ingredients for each color, then lifting out the yarn to allow it to drain over the pot using huge wooden poles. We were each assigned a color, so some stirred the pot while the leaves or whatever were cooking, then gathered the 7 skeins of yarn to throw into the pot. When it's dyed, it's held up to drain, then thrown into a plastic bin to cool, then rinsed in cool water, sometimes more than once, then wrung out. Then each skein is sort of whipped in the air to get out the water and the remnants of what was used for the dyeing. Then we hung them over a fence post to dry. A couple of us were bothered by the smoke we inhaled all day. The only break we had from the smoke was another wonderful lunch, this time with chicken instead of cuy. We also had buying time since the next day, the women would be coming to our location to teach us. I bought some smaller woven items and a scarf or table runner. Their work is beautiful and not inexpensive.
We thought the Inkan cooking class would be the highlight of Matthew's time in the Sacred Valley, but the day with the chef from the upscale restaurant turned out to be the best. They did all hands-on after another shopping day at the market, and loved both what they cooked and the chef. It was so inspiring, that 9 of us went there for dinner that night and the 6 friends returned the next night. Matthew and I shared alpaca carpaccio, which was to die for, then he had a curry dish and I had beef medallions with a reduction and a blue cheese sauce. Everything was excellent.
That night, however, I had a bad reaction to something, though I'm sure it wasn't dinner. I spent the night up and down and finally took an Immodium in the morning. The good news is those tight pants I brought to leave here fit much better now.
Another great day for Matthew was that last day because he left it open in case he wanted to visit nearby ruins, and instead, he chose to hang around the area. Our waiter, Gonzalo, offered to join him on an adventure to the local ceramics factory where the owner is relatively well-known. They had a great time together, then Matthew came back and hung around the hotel.
The last day the two young women who'd taught us backstrap the first day came with Flora to teach us their special tubular edged weaving technique. I can honestly say I flunked this class. Okay, I'm not saying I'm proud of's just the facts. At least I'm not the only one who had a hard time. Nilda put me back into backstrap weaving 101, which was fine. The rest carried on and learned how to do the tubular weaving and then how to add it to a piece. I brought back the yarn and directions, but have no one to teach me. I thought maybe we'd have time on the trip, but our one free afternoon here in Machu Picchu, Matthew went up with 2 others, and I was left on my own...and spent the day hiking around the property till I got so lost I was on the outer rim of the resort with no idea how to find my way back in (I finally snuck through some bushes off the path to get to the property), and am now using my time to catch up on the blog. I had hoped to get a massage, but Cari, her husband, and her friends had already signed up for them ahead of time, so there were no times left before dinner. Three of us wanted to have something, including Susan, Cari's friend, and they said they'd call if they could fit us in. I never heard, so rather than sit in my room alone, I chose to walk around the grounds and find the orchid farm they have. I had some help...a guy showed me the way since the grounds are enormous. The gate was locked, but he pointed to go around and I'd find an entrance. First I found an herb garden, which was cool, then I wandered around some more and finally found a way in. I was a little concerned about not finding my way out, but after seeing a few cool orchids, I saw someone up ahead, so I hiked up to where they had been....and that's when I got totally lost after finding my way out of the garden area. I think I felt a little deserted today since no one asked what I was going to do and they all knew Matthew had headed for Machu Picchu with Sylvia and Amy.
That was a digression... I missed our trip to Chinchero as a group yesterday. We left our hotel with hugs from Gonzalo and Jose and headed to the ruins and church and market at Chinchero. Only half of our group had been there since the nonweavers had gone in other directions the past 4 days. We saw the old church after getting the guide's talk on the ruins, etc, then headed for the shopping area. Matthew took off to see the petrogliffs while most of us headed down to the market. We made a few stops along the way to buy some things like a furry alpaca. I don't know how these 3 dimensional things will ever get home...they won't fit in the suitcase easily as of this moment. We shopped for about an hour and a half, then back to the bus for a buffet lunch before our hotel in Ollyantaytambo. We were told we'd have to repack everything in 30 minutes because we could only bring a carry-on onto the train for Machu Picchu. We scrambled to put everything in the suitcase Matthew carries, but after trying to shove everything else into my suitcase and his backpack, we realized we had to totally regroup and unpack the green bag and limit ourselves to what I could carry in my small wheeled carry-on (which already has my netbook and Kindle in it) and Matthew's backpack. We only brought what we absolutely needed, plus medications and important things we couldn't part with for 2 nights. Then the bus took Matthew and 3 others to the ruins and dropped them off and left town with all the rest of our luggage. We'll see it again in Cusco at the same hotel we stayed in before...but not till we arrive at around 7 pm. That's a long time to be without the rest of our stuff.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Internet is spotty at best and my netbook is cranky too.

Monday we had our early wake up call at 5:30 because we were told to be ready at 6, but as with many things in Peru, there was a mix-up in communication and we weren't picked up till 6:45. Our group was already there, minus Cari, the tour leader, Patti, her good friend who went ahead a couple of days and met us in Cusco, and Susan who was erroneously told in Portland her bag had to go directly to Cusco and not Lima, so she went ahead to get it..but it was really back in Lima. Greg, Cari's husband was in charge of rounding us up and getting us to Cusco.
Of course the flight was delayed till 10:10, so technically, I could have slept another hour... We met Ginger and Bob, more good friends of Cari and Greg, from Telluride, Sylvia and her daughter Amy from Ventura, CA who belongs to the Central Coast Weavers' Guild and knows Nancy Weber whose home I met at for several months in preparation for the weaving conference two years ago. Sylvia was doing some braiding on a small, handmade disk—has a Kumihimo disk at home, but has yet to use it for beading. Told her I'd taught a class the week before in just that. Unfortunately, I didn't bring it along on this trip for lack of room and preparation time.
We arrived at a lovely hotel with Patti and Cari greeting us with coca tea and apple cakes. The group overall is interesting with 2 yarn store owners, 1 person who raises yaks, 6 who have nothing to do with yarn at all, two women who love weaving but it wasn't their career, etc. We got acquainted, then went to our rooms, which were very nice.
We boarded our bus for a tour of two archaeological sites nearby, which were interesting but most of us got excited when we saw the llamas that hang around there. Maybe they were alpacas...i was too tired to figure it out.

 We ended up at Nilda Alvarez Callanaupa's' weaving center shop in town where we met with her and listened to her show the different types of weavng from the 9 villages. Three women were demonstrating as she spoke. She's the master of bringing Peruvian weaving to the world, so is very well-respected by everyone...and rightly so.

Met for wine and cheese, then some headed out for dinner and some went in other directions. We joined the larger group, which actually turned out to be all the leaders' friends. It was fine and we enjoyed getting to know them, but when they all headed to a pub after dinner, we made our way back to the hotel.
Tuesday was a packed day...we left the hotel heading for a weaving village. Nilda decided to join us on the bus so she could explain where we were going and what we'd be seeing. We have a tour guide, so they shared the microphone. The village (see above pic)was the most fabulous place! Everyone got up to shake our hands and greet us as we came in, but seeing Nilda seemed to be their true excitement—she really is the high priestess of their world. I'm sure she has changed their lives for the better. We were honored to have her join us especially since this village is not a big tourist stop. We had stopped in another larger village on the way to buy bread for them, which was handed out to everyone. They have one group who lives there and then other groups take turns coming to spend the day weaving and sharing their lives and what they do. Each group has their own costumes and types of weaving was fun seeing them get up and check out each others' work.
Nilda showed us around and explained what each small group was doing...we saw them spinning on drop spindles, the only kind they use, dyeing, backstrap weaving in many different types of structures, including weaving with beads, and knitting—but here only the men knit. They wear the most phenomenal hats~we have no place to wear them, but even
so, I was tempted to buy one.

Our tour group had box lunches for us, so they set up chairs around the the way, this was all done outside, so we were lucky we had a nice day. They offered us their soup, which Matthew took and shared with me...the soup here has been delicious. After lunch, we were able to shop...each person laid out their wares on a blanket and we choose what we wanted. everything is so beautiful, it was hard to make decisions, but we did buy one scarf (nothing here is inexpensive—I think the scarf was about $80—not like those $4 silk scarves in Thailand). This process took a long time because we all had to wait for Nilda to add up what we decided on and then we bargained with the individual for the larger pieces. If Nilda didn't feel the piece was well done, she gave it back …! she actually threw a hat back at someone because he obviously hadn't finished the inside.
We got on board our bus for the next stop only to find we had a stowaway....which turned out to be a surprise from Cari.
I have so many great pictures to add, but the signal strength here is so very very slow  that I've given up for tonight.  I'm a day behind because today we did our first class with Nilda and her group in Chincherro and it was wonderful, exhausting, frustrating, mind-expanding and exploding....  I've also noticed the Internet goes off and on so if I miss my moment, I won't get this published, so pardon any weird keyboard errors.