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 structures...it 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 perimeter...by 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.