HOHO Halifax, Part 3 – The Citadel

October 2, 2017 (continued)

Our next stop was the Halifax Citadel, a fort on a hill with many things to see.

We went up to the ramparts and looked at cannons. A kilted guide spoke for a long time to a tour group. We descended a ramp where another guide in a kilt demonstrated how we primed and prepared his musket.

SONY DSCThe Citadel sits on a large hill overlooking the easily-defended harbor, which was what led the British military to found the town of Halifax there in 1749. One of the first buildings constructed was a wooden guardhouse on Citadel Hill, and Halifax’s first settlers built their homes at the base of the hill, close to the shore. As the fort grew, so did the town, which catered to the businesses of supplying the soldiers with essentials as well as off-duty entertainment.

SONY DSC

The Citadel one can visit today was completed in 1856 and its official name is Fort George, named after Britain’s King George II. This is actually the fourth fort built on Citadel Hill. It is built in the shape of a star which was typical of many 19th century forts.  This shape provided a wider range to shoot from in case of attack.  In fact, the Citadel was never attacked. SONY DSC

The Citadel National Historic Site contains several things to see: the ramparts with their cannons, the Army Museum, the changing of the sentry guard (every hour that the site is open), reenactment by interpreters in full 78th Highlander uniforms, and one can become a “soldier for the day”, including: getting dressed in a full 78th Highlanders’ uniform –  a cotton shirt, wool kilt, sporran, red wool Highland “doublet,” wool socks, boots, spats, and a Glengarry bonnet bearing the brass badge of the 78th Highlanders. During the three hour program, one can learn to drill, fire a rifle (or, for those under 16, play the British Army’s field drum) and learn the ins and outs of a soldier’s life in Her Majesty’s army! (Pre-booking required; program fee and details available online.) (See Halifax Citadel National Historic Site within novascotia.com website for more information about the Citadel.)

20171002_124818

You can dress like a bona fide Highlander in the program Soldier for a Day.

 

In the gift shop, I found only one style of hooded sweatshirt – not my favorite design, but I was desperate. I bought it along with a few other Scotland-related souvenirs. Dale told me the changing of the guard was about to happen, but by the time I finished the transaction and went outside, it was over! I went to the restroom where I put on the sweatshirt under my fleece jacket. After that, I was comfortable, but could still feel the cold.

SONY DSC

Gift shop Mackenzie tartans!

We did not participate in the Soldier for a Day program and only had a quick look at the Army Museum. By far the most interesting thing, to me, was the trench warfare installation. I knew this was a grueling and commonly used type of warfare during WWI but really didn’t have a clear picture of how it looked and worked. We entered as small room where anther kilted guide explained the layout of the trenches in one area of France. There was a diorama of trenches zigzagging across the landscape, which I had never conceptualized before. When the guide moved over to a wall covered with battle maps, I went to have a closer look at the diorama.

A doorway led out to a realistic reconstruction of a trench, which snaked around until it led to an exit onto a grassy area. The floor of the trench was covered with wooden slats, which surprised me. I had envisioned muddy dirt. A female guide dressed in a woolen army uniform explained that the slats were added to trenches after too many soldiers got “trench foot” from constantly standing in muddy trench bottoms. The wooden slats greatly alleviated the problem.

The walls of the trenches were also covered with wood, and I was surprised at how high they were. How were the men able to shoot their guns from them? She explained that there were ladders and benches on which men stood or used to get in and out of the trenches. In some sections, there were rectangular holes where guns could be fired from.SONY DSC

There were also lots of sandbags. Here and there were small rooms, one for an officer’s post, one with medical equipment used for basic first aid (they had even smeared patches of red paint to the floor to look like blood!).

20171002_133216_001

Serious wounds called for transport out of the trench – a hazard itself – to a medical tent or field hospital located some distance away from the battlefield.

When we exited, we returned to the main part of the fort along the outside of the trench, where recruitment and propaganda posters were plastered on the outer wooden walls.SONY DSC

 

SONY DSC

Again we were lucky to arrive at the stop just when a HOHO bus was arriving. As on all of these tourist buses, there was a guide on board pointing out places of interest and narrating as we went along.SONY DSC

Monday Windows: Store windows in Copenhagen

I love the store windows in Copenhagen. They are colorful and creative.

20150807_021522

Pastries in the window of the famous bakery chain, Lagkagehuset.

20150807_021806

Denmark is the origin of the most famous children’s building toys, Legos.

20150807_023349

Advertising footwear

20150807_023439

Store that sells lingerie. I’m not sure what knickers have to do with lingerie, though.

20150807_024528

Necktie display, using stylized tall, narrow buildings, typical of Scandinavia

20150807_033743

Colorful display of summer dresses and purses

All photos taken August 6-7, 2015.

Monday Windows

ABC COUNTDOWN TO RETIREMENT: U is for uniforms (uniformity?)

U is for uniforms.

Most public school students in the United States do not wear uniforms. However, a common topic for teaching persuasive essay writing is, “Should students be required to wear uniforms to school?”  The majority of students I have seen write on this topic have the opinion that no, students shouldn’t be required to wear them. School uniforms may promote school pride and unity, but the idea goes against a basic value in our society: individualism.

I used to be a strong critic of uniforms for public school students, but I am leaning toward being a proponent of some kind of uniform – or at least some uniformity of dress for students.

This graph shows that the number of schools requiring students to wear uniforms has increased, but only slightly.

This graph shows that the number of schools requiring students to wear uniforms has increased, but only slightly. How many of these are public schools?

I understand the arguments against uniforms…they take away individuality, they lack style, you’d need to buy several of them to last through the week and they can’t be replaced by hand-me-downs.

However, one thing I’ve noticed in our culture of informality is that people’s manners tend to match their clothing. If you are dressed up to go to the opera, say, or a night out on the town, you would probably dress nicer than usual. If you are wearing nice clothes, you tend to have better manners while eating so you don’t soil your dress up clothes, and your behavior in the theatre or on a date is also affected.

I went to a private boarding high school in Arizona. There was a lot of dust in the air and it was the late 1960s. Most of the time, we students wore jeans or cut offs, T-shirts, tank tops, sweatshirts, etc. However, the rule then was that we had to dress up for dinner: boys were required to wear a nice shirt and dress pants (no tie or suit jacket necessary) and girls were expected to wear dresses or at the very least, dressy pants.  It may have seemed like an inconvenient rule at the time, but I came to realize that I liked it. It made dinner a little more special because we had to prepare for it by showering and wearing nice clothes. Our manners in the dining room improved, and it was a chance to wear my nicest clothes.

I think the same holds true with students today. If kids come to school with ripped, frayed jeans, or shirts that are soiled or too small, their behavior in some ways will match the clothes. I have worked as a substitute in schools were some kind of uniform dress was required and – maybe it was my imagination – the kids seemed a little better behaved. I’m not a psychologist, but I’m pretty sure studies have been done on this phenomenon.

By “uniforms”, do I mean this:uniformity in uniformsor this:
uniforms-optionsuniforms-diff colors?

I think the latter. Most of the time when I’ve seen uniforms in public schools, there is usually a polo shirt in a choice of colors, and pants (shorts in warm weather) or skirt (or jumper) that are either dark blue or tan. No jeans! Having a uniform policy that is somewhat flexible like this prevents costs going up when a company monopolizes the school uniform market. You can find polo shirts and plain dress pants and skirts just about anywhere. And the shoes?  That’s where I think kids should be able to wear whatever is comfortable and affordable.

Here are some more arguments for and against wearing uniforms at school:

uniforms-bullying

uniforms-stylizeuniforms-pro and con

Hand-me-downs? ALL clothes that are in good shape can be hand-me-downs! Take it from me, the youngest of five children!

uniforms-pro&conIn the last chart, (from http://pixgood.com/school-uniform-cons.html), I disagree with most of the “con” side.  Sure, uniforms cost money but so do all clothes! And with uniformity, there is less peer pressure to get the latest fashion or look “cool”. Polo shirts and plain pants are available at stores like Wal-Mart and Target, where affordable prices are the norm.

Uniforms don’t have to be uncomfortable. Polo shirts are not uncomfortable and if given a choice in style while conforming to the color rules, pants and skirts will be similar to what the child is used to wearing.

In the real world, people don’t all dress the same. “Real world”, meaning “out of school.” In the “real world” you don’t have 25 to 90 children in the same place at the same time. Besides, school is part of the real world. It is the real world that children inhabit on average 5 1/2 hours a day, five days a week, 9 months a year.

What I often see in school are kids wearing inappropriate clothing: skinny tops that don’t cover  little girls’ torsos so their belly buttons show, pants that are ripped, frayed, or too big, which to me denotes a lack of respect for oneself as well as the school. Kids, especially the young ones, may not be the best judges of what is appropriate to wear. That’s the parents’ job. Having a uniformity policy takes away the potential of conflict between parent and child over what to wear.

A school-wide incentive could even be implemented –  “No uniform day” – for a low number of disciplinary cases in the school.

I found an interesting map, showing the states that “allow” districts to make decisions regarding uniforms. This is from the web site http://theproscons.com/pros-cons-of-school-uniforms/.

uniforms-states that allowThis may be curious especially to people in other countries, where uniforms are a given, not a debatable issue!

Uniforms are not going to solve the problems of bullying, peer pressure, and gang activity in school, but they may help alleviate these problems.

A Word a Week Photo Challenge: Undulate (wavy/ripple)

Undulate (wavy/ripple) makes me think of

1.      The pahoehoe lava that dries in long rippling waves at Kilauea (Hawaii Volcanoes National Park)

2.      The long, smooth ripples on the lake, caused by the wake of passing boats, becoming gentler as time passes and they reach the shore

These ripples are caused by a boat that has already passed, as well as the wind which causes small areas of counter-currents.

These ripples are caused by a boat that has already passed, as well as the wind which causes small areas of counter-currents.

3.      The lap-lapping sound of waves on the shore of the lake, whether caused by boats or wind – it is a soothing sound

4.      Sunlight dancing on the tiny ripples of a lake in late afternoon

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????

5.      The wavy lines on a piece of wood, made by a tree, each section unique – found in rustic built cabins where the smell of the wood still permeates the air

6.      Dreams: an image that comes closer and closer, then begins to fade away, each image like a long wave.

7.      Music based on dreams, a sound beginning soft, almost unperceivable, grows louder and louder, then fades away – like the sound of a train that approaches, passes, and fades away, the sound growing fainter and fainter

8.      Tall grasses blown by a gentle breeze; waving back and forth, or causing a ripple to travel over a prairie field

9.      Meditating: colors or abstract images that undulate across the consciousness that I see behind my closed eyelids

10.  A smooth dance – the dancer’s body undulating as it moves, the ripple of a flowing skirt or ribbons attached to the dancer’s costume

Traditional Peruvian dance, at a dinner show in Lima

Traditional Peruvian dance, at a dinner show in Lima

11.  The ripple of a layer clouds brightly colored by a sunrise

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????12. Intertwined snakes

These snakes in contrasting colors are the same species; the white one is a rare coloring, but it is not an albino.

These snakes in contrasting colors are the same species; the white one is a rare coloring, but it is not an albino.

I wish I had pictures of all of them, but although I have seen or heard each of them, I have no photographic record – they are imprints on my mind. Those that I have taken pictures of appear in this post.

Peru Journal: Taquile Island

July 4, 2008 (continued)

Our next destination on Lake Titicaca was Taquile Island. We got there by motorboat, after our visit to the Uros Islands. Taquile is quite a contrast to Uros – first of all, it’s a real island, not floating, and it is quite rocky and steep. The people on Taquile speak Quechua, in contrast to the Uros, who adopted the Aymara language centuries ago. 902Women do laundry on the rocky shore of Taquile Island, and drape the clothes on rocks to dry.

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????We hiked a rocky path up the steep slope of Taquile Island.

907
?????????????????????????Looking down on Lake Titicaca

???????????????????????????????????????Our guide, Edith, tells us about the flora and fauna on the island.
?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????913

I noticed that there are a lot of sheep on Taquile – it makes sense, since the islanders are noted for their fine textiles. The children have a particular style of dress – we saw boys with white shirts and black pants, wearing woven hats that extended down their backs, mostly red. These hats signify a young unmarried man. Girls tended to wear black skirts and bright colored tops – red, pink, etc. Their heads were covered with black shawls.These modes of dress are indicative of the Taquileños’ desire to maintain their culture and traditional ways of life, as well as control over their commerce.
???????????????????????????A little girl in native dress. The black shawls over their heads reminded me of traditional women in Spain’s past.

???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????The young boys wear red and white wool hats, and mostly black pants and white shirts. Notice that one boy is knitting. This activity is performed exclusively by males, starting at about age 8.  Making yarn and weaving, in turn, is performed by women only.

933
????????????????????????????????????Jayme (my son) and Dale (my husband) pose with a young girl and boy.

We climbed and walked for quite awhile before we arrived at the place where we were having lunch. The people in the village served us a delicious meal, and put on a show of dances and a lesson about how wool is cleaned and made ready for weaving.

????????????????????????????????? We are tired and ready for lunch! A traditional meal is vegetable soup, fish with rice, and a tomato and onion salad. They grow their own crops on the island and divide the land into 6 sectors, or “suyus” for crop rotation purposes. They grow potatoes, barley and beans on hillside terraces, and also engage in fishing. Their economy is based on these products as well as tourism.

924A man knitting. A beautiful completed hat next to him (gray and white) is very similar in design to the blue and white hat I later bought. Note also that the hat he wears is the style married men wear.
???????????????????????????????????????Jayme with a traditional “single guy” hat!

??????????????????????????????????Dale wearing a traditional Taquileño “married man’s hat.”
919Dale tried on this hat also – the villagers had many for sale.

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????
922The villagers performed traditional Taquileño dances for us.

?????????????????????????????????????????????Next was a demonstration of how they clean and dye wool.

925 926 927    ???????????????????????????????????Left: wool before cleaning; Right: wool after cleaning.

????????????????This man knits a hat while watching over items for sale.


The Taquileños produce beautiful woven hats, vests, mittens, etc. I found these to be rather pricey, although they are well-made. I ended up buying a beautiful light blue and white hat and two vests.

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????At the very top of the island is a village, where we were led to a factory with the reputation for very finely made items, like hats, vests, etc. This is actually where I purchased my hat and the vests.  This is the main village, located at 3,950 meters above sea level. The island itself is 5.72 square meters in size, with its highest point at 4,050 meters. It is home to about 2,200 people. Taquile Island is about 45 km offshore from the city of Puno.

Taquileños have a society based on community collectivism, as well as on the Inca moral code  ama sua, ama llulla, ama qhilla, (“do not steal, do not lie, do not be lazy” in the Quechua language). However, most Taquileños are Catholic, blending its religious traditions with those of their ancient culture. There are two Catholic churches on the island, and one Adventist church.

930

934

Taquileños also have a community-based tourist system. Because of the increase in tourism in recent years (numbering about 40,000 per year), large tourist agencies have encroached upon their system. However, they offer home stays, transportation, lodging for groups, cultural activities, local guides and restaurants. The community has established its own tourist agency, Munay Taquile.

937Terraces on which the people grow crops.

We continued our hike, traversing the entire island, admiring the beautiful scenery. At the far end of the lake, we descended once more, where the boat to take us back to the mainland was waiting for us.

939
941
940This is either the boat that was coming to meet us or some other very similar one.
942Here we began our descent.
???????????
944Locals’ boats, probably for fishing.

945

946
948Back on board the boat, heading across the lake back to shore.

949
953954
Back on land, on the bus, we sped through agricultural landscapes.
958

Finally, we stopped again – at another tourist shop! Here we had the opportunity to admire and purchase items made of reeds, as mementos of our visit to the Uros Islands.

959

960

962

963

964

965These are some of the crafts they had for sale at the shop. However, I bought only a few miniature balsa boats, one for Jayme and another in the form of a napkin holder.

NEXT: PUNO AND SILLUSTANI


 

Peru 2008: The Uros on Lake Titicaca

July 4, 2008

The alarm went off at 5:30 this morning, and I opened the curtains of our room to witness a beautiful sunrise over Lake Titicaca, the lake tinged a light violet.  Stands of totora reeds in the shallow water near shore and the peninsula beyond were silhouetted against the pink and purple sky.

Sunrise over the lake, as seen from our hotel room window.

Sunrise over the lake, as seen from our hotel room window.

After breakfast, we assembled for our bus ride to the dock, and then we would transfer to a boat to visit Uros and Taquile Islands. Our local guide for the next two days is named Edith. She is cute and sweet, and her English somewhat better than Edgar’s, though not as good as Boris’s. Sometimes she didn’t seem to understand our questions, so I tried to ask questions in Spanish, even though I didn’t want to appear rude to the others. There was always a translation following.

 

The boat was part of the KonTiki Tour company, I immediately noticed. Edgar and Edith are apparently both employed by KonTiki as well, contracting out to OAT for this leg of the trip. OAT requires local guides for each region. Boris, of course, was with us as well.

On the boat, we again greeted Edgar who boarded with his tour of the day, a group of people from several Spanish speaking countries.

After a ride of about two hours, our first stop, Uros Islands, was one of the most fascinating parts of this trip. Uros is a group of floating islands made entirely from totora reeds and their root systems.

We're now on a speed boat in the lake, where we pass among large stands of totora reeds that grow there.

We’re now on a speed boat in the lake, where we pass among large stands of totora reeds that grow there.

839

This part of Lake Titicaca is full of these totora reed patches, which the Uros people use to make their islands, the ground they walk on, their houses, their boats, and are even used for food.

The Uros are an ancient people with an ancient language, which has become extinct, as they began trading with the Aymara people along the lake, and adopted their language. Nowadays, the people of Uros speak Aymara. Spanish is their second language.

The Uros predate the Inca civilization.  According to their legends, they existed before the sun, when the Earth was dark and cold; thus they say that they have “black blood” making them impervious to the cold, as well as drowning and being struck by lightning.  Their legendary ancestors disobeyed universal order and mixed with humans, so they lost their status as super beings. 

Apparently the original purpose of the island settlements was defensive, when the Inca expanded their empire onto the Uros’ lands.  By living on these islets, they could move if a threat arose.  They have been living this way, on the highest navigable lake in the world, for hundreds of years.

There are about 40 of these floating islands, supporting from two to more than 10 families. On the largest island, there is a church and a primary school. Today, the Uros make their living by trading on the mainland and through tourism. They make beautiful embroidered crafts and small items made of reeds that they sell to tourists who visit their islands. They also fish and hunt shore birds and ducks for eggs and food. Some of the fish are for their own consumption and some they trade in Puno at farmer’s markets.

The main island. (The large fish is made of reeds, like most things on Uros.)

The main island. (The large fish is made of reeds, like most things on Uros.)

The main island: Uros women stand along the water's edge to greet us.

The main island: Uros women stand along the water’s edge to greet us.

At the main island, we transferred to a balsa boat made of reeds, rowed by native men. We got off at a much smaller island, named Isla Suma Balsa, that is home to only a few families.   This community consists of a few houses and storage huts. Notice the ground cover – all reeds. It is sort of spongy to walk on!

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

View of the island we are visiting and neighboring islands.

View of the island we are visiting and neighboring islands.

The men on the island demonstrated how these islands are constructed.  The totora reeds have a dense, interwoven root system about 1-2 meters thick that supports the islands. They are anchored with ropes attached to sticks which are driven into the bottom of the lake. The people must add new layers of reeds frequently because the reeds at the bottom rot away quickly. They also wear away due to the people constantly treading on the reeds. In the rainy season, the reeds rot much faster, so new layers must be added more often.

The following pictures show how the men measure the thickness of the island.

This man gives us a demonstration of how they measure the thickness of their island. They must maintain it at about 6 feet thick, and once they measure it, they will add a layer to maintain the thickness that offers stability for their island life.

This man gives us a demonstration of how they measure the thickness of their island. They must maintain it at about 6 feet thick, and once they measure it, they will add a layer to maintain the thickness that offers stability for their island life.

He uses this string, which he lowers into the hole to find out how deep the hole is.

He uses this string, which he lowers into the hole to find out how deep the hole is.

The pole will help determine the thickness of the reed island.

The pole will help determine the thickness of the reed island.

During this demonstration, our guide, Edith, gave us a commentary in English of what was happening.

We sat down to listen to Edith explain the history, geography and culture of these islands. One of the men demonstrated with miniature versions how the island is constructed.

Geography lesson

Geography lesson

She shows us a chunk of the island as it is constructed underneath.

She shows us a chunk of the island as it is constructed underneath.

The Uros travel between islands and the mainland in their balsa boats made of totora reeds.

The Uros travel between islands and the mainland in their balsa boats made of totora reeds.

853

The men show how the island is put together, with these bricks of reed and mud.

The men show how the island is put together, with these bricks of reed and mud.

The bricks are tied together.

The bricks are tied together.

Layers of reeds are placed on top of these bricks.

Layers of reeds are placed on top of these bricks.

Houses are built on top of the reed layers. Buildings are also made of totora reeds.

Houses are built on top of the reed layers. Buildings are also made of totora reeds.

858

859

While all this was going on, the women sat nearby, making crafts to sell to the tourists.  It would have been rude for us to not buy anything. Tourism is a major part of their economy.

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

This colorful embroidered panel shows life on Uros.

This colorful tapestry shows life on Uros. I bought it!

AThen one of the women showed us another use for the reeds: nourishment! Peeling off the outer layer reveals a soft white interior that is very nutritious, rich in iodine. We all tried it!

???????????????????????????????????

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

Children suck on and play with  reeds.

Children suck on and play with reeds.

The white part of the totora reed is also used to kill pain. The reed is wrapped around the place that hurts to absorb the pain. When it is very hot, they use the white part of the reed  to cool off by putting it on their forehead.

This panel describes the religious beliefs which descend from the Inca empire.

This tapestry describes the religious beliefs which descend from the Inca empire.

Afterwards, we were invited to explore the island, including seeing the interior of their houses. Each person in our group was “adopted” by one of the women on the island who led us to see their houses and encouraged us to try on their clothes! I declined, but others did try them on.

It looks like a robotic creature from Star Wars, but in fact it is a lookout platform.

It looks like a robotic creature from Star Wars, but in fact it is a lookout platform.

Every island has a reed boat. (In the tall reeds is where people go to relieve themselves).

Every island has a reed boat. (In the tall reeds is where people go to relieve themselves).

Traditionally clothed women invite us to come into their homes. Note the black pole with a panel on top - it is a solar panel! The Uros use solar power for small appliances such as radios or TVs.

Traditionally clothed women invite us to come into their homes. Note the black pole with a panel on top – it is a solar panel! The Uros use solar power for small appliances such as radios or TVs.

The woman on the far right has an unusual hat. Also note the large yarn balls the woman on the left has on the end of her braids.

The woman on the far right has an unusual hat. Also note the large yarn balls the woman on the left has on the end of her braids.

Inside one of the houses. I am invited to try on the woman's traditional clothing. I decline but others give it a try.

Inside one of the houses. I am invited to try on the woman’s traditional clothing. I decline but others give it a try.

DSCF7441

Dale tried on men's clothes, of course!

Dale tried on men’s clothes, of course!

3 brothers in the doorway of a home

3 brothers in the doorway of a home

Electrified home: The small TV is powered by an electric cable connected to their energy source - the solar panel seen in another picture.

Electrified home: The small TV is powered by an electric cable connected to their energy source – the solar panel seen in another picture. This is the only room in the home, so it serves multiple purposes.

Uros homes are simple, one room shacks built with reeds. Like other Peruvians, their cooking and eating is done outside. Food is cooked with fires on piles of stones. We saw traditional clay pots in these cooking areas.

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

Cooking stove and other utensils

Cooking stove and other utensils

After visiting the homes, the people had all their items for sale on display, so we shopped.

DSCF7447

DSCF7446

Sharon admires one of the beautiful tapestries.

Sharon admires one of the beautiful tapestries.

??????????????????????????????????????

Other tapestries

DSCF7439

DSCF7440

Several people then climbed the lookout tower.

Surprisingly, Dale climbed up into the tower - he's afraid of heights!

Surprisingly, Dale climbed up into the tower – he’s afraid of heights!

Dale took this picture as I climbed up after him.

Dale took this picture as I climbed up after him.

Neighboring islands, taken from the tower:

884

??????????????????????????????

Meanwhile, we were being summoned to board the balsa boat once more. It was time to say good-bye!

Taken from the lookout tower

Taken from the lookout tower

The people of Isla Suma Balsa lined up along the shore to sing to us – they sang an Aymara version of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star! We sang a song to them too!

???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

View of Isla Suma Balsa from the boat:
886

We pulled away from Isla Suma Balsa on our reed boat, with two delightful rowers.

??????They also allowed the passengers to have a go at rowing. Here are Wally and Jayme:
896We made our way back toward the “main” island. I took two more pictures of “our” island, Isla Suma Balsa, as we got farther away:
???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

899Another boat just like ours passed us as we approached the big island.

894One of the main sources of food for the Uros is, of course, fish:

This is a fish hatchery.

This is a fish hatchery.

On the main island, some people have motorboats.

On the main island, some people have motorboats.

After being delivered to the island in the balsa boat, we waited for the motor boat that would take us to our next destination.

We stop on the big island to transfer to our motor boat.

We stop on the big island to transfer to our motor boat. Of course, there are trinkets for sale for tourists.

Father and daughter love.

Father and daughter love.

Carole and I talk to a local woman and her daughter.

Carole and I talk to a local woman and her daughter.

Our next stop on Lake Titicaca was TAQUILE ISLAND. (next post)

Peru 2008: Isca Pataza, a rural community

July 3, 2008 (continued)

This afternoon, we were on our way to bring fruit and bread to a rural community and have lunch with them. Before we had left Puno this morning, we had stopped to buy fruit from vendors. The vendors were few and their offerings repetitive – well, it is winter – so we bought lots of bananas, oranges and apples, and I checked out some papayas that one vendor had, but they were both partially rotten. However, I spotted another possibility – a small, permanent tienda, where we found some great tomatoes and purchased two dozen of them.

With our fruit and bread (purchased the previous day in Urcos) in tow, we set out on foot along a path between farm fields, past cows, donkeys, sheep and pigs, and cone shaped stands of straw.

Raw01035

 At the end of the path, we again ascended a rocky hillside, 

Raw01044
Raw01049

and when we reached the top, we were greeted by an assemblage of villagers in their native costumes. We deposited our offerings on a table and were addressed by Martin, the mayor of Isca Pataza village.

Raw01054

The mayor of the village stands near the table of food that we bought in Puno.

The mayor of the village stands near the table of food that we bought in Puno.

Off to the side, a woman and a little girl wearing a “kantu” hat sat next to crafts they had for sale, and beyond them, an older woman was stoking a fire in an igloo of clods of earth, ready to cook potatoes. We were told that we were free to take pictures of whatever we wanted and didn’t have to give tips.

 ?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

811Across the yard against a low wall overlooking the village, a group of women in beautifully hand-embroidered jackets, bright colored long skirts and bowler hats were chatting and spinning sheep’s wool, or working clumps of wool with their fingers to make it ready for spinning. The spinners used spools that resembled tops, onto which they deftly spun the threads of white wool. A few children were among them, including very young ones slung on the backs of their mothers in black shawls.

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? 817 Raw01061 Raw01062

The first order of business was for us to grab some potatoes from a bag and throw them, like bowling balls, into the fire.

813

The fire was then extinguished, the igloo collapsed and dirt thrown over it. It would take about 20 minutes for the potatoes to bake in the hot embers underground.

Raw01065 

The mayor then got everyone together as Edgar gathered us together to greet each other, using the Aymara phrase he’d taught us: “Kamisaraki” (Hello, how are you), to which they replied: “Waliki” (Fine, thanks).

 

First we told them all our names and they told us theirs. Then we asked other questions to each other, including the usual how old are you and where each of us was from. Then the questions got more interesting: I asked what the woman working on black wool was making. I asked this because Edgar had told us the wool of black sheep wasn’t good for anything. The woman answered that she was making a black shawl, like the ones several women were wearing to keep out the cold or carry their babies.

Raw01056

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? 

Sharon (or Val, I don’t remember) asked about the beautiful jackets the women were all wearing; who made them?

 

This little girl wears a colorful jacket and the cap worn by single girls, meant to resemble the kantu flower.

This little girl wears a colorful jacket and the cap worn by single girls, meant to resemble the kantu flower.

Martin replied that there was an embroiderer who also was the tailor that makes them for everyone in the village. The tailor was apparently not present now.

 

The questions turned to farming and life in the USA. We were asked whether farming was much like it is in Peru, and we answered that thee were big farms with hired help, and small farms in which the family worked their own land. How much did a farm worker make?

Raw01081

We estimated about $5 per hour, that this pay was really low and a lot of farm workers were immigrants from Mexico and Guatemala. To make a comparison, the man asked (all the questions were asked by men) how much a quilo of potatoes cost and after some discussion we estimated about $1.50, a very high price compared to here. We also said that farming in the U.S. was mostly done by machine, even by small farmers. But someone brought up the Amish, and how they still farm without machinery and have close-knit communities that work together.

 “I’d like to go there,” the man answered wistfully.

 We also talked about farmers’ markets and how popular they’ve become, and why we like them – the food is fresh, locally grown and tastes better than a lot of food we get at supermarkets that is imported.

 Raw01075

They also asked about our patriotic holidays and how we celebrate them. I answered in Spanish that, in fact, our Independence Day is tomorrow, the 4th of July, and that we celebrate with fireworks, families go together to watch them and have picnics. Wally mentioned lots of beer, which got them to laugh.  The man who asked about this then said that Peruvian Independence Day is July 28 and that they celebrate with parades and parties – lots of drinking too!

So there we were, privileged Americans standing in a line, talking to this group of rural, poor Peruvians, with whom we would seem to have little in common, attempting to conduct an international exchange. These were not desperate or unhappy people. Their lives were simple and their concerns communal, but they were content with their traditions and way of life. Of course they wanted to improve their lives and they enjoyed the gifts of fruit and bread, things that seem to be sort of luxuries – not what they eat every day, not to mention the money they hoped we would spend buying the crafts they had for sale.

 Raw01070

The potatoes were done, dug out and cleaned, and set out with other traditional foods we were given for our lunch:

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

fried cheese, a few different preparations of potatoes (including dried or sun-baked), homemade bread from quinoa and wheat flour, sauces for the potato which included 2 salsas made with onions and tomatoes – one spicy and one mild, a sauce made with clay, and two kinds of sweets made with quinoa (which to me tasted identical).

Raw01084

Quite a starchy meal, but we helped ourselves, spooning the food into clay bowls and ate with gusto, savoring these unusual flavors, as we settled on benches and outcroppings of rock. Our hosts arranged themselves in their traditional community circles of women, spreading their food (mostly potatoes – not what they had given us) on a cloth in the middle. The men came and took their portions, then lined up along the side, leaning up against a wall with the other men.

 ????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

We were together, yet not together; the food we ate was traditional food prepared by members of their community, yet it was what they prepared for guests – fancier than what they were eating themselves, a meal of potatoes eaten communally with their hands.

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

??????????????????????????????????????

Afterward, Martin gave us quinoa soup, then a type of sweet popped corn, followed by mugs of muña tea. (Muña is a kind of mint which helps oxygenate the lungs at high altitudes). Each mug was brought to us individually, a sprig of muña in each.

827When we had finished eating, we shopped.

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

I emerged from the toilet to find Carol trying to get change from the woman selling the crafts. She’d given her a 50 soles bill, expecting 30 in change. The woman apparently didn’t have change so Carol asked if someone else would like to buy something to make up most of the difference. I agreed, since once again I hadn’t brought any money with me. I knew Dale had some, but figured this was a way to help Carol out of a dilemma.

 This, however, created a problem. The vendors were not all the same. The woman who we had been giving money to was supposed to share it with the actual vendor. I had picked out a wall hanging for S/15, a cloth 3-pocket holder for S/8 and finished off with an assortment of finger puppets and woven animal ornaments for S/7. This came to exactly 30 soles, and with Carol’s purchase, exactly S/50. The woman seemed confused so I tried to explain it, naming each purchase, its price, and how it added up.

 

Peasant community of Isca Pataza, the sign says. This is their main community building.

Peasant community of Isca Pataza, the sign says. This is their main community building.

Raw01088

Soon afterward, it was time to leave. Martin eloquently wished us blessings for our journey, home and family, and we said good-bye to each of the women, men and children.

 Raw01086

When we got to the bus, we noticed that one of the women had come down behind us and was approaching, looking concerned. Had someone perhaps left something behind?

 We were all on the bus when she entered and said that she had not been paid S/10 for a piece of her merchandise. She indicated that I was the one who hadn’t paid. I showed her what I bought and told her what I’d paid and that two of us had gone in together and paid the other woman 50 soles. But this woman said the other had not given her all the money and had told her that’s all she had received.

 I was on the verge of just giving her another S/10, but Boris said that if the other woman wasn’t giving her her proper share, then the other was a “ladrona”. They eventually stepped out of the bus to settle it, and Boris apparently ended up giving her another ten soles. I felt terrible and stingy – I should have just given it to her. 10 soles is very little for me and a lot for her.

I hadn’t meant to create a problem, or argue with this woman – I would never cheat someone like that and had only wanted to begin by explaining the situation, then perhaps give her the extra money. But Boris seemed to be handling it his own way, and so I was never given the chance to make amends as I would have liked to.

 

On the way back, Edgar showed pictures from a book on Lake Titicaca, giving us a preview of what we are to see tomorrow. And also a last discovery: a large house on a cliff, constructed with bricks the same color as the rock, complete with a round castle-like turret and many arched windows. Edgar said it belonged to a rich Belgian businessman who built it about a decade ago.

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

When we arrived back at the hotel, we said good-bye to Edgar and I tipped him enough for both Dale and me (20 soles). Jayme gave him an additional 10. We plunked down in the room we met at the end of each day, helping ourselves to coca tea and selecting our choices for starters, entrees and desserts for dinner at the hotel that evening.  Finally we went to our rooms to clean ourselves up from the dust and dry windy air before gathering for dinner in the dining room, heated by a blazing fire in the fireplace.

 Some people took Boris’s advice to take a walk after dinner because it’s good for the digestion. At high altitudes it takes longer to digest food. However, we were to set out early the next day and I preferred to stay in the room, write, read and go to bed early.

Peru 2008: Last night in Cusco

For a few members of our OAT (Overseas Adventure Travel) group, our last night in Cusco was the end of the trip. Those people would return next day by air to Lima while the rest of us would continue on to southern Peru, to the area around Puno and Lake Titicaca. This leg of the trip was an optional five-day extension offered on most OAT excursions.

The following pictures were taken during our morning walking tour (which I wrote about in my most recent Peru 2008 post) and in the afternoon “on our own.”

689 690 691 692 693694 695 696 697 698 699A protest march approaches in the Plaza de Armas.We came across this protest march by workers in the administrative branch of education. One of our group members decided to join with them! Although some people warned her not to, she managed to find out more about their protest and the protesters were quite friendly.

700 701702703Beautiful balconies on an apartment building in central Cusco. 704706

These women are dressed in colorful traditional attire. Notice the beautiful embroidery and the tiny baby alpaca that one of the women is holding!705We returned to our hotel (San Carlos) to rest prior to going out for dinner. This interesting modern light fixture hung down over the lobby (taken from outside our room).707Because it was our last night together with our entire group of 16, we had reservations at a well-known excellent restaurant in Cusco, Pachacutec, where we were entertained by native dancers and Andean music.708 709 710 711This brass and copper emblem adorned the wall of the restaurant, along with an artist’s rendition of images of Inca rulers.

Peru 2008: Cusco Day 1, Part 2: Shaman, jewelry, museums, dance

June 30, 2008

When I look at my pictures and see what time they were taken, I’m amazed that we went so quickly from one place to another. I don’t remember feeling rushed, but at the end of the day, I was exhausted! So I guess it shows how determined I was to document the trip that in the evening, I either wrote in my journal, or sent an email home from an Internet cafe (when one was available). June 30, however, was not one of those days. So I continue blogging about this day based on my and my husband’s pictures and whatever I can remember or glean from sources online.

A shaman for tourists

Yes, I know, there are people who perform “traditional” rituals for tourists as their livelihood, and that they may not be truly “authentic” but I am glad they exist so that I, as a tourist in Peru, was able to learn about some of their practices and get a glimpse of what the traditional rituals are like. Without them, I would not have ever found out anything about traditional medicine as performed by shamans, and OAT does go out of its way to expose its tours to a variety of cultural experiences, unlike many mainstream tour companies.

Ceremonial preparation includes coca leaves and other plant material

Ceremonial preparation includes coca leaves and other plant material

When we arrived at the ceremony that OAT had arranged for us, the shaman had laid the ceremonial materials on the rug in front of him. This ceremony was a sort of blessing and “stress reliever.” The shaman gathered a sample of these materials into a bundle, which he held up for us to breathe (“life”) into.

Raw00668Then he said intoned prayers in Quechua as he shook this bundle up and down our bodies, front and back.

Raw00663

Dale is being blessed

Dale is being blessed

595He repeated this procedure with each of the individuals in our group who wanted to participate. I think he prepared a new bundle for each person, although I can’t remember.

From the shaman ceremony, we went to Grupo Ama Arte Mágico Andino Joyería, a jewelry workshop and store, where we were able to see artisans making jewelry pieces using silver, gold, stones and other materials.

599Raw00670There was, of course, a shop attached to this studio where we were invited to buy jewelry made there. I purchased a pendant in the shape of the Inca sacred symbol (with the three tiers representing the sky, earth and underground) made of silver with a purple inlay and a small turquoise stone in the center, and a silver chain to wear it with.

Just outside the studio, my husband took this picture of a young weaver, which is one of my favorite pictures, because of the weaver’s facial features and expression, the loom at which he sits, and the color of his clothing, skeins of yarn and weavings.

Raw00669

Afterward we visited Museo Inka and Museo de Arte Popular, two of the best museums in Cusco, containing a variety of ancient and modern artifacts of Peru, made by local artists. We also visited Museo de Arte Contemporaneo.

Photos of any kind were not allowed in the Museo de Arte Contemporaneo, but we were allowed to take photos without flash in the other two museums. Dale took a lot of pictures in both Museo Inka and in the Museo de Arte Popular, capturing the unique, unusual, or personally relevant. I did not take pictures in these museums, relying on Dale for these, because I couldn’t figure out at the time how to turn off the flash on my new digital camera.

Raw00675 Raw00673 Raw00676Also in the museum in which these photos were taken, was a great example of the ekeko, god of abundance (modern version). You can hang representations of many things that you want, including a house (miniature), foam (representing a mattress – a good bed for sleeping), confetti (for good luck), money (either miniature versions of bills or yarn, because if you sell wool, you get money), a bag of tiny balls (food), TV set, car, and a heart (love), among many other things. Tobacco leaves are considered sacred and are used by shamans, and other plants which make you feel good may also be found on the ekeko. It is custom to light a cigarette butt on Tuesdays and Fridays, and put it in the ekeko‘s mouth; you then make wishes and say prayers. The smoke of tobacco, marijuana or coca invokes sacred spirits.

Raw00672

The other museum, probably the Museum of Popular Art, contained many small sculptures of daily scenes, the Nativity (I collect nativity scenes from around the world), masks, etc.

Raw00709Raw00687 Raw00688 Raw00691 Raw00690 Raw00689 Raw00692 Raw00693 Raw00695 Raw00698 Raw00697 Raw00696 Raw00699 Raw00700 Raw00701

Before and after, we explored some buildings and plazas of Cusco:

This statue was left over from  Inti Raymi, festival of the sun god. My son Jayme poses next to it.

This statue was left over from Inti Raymi, festival of the sun god. My son Jayme poses next to it.

Church of Santo Domingo, built on the site of the Koricancha

Church of Santo Domingo, built on the site of the Koricancha

Raw00683 Raw00684

Plaza de Armas in late afternoon

Plaza de Armas in late afternoon

This church, I believe, is "La Compania."

This church, I believe, is “La Compania.”

Plaza de Armas

Plaza de Armas

fountain and children in Plaza de Armas

fountain and children in Plaza de Armas

Shops and restaurants that surround the square

Shops and restaurants that surround the square

The plaza is a good place to relax and hang out after work

The plaza is a good place to relax and hang out after work

Near our hotel, Hotel Don Carlos on Avenida El Sol, is a cultural center, Danza del Centro Qosqo (another way to spell Cusco). We learned that there was going to be a show of traditional dances at 6 pm that evening, so we set out after a short rest at the hotel.

In the end, Dale and I did not stay for the entire performance. We were tired and hungry, so after we looked at some of the mannequins with traditional costumes, we left and walked to the Plaza de Armas to find a place to eat.

610 611 613 614 620 618 615

Mannequins in native costumes, the one on the left is from Ollantaytambo

Mannequins in native costumes, the one on the left is from Ollantaytambo

Mannequin in costume of Chinchero district, province of Urubamba

Mannequin in costume of Chinchero district, province of Urubamba

Musical instruments and decorative two handled jar

Musical instruments and decorative two handled jar

624 625

Costumes from the province of Acomayo

Costumes from the province of Acomayo

We did some window shopping on the way back to Hotel Don Carlos. Exhausted after this long and eventful day, we went to bed soon afterward, which is why I did not write in my journal that day!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Unique

This dress (in close-up as well as modeled by a young woman) was custom handmade in 1979 by lace makers in rural Pernambuco, Brazil. I had watched lace makers and seen their finished work during a stay in Northeastern Brazil, and greatly admired the beauty and intricacy of their creations. I decided to design a wedding dress to be made by these talented women. The blouse is entirely made of lace and the dress underneath is linen with two sections of lace in the skirt. Made by women I never met, I only trusted that they would follow my design, that it would fit according to the measurements I sent them, and that it would arrive on time.

Unfortunately, it did not arrive until a few days before the wedding, too late to make the adjustments necessary as well as the weather being too cold for this lightweight dress. I put it away for many years; then last year I took it to school for display on Heritage Night. It was worn that night by the Spanish teacher, who is approximately the same weight and height that I was back in 1979.  (The sash was added by the Spanish teacher).

It is definitely unique and even though I can’t wear it now, I will always treasure it!