3 Nov 2013
I arrived in Lima 11.15 am, saw 3 movies in the plane (flew with TAM (Brazilian carrier), stay in Condor House guest house...basic accomodation, but smack in Miraflores. Valerie and I had a meal in a few hrs later, but I fought the tiredness. I crashed out at 4 pm and never got out of bed until this morning 7 am. I had a dream that lasted and looked like 3 feature movies. Today I ran my legs off with electronic hard and software to be repaired, which would cost me an arm and a leg back home. But hey...We are back in the sun, it is spring here..in Lima only 18 to 22 degrees. But I like to shout: Y viva Peru! Feliz de estar de vuelta! However, just an hour ago on the bus I told a preacher off. The guy taking a bus for a church and congregation. I managed to shut him up, as did two youngsters who jumped in half way between our arguments, and they started rapping. It was just in time. A science student hopped on board to ask for a "colaboracion" (some small change for his studies), I told the preacher to help the student, because science is what has saved more lives than any religion of this world.
08 nov 2013, 15:37
Yesterday I went to see the art exhibition of artists from Pucallpa, say the Pablo Amaringo school. Ayahuasca visions, it was grand, and I got a gift...a beautiful catalogue with the works in it. Then we found ourselves a Belgian fries restaurant, run by the Belgian's associate who is a Peruvian. The Belgian left the business with him. Inside stood a grey Manneken Pis. We were served fries made of the only white potato Peru has, so flavour was not the same but still great. Then the owner's brother arrived, an ex Peruvian congress member, very erudite man, he made me laugh and he entertained us with anecdotes of his life and view on it. The Belgian food was flavoured with Italian charisma and verbal spices...
10 nov 2013
last night I was so glad to leave Lima, having spent our last night in the hostel where the entire afternoon they had peen painting the walls of an adjacent bathroom. The smell of thinners (spirits) wafted everywhere to the point that I and Valerie had to stay out of the hostel for a few hours. Being an asthmatic and Valerie coping with some bronchial problems made it horrible for us. In the morning of our departure I had a row over it with the young lady who ran it. Anyway, after 4,4 (it took 1,5 to get of Lima because of the traffic) we finally ended up in Chaco, where to my great surprise we were put up in the hostel next to the Cruz Del Sur Bus stop, and the hostel here happened to offer promotional rates. we are staying in a neat room, best mattresses I have ever had in Peru, clean beds, neat showers, a little patio in the front by the main road but we are shaded by a bamboo roof and walls. I think we settle here for at least 2 weeks, chilling out from all the hassle in Lima (just 10 minutes before I boarded the taxi by our hostel, I discovered a little museum with authentic handicraft pieces, also Shipibo Indian pottery) and from the routine and gloomy weather in England. However, the reason why I wanted to stop here, in Chaco, was to see the Paracas museum which has several elongated skulls, is said to be shut down. I hope to see the owner and find out if he could still opened up just this once for me. I might do some art work here, as I said, I just discovered this little paradise by the sea and port from where I want to do once more a trip to the Islas Bellestas (the Ballestas Islands, a birds reserve) which we did 2 years ago. it is quiet, here the sun shines and it is not overcrowded,a blue sky unlike the grey one in Lima. We stacked up with food from the local supermarket for our breakfasts. For the first time in years we watched a movie on our flat screen in the room: The bridge over river Kwai and on the bus I saw something with brad Pitt, about someone born old and becoming young and die. Strange weird movie...some of the sounds resounded deep within myself...but I wonder if someone wrote this movie on something a man once quoted...I think it was George Carlin who said it would be better to be born old or was it Woody Allen?
13 nov 2013
Being, residing in the town of Chaco, which is part of the Paracas province is very charming. The only drawback is that we have internet at a snail´s pace, so much that once FB open I hvae to wait 5 minutes or more to turn to a next page...so in the end I switch off the internet. It simply is not possible to even upload or download. But hey, I have known the days of pre-internet. I have become spoiled since 1996 to believe that interenet is to be everywhere at your finger tips. Then, last night I paused and said: That´s OK...I can do without. I will take it from day today...enjoy being here. What? We have heavely blue sky to look at, filled with flying things called birds, storks, species I have never seen before,. Because Chaco is part of the nature reserve. And very soon Valerie and I will visit the reserva of Paracas to observe my brothers and sisters the Flamingoes. Yesterday afternoon, I was reading a few chapters of a book on shamanism...when se stopped me and pointed out a pair of dolphins whose backs and fins we only saw up and down the waves. Plenty of fish to catch for them.
The day before we ventured out beyond Chaco bay where the rich people live (8 million dollars for a house there! Bough in the 80s by 4 families (Swiss, American, British, and Peruvian) and saw huge jellyfish the length in diameter of my forearm, in all colours. But what was funny was that some days before I told Valerie the legend of the boto (Amazon dolphin called like that in Brazil). The boto comes at night to impregnate single women and in daytime he wears a hat to hide the fountain hole in his head. (I was often asked if I was a boto then), he is reputed to be handsome, which I was at age 29 for many natives of Brazil. So, I said to Valerie: "This is your medicine, you saw them, they are here for you." We observed them for 15 minutes and then they went to deeper waters. Only a few minutes later in the third chapter of the book, the shaman talked about dolphins in the Amazon whose sexual organ is much sought after and makes women moan with desire when they are near dolphins. I had no idea this was to come...again, I feel things, and believe they come at the right time.
I am trying this from a cybercafé in Pisco, that´s why you should not wonder, how I managed to write this down. I came to call my mother from here. Pisco is said to be dangerous like Lima...But we will have to venture out from Chaco to San Andres (5km from Chaco, to try the fish market, and the eateries, half the price cheaper than in touristy Chaco. Chaco also has a private museum that holds the elongated mysterious skulls from teh ancient Paracas people of 1500 years ago. And Yesterday, a tout who works for a restaurant where we had a coffee, befriended us and has invited us to go to visit the pier of Pisco (which was demolished 70 years ago nand which they are going to rebuild.) The sea used to come much further than where she is now...This area is prone to earthquakes, tsunamis and el Niño...So, they had it all in the past 70 ears. But now we coud see cormorants, pelicans and more, there, and after that he will invite us to his home to eat fish prepared by his wife! Ah, si, la vida es linda aqui...We will certainly go an redo the Islas Bellestas, before our hotel rakes up its price inDecember when The high season starts. Our place now for which we pay 50 soles per night per room, will be 200 in December and for us , as good customers, 70 soles. 1 dollars now 2,67 soles. Yes, the dollar went nose diving. We came down to Caco to chill out, and that´s exactly what I am going to do, where elsewhere in the mountains it rains...and in Europe you brace yourselves for a brave winter. Hasta la vista, muchachos!
21 nov 2013
Just now, we are sitting in classy restaurant Juan Pablo (where there is fast wi-fi in the the town of Chaco, and right now it is kind of chilly and very windy (Paracas winds) and the boys are playing football half naked on the beach and just now as I am typing they even went swimming the ice cold sea!
Also I interviewed a man (ex healer) called Juan Navarro, owner and founder of the private little museum Paracas, where you can see elongated skull and Paracas culture, Inca, and Chincha. Filmed him. But now I got to leave you guys, cause I am going to have dinner...Prawns in a curry sauce...next to Valerie Hunt who has just started her prawns in mango chutney. White and red wine for us...Cheers!
I have lots more news...unfortunately, the internet is so weak at the place where we are lodged. In the pas week we have visited a tambo built by the Inca Pachacutec Yupanqui, known as the Tambo Colorado. We also plan to visit in the coming weeks a trail of 6000 tracks (each 2 meters deep and 1 meter apart from each other) over pampa hills, which seems to shape the figure of a snake. It first appeared in 1940-41 in the Nat Geo magazine then. Von Daniken had his theories about it, but no one really knows anything about. Seeing maybe Brien Foerster tomorrow when he comes to deliver his books at the Paracas museum. I will have to sit down in the coming days and write down what I have seen and what I think. There plans to travel to Pucallpa (me alone probably, and Ayacucho). Uploading photos is a pain..and so is a lot of text for the moment. Please let me know if you are interested in seeing more updates.
Since our arrival in Chaco I haven't really chilled out in the literal sense of the word, more likely I heated up in passion for what lay within my reach of discovery of the rich and enigmatic culture we don't know the name of, but which we have for the time being dubbed Paracas, because that was the place that Dr. Julio C Tello had found mummies with elongated skulls, who had their religious, ceremonial, and administrative centre at Cahuachi in Nasca province.Within a couple of days I went looking for a museum that had some of those skulls on display, and which I had seen examples of on Brien Foerster's Facebook webpage. Intriguing they were, and more so knowing that they were a highly artistic people, who apparently had no minds bent on war, as no real weapons were discovered or proof, evidence thereof. What they had found was an arsenal of musical instruments of gigantic sizes such as antares of 150 centimetres high and drums a meter tall.
Archaeologist Alberto Urbano who I met this year when I lived for 4 months in Nasca, in the municipal museum, said in an interview I held with him, that the Paracas had knowledge of music on a high level because they knew to play music in symphony. The west could not, and did not want to believe that a 'primitive' society did not restrict itself to a pentaphonic scale.Anyway, Chaco, is a little harbour with a bay from where fishermen leave everyday in small boats toward the Islas Ballestas, now declared the reserve of Paracas, with a variety of birds ranging from cormorants, gannets, gulls, and pelicans to animals like sea lions, spider crabs, dolphins and the occasional whale. Rich enough for a daily income of international tourists. Chaco provides Spain with anchovies from here, and they still collect tons of guano for turned into natural fertiliser for national and international usage .
The bay was also known for the Spanish galleons that exported the gold stolen from the Incas to Spain, which was also coveted by the English pirates, the likes of Francis Drake.. So, much information that one has to ingest on the toruist crammed speedboats that took me to the islands.At the museum of History, run by Juan Navarro Hierro, - a self taught historian and owner of the museum, - I learned more of the Paracas culture by looking at the enigmatic skulls and listening to what Alberto and Juan told me. Sure, but one has only to look deeper and wonder how can people who knew how to operate on the brain by opening skulls, or closing skull fractures or holes made in the bone through techniques such as drilling, scraping and sawing in them. War victims's skull holes were sealed with gold laminates...There is the wonder of what a chandelier (candelabro) does on a flank of a coast cliff? Juan tells me with ease, that as child it was known as the cactus, becuse that is what it was, later it was known as the trident(e). It became known as the candelabro after the s Spaniards had arrived, they called it that. Obviously, Juan says, because before their arrival the candelabro was unknown to the people here. It works more like the southern cross, or as a light tower, Juan adds, because the Paracas have always fared the ocean guided by the southern cross, which is very often present in their textiles and ceramics.
The Paracas traded with the people from what is now known as Ecuador (known then as Chinsasuyo as part of the Tawantinsuyo of the Incas), because they found necklaces of spondylus shells, which was only found in Ecuador and was highly valued.Juan, a charismatic 'teacher' and ex- healer, tells me with passion, and puts his heart in the matter when he describes how the Paracas turned into a passion for him the minute he inherited cardboard boxes from his dad and mum. Passed on by his grandfather to his dad, he had no idea what those boxes contained and had never known of their existence as a youth.The boxes contained the valuable skull that no one had ever studied or analysed. So, he started his own research; read books on archaeology, history, invited experts from Lima to look at the skulls and give their opinion. Recenly Brien Foerster became involved and had a geneticist from the USA take one of the skulls for a DNA scan. This revealed that that particular skull was not from Paracas.
Brien Foerster is a Canadian artist/sculptor who started working with and for Juan some 10 years ago, and is now based in Cusco doing research on the megalithic stones and elongated skulls found in what once was Tawantinsuyo. Juan, who showed me a number of weird skulls such as a pre-Andean, an Inca, many from Paracas, and others with unnatural seams, dividing the skulls in more than the usual lobes, pointed out one that was said not to be a skull from a man that lived here (Paracas) and one whose DNA they haven't been able to identify.But Juan is a simple man, with his heart on the right place; people and TV stations seem to find him now, and want him to lead them to mysterious places, like he did when he took me and my friend Valerie ten days ago to Tambo Colorado.This is a very coloured garrison built by the Inca Pachacutec Yupanqui around 1474. It was about an hours ride by taxi, driving over side roads, left and right of the Panamerican highway, alongside the Pisco river, past the town of Humay, where in 1553 the Pisco drink was born and cultivated by the Spaniards from seeds of the Canary Islands grapes.The tambo is huge and quite a labyrinth in which Juan twice lost the direction toward the exit. The Inca had his own bath and one for his coyas (princesses, his wives) and they are well preserved. The tambo was that well built that it survived several earthquakes, and that in comparison with 20th century buildings in Pisco town which were raised to the ground with the last one. The Incas had already developed quakeproof architecture and it still withstands the quakes today. The tambo drew many treasure seekers as soon as it was known that the Inca once had given orders to melt down all the golden idols which they had, in order to hide them from the Spaniards, lusting for gold and on their way to the Tambo Colorado.
Juan goes on to tell me on film, that not so long ago a gang of looters arrived at the Tambo to find the gold, but were found by the INC (Instituto Nacional de Cultura) guards and told to leave the place. Apparently they had found something but had not been able to take it with them in time.When a group of tourists arrived some time after that, they found boys playing football in the square where Pachahcutec (the architect Inca) had had his troops lined up. The goal consisted of some rocks. One of the rocks that was the shape of a ball, seemed highly interesting to them, so much so that they took the ball with them. Juan concludes that the ball which was actually at first sight no more than a mud ball, but in fact it was molten gold covered in dried mud, probably made by the looters who left it behind.Each room that we visited in the tambo had at least a dozen niches in which had stood a golden idol. So imagine how much gold is still buried there, hidden from the Spanish?
25 november 2013
I had a wonderful day in Ica, especially since I had a special allowance to take pictures (of the things I lost on my external hard disc 2 years ago) in the museum. Also meeting with my young and talented friend, Kyl Robles, a student of Communication sciences, is photogenic,, handsome and definitely an intellectual with wits, with whom I hung out afterwards and with whom, despite our age difference (he is 21), have much, much, in common, not in the least in our love and knowledge of music, writing and life philosophy. Kyl, lives in a room of 3 by 2,5 metres, is the only son of a family of 6 brothers and sisters, who attends UNI, and has to live on a meager 400 soles paid for by his dad. But he enjoys every minute, he says, holed up in his room with no window, hanging over his computer most times of the day, studying, writing his blogs (for himself and since he met a girl, who told him she loves his writings). He took me out to the Pisco bodega of Lazo, where I have been 2 years ago. The day and time we spent was short lived but it was quality time, and that's what we both seek in life.
The artefacts of pre-Colombia, are still there hanging standing between the many wine and Pisco barrels. Again we savoured Italian wine, Borgogne wine, and a pure Pisco (which I don't like...I prefer Pisco sour, or Pisco Maracuya, but also the Pisco creams made with chocolate or coffee.), and one which was created illegally by slaves and towers above of what the Spaniards made for their King, the Quebranto wine here bottled under the name of El Perfecto Amor (the perfect love). I bought 2 bottles, one I shared with him in the bodega spiced with talk, which I would not call small talk (something we both hate) and one for me to share one of these days with Valerie Hunt. We didn't get drunk, but nearly got drunk on our own peculiar characters and interests. We must meet again, and soon, Kyl said, to compose and jam together. Kyl had his own recording equipment, plays the guitar and I will do the singing. The bodega filled with Paracas, Nazca, Inca (even contemporary statues in bronze life size) gives the bodega a certain allure and coziness that draws quite a number of couples. we were the artistic couple meeting, it was a sizzling platonic affair, but we enjoyed. When we entered at first, one of the wine men ( I will call them so) who served plastic cups per person with the size of a rum glass of their wines. It was confusing to one of them, who wanted to know whether Kyl was my son, or he was my father (his joke) and calling as usual here, for the Gringo to come and taste what he served. Until I told him that my name was Wayra Inti (Wind Of The Sun in Quechua given to me by Bolivian Amautas (sages) after a San Pedro journey of 12 hrs of vision) and that if I told him my true name it would be followed by Garcia, which has been applied to me since 2006 in this country.
I didn't get drunk as I said, but it was the perfect love of day' conversation that made me travel back to Paracas happy and relaxed. In the bus I met up with a tourist from Lima next to my seat with whom I had Ayahuasca in common. One hour conversation until I arrived was about that, San Pedro, trances, archaeology, anthropology, the origin of the people in Latin and North America. exhausted Valerie and I went early to bed.
We are planning to leave November 2 by taxi 6 hrs into the sierra of province Ayacucho known also as Humanga. There put up we will travel back 3 hrs to visit the town of Huaytara to visit Inca ruins, rarely visited by foreigners, but I was told Inti Huasi is a well preserved palace, and there is one more ruin. Ee will go now to forego the rainy season, and so we can be in Cusco after to visit a new museum there. By X mas we hope tovbe in Arequipa, to visit good and old friends. From there back to Nazca and stay there a week. Then head for Cajamarca through Trujillo, Huanchaco, to solve the issues I have with paintings and then hopefully travel on to Ecuador and perhaps to Colombia.
It is heavy as hell, but I will look for an artisan and see whether he can reduce it in weight...Now we are back and ate a nice pancake with fruit and honey and a brown Cuscena beer. Do, I live like God in Peru? Yes.
I just came back from a 2 hrs walk, up and down the long beach, direction Paracas reserve. I started at 615 am, from the hostel. I had a sore and stiff back (the mattress does me no good). As I walked the stiffness out of it, I thought: I should turn back on my heels and sleep another hour, because I only slept 5. I worked on a video last night for 5 hrs too until 10 to midnight and of course, the laptop screen switched my brain into hyperactive mode. However, then I thought to myself: I have been here 3 weeks, to the point that most people know us now by name and ask us (Valerie and I) everyday how many more days we are going to stay here. One even asked me if I was here because I had retired...
Anyway, the road skirting the port was empty and the street dogs and house dogs were sleeping. Circumventing the pier, all but two threatened me when i past their bosse's territory. I was wearing my red fleece hoodie, because it was a bit chilly that early out there. By the time I reached Hotel Paracas- an amazingly beautiful hotel which after the tsunami had been rebuilt on the beach, was all splendour in low construction...bungalows with maximum 1 extra floor on top. I saw flocks of birds everywhere. The pelicans huddled together with the cormorants on a pier or masts of the fishing boats. Black winged dots of three types of gulls, piercing the the celestial coloured sky. Then a very tiny species on high legs with dozens of babies on short legs running like scared chickens to and fro. They are called sandlings and loved to sit to togethere on the green sea weed or dry white sand. Of course, loads of shrieking and alarmed oyster catchers flew away from me, making a half circle to land behind me on a stretch of beach they wanted to make their own. together they managed to sound the alarm with shrill sounds. A signboard in front of a private home with lawn read: stingrays abound here, be careful, swim at your own peril.
I wished I had brought my camera and I then again I thought: I should have walked this beach every morning, which had been a resolve we had made on the first day we walked here. Valerie was still sleeping...My mood changed painstakingly from grouchy to cheerful. I had walked an hour and had seen pelicans making a spectacle reminiscent of what I saw at the Islas Ballestas, only here, they were flying on and off closer to the shore, swooping their bellies in a smooth line over the ocean waves.
However the waves were merely eddies lapping the surface. So, I noticed there were stingrays and a few jellyfish. The latter were not so present as on the first day. In point of fact, I only saw one dead, and on my return I spotted a huge one, alive, moving its tentacles like a long dragon's tail. However this one's tail came in a threesome. A man of war type creature, wine coloured and in the middle of its body it was transparent with two holes that looked like eyes.
I felt the need to rest after an hour's walk, so I took off my hoodie and tied it around my waist. I sat myself on a narrow plank which was nailed on two bamboo poles. Then the cinema was turned on, and I imagined David Attenborough speaking a voice gasping for air: "The pelicans have a need for solo flights as they are not such social creatures. Just like the cormorants they are excellent divers..." Camera zooming in, we see a cormorant coming out of the water, wet like an otter, landing on a red buoy.I thought I could paint something from my memory like that. He shook his wings and opened them up like Batman's cape in flight. He basked in the morning sun whjich was shining on his back. He sat there at least half an hour, drying his feathery coat.
in the back drop another scene unfolded as gulls, cormorants, and pelicans dived like kamikazes with open wings into the deep. Shoals of fish must be about, I thought, and they only had to follow them. On my way here, I had past those diving champions by the pier but now they had moved over here, as if they wanted to entertain me with their skills of master divers. In the end I was directing the pelicans in my head and counting aloud in Portuguese (don't ask me why int that language, I just did) um dois tres...muito bom, agora mergulha mesmo, ne! (one tow three...and dive now!). Their beaks turned into javelins, however, whatever beak it was, they came out with prey in it. Then the pelicans bobbed a bit and prepared himself to take off once more...it happened over and over, I couldn't tire of it.
A dog found me, all play and cheerful. "Es muy jugueton", a boy of 11 told me, when I met him on the beach, pushing a wheelbarrow with a bottle of pineapple juice in it, which he was going to deliver to his brothers. The dog was called Dog, the young master told me. His favourite birds were ...pigeons! Out of all graces he chose the plain ordinary pigeon??? The dog then stopped following me, he had been friendly to me, but he was going to stay ing in the area he knew. On my way and back I found a few dead birds; a cormorant or two...Also in the reserve we found some dead gulls. This reminded me of 2 years ago when 750 pelicans had died on the north coast of Huanchaco...starvation, was the conclusion, heating up of the ocean and therefor, not enough or no anchovies to be found.
It was 7.30 am, time to walk back, I thought. The sun was heating up the day and had done me a lot of good defrosting my sore lower back (sciatica, what a pain!), but I had forgotten about it, just watching this play in high definition and technicolour. I found small stingrays, they were white, forlornly dead in lots of seaweed strewn on the shore. But to my surprise I found 2 tiny feathers of flamingos. Way to go, and good medicine for a Fleming from Belgium. Then of course, I discovered some tiny white plumes from the herons, which I forgot to mention here. They were in huge numbers posing on piers, lawns, fences, and they are truly graceful birds. All birds I saw had a majesty about them, which left an indelible impression in my mind.
I realised that most birds had flown, so they feed early in the morning, before the humans are out there. Now I passed through the Paracas hotel again. Luxuriously looking, with swimming pools and inviting but empty beach beds lined up along it. Tourism will be full on in a few weeks all the way until end of March. I am thankful I can enjoy the beach and nature without the crowds. As I finally reached the end strip of the beach by the restaurant where we usually wine and dine, I see a queue of tourists -wearing their orange coloured life saving jackets- following the guide on the pier, to board the boat that would speed them to the Ballestas islands.
All the way back I had been humming and singing new melodies, in tune with the sound of silence, and I was happy to walk my last leg to the hostel where I hoped to find my breakfast.