Saturday, October 6, 2012

Q'enqo and Saqsayhuaman

 Thursday was full of sightseeing, of philosophy, of soaking up another way of looking at life and death and the in between.
Emerita took me around all day - from early morning in a communal taxi taking us from Calca to Cusco - two other people were going too, and so we shared. And the first stop was the sacred place of Q'enqo, where we walked around for an hour or so - the magnificence of these sights is that .... all the structures the Incas left behind are either carved right out of mother earth, like these steps or this seat, right in the rock, there it is firm and unmovable or delicately designed to fit into what is all around...

but with clear connection to both above and below. A walkway between two enormous pieces of rock, hewn smooth and beautiful, no rough texture here. When looking at where the path went to and from it seemed it was part of a transition path between upper and nether world, the world of spirituality and the world of wisdom and afterlife below. 

 Across the paved the road a part of the royal road had been excavated, looking at it, and thinking about the energy that was used in building thousands of kilometers of comfortable traveling road like this. Keeping in mind that there were no big front end loaders and trucks to carry stuff here or there. There were backs and hands, arms, legs, tired bodies galore.

 Down at Saqsayhuaman which is an even larger area I fell instantly in love with how there were shelves and steps carved in the rocks everywhere - places to pray, to leave offerings, to meditate. We went through an S-shaped tunnel, the middle cavity opening in the photo was the exit, for a minute or so in there we were in full darkness and deep quiet - another transition tunnel. I am in awe!

Another humongous rock - carved steps upside down, we walked in under them, these steps are very strong in many woven or painted art depictions both from then and now, the steps which connect us with the above and with the below - both essentials in life.

The boulders are ....big as houses - and it is hard to get the right impression - we walked through this passage way looking up at the step carvings and as we came out the other end and continued up a path we turned around and ......

on the top side of this giant was .... a seat, an altar, site for reaching out and strengthening your connection to the heavens, the sky, the stars, the sun, the moon. The precision and the sharpness of the corners of this piece tickles me pink - sort of when I realize I have managed a really delicious selvage on a piece of weaving =-)

Walking down into the centre of this enormous construction of worship we also took a walk along the large wall, zigzagging along   ----- well, these are not small rocks, and they were not built around already standing boulders, there are foundation rocks to be seen where the excavations have gone deep enough. Tons and tons of boulders, moved and carved - there are no bumps in between the rocks they are all smooth as sliced butter.

 The wall zigzags along, there are speculations that one or more golden snakes were decorating the wall, these walls were once shiny with precious metal, gold and silver - gold being male, silver being female, all these tonnes of rocks were covered and shiny in the hot sun.

Looking at this I am thinking, hm, what a tapestry - but I will have to wait until I get back home to Canada to execute that idea.

Food experiences with photos!

There are avocado trees in the garden, I look up at Avocadoes, not apples or pears when I leave my room in the morning.
An evening meal, innocent looking vegetable soup suddenly made extra exciting by an unknown factor, which has brightened my life several times since this event! Oh, and the yellow gob is not an egg yolk, it is salsa\!

A great surprise element, especially when one thinks that ....molido means soft, sweet etc - well it does not - it means ground - and somewhere in there are also the words for ... HOT salsa!  

Sweet Breakfast, fried potatoes with garlic, pineapple juice and toasted buns with Jam, yes please =-)

Market day, strengthening drink with carrot, orange, pineapple and other interesting additions, good for preparation to or finishing up a market day.

Part of the loot - carrots, ginger and this interesting fruit which tastes a bit like a melon of some kind but has no pits or seeds, it is deliciously juicy and sweet and I recommend use of a bib or at least a large napkin when enjoying it 

And egg delivery - from a free range egg farmer near by who brings eggs to the owners of the hostal anyways. I got 12 eggs, the two other guests got I think 24 - and it sure was interesting to receive eggs like this, although it does make sense, they are selfcontained entities, so long as we don't insist on throwing them into bags that are then bumped around in the back of a hot car. Pro vecho and bon apetit!

Friday, October 5, 2012

saturday weaving project

My frustration was rising, I had been struggling with the pattern that was green and purple, my choice and the pattern was called the spider - the spider is an important creature in Andean spirituality it is said it taught the runakuna (the people) to both weave and talk - I had not thought to ask to take the weaving home with me and so on Saturday morning I picked up my spindle messed around in my suitcase for a bit and found the small zipperbag I had stuffed full of fleece from my (almost empty) studio - hahahaha!
 I spun every free moment, when I wasn't out exploring Calca photographing dogs, that is what I was doing, spinning - and I was trying hard to spin hard - normally I aim for a fairly soft yarn that will easily fold itself around a person's neck or shoulders as a scarf or shawl. But doing these belts is a whole other story. It is a warp faced weave which needs tight yarn to keep its shape and pattern once woven and finished. I finished up a goodly amount of yarn and after was time to play upside-down chairs on the kitchen table.
Fortunately there were none of the other guests at the hostel who needed the kitchen that evening so I had all the time in the world to finish my project, it drove me on and I worked hard until close to midnight. With a chair at each end of the kitchen table the legs were used for making a perfect cross and a warp with just the right length.
I realized that I still needed choke ties and so..... the orange spool of sewing thread I had packed for a sewing emergency was trippled  into appropriate lengths and twisted thoroughly so the ties would also be good and firm.
This is my spider on my own handspun yarn - I figured it out and could move the weft thread along at a pretty fast clip towards the end, well, at the very end I was loosing momentum, one does get tired even if one is immensely excited about the progress of a deeply engaging project. 

This is how I dealt with not really having anywhere firm enough to tie my warp to - I opened up my closet door, attached the warp to two opposing hangers so I wouldn't be able to just pull the warp off or down and ... I found the headlamp and put it on for the electrical lights were not sharp enough to reach my weaving where I was sitting on my chair hooked up to the hangers in the closet. It worked so I was pleased. Now I just have to finish the belt =-)

Urco - an archeological Inca treasure close to home

On a beautiful sunny morning we set out for Urco - an archeological dig close to Calca, kind of just on the outskirts of Calca, and if one wanted to you could walk there in about 40 mins I think. We did catch a tuck-tuck though, Valerio and I, which got us to the start of the walk much faster and with a goodly larger amount of energy to spend on walking up the hill and around the ruins and later down all the stairs by the terasses.
There are some many important points to remember when thinking about the philosophy and history of this period in time. Fx there were always 4 Incas ruling at the same time - some of them for longer, some for shorter. It seems that the one who ruled here at the place in Urco was not a very successful ruler or administrator so his time was short. Never the less he was there - and there is a beautiful round building which was used for storing food perhaps or used for traveling nobility or .... it is not know precisely.

Standing inside the building looking out is a peaceful feeling. There is no roof to the building, I do not remember from my conversation with Valerio if it is likely that there was a roof - the Incas didn't have roofs on many of their holy places, it disturbed the connection with the upper world - the stars, the moon, the sun - close and undisturbed connection was wanted, needed and appreciated.

 Behind the building there is a small collection of buildings for habitation, it is of course hard to know exactly how and for whom these buildings were built, and there are many more to unearth as time goes by. The Urco site is situated on one of the line running out from Cusco, and many holy places are situated on each line. One particular family takes care of each line.
The large rock has been carefully chiseled - there is an indentation in the rock where the water from the water system would have moved through and and at the spout is a snake's head. The snake is the animal which signifies the under world, Ukhu in all its wisdom - and we all go there, it is not hell, it is just Ukhu Patcha which is a parallel universe for the dead, and so we are not gone, we are still there, just diferently. We live in Kay Patcha and above us is .... and I will have to look it up when I get back to Calca - I know it starts with an Hak.... but the rest is .... foggy and not quite retrievable at this moment in time.
 The water came/comes from springs and lagoons high on the mountain tops. There is a story that the Inca promised his daughter to the man who would be able to first and fastest build a water line from the mountain to Urco - it did happen, someone did it, however, the daugther was not agreeable - she was in love with a lowly peasant and so the two of them ran away. When they reached the mountain top the Apu (mountain) took pity on them, for they would have to flee and run all their lives. He turned them into stone and when you get to the top of the mountain you can see two rocks facing each other, the princess and the peasant, looking at each all for all eternaty, together!
 When we were done at the sacred place we walked back through the little village, past the big house, which used to belong to the big landowner before the landreforms where the peasants were given back their land to farm for themselves. The landowner of course does not live there anymore and so the house is a communal house instead. Suprisingly (to me) behind the big house when looking over the stone fence ...... one beholds the most amazing terasses - built by the workers enlisted by the Incas, and there were many layers. We walked down over the terasses making use of all the staircases that were built into this ingenious system of growing food and irrigating it.
At the bottom, looking up, the layers are visible, I would say each wall is twice my height - and perhaps a bit more. An enormous amount of  rocks and earth would have had to be moved. When looking up at the mountain, there is something which looks like the canal which was used to send the water down the mountain and into the watering system. It is fascinating to think about how it was all done, execution, amount of human energy and everything else. Even if it is said that the Incas made deals with the heads of communities who then sent workers off to help in return for probably a healthy amount of exchange goods or whatever else was needed in the community. 

Fire on the mountain!

This is Pitusiraya, the mountain under whose protective side the Apulaya Center for Andean Culture is situated. Each morning on my 10 min walk to Apulaya from where I live in Calca  my eyes are turned upwards, I am observing the mountain, watching to see what mood he is in today, happy, bright, cloudy, dark - and I say 'he' for the mountains are male, he is one of the bigger Apus in the Andean spiritualy and he is beautiful and strong and monstrous and definitely a force to be reckoned with.

Although I concentrate when I weave there is still time to look up and enjoy the view of the mountains, of the sheep in the garden, the neighbour's field or house etc. When I looked up from the weaving mid afternoon on Wednesday and my eyes went to visit Pitusiraya again I suddenly sat more errect than usual and my eyes did not go back to the counting of red and white warp threads.

 There was a fire close to one of the peaks on Pitusiraya and ..... it was not just a small bonfire, well, probably it had been some sort of small fire earlier on but now it had expanded - like a forest fire which starts up sometimes by lightning strike sometimes by human thoughtlessness - as it was, we had not had a lightning storm for days and so ... the human start up factor probably can not be denied. As the afternoon wore on the fire expanded, what we saw was the lower part of the fire line, where it kept rolling over new territory and gained strength.
In the daytime it was not hard to see the flames running like a necklace along the throat of Pitusiraya, sagging lower and lower as if the beads were strung on weak elastic.  As the day at school ended and we had exchanged thoughts on what might be up there - according to Apolonia, no sheep or runakuna - humans - but perhaps foxes and mice and .... well, i thought of the insects and little birds, not to mention the grasses, flowers and shrubbery which are at this point waiting for the wet season to start, in another month or so. This is the end of the dry season, the reason why a fire can so easily pick up speed when the wind hits it from the wrong direction.
 Thursday morning before heading to Cusco and before eating breakfast I went out into the garden and looked up to see how Pitusiraya had fared. And he surely did take a good burn - there were still little pockets of fire smoking and I have kept my fingers crossed that no wind of the kind to provoke a flareup would have occured during the day yesterday. I will see when I return home tomorrow by midday. As for now I will head out into new adventures in Cusco, there is a textile centre to visit, a couple of churches, another archeological dig out and ...... at some point an interesting lunch somewhere I would hope. Have a great day everyone!

I am weaving!

This is my third ribbon on a backstrap loom - I have to say I do not find it very easy - and for me, being used to all the thinking and planning happening on paper with a pen and little x's galore this is a challenge - looking at a pattern on a different ribbon and then.....just starting to weave. It does feel like tbe 'pattern' is slowly dawning on me, but, it takes a goodly amount of concentration.

 This is Apolonia, my very patient, very, very patient weaving teacher. Between my frowns and her repeating the same words over and over again there is a lot of smiling and laughing, so all is good - by the way in Quechua the following is important: Hoq means 1, iskay means 2, tawa means 4 (we have skipped three for this ribbon for it is not applicable) puka is red and yaraq is white (I did not bring my note book to Cusco and am not 100% sure if I am mixing it up with another word)

The red and white ribbon on the right was the first one I did - I have the privilege of working with Apolonia's handspun and handdyed wool. This was really straight forward and fast to weave - it was done on the first day ..... then came the second one, with little spiders (the purple shape) - ah, this was a completely other story, between changing the shed with the string heddles and realizing where the incidental pick with no pattern pick up should go in .... well, it took me three lessons. And I am sure that I will only keep the knowledge if I keep weaving this pattern! My motto: Stay focused!

Dogs everywhere!

There are dogs everywhere here, these ones are from the streets in Calca - the dogs do have owners, but they live their dog life in the streets, uninhibited by leashes and visits to the dog groomers. They are not spayed and females are often seen heavy with milk although I have not yet seen the pups.

When there is thunder in the air there are benches for immediate security - and by the way, the dogs ignore any and all humans - and the humans ignore any and all dogs, except if the dogs are in the way - then they get shooed away, not many friendly pats to be had.

 Taking a rest together, observing pedestrians and waiting for ...... who knows what, table scraps, some other dog to enter their territory so they can have a vigorous chase - I have experienced the view and sound scape of one of these chases which made my heart pound but the perpetrator came away unscathed and when I saw him next he was moping at having had to change his plans of where to go - and he had taken up vigilant position on his part of the street, waiting for the next opportunity to check out the desired area.

And a friendly meet and greet, walking along from each their direction, how are you today, how was your day yesterday, do you have any plans - dog day-cares are not necessary here, they are quite capable of looking after themselves and their social needs.