It was actually a relief to get to Cuzco. We are at 11,000 feet, and tomorrow climb to nearly 13,000. Have only had a mild headache one morning, and huff and puff a little going up a relatively low incline.The colonial aspects of this city give it it's elegance and it's order. It is a very clean city, actually it is a very clean country. Lots of European tourists. As sun goes up and down every night a little after six it 's COLD at night at this altutude. Pulled out my down jacket.
We are all together now, Ralph Bolton, from Santa Fe, our director, four college volunteers from Scripps and Pamona Colleges in California, and my counterpart, Hugo, who is the president of the artisan project in Chijnaya. He and I spent the day together shopping for new colored 'bayetas,' the background of our new pillow products. There is an overwhelming abundance of 'folk art' here in the large artisan 'malls,' most of it, unfortunately, rather junky. Lots and lots of alpaca at very reasonable prices, and if one is allergic to wool, it is a real find. Soft and lovely. We met this morning with a representative of PromPeru who promotes folk art exports from Peru, and she will be invaluable in helping our own product along. She too wants to come to Santa Fe, and we will help each other....! Seems most artisans in the world have heard of us by now.
I went to two Sunday markets yesterday, Chinchero and Pizac, which were right up my alley. It was a wonderful 8 hour day of driving through spectacular scenery and shopping! The Pizac market is huge, about the size of ChiChi, but quiet and easy going, more space to move, but with just as many stalls and vendors. Very lovely stuff there, and I did my share of adding to the local economy. Natural dyes are slowly making a comeback, thank goodness, which are soft and lovely. The Chinchero market is quite different, smaller, and lovely to look at as all the vendors wear their local red and black with their charming little flat red hats. I looked up some friends from four years ago, and as a prior donor, was treated like a queen, I am now "mama Judy..." They plied me with lunch and a couple of gifts, and I ate with a Seattle eco-tour group Crooked Trails ( which I travelled to Peru with four years ago....). They are most hopeful to be able to come to the Santa Fe folk art market next year.. not only do they weave exquisite articles using natural dyes, they also run a little boarding school for poor and orphaned kids, teaching them comportment and weaving skills so as to be able to fend for themselves later in life. They have a weaving school for US folks hoping to learn their artistry, and will provide a lovely room with meals, to boot. Called Mink'a Chinchero (which in Quechua means 'a day for you, a day for me,' and is their co-op philosophy)it is run by Vilma and Paulino.
Tomorrow we go at long last to Chijnaya! We are all a bit anxious, and went to the local 'supermercado' to load up on soymilk, dried fruit, chocolate bars and a little Chilean Cabernet all of which we will have to sneak and eat in our rooms late at night to not hurt their feelings.