Thursday, March 20, 2014

Camacani -Another Peruvian Paradise

burrow greeting me with a loud heehaw

Camacani is a beautiful, pastoral, agrarian community, about a half hour drive from Puno, not far from the lake. It is also the site of the university's crop experimental centre. I particularly enjoyed the half hour walk from the road to the experimental centre, through fields of brightly coloured red, purple and gold quinoa, contrasting with the green trees and the blue lupins. That is another similarity to Iceland, where wild lupins grow in abundance.
lupins and quinoa

more quinoa

Walking through the community, I could see many families out in the fields working, harvesting crops, leading cows and herding sheep. Everyone waved to me happily, and often called a greeting.

scarecrow made of plastic bags

The experimental centre was chosen as the location for two days of workshops with the women of the alpaca cooperative. It is relatively easy to get to, and it has good facilities. There is a big meeting room with desks and chairs, three big rooms for the members to sleep on mattresses on the floor, electricity and running water and a few flush toilets. I chose not to stay overnight because I've been doing enough "sleeping around", and wanted the relative comfort of my own place.

There were 45 participants from the various communities, and the women of Camacani cooked and served the meals.  I only stayed for lunch both days, which included a tasty soup both days, and a main of rice and meat one day, and rice and very salty fish the second day.

Maude did an excellent job conducting the workshops with support from Nilda and the nine "leaders".  Some women participated a lot in the discussions, while others were distracted or dozing. Typical workshop in that regard.
Although coffee is never served at these functions, coca leaves are offered around to chew for about the same effect as a cup of coffee. Wrapped candies were also offered at intervals.
Women also stick coca leaves to their foreheads, apparently to ease headaches.

Day two ended with the distribution of certificates of completion, and music and dancing. The director of the agricultural program, and two other men played music while the women (and Michel) danced. Pop and cookies were served.


The power went out at about 5:30 pm, which brought the festivities to a close. It was raining by then, and we all had to get back home. Two combies were waiting to take most of us back to Puno. 

To celebrate the successful completion of the workshops, Nilda, Michel, Maude and I went out for pizza and wine and tea and cake.  All were excellent. I've been avoiding alcohol because it definitely has more of an effect at this altitude. I got quite a buzz from two glasses of wine.

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