Angela's Andean Adventures.
Peru and Bolivia 2001 - Part 8.
El Alto and Back to Cusco.
Sunday morning I woke up at 6.30 and got in the shower and was just getting out when the phone rang and it was Adrian to say a radio taxi was on its way and would arrive in five minutes to pick me up and take me to his house. What a panic to get ready in five minutes - I just had time to put on some clothes, throw a few things into a bag and leave, my hair dripping wet etc. The taxi actually had a bit of difficulty finding the address where we had to go, but eventually he succeeded and the taxi driver took me up to the door as I was worried when I saw some dogs in the street.
Once inside it was lovely to see the room with all the posters of Rumillajta, Kallawaya and Adrians former band the Trovadores - as well as meet his sister. I cuddled four baby rabbits, three weeks old, as well for a bit before Adrian, Maria and I set off for the wholesale market on the bus where they bought all their vegetables for the week. I wished they had such places in England - the choice of vegetables etc was fantastic and I was very tempted to stock up on spices except they would only be put into plastic bags and would break long before getting them back to England! From that market we took a bus back to near Maria's house and then parted company - Maria to take the things back to her house and Adrian and I got on another bus and went to that big campesino market at El Alto again, this time looking for musicians.
(Before I tell you the next bit, I must say that I found the CD shop of Eddy Lima a few days previously (formerly a member of Jacha Mallku and latterly a musician in Las Yuras) and bought eight CDs there. Three of these were by a band I had not heard before called Wara because when the young girl in the shop played a couple of tracks from one CD I went so crazy on their music that I bought all three that were available). I also bought two volumes of famosos charangos, a Los Yuras (Eddy showed me his picture in the CD cover and gave me this one for 10 bolivianos less as well as giving me a free gift of a picture with miniature instruments on it), one CD by Altiplano, plus a couple of others. I would be buying CDs direct from Eddy - as well as Adrian - thereafter. Never again would I struggle to find certain Bolivian music in
Getting back to the story however, we walked quite a way into the market looking for musicians, having different snacks on the way. I also bought a really lovely Bolivian shawl. Eventually we came across a band of zamponas players with two drummers and cymbals, called Kallpay. We listened and enjoyed their music and one of them also called Adrian was a friend of Adrian so we stayed a while, talking when they took a break, listening when they played, and I was really enjoying myself. I bought both tapes they were selling and all the band autographed each tape cover for me and the one called Adrian gave me his email address, so that I could write to him when I got back to England.
While we were still with them some other friends of Adrian came along and he exclaimed that it really was my lucky day because it was the whole band of Wara and it was fantastic to meet them all, have a photo taken with them (plus one with the other band) and Dante of Wara gave me a colour poster of them, plus showed us the colour supplement in El Diario of them (I later bought two copies of the newspaper just for the supplement, one for me and one for Stasha - I also recently bought newspapers a) in Peru for the free Inti Raymi poster and b) in Bolivia for the free Kjarkas poster!). They were also distributing leaflets for their concert that coming saturday in the same venue as Kjarkas - I was so disappointed that I wouldn't be there imagining they would be really fantastic live. I especially loved their latest CD which was a fusion of Andean and rock music. Normally I didn't go overboard for fusion but this was something else, really brilliant.
Whilst at the campesino market I had my life read by an old man with mercury, heated in a pan, then I filled a ladle and dropped it into water where it immediately solidified into a molten mass with a sizzle as it hit the water. The reading was interesting and all good things, including a long road to travel which intrigued me no end, and although nothing specific was said I felt optimistic for the future! Adrian said I could also have my life read from a coca leaf but unfortunately we ran out of time. Later we visited a nearby other market which stretched as far as the eye could see, selling everything one could possibly imagine - this was near a nice square/park area where people could relax and I took more photos there of people. After that square and before the big market, there was a bit of a rumpus nearby with someone shouting that thieves were in operation. One lady vendor told me to hang onto my bag really firmly - while Adrian went to investigate. He told me later it was a drunken man wielding a knife, which caused all the trouble.
Eventually we made our way back to Maria's house where she gave us some of the food she had been cooking. Then the four of us set out, Adrian, me, Maria and her son and we took one bus back up to El Alto and then another down into the Valley to a village quite a long way down. The road down was little more than a dirt track winding down and down and the views were breathtaking. All day it had been a really hot day, bright sun etc, and I was wearing one of my usual camisole tops. The bus was packed full and I enjoyed the ride with all the Bolivian people in the bus. I felt really privileged to be experiencing real Bolivian life like this. I cannot imagine many foreign people find their way to such places. Down in the valley we came to a village, which also had a lake - I cannot remember its name. First we went into a cafe and had a nice meal with lamb and afterwards walked through the village and got into a boat, which a man punted across to the other side. It was great to see the waterfowl in their natural habitat - swans and coots - but before we reached the other side a tremendous wind blew up, creating a dust storm and everyone had to hide their faces to protect their eyes and from a hot day it went suddenly very very cold. Even putting on my cardigan I felt very cold so was very glad I had bought that shawl as I put it on. I asked Adrian if I had tied it correctly and he looked and said I almost got it right but it would do for the moment (by this I realised that I didn't get it right and it was hard not to smile, wondering what he
We had fun in the village, playing on table football etc, but because that cold weather also brought snow we didn't stay quite as long as intended. We crossed back in another boat and almost had a collision with another boat full of Bolivian ladies, and we all laughed. I took a couple of photos and they were pleased and said they wished they could have a copy. The bus taking everyone back took even longer to get back up that winding road, struggling even in first gear at times, and people were falling asleep in the bus. It really was a fantastic day spent with Adrian and when it came time to say goodbye I gave all three of them a big hug of affection. Then Adrian put me on the right bus to get to the centre, telling the driver to tell me to get off at San Francisco, and although I was tempted to go to an internet cafe, it was getting dark so I took a taxi home and as usual the driver waited until I got inside the gate. These few precautions were all it took to get over the dog problem. I avoided walking in the street except in the centre and then there was no problem.
Monday was another excellent day. I met Adrian in the centre at 9.30 in the morning and was with him until 2 pm. First we found a bank where I could buy dollars (for when I am back in Peru as I couldn't buy any there), then to Lloyd Air Boliviano to reconfirm the flight. We also went to a cafe for refreshments which is when Adrian told me all about his various projects. By this time I was getting on with him really well and already regretting that I had only allowed for one week in Bolivia. My whole last day felt really poignant I was so sad at the thought of leaving. By this time we had discussed me coming back the following year - he said his brother had quite a big house and I could stay there.
Our next plan that day was to look for a poncho, as Adrian had good contacts to get them at a good price. At first I could not see any I liked enough to pay the price but eventually did and in the same shop also bought a beautiful bag and another jacket. By the time we finished it was 2 pm and I also bought a large suitcase for 50 dollars, knowing I would need it for all the extra baggage being taken home at the end of the holiday. Adrian called a taxi, put me in and told the driver I was only taking the things home and would be coming back to town immediately as I was meeting Jorge at 3 pm as prearranged.
The Recording Studio
First of all we went to the recording studio as he had for me a Rumillajta recording that was only issued in Bolivia - completely unobtainable in Europe. I was really thrilled with this. Then I went shopping with him and in the process fell in love with yet another poncho -making three purchased altogether. I also bought more CDs at a shop selling them at quite reasonable prices - including four by Awatinas, the latest Kala Marka, latest Kjarkas, two more by Wara, plus others by Sukay, Naupajmanta and
Our next stop was to the Instrument Museum, which is owned by Ernesto Cavour, another of Jacco's friends who I might have met as well if I had been in La Paz for longer. We spent an hour or more in the museum and it was incredibly interesting. We had to rush through the last part as time was running out - I would like to go back there again one day. At 6.45 Jorge put me into a taxi and I just got back in time for Adrians arrival with three more CDs, two LPs which were out of print years ago and collectors items now (a Rumillajta LP called Ayni and also an LP by his previous band Los Trovadores, more than 30 years old). Both of these will be really treasured by me. We arranged that he would collect me at 7.30 in the morning.
La Paz and Jorge
After he had gone I copied two of my Wara CDs onto a tape to give him and whilst doing so wrote him a nice thank you letter. In the morning when he arrived he had done exactly the same! He had copied two Raymond Tebenot CDs onto a tape for me and written me a lovely letter as well (I read it on the plane back to Cusco that morning and felt really delighted that he considered me such a valued friend). I was so sad about leaving that Adrian actually commented on how quiet I was on the long taxi ride up to El Alto and the airport. I think he knew how sorry I was to be leaving. At the airport he organised the checking in of my luggage, the payment of the airport tax (25 dollars exit tax) and stayed with me right up until the moment I went through to the departure lounge. The flight was excellent, lasted an hour and was clear skies all the way and a brilliant view - first over the vast plain then over lake Titicaca which is so enormous its like a sea. We had a nice meal on board and the hour soon flew. Arrival at Cusco, the same excellent Andean band greeting new arrivals, and I was outside where Alfredo awaited me and we were at his house by 10.30 am, and half an hour later were off out again. We had decided to go up to Sacsaywaman and went by bus. Once there we took several photos but when we came to the actual fortress itself we had to pay 10 dollars before we could proceed. We decided not to just then, because for that 10 dollars you got a pass that lasted 10 days and included entrance to a few other places. As I was only there three days it wasnt worth it - I decided to get it when I returned from
We walked back down to Cusco afterwards through some pretty and narrow streets, but after a bit Alfredo told me to walk as quickly as I could as he sensed danger in the area - he had had a few words with someone in the street and obviously there was some menace afoot. I never walked so fast in my life, felt quite scared, but luckily we got to the other end of that narrow street to a more populated area without mishap. We went home for lunch but went back to Cusco again with my passport, as I needed it to complete my reservation for Arequipa. It didn't take long for Alfredo and I to have a good laugh again after my return. Once the reservations were done for Fridays flight and I knew the plane would be leaving at 7.15 in the morning, we were just leaving Aero Continente and Alfredo turned back and asked what time I had to be at the airport. When they said by 5 am, his face was such a picture of dismay that I was killing myself laughing and so was
he! I teased him all evening about it, first by saying I would treat him to a beer as consolation and we went into a little shop nearby where he knows the lady and she produced some stools for us to sit on and Alfredo and I shared a big bottle of Cusquea (1100 ml size)and Danielo had a coca cola. I knew he was pleased at my return on the taxi going into Cuzco centre that evening. I had not seen much of him all day as he was at school and I was down at the internet cafe when he came back and was there until they both came for me for our taxi into Cusco. Alfredo jumped in the front and Danielo sat in the back with me and put his head on my shoulder as his way of letting me know he was pleased I was back. I felt really touched by that.
Once we had sorted out my flights and had our drinks we spent a couple of hours just strolling - with me leading the way through all the craft shops which were incredibly interesting just for browsing even if one did not really intend to buy. I couldnt resist buying another jacket though!
Whilst strolling we came upon a street artiste creating a picture from spray cans etc. We watched for about 15 minutes because his skill was phenomenal and he got an incredible loud cheer from the crowd when he had finished. His picture was then up to the highest bidder and we left people bidding to get it. We guessed it would be quite expensive and hoped he did well out of it. Such talent in such a different art direction deserved a just reward.
Around 10 pm we headed home and tucked into a big plate of chicken stew that Alfredo had made especially for me and it was really delicious. I didnt have the appetite to have any before we set out that evening, which I think he was quite disappointed about, but I certainly enjoyed it upon our return. Before going to bed we had already agreed we would be going to Urubamba in the Sacred Valley next morning.