we’ll start with the most recent outing: a camping trip with Emily and Anna to a waterfall called Palakala (or Pala ‘Qala in Quechua) which is about a 2 hour hike up from San Jeronimo del Surco, Perú. ’twas lovely. We bused from Huaycán and watched the scenery slowly become greener. On our hike, we oooh-ed and ahhh-ed and “i love camping!ed” at the landscape — terraced fields growing alfalfa, corn, and flowers, eucalyptus trees letting off a wonderful aroma, cows, horses, goats, pigs, burros, sheep, and cute little huts where people live so simply, quietly, and beautifully. The hike itself was steep and rocky, it kept us attentive. As soon as we made it to the waterfall we ripped off our shoes and felt the freezy water. We sat on a rock, contemplated the beauty around us, and then decided to submerge. It was cold and refreshing. We dried in the sun and then went searching for firewood — motivated by the pounds of potatoes, veggies, and apples we had lugged up the hill to make a campfire feast. We couldn’t find the person that we were told would exist on the top of the mountain and sell us firewood but we did find firewood laying outside of someone’s house. I made the executive assumption that this firewood was for sale and we could take it now and pay later, so we grabbed some and headed to a flat camping surface nearby. Our fire pooped out in trial 1 and trial 2- it was starting to get dark and we were hungry. We scaled the hill looking for any and all the kindling we could find to make our final attempt. After collecting a sizable amount, we gave our last go. Slowly and surely we got the fire through phase 1 (paper) phase 2 (+dry grass) phase 3 (+very small twigs) phase 4 (+small twigs) phase 5 (+twigs) phase 6 (+meatier branches) phase 7 (+firewood)… it required many long blows at the base of the fire, a couple cookies to keep us from giving up, and much patience. Once the fire was a-brewing, we made our tin-foil 5 course meal: corn with cheese, sweet peas, potatoes/camote/onion, carrots/pepper/onion, and for dessert, apple crisp. We ate like savages with forks. Nom nommm. After filling our tummies and philosophizing under the stars for a while, we snuggled into out tiny two–(peruvian-sized)-person tent. The label didn’t say “peruvian sized”, but trust me, it was. We all spooned in the same direction and still just barely fit. It was a cozy night that consisted of waking up every hour or so to switch sides like a little rotisserie chicken. We woke up this morning and headed to some ruins about 2 hours further uphill and then began the steep and carefully-excecuted descent back to San Jeronimo to catch our buses back home. The descent is where the intestine part came into play, and where I remember that I forgot to finish my stolen wood story.
What happened with the stolen wood? A little girl came to our campsite as we were sitting proudly around our campifire and accused us of stealing her wood. We agreed. We had stolen her wood. She explained how her dad had to haul that wood all the way up the hill and it wasn’t ours to take… yadda yadda. We acted apologetic and asked her if we could pay for it so she ran to her mom and asked her how much it would cost. She said 5 soles but we didn’t have to proper change so we gave them 10 and apologized some more. The mom told us “no te preoccupes” – don’t worry about it, and wished us a good night’s stay. The next day, we passed her on our way down. She was holding an intestine, airing it out or something. I asked here what kind of intensine it was, she said vaca. She was fixing to make soup with it. She was sad to see that we were leaving so soon and pointed us in the right direction with her intestine-less hand. We rounded the corner of her house and there was 5 men around a recently killed and skinned cow laying on its back with all its insides exposed. They were cutting it up together, probably sharing the job and sharing the meat. I looked on with curiosity. I know that cow had a much better life in those hills than any CAFO-constricted cow from the US and that this community would cherish every bit of energy and life that it was about to nourish them with. That there was some healthy butchery.
And a bit about teaching this week from “Miss” Tori..
I am fitting into my teacher-ly position quite well. I love my students, both the cute but mischievous kids and the ambitious but impish adults. It feels so darn good when you’ve prepared very well for a class and the students seem engaged and challenged. And oh boy, when the boy that is always behind and unsure what’s going on finishes an activity first and raises his hand and says “finished” and looks at you with happy happy eyes and you just want to give him a big squishy hug but instead you go for the high-five. So good.