Day 5 – Marca, Peru – the Family and the Farm

After the mental slap and the frigid sponge bath, I got myself and S together to meet Grandmother.  100 some odd years old lady who has outlived all but two of her children.  No one knows her exact age, but we think she’s 103.

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Isn’t she beautiful? I was reading a blog called Faces of Beauty, which celebrates the unique beauty in all of us.  Anyway, I thought immediately of this picture.

At first, she didn’t recognize D.  “Who’s that bald man?” she asked.  It had been 11 years since he last saw her.  She soon recognized him and both of them dissolved into tears.  He reminded her of the fact that her only daughter was gone.

Of course, S and I were comatose in bed when this all happened.  D had gone without us the night before to visit.

When S and I walked in the next morning, she was ready for us.

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She was so happy to meet S and S was so happy to finally meet her Great-grandmother.

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They were content to hang out even if they couldn’t understand each other.

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With two of her great-grandchildren.

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Of course there were some tears shed when D gave her some photos of his mom, her grandchildren and us.

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We met D’s Uncle Emancio for the first time. He’s 80 and looking hearty. Must be the mountain air.

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Uncle Emancio’s son, Aquiles.

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We took a family photo. Four generations ranging from 6 – 103ish.

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After a breakfast of fresh bread and fresh cheese, we went up to the family farm. The family farm in Pacar is further 20 – 30 minutes up the mountain. We met more family, including Tia Esperanza, D’s Uncle Porfirio’s widow.

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Her son, Romolo who’s farming and taking care of the land.

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His wife, Dolora who became best buds with Soso.

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We got to the farmhouse by another jitney bus. The house was where D’s mother was born.

The house has two rooms, one for living. D and S are checking out the storage room. Goodness knows how old the house is. It is at least 80 years old as I’m pretty sure Uncle Emancio was born there.

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The farm and grazing land is further down the mountain. Soso and Dolora just took off.

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All of sudden, they were really far down and we couldn’t understand how Dolora and Soso could move so fast, especially since we had to climb over walls and jump off ledges. When I finally caught up to them, I understood.

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Dolora would just carry Soso over the difficult terrain.

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There they go again.

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By the way, the skirt outfit is what the Marca women wear at all times, cooking at home or working on the farm.

We must have walked good 15 minutes. I don’t have a picture, but 80-year-old Uncle Emancio kept up with us. 80 years old, not breaking a sweat and the rest of us are all out of breath.

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Those little huts? Temporary homes when Romolo spends the nights. Corn on the left side and potatoes towards the right front.

Corn with paper stuck to it to scare the birds.

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Scarecrow.

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Hello, pretty cows.  They are a valuable source of protein. They make fresh cheese with the milk.  The cheese is a part of their daily diet in addition to corn and potatoes.  Several dogs guarded the cows to discourage theft from humans and mountain pumas.

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Inside of the hut where Romolo sleeps. SLEEPS! Have I mentioned yet that the temperature drops to 30 degrees at night?

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D on “his” land. Land ownership is very important to the people of Marca. His Grandmother repeatedly told D to never sell his land. He met a woman who described herself as sharing the same plate as Kathy (D’s mom), meaning they grew up together. Even she, out of the blue, told him to take care of his land.

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Picking fresh corn to bring back to Marca.

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Off she goes, that Dolora is nimble! In moments she was a tiny speck far up the mountain.

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Soso had gotten nimble, too.

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On our way up or down, I forget, we passed this irrigation system which led to a huge reservoir of water further below.

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All too quickly, we spotted a bus coming down and it was time to go.

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Early next morning, D and a few others went back to the farm for early morning breakfast. Peruvian corn is very different from American corn. They are fatter, shorter, have bigger kernels and they are not very sweet. They have a nutty taste to them that is mild and pleasant.

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Dolora milked the cow that morning and boiled it to pasteurize. She sent a large thermos down for Soso, alas she did not enjoy it. She thought it smelled funny.

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Dolora and Romolo’s home, a little further away from Grandmother’s.

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On the way down to Marca, they ran into a combi that ran out of gas. D’s cousin’s husband who was driving was able to give them enough to make down to another source. Where, I have no idea since the nearest gas station was at least 1 hour down the mountain… if not more.

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They ran into a truck blocking the road. Sadly, it was dumping garbage down the side of a mountain. I chose not to include the picture. It was just too sad and disturbing.

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I’ll end with a picture of the farm from the road. Right in the center is a tiny bluish rectangle which is the reservoir. The farm is a little further down and towards the back of the picture. Can you get a sense how far we had to walk down from the house? These people walk up and down the mountain, through little trails, all the time. You don’t see too many over-weight people.

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