Well It’s January first and I am still trying to catch up with all of the obligations that the end of the year has most graciously placed at my feet. Peter sets such a fine example of correspondence that I felt that I had better follow suite or be trumped.
My “end of year” started in October. With the visit of Alejandrino Quispe ( an indigenous gentleman from Peru with whom Don and I had been working through the United Religions Initiative). Due to take place in November, We made the discovery that nothing had been done to assure his travel visa was approved. We began the rather arduous task of trying to alert the American Embassy in Lima Peru to look for him and put him on the fast track and get hold of him and get him into Lima to get his visa. With less than a week before his departure date we finally received word that did indeed have his visa in hand. As there was quite a bit of funding tied up in this process it was a huge relief to be assured that he would make his flight.
He arrived in good health at San Francisco International Airport with Don, Anna Korn, and myself to greet him. We took him to Saul’s, a Jewish soul food restaurant for his first taste of foreign food, and then home and to bed. The next three weeks was a constant mix and motion of sight-seeing and work.
During this time we bought him a small video camera for his work in recording the remaining rituals of his people and encouraged him to use it. I worked with him extensively on expanding his use of the computer with Google, Google Earth, and Wikipedia. He could not believe what can be learned from just “Googling” a bit of information. Not long after that he brought me the computer with something he had found on You Tube and wanted me to watch it.
It seems there is a village in the Peruvian Andes with a rather unique custom. No one in the village is allowed to fight at any time during the year. It seems that two guys trashed a church once and the local priest set up this custom in order to prevent it from ever happening again. On Christmas day the entire village goes to the bull ring, the police act as referees, and anyone with a gripe against anyone else may call them out one at a time, at that time. Men and women both do this and it seems that at least 80% of the arguments for both men and women are over who got the lover. It has now become the standing joke between Don, Anna, Greg and me. “Why no I’m not angry, I will see you at Christmas.”
Alejandrino was our guest speaker at the “People of the Earth” conference held this year on November 20th at the Interfaith Chapel of the Presidio, in San Francisco. I did the set up and food prep and service and Don handled the programing, and hosting. Greg taped his talk but, unfortunately Alejandrino took both the CD and chip with him in error leaving us no copy.
He left on November 25th at three in the morning. I dropped Don off at his house, got home, went to bed and slept for 24 hours straight waking up with a bad chest cold. Better now.
In putting all of the footage that he shot onto CDs I was astounded to discover that 4 of the five segments he shot were from the back seat of my car giving a running dialogue on the fact that there were five lanes to the road one way, all the cars were relatively new, none of them smoked, they are remained discreetly separated no matter how fast or slow they were going, a woman, a woman, was driving, and look, she was going 100 kilometers per hour. He had never seen such roads. Even the fast roads are one way each way in most of Peru. He had also never in his life seen a woman driver.
Other things that absolutely amazed him were that I had a machine that only made popcorn, a machine with a window in it that washed my clothes, (he pulled up a chair and watched the entire process; it was a front loader.) He discovered that I had a can crusher early on and carefully recycled every soda can in the house the moment it came empty.
We had a long talk about recycling and I took him to the local recycling center. He now wants to start one down in his home town. He loved to go shopping and missed no opportunity to go into Safeway. He had me take his picture in every isle. Once we stopped on the way home to pick up a couple of things and Greg went in and left us in the car. Alejandrino hopped out and went in after him. Later Greg told me that all he needed to feel like an overseer was a floppy hat and cane. He is so much taller than Alejandrino and Alejandrino absolutely insisted on carrying everything. Greg said he all but fought him for control of the basket but gave up and Alejandrino followed him around the store carrying the basket, then insisted on carrying all the bags out to the car. Greg couldn’t wait to get out of there.
Without even this system he is forced to come into town at a cost of two Solis each way, (an equivalent of about $4 for us) and deal with a computer that cost only one Solis per hour but that is so slow you will spend the entire hour just downloading your email. This means that I hear from him with little frequency. When he is tending his crops or doing the government work he is sometimes paid to do I may not hear from him for months literally. Once he focuses on a topic he does not respond to anything else in the email. I have asked him for his physical address three times and each time I get a totally different response to something we were working on when he left and no address.
Still I continue to move, I think, forward. Our next plan is to get him a set of by-laws that they can use to model a set for their organization. CoG’s are the best suited but that means translating them into Spanish. OMG!!! As if they were not complicated enough in English.
The last words that he left both Don and me with were that there is a ritual in December that is as ancient as his people and very secret as they do not want the Government or the Church to know about it. He wants us all to attend this ritual next December. It is a several mile hike into the mountains from the last point at which you can drive a car. “But don’t worry,” he says to me “I will get you a horse to ride”.
Rachael Watcher - NPIO