Thursday 4 October 2018

Russia and Paucartambo, Coca and People.


I know that today is October the fourth but due to a number of factors, mostly a lack of internet within The Manu national Park, I could not keep up the daily blog describing my adventures. 

Obviously you now know I survived! 

What follows over the next 75 days, well to Christmas anyway, will be a daily update as though we are back together in July of this year. Day by day I will post my diary as though it is still happening. Together we will share the thrills, the splendour of nature and the terrors. Oh yes, there were days of terror but those few moments were outshone by days of such magnificence that dark clouds were obliterated by nature's beauty.

So please read and imagine . . . . 

Oh, and please, if you could make a donation to Birdlife International as you read i would be more over the Moon than I already am!

Thank you and love to you all, 

Gary xxx  

1st July, 2018

Warm again and very sunny, breezy PM

So the half way day is reached and the sun is shining. It is six in the morning and a small brass band crosses the bridge followed by a crowd of costumed men. It is Sunday and it is obviously a special day for the town of Paucartambo. I wonder what they are celebrating? Colour, noise and hundreds of small, Incans – Quetchuans marching, following and as always, laughing, smiling and sharing each moment; young and old, lovers and children.

The noise from them and the metal bridge with its noisy planks gets me up and out of bed. I go for a walk before going for breakfast in a small cafe, the same one as yesterday and watch the Russia vs Spain World Cup football match. At first it is just me and the sullen young girl waitress. She brings me a bowl for my breakfast that contains a large slice of a carrot, two sorts of potato, the yellow sort being delicious whilst the grey sort is horrible. Then there is a large slice of yuchy yucca, a huge breast of boiled chicken and what would the bowl be if there wasn't rice in it? All of this is in a watery, hot liquid with some cut up small pieces of something green. Actually overall I enjoy the meal.
The match continues. Spain get a goal via a Russian defender putting it into his own net and half way through the first half Russia get a penalty for handball, why did the Spanish player thrust his hand high above his head, and they make the score one apiece.
Half time, I head off for a shop and buy a large tin of condensed milk. The cafe doesn't have any and I want 'cafe con leche.' I get back to my seat with plenty of time before the second half. People arrive, some with a genuine desire for food, others with a desire to watch the game. A young couple from Columbia seem unable to detach themselves from each other in a corner. A Family from Cusco join me at my table. An older couple of local Peruvians come in and ask me where I am from and who I want to win the match. “Russia,” I say and explain that I think England would have a better chance against Russia than Spain if they met later on in the World Cup. My passionate support for Russia causes a lot of hilarity, especially as shot after shot rains down on the Russian goal with the Russians having no intention of trying to score themselves. They seem to be playing for penalties.

As the second half progresses I start to enjoy watching what is going on outside the large blue double doors in the street outside. There is a man who has a large upside down yellow dustbin upon which are some great looking bananas. His main source of income mind you is from coca leaves. Behind the dustbin he has a large blue bin liner full of coca leaves and he has regular customers arriving to buy a large green bag of leaves or a small pink bag of the same. One old man wants to try a few before making a purchase and chews a mouthful before parting with his cash. Nora Batty arrives, her stockings stopping at the knee. She is old, tiny and beautiful with cardigans amassed over the rounded torso. She buys a big bag and laughs whilst doing so.

Back to the game. Penalties! Russia win! The stadium erupts. I erupt! Possibly the best national team of the third millenium are knocked out of the World Cup. Vodka will be flowing tonight. I have a mug of milky hot chocolate with a thick, gelatinous skin to suck through.
How stupid is hatred? People are the same the world over. They laugh, they love, they smile and they share. Language is no barrier when such fun can be had by gesture, expression and intonation. Differences are to be celebrated, observed and enjoyed. Watching people is a constant delight.

Green Year list : 275 birds average new birds to list per day : 2.99 birds

altitude : 9,549 feet

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