Tuesday, November 11, 2014

10/27 - Colpa Lodge

The morning dawned bright with just a few clouds in the sky. A promising start to the day.
In the briefing last night Dalmiro let us know that we would not be going very far before our first stop today. We're going to stop by a local farmer's place about 0.5 mi from the lodge and spend some time there as we don't have a long way to go to the next Lodge(we'll be there in time for a late lunch). The farmers still follow the traditional ways, with some modern life sprinkled in. So as we ate we wondered what that might be like.
Cool clay oven Wayra Lodge used for all our food.
Typical breakfast at the lodges.
I took pictures of the area since it was clear out. While we waited after breakfast for everyone to be ready (Dalmiro's job seems to be 30% Provide Information, 30% Coordination, 30% Herding Cats, and 10% Guiding). Once everyone was outside Dalmiro called "Vamanos" and headed off.
Becca waiting for the group to start hiking.
Mt. Salkantay with horses waiting to be loaded with our luggage in the foreground.
Peak of Mt Salkantay.
Wayra Lodge's Satellite Dish for Internet Access
It didn't take us long to arrive at Maria's house. She and her husband (who wasn't there - he's a Mule Driver) know Dalmiro. He talked to her for a few minutes and she gave us permission to look around and to go into their home. Dalmiro gave a riveting history/anthropology/sociology lesson using her farm as an example.
Dalmiro and Becca as we approach Maria's farm. The closest building is for storage, the middle building is the children's(built once they can't sleep in bed with Mom & Dad anymore) and the far building is the main house. 
Note the different coloring of the thatch on the roof. The lightest is newest (about a month old) the darkest is the oldest (about 5 years and nearing replacement). Also note the solar panels mounted on metal poles. These were apparently "gifts" from a Regional Governor last election. He gave them to all the farmers hoping for their votes.
He lost. But they are used to charge batteries for simple lighting and a radio.
Our Assistant Guide Lis talking with Maria (on the right).
Dalmiro explaining that there is no chimney, this is so that the smoke coats and seals the interior of the roof. Over time this helps waterproof the roof. Also this helps preserve the food. Mark and Bernice listen intently.
Guinea pigs laying on the stones around the kitchen campfire, the stones are still radiating heat. As I've mentioned before the Guinea pigs are livestock, not pets.
Meat and produce are stored in overhead lofts so that they are naturally smoked when the fire is used for cooking or warmth. 
Niches are built into the stone walls for storage of pots/pans/and sundries.
Each Mule Driver is responsible for making their own horse shoes, saddles, bridles, etc. 
Dalmiro wielding a traditional tool for planting potatoes - with a modern metal blade. Before the Spanish invaded farmers would have used a stone blade. If the ground is particularly hard the farmer will soak the entire thing in water overnight before planting to increase its weight. The soil is so poor the fields need to lay fallow for 5 years OR be fertilized. The rock walls are used as pens for the animals - mainly for fertilizing.

Lis pointing out that the two rocks at her feet are used daily as mortar and pestle in food preparation.

I could not stand in either the Main House or the Storage building. The ceilings were probably about 5'6" or so. Also the Main House was pitch black; there are no windows (protection from the elements) and the fire wasn't going. The single light bulb is only used sparingly. The light from the photos is actually my phones flashlight. Dalmiro and Lis talked for probably an hour or so, I've barely touched the surface here. It was fascinating and enlightening. Once the group was done looking around the farm and we all tipped Maria Dalmiro called "Vamanos" and we started our descent.

Our trail today would take us low enough to begin to enter the high jungle where we would stay for the remainder of the trip. Dalmiro is from a village in the jungle and it was evident that he enjoyed returning to the jungle environment from the alpine environment. He pointed out lots of flowers and plants. He also pointed out a free range pig that was up slope of us.

A Lead Mule in a Mule Train - the decorations mark it as such. The decorations also indicate who owns the mule.

Free range pig up slope of the trail at head level, maybe 3 feet away. Scared the dickens out of me.

Looking back on the way we came.

Dalmiro lets us know the Lodge is at the end of the ridge on our right and that the road we see in front of us is the start of our trek tomorrow. The road was built to serve some silver mines up valley but will be a useful connector between trails.
It's tough to see but the thin gray line in the middle of this photo is the line bringing water to Colpa Lodge (our destination). The photo was taken from the other side of the valley.
As we neared the end of the trek for the day, we came upon a village. The village exists to serve the tourists who come through on this path. One of the services they offer is a zip line across the valley to the other ridge line. The zip line ends on the property of Colpa Lodge. Dalmiro tells us we can either take the zip line or descend the valley, cross the river, and then ascend the valley on the other side. 4 of us chose the quick way. Becca chose to hike. So after a transfer of essentials to her pack I'm ready for my zip line. It's over quick, maybe 15 seconds, but it offered a great view of the river we'd been following all day. Dalmiro came with our group and Lis hiked with the other group.

The village.
We who are about to Zip Line, the Guides and the Zip Line operator
The orange dot in the middle is me, flying free as a bird.
Once across we were greeted by the Lodge staff with our customary hot washcloth and cold Welcome Drink. Did I forget to mention that? Sorry, happened every day. This day the cold drink was a traditional Purple corn drink with cinnamon and clove. Very tasty. We lounged in the sun and drank our cold drinks for about 20 minutes until the hikers showed up. Once they received their customary hot washcloth and cold Welcome Drink Dalmiro told us that our lunch was going to be a traditional food called Pachamanca.
The staff had done some prep work but were awaiting our arrival to start so that we could see a demonstration.
Dalmiro explaining the ingredients: Lamb, Pork, Beef, Guinea Pig, Fava Beans, Sweet Potatoes, Purple Potatoes, and Yuca.
The Pachamanca expert dismantling the stone oven that has been burning for the last 3 hours.

Dalmiro and staff adding the root vegetables on the bottom as they take the longest to cook.
Dalmiro and staff adding layers of ingredients alternating them with hot stones.
Dalmiro supervising the last of the stones being added.
Traditionally this step uses banana leaves, but the cardboard can be reused and is more efficient.

Adding a heavy canvas tarp.
Adding a plastic tarp.
Carefully covering the edges with dirt.
Final shovels of dirt.
At this point Dalmiro told us that we had 30 minutes if we wanted to go change and come back to watch the unveiling.
Becca and I cleaned up and changed into our Lodge clothes then came back for the unveiling.

Note the cook not using gloves. Yikes.

Still no gloves and is now grabbing the food out from between white hot rocks

Then lunch was served.
Guinea Pig how it would be served at a feast.
This was an example it was cut up and arrayed with the rest of the meats after we'd all seen it.
Platter of the roasted vegetables:(Clockwise) Fava beans in their pods, Purple Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, and Yuca

Self Serve Buffet Table
Dining Hall Decorations.
More Dining Hall Decorations.

My Samplere Platter
Clockwise: Guinea Pig, Pork, Beef, Chicken, Purple Potato, Yuca, Tomato, Beets, Cucumber, Guacamole, Fava Beans
Purple Corn drink with cinnamon and clove with a cucumber decoration.
Traditional after dinner brandy - Pisco. Quite Tasty. 

Found this in our room after lunch. REI and Mountain Lodges of Peru continue to impress. This probably came 20 mi by mule.

Relaxing in the hot tub and taking in the view while digesting lunch.
Colpa Lodge Lounge. Not too many partook of Tea Time after all that food at lunch.
After dark they conserved power by lighting the hallway to the guest rooms with candles.
The rest of the day was ours to do with as we wished. Some people hiked back to the Zip Line to either do it again or to try it the first time. Becca and I relaxed in the hot tub, then read in the lounge and talked with our fellow trekkers.
Dinner was also spectacular but could barely eat any of it, after the late and massive lunch. Everyone went to bed early.

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