Do you ever have a day where you feel like you did so much you have to write it down so you remember that you were capable of such a day. Well today was one of those. Here's the list and the photos to support the story.
6:30am Up Early To Get Ready For The Day Those of you who know me know that this is REALLY early!!!
6:38am Phone Call From Adrian Sello Took early morning phone call to confirm that we will be at Fortaleza this Sunday at 9am to present our "Stone & People" film to the community.
Joined by my friend and study participant Fernando Sallo to go to Starbucks (yes, they have one here) to get coffee and donuts for the meeting at Saqsaywaman. Used handrails to get up the steep stairs and ended up with a chemical burn on both hands that required I take off both rings before they had to be cut off. This lasted about 4 hours. Could hardly type during the meeting.
9:30am Back to flat to pick up Dalton Gaudin who is finally feeling better and get our camera/computer gear into the car. Up the hill to Saqsaywaman.
10am Meeting with Saqsaywaman park Director Francisco Solis Diaz and the 4 park anthropologists. We've been waiting for his time to sit with these heritage professionals and discuss the Plan Maestro for the park and discuss the situations in each of the archaeological zones. It was an eye opening meeting. It's taken us three prior meetings to gain the trust of these people and today it really paid off. We were treated to a VERY frank discussion of what's working, what's not working and how we can help. Frankly, I was almost to the point of thinking that our work wasn't valued here. But, quite the contrary. The park director made it clear that they value our contribution as non-partisan anthropologists who can get into the communities whereas they are having difficulty gaining access. Thanks to Dalton, we were able to identify which communities they really need our help with. Given that we only have about 10 days left here, we decided to focus on two of the three communities we have been in prior, Fortaleza and Huayllarquocha.
1:00pm Sushi Lunch To Regroup
We have spent the last few days with Fernando Sello, a resident of Fortaleza and now a the owner of a great tour company. He has a great vehicle and he's been driving us around and helping us understand the political situation at the various communities. More on him and Fortaleza later. Today, after our park meeting, we went to our favorite sushi bar, Kintaro, for lunch. It was Fernando's first sushi experience. We tried to teach him the art of the chop stix...didn't go too well.
2:15pm Huayllarquocha Community Visit
We needed to try and locate our main informant in this community, Aqueda Sana Velasquez. I was amazed to see how this community has grown from a small little pit stop by the road of about 10 houses back in 2012, to what it now a burgoning community with stores, restaurants and even a small soccer field. With the help of Fernando Sello, we were able to locate Aqueda's sister, who took us to the community president, a wonder woman (who is an anthropologist) named Liz Aragon Bustenza. We had hoped to find the president and make an appointment to talk, but here we were with her in person. She was welcoming, forthright and after a bit of what we are now calling "political scrambling" by Dalton, we have schedule a time this Friday to show our film Stone & People to the community in their public hall at 4pm.
Wow...so much done is such a short period of time. It was clear that they wanted to see our film and discuss next steps with us first before inviting the park anthropologists into their community. Our value as non-partisan anthropologists who are interested in both sides of the park management story is becoming clearer day by day...and today it was VERY clear in Huayllarquocha.
Huayllarquocha Museo and Community Craft Market Is Not Here Anymore
I was sad to see that the amazing Inka Museo and beautiful craft marketplace isn't active here anymore. When we were here in 2010 to 2012, the Museo and market was a great location to learn about local plants and crafts. But, apparently, this costly and well conceived community project wasn't supported by the Ministry, so it went out of business. This fact will be a topic for our discussions with this community to understand what happened and how to avoid expenditures like this in the future that are doomed to failure. Slideshow below is of photos of what the Museo Inka and the craft market looked like back in 2012.
3:30pm Looking For External Hard Drives For 4K Video
Dalton is taking amazing video is 4K. This filming is data heavy and requires massive storage space, which neither of us prepared for by bringing large enough hard drives. In addition, every effort needs to be made to protect our original media files from loss and possible hard drive failure. So, we went in search, and I do mean SEARCH, for 4TB hard drives in the city of Q'osqo. Parking in this city is pretty much non-existent, so we parked on the outskirts of the Plaza de Armas and walked...WALKED...climbed stairs...STAIRS...looking for every electronics store in this city. I think we visited about 30-40 little booths, stores, markets to try and find a reliable brand of hard drive with 4TB capacity. Finally, about an hour (and buns of steel workout) we found a little booth in a mall on the 5th floor with 2 drives...to the tune of $950 soles (about $300 US) Then, they wouldn't take my Mastercard!!!! I just about lost it. First time I can honestly say I really was a bitch! Had to walk down 5 flights of stairs and walk 10 blocks to find an ATM. I was baked! Dalton walked back to get the drives. Fernando walked back to the car. And I sat outside on the corner of a InkaFarma while thunder and lightening threatened to rain like cats and dogs and my raincoat was in the car. Luckily Fernando reached me just as it started to rain and we picked up Dalton and headed back to the flat as the storm started to dump!
5:30 pm Brain Dump & Early Dinner At Flat
Both Dalton and myself sat on our buns of steel and enjoyed a bit of homemade food (both of us are being careful with our stomachs) and did a brain dump of the day. Came up with a list of questions for future interviews. Discussed the learning from the day. Outlined what we learned during our various meetings during the day and how to proceed. In the back of my mind is the need to teach all that we are doing as visual anthropologists to future students of the field school we will start here in 2020. Here are my new class titles:
Maren Elwood is a visual anthropologist and founder of On-Site Expeditions...a field school that will provide scholarships to aspiring heritage professionals. The first field school session will be in January 2020.