Today after a hearty breakfast of eggs and hockey pucks, we were eagerly awaited in the school.
All students lined up to sing and the boxes with the school supplies and toys that we brought were standing in the middle. The kids craned their necks to see what was in there and you could see that they would love to just dive in and start playing and using the things we brought.
The teachers though were quite adamant, that they were the ones to first view and then distribute those supplies to wherethey were needed most. The boxes were carried away to safety and the sport games program of Los Chilchos began.
This was their annual field day and sports activities were lined up in stations around the big village soccer field.
First there was shot put with large, round stones, then an obstacle course that was pretty long actually.
Of course we were expected to participate. Needless to say that we were out of breath after half the course and several of us demanded oxygen tents. We all served brilliantly as comedic entertainment for the village population, old and young. It was great fun for all of us.
Then came the disciplines of fishing and swimming . Not all of us wanted to jump into the cold river, but some of us did.
Back at the village green Chris let his drone fly. As always the kids were in awe and super excited to see something they had never seen before. The aereal pictures were less interesting to them, than seeing the actual drone fly close to the ground. I guess that’s the attraction of a remote controlled airplane, rather than seeing the world from up top.
It was time for lunch and every day they served something new and delicious. Yucca, some new sort of root, yummy soups. We took all our meals in a little dirt floor multi purpose room. One side served as an art gallery of old Pin Up pictures, the other as a rudimentary store front, one as a cinema with a TV and one as a memorial wall to remind one that this was a christian country with depictions of Jesus and Mary. It was a rather unique setting! Dogs, ducklings and chickens wandered freely in and out how they saw fit, checking out if they could scavenge some scraps from us.
Our food was prepared in a nearby kitchen. Low ceiling, open fire place and much to our amazement a herd of little guinea pigs was running around free on the floor. They can’t escape, as they cant master hopping over the door step. They are less intended for cuddling than to serve as meat source once in a while.
After some mid day rest, the sports activities continued. Boys and girls were playing a soccer match on the village green, and an animated volley ball game was going on as well. Even the littlest of children knew how to get the ball to the other side of the net.
Of course it did not take long until we were asked to participate and needless to say, besides the local players we all looked like beginners! It was fun and luckily we did not have to go against the teachers team, as they would have whipped our butts, we are sure!
A bit apart from the main action, Chris noticed something that caught his eye. Roosters tied to a pole in the ground at the edge of the field. Curious as always, he went to look. The owner of the roosters demonstrated how they were pitting two cocks against each other in a cock fight. Luckily without any metal spurs and so no blood was flowing. Nevertheless a pretty gruesome sight, as those two roosters were really going at each other and had to be separated in the end, as they don’t stop fighting by themselves.
The afternoon neared it’s end and we wandered towards our rooms to clean up a bit when a delicious smell caught our attention. It turned out that fresh bread was being baked in a wood fired oven and for one Soles (approx.. 30 cents) we got five fresh and soft hockey pucks. They tasted so delicious, we went for seconds and thirds…. What a treat!
After dinner, we rested a bit as a long party night was in front of us. Our room was a future guest room in the coffee plant of Los Chilchos.
Plant may sound grandiose, it’s a rather small operation that allows the local villagers a modest income by planting, harvesting and producing coffee (Ucumari) in cooperation with Apenheul, a Dutch nature conservation initiative.
Ucumari/Apenheul originally bought large swaths of land to protect the wild habitat of the yellow tail wooly monkey, a very rare monkey species in Peru only living in the cloud forest of the Chachapoyas. Their habitat was threatened by the ever growing clearing of native rain forest to make grazing space for cattle. To stop the clearing altogether, Ucumari and the Los Chilchos village formed a partnership to grow organic coffee and sell it at an agreed fair price so the villagers would not need to destroy more of their rain forest for cattle. This proved to be a highly successful match and clearing of land has nearly stopped. The Ucumari team, espacially Alan, helped Hatun Runa supervising the building of the school alongside their structure.
That night, Ucumari threw a party at their coffee plant and the whole village came. We all had a blast. Live Peruvian music, dancing, singing, eating, drinking anything that makes a party great was there. Action was going on until about two in the morning and some of us were clearly under the influence the next day!!