Hi Everyone, Me again.
I hope my updates aren't boring you!!
Before I tell you of some chance meetings let me tell you about some other common sights here. The first is a dangerous one for those participating. It is South American hippies probably argentinian or brazilian conducting mini circus acts such as juggling, twirling batons ,ribbons etc at traffic lights!! They wait until they are at red then jump out and perform their piece then as the cares start to move off they walk up between the rows of cars before jump back to the side to wait on the red light again. They conduct these on busy roads making it very precarious. I assume some people must pay them as there are a lot doing it. It is interesting that it is mostly good looking girls!
So back to the chance meetings. When climbing part of the mountain each morning I would pass a man as I was coming done on certain days. On these days I could hear him yelling something from the miradors (viewpoints). It was so loud I could hear it from the house. I couldn't figure out what he saying and as we got to talking a little more over the weeks I asked him. It was the name of his 11 year old son who had died 2 months beforehand! He began to well up with tears as he told be so I didn't ask anything else but offered my most sincere sympathy. A few days later our walk up the mountain coincided as I was a little later than normal. We climbed up together and chatted a little. His name was Luis and he sold jewellery to other South American countries. He lived in LaRapa, the area just below where I stayed. At the mirador I explained my normal routine regarding my meditation and he sat quietly reflecting, I assumed about his son as I completed my normal routine. After I had finished we sat and chatted a little. I told him about Lilo; that she was a great healer and he might like to visit her even just for a chat. He then told me about his son and his illness. He had had a resistant form of leukemia which was discovered when he was 8 years old. He had flown with him to Spain and various countries trying to find him a cure. He was lucky to find a donor and spent a long time in a Lima hospital following the operation. Unfortunately the leukaemia returned and he died, aged 11. He seemed to have a great voice, played the guitar and was loved by his class. Luis described him as an angel- always happy even throughout his illness. Luis had told me his name but it wasn't a name I recognized (sounding like Hamees) so asked him to spell it. I couldn't believe it when he spelt it out. His name was Hamish!!! The reason - years before he had watched and loved,like so many here, William Wallace. At that time he had decided if he had a son he would call him Hamish. I told him it was obviously a very Scottish name. Luis had wanted to travel a lot with his son but they ran out of time.
Hamish’s death had not helped his relationship with his wife which was a shame; both were suffering without the support of each other. We bumped into each other 2 days later and he gave me a photo of Hamish that had been taken a year or so before. I said I would place it at the top of a hill in Scotland. I was ill for about 2 weeks after that so wasn’t travelling anywhere and haven't seen Luis since so hope he is doing OK. He has stopped his trips to the mountain.
About 2 weeks after this, as I started to recover I had to pick up a suitcase I had lent to a friend. At that time I had stayed in Pumacurco so much closer to where she stayed. I was saddened that when they returned 3 months later and I was now living further out of town that she wasn’t willing to bring the case out to me. After various failed attempts at arranging to meet she announced they were leaving for Argentina the following day and would be away 2 months! I impressed on her I needed the case so arranged a drop off point slightly closer to me, so I could collect it. I arranged to do other things so as it wasn’t a journey solely for the case. When I collected the case it unfortunately had started to pour with rain. This and the timing meant the buses and combis were all jammed with people crushed in everywhere. Now in these circumstances you can get on with a rucksack and possibly a bag of shopping but the minute the conductors saw a suitcase they all shook their heads. I quickly realised it would be a taxi fare. A taxi drew up dropping off an old lady. I asked him how much he would take to go to Santa Maria and was pleasantly surprised he didn’t try to rip me off. In the taxi we got to chatting as sometimes happens but interestingly he did try talking to me in English. Eventually I decided to talk in English to help him practice. He had learnt on the streets when he was selling paintings but had earned enough/ or got a loan, as many do here, to buy a taxi. As always we discussed family and he told me he had a 5 day old son, his first and he was really keen to give him a head start. He wanted to know what he could do to help him learn English and give him a brighter future. I remembered I had children’s songs and stories from my volunteering days teaching in the schools. I offered to give them to him. He gave me a USB, we exchanged phone numbers and I downloaded all the stuff I had including dot to dots etc that he could print and use in years to come. I did stress to him though not to forget his culture and include Quechua in his learning. He seemed happy with the stuff and said he would be in touch with more questions in the future. Maybe he will maybe he won’t and it will depend if I am in the country at the time as the phone I have is a Peruvian phone only working in Peru. I hope it helps him, and his wife who was just learning English so she could participate in his learning. It was great to see such a responsible father and keen for his son’s future. They rented a one room apartment so life would be tough for them I am sure.
As I started to feel so much better over the next week or so it was time to venture out of Cusco. Lilo had suggested I should go travelling during this waiting/ quiet time and not worry about money. I thought about it but would have been travelling for the sake of it and didn't see the point or wanted to. What I did decide though was to go to Urubamba for the weekend; find a nice but cheapish hostel with a garden, head off on the Friday and return on Sunday. I decided on the weekend and e mailed all my friends trying to organize when I could best catch up with them all. My friend Annabelle was working on the Saturday but we arranged to meet up on Saturday night and Sunday. Everything worked in beautifully allowing me to spend time with everyone including Rita, the nurse from the NGO. A lovely lady, Isabel, who Annabelle and I had bumped into in Cusco sometime before had asked if I could visit and possibly advise her on how to get help. I didn't know much about what she was doing other than Annabelle had said she had a really big heart and was helping impoverished children get an education. We arranged to meet up on Friday night with Annabelle there to help in case I got stuck with translation. It was mostly fine though. When we entered her house lots of the children ran forward to greet Annabelle as she was their teacher and hugged me too which was lovely; not just the girls but the boys too! Isabel housed 13 children in her house through the week and with her own work as a Quechua teacher , her daughter's work and kind friends they fed, provided accommodation and received donated clothes for these children. The girls and boys were split into different rooms and all had bunkbeds with 8 boys in one room and the 5 girls in another. I was curious how this had all started and she told me about the first 5 children she took on. What stories! The first was a young 11 year old who lived 3 hours walk above Chinchero. He was usually late for school (no surprise) and the school wouldn’t allow him entry because he was late! Eventually a kind lady gave him a room and mattress to sleep on. Eventually his younger brother and sister joined him. They all slept in the one room and had a small stove on which the older brother prepared some potatoes or other little bits they had throughout the week so they could attend school. These were the first 3 children Isabel took in. Next was a girl and boy. Isabel had seen the little girl outside the market In Urubamba each day and she was furtively eating something out of her inside pocket. Slowly but surely Isabel gained the little girl’s confidence and asked about school. She was put on a bus and it was assumed she went to school. As she was hungry she hung about the market hoping for more food. Isabel visited where this little girls stayed (as she had to do in all cases to talk to the parents and get agreement if that was the right thing to do). This girl and her family lived in a cave in the mountains!!!
This was how it all started for her! What was the most important thing to Isabel was these children went to school and were well fed and looked after. They had created a small association and called the home “Hogar de semillas de Jesus” (“Home of the seeds of Jesus”). Isn’t that a lovely name!!
Friends, Wimmie and Raymi, who have small organization working with volunteers and a small foundation fundraising in Holland were covering half the costs and repairing the roof of the boy's dorm for them.
They pay for someone to cook for them and to help the children with their homework and the rest is them and the help they can get from friends. Annabelle visits once a week to help with homework too. The children were split between 2 schools in Urubamba, one a private school taking in 5 of them and the rest at a Christian school started up by a lovely German couple.
When I asked what Isabel was really looking for , it was help with the food costs and her proposed monthly costs were so low it wouldn't be too difficult to achieve, but it was ongoing. We discussed a few options but the most sensible, easiest and most sustainable for them was to get the support of an NGO like LH. I promised nothing but said I would speak to Rita, asking her to visit and Annie, the volunteer to do a short video. All for a future date because of where LH was just now. Both Rita and Annie agreed which was great. I will try and bring second hand clothes for the boys and girls when I come back next year, hidden amongst my own stuff. All in all I felt it was a very productive and pleasant weekend. The sun shone, I met and had a lovely catch up with all my friends including Annie and Rita, hopefully helped Isabel and fitted in a short walk with Annabelle and her new dog. Getting back can also be a problem as I had experienced before on a Sunday but on that day all went very smoothly. Someone was looking after me that weekend!
Take care everyone.