We didn’t get as early a start this morning as both Yieber and I were suffering from lack of sleep. Today we took a taxi the entire way to our destination of Patabamba.
I got breakfast cake from a woman near the taxi stand but it wasn’t nearly as good as the banana cake yesterday.
We arrived in Ccorao and had missed our opportunity to catch a ride to Patabamba. We met up with a teacher who had also missed her car so we waited for her to arrange transportation and joined her. It would be nice to travel in a car that wasn’t packed beyond capacity!
It began to rain and I was grateful that I had packed my raincoat. The weather could change here in minutes from hot and dry to chilly and wet. We sat in the taxi waiting for one more teacher who was late… I listened to the conversation and was able to pick out a few words. After 15 minutes I heard, 5 more minutes, secretly I hoped they wouldn’t make it… more room for us.
My hopes were shattered when 4 more people got in. There were now 9 of us in a compact car. Brings a whole new meaning to cozy. There were at least 3 things to be grateful for:
1. I wasn’t squished against the door
2. I wasn’t backwards in the hatchback
3. Today there were no guinea pigs!
The driver used a roll of toilet paper to wipe condensation from the window, he didn’t seem at all concerned with the rain on the exterior though… or maybe the wipers didn’t work? It was a single lane gravel road so he honked before rounding each hairpin curve. We arrived safely.
It did take long to figure out that Patabamba was a seriously poor village. The houses were typical but modest. It had a bit of a feeling of a ghost town except occasionally we met someone herding sheep, cattle or a mixture of livestock. We met a young man who was reasonably well dressed and asked him where we could find the leader of the town. He was on his way to meet the president so he escorted us and gave brief instructions. The president was not impressed by our efforts to share news of his village. To him we were just 2 more people making wild promises who would deliver nothing. He’d seen it many times before. It’s shocking how many charities fleece the public by collecting donations and padding their own pockets. We understood his position since we had come there to investigate an NGO that come with good reason but exploited the people and situation. We decided to head to the school to try and interview someone their. We hit the jackpot as the principal gave us excellent information. She was well informed and explained the problems of the village in great detail. Then she hosted us for lunch with the students. After lunch Yieber taught some of the older boys a card game. They all had a good laugh and learned some new skills at the same time.
We had about an hour to kill before hitching a ride back to the city so we wandered through the neighborhood taking photos. At one house we noticed a collection of women who had gathered to spin and weave. They greeted us heartily and offered to share their communal meal as well. We spoke with them about their once a week council to find solutions to the problems in town. They realized that money had created a host of issues and decided to return to the days of their elders and teach each other the craft of making textiles. They begged us to help them spread the word and connect them with buyers for their goods. We exchanged information and I vowed to do whatever I could to promote their cause. A few of them had basic cell phones but none had a computer or internet access. The woman in blue and yellow was a passionate leader who had good intentions but no resources.
We almost lingered to long with the women but thankfully we left in time to get a ride home.
If you’re interested in authentic Andes woven goods, send me a message or comment below. I have 2 excellent sources.