Machu Picchu and Paragliding

What an incredible gift we have to live in such an amazing place!  I love living in Cusco, and I recently found out that as Peruvian citizens and Cusco residents, the kids and I have free entry to Machu Picchu on Sundays. So, when our friend, Jed, came for a visit, we all joined him on a weekend in the Sacred Valley. We explored Machu Picchu and the next day we went paragliding off a mountain in the valley. We spent hours waiting for the right kind of wind, and the kids managed to find a forest and build themselves a lean-to.  The wind finally shaped up enough for Jed and Matthew to paraglide over a phenomenal view. (There wasn’t time for another run, so I missed out. Next time I guess.)

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And it all went awry in a beautiful place

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So, I’ve had hiccups happen before on filming trips. The last major one left me stranded in Madrid for a week. I actually love the excitement and adventure of my filming life. But it would be a whole lot more enjoyable if I still was able to accomplish my filming objectives.

This time, after many phone calls to Victoriano’s son Yuri about when he might be coming to the village so I could film him, we finally decided I would just have to take the bus to Arequipa where he lives. It’s a 10-12 hr bus ride, over some beautiful countryside and very inexpensive, so I didn’t mind. I even have some old family friends in Arequipa to stay with.

I’m not sure how to explain what happen without making Yuri sound like a complete jerk. So I will just try to make it short. We met, we went to the place where he lives, the owners refused to let us inside to film the interview, we filmed it at the top of an overlook (beautiful, but noisy), he promised that he’d ask a friend if we could use his room to film the interview the next day for better sound quality, he assured me that he had all day tomorrow and I could accompany him everywhere he went to film his daily life, he had to go back inside and I couldn’t follow him, so we said goodbye. I emphasized how important it was that I film him the next day and I begged him to call me the instant he decided to go anywhere. No calls that night.

The next morning, I called him. And called him. And called him. Finally I went to his house. They had no idea where he was. I sat outside his house all day, calling repeatedly. The next morning I called him at 5 am, which is when I was told he leaves work. He answers. Apparently, he decided to take a bus to Cusco that first night, the same day I arrived in Arequipa from Cusco. He is on his way to the village, to go home for a little vacation.

I’ve been picking this apart for days and the best I can do is this:

In Andean culture, there is a particular kind of interaction with the outside world. There is a way to talk to the outsider. And I am sure it is based on a very complicated history of outsiders and their interactions with Andean people. But it essentially means that there is a mentality of saying whatever the person asking wants to hear. I’ve run into this with every member of Victoriano’s family. I have to ask the same question multiple times and in different contexts to get a good understanding of what the actual answer is. Because the first time, it’s just about what they think I want to hear.

I’ve been stood up and given wrong information many times throughout this filming process. I’ve taken to asking different people about events or times just to have some kind of pool I can draw from when one thing turns out to be not true.

Part of it as well is the idea of living moment-to-moment. Future plans are so malleable and indefinite. If something happens in this very moment to change what you are going to do, you just go with it.

But I felt like this time it was really extreme. Yuri decides to jump a bus to Cusco, great! Just give me one. short. phone call. That’s all I ask! I would have been on the bus with him, filming him returning to his family home.

So, I find out where he is at 5 am Friday morning. I take a taxi immediately to the bus terminal and that’s where things get really dicey.  Here, I’ll let you catch up via my Facebook statuses.

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There you have it. I left Cusco last Tuesday. I’ve been trying to get back there for the past three days. It’s a beautiful place to be stranded, but I sure wish I could have accomplished the filming I was meant to do.

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Oh, I also accomplished these things:

1. Read a new book

2. Did some writing

3. Toured Arequipa

4. Skype interviewed and got a new blogging job

5. Watched the entire 7th season of House, M.D.

6. Wrote this blog post

Yay.

 

Our Jouney So Far

We arrived in Peru early June. After a quick trip to the Q’eshwachaka Festival, we landed back in Lima at my parents’ house. For 2 months we crashed in their lovely home on the side of the mountain, in our own little section of the house. Our kids played with their grandparents, ate lots of new Peruvian food, got to know their cousins, explored Lima, and spent most days covered in a layer of dust from climbing outside.

I loved seeing my family regularly and had the immense joy of being there for my little sister’s first baby. Ignacio (“Nachito”) was born on Peruvian Independence Day, July 28th and he is absolutely precious!

We also got to see and film Vidal in his Lima home.

I was still waiting to pick up my Peruvian paperwork in Lima, so Matthew made the brave decision to head off to Cusco, and take Graciela with him.  They moved into our apartment, signed up for Spanish classes and started getting to know the town.

Moving to an Andean town without knowing the language or culture may be picturesque, but it’s not easy.  They had a few tough days, but together they were figuring things out. Then, after my paperwork came through sooner then expected I made a quick decision, packed up our overwhelming amount of stuff and headed out for Cusco the next day. We showed up at the door, after maneuvering one of Cusco’s famously steep and rocky alleys and knocking on several doors, to the shocked faces of Graciela and Matthew. It was wonderful to surprise them, and then to get the tour of our place, including our  roof.

We’ve been here for almost a week, and it’s been lovely. We are still setting up here, taking care of a few things before we dive into film work. But every day is another adventure for us all, whether we’re purifying water, trying not to fry the electric shower head or desperately attempting to get internet connection.  Today, I’d like to find a desk. 🙂

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All in all, we love Cusco.