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Peru Travels 2006

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The familia Itoi, unconscious. Yuko Yamada and Akiyo. They might be the sweetest couple in the world unless, of course, I understood Japanese and discovered they were evil backstabbing satanists. It's not likely, but Ms. Yuko is the living incarnation of Hello Kitty, and I always found Sanrio to be suspicious. (joke)
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KC, after all that oxygen and vomiting, passed out in the front seat.
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Chinese medicine, wrestling match, and a very scarey hotel. This is Quebrada, one of the smaller rural coffee towns I stayed in lately.
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Down the street ... mostly dirt or stone, the Camping Restaurant Bar. Not sure where you pitch your tent.
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Here they are, clean, but without toilet seats, I guess former guests had taken them. Also, rural Peru is strictly BYOTP - Bring Your Own Toilet Paper ... none provided.
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2 beds in my room, both equally lumpy and hard but best of all ....
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a sophisticated home entertainment system featuring non-functioning 10 inch TV, lamp and "hot bikini girl".
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If you need a perm, or some adobe bricks, Mary can set you up in Quebrada.
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I noticed an abundance of schools and recreational facilities in towns, even dingy little Quebrada. So the Peru government certainly has taken steps to provide for the well-being of rural populations in some ways.
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Outside the Quebrada sports facilities, the reminder "Work Hard" (even though you are equipped with a very tiny shovel) and that Don Lucho wants to buy your coffee and cacao. There's quite a bit of Cacao in Peru (Venezuela and Ecuador are better known for this) and most goes into drinking chocolate. I was able to buy 100% Peruano pure dark chocolate but we'll see if it has the clean taste of better grade products from Peru's neighbors.
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Inspirational sports art. Football-soccer is #1 (even though Peru did not make the Mundial) but I noticed volleyball is popular too, as it is in Brasil.
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Altar at our little bathroom-in-the-courtyard hotel in Quebrada. No pinup girls here ... just in the rooms.
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Our accomadations, while adequate and clean enough were - eh - rustic. Basically the public courtyard had the toilet and ducha (shower) ,.... they were in little stalls ... and the open air sinks to wash up, do your dishes or wash your clothes.
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The public square in Qubrada Peru
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Trucks and busses get packed to the gills, beyond the gills, with marketplace goods and people. It took this truck an hour to figure out the "tetris" of how to fit it all in
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This is a meeting we had with Juan de Dios, one of the producers that Michael Phinney brown shirt, lower corner) has developed a relationship with. It's a solid cup, ranking 80 to 83, and Michael from (Eugene Orgegon) has dedicated himself to a program of farm and quality improvement with Juan and his son Juan Carlos
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Honestly, I don't believe it. Internet in Quebrada? Okay, maybe a 56 k modem or something, and 20 minutes to send an email... but c'mon. There are very few phones in the town. Farmers come down and use the phone at the Alcalde (Mayor's) office.
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Lotsa statures celebrating work, and slashing the jungle with a machete. And child labor, I guess. Actually, even the poor take school seriously and 6 years are mandatory, then 4 years of "collegio" which is high school. For that, producers must send their kids to the nearest larger city, Quillabamba
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The shovel is a symbol for one of the local political parties.
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Typical mix of lived in and abandoned houses in Quebrada. Hard to tell which is which. During the guerilla wars with the Shining Path, rural farmers had 2 choices: stay or flee to Lima. Lima exploded in growth. For those who stayed, if you fed the rebels, the army killed you, And visa versa. If you helped neither, they killed you. So many homes in town were abandoned. Farmers lived nocturnally, tending crops at night and retreating to hide in the jungle in the day.
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The sadly empty niche.
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Lotsa these little lap-dog-like mutts around. Lhasa-Apso-ish. The spay neuter program in Peru is, uh, not even a pipedream.
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Food art, my all time favorite. A tenderly shaded rendering of a very special meal.
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Not a lot of true bamboo in this area, but clearly it is around (Species Chusquea and Guadia are natives). They use lots of grass called Carizo for Techas - Roofs)
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Rolando y Melania are doing something together... and they want YOU to know.
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A monday morning drunk unable to opperate his freight bike. I was told they just get wasted on beer, and I know that's not true. Someone explained the fermented corn beverage Cicha to me later on ... now that makes sense. Perhaps with a little diesel feul for extra kick.
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Motivational model name for our Mitsubishi van. Did we exceed? Well, I didn't toss my cookies at 11000 feet so I guess so.
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I love grfitti, I love doorways. Here: Me Vendo Oro ... I sell gold (coffee, meaning dried coffee in parchment), then Oro seems to be transformed into a face, then there is a distinct hand gesture beneath it. Now THAT'S advertising.
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Don't smoke or you will be blown to kingdom come. That would be one way to get people to stop smoking - just fill smoking areas with gas fumes.
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Just nice art. Who needs galleries.
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Turkeys on main street
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The district of Yanatile with coffee from 2000m to 1500 m, Quebrada population 23,000
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Sharing some space on a squash blosson.
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Coca and coffee, Coca is legal in Cusco, and Coca tea (less stimulating than coffee) is said to help a lot wth the altitude. There's a big difference between Coca and Cocaine, and I think the Cusco Coca really goes to tea ... but who can be sure.
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Coca leaf: the fact is people farm this becase they can't make ends meet. Politics aside, it seems to me this is not at all like farming other illicit drugs (pot) but hey, you are taking to a guy who never even saw the white powder made from the coca leaf so what do I know. But it does change my opinion on myths like "they used to use cocaine in Coca-Cola." No, they used coca, and it is a mild tea leaf. It has as much to do with the other as sugar has to do wit hi-octaine Rum. It made me think for a second, what if they legalized coca tea- and further criminailze cocaine manufacturing. Oh, what do I know....
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I guess Coca flowers, and here is the bud...
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We saw some people below harvesting coca tea. They aren't exactly ashamed but since we look like such squares (anyone with a car from the 1990's or later looks pretty fancy) they probably wondered who we were...
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And this is Yuca, another mainstay. I guess in the US it used to be known as Mantioc. I love it, fried. It tastes like a potato with better texture.
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Ms Yuko, and Mr. Yuca
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We got lost looking for the coffee village of Canelon. Oh well, group photo op. From the bottom row - far right is Yuko Yamada Itoi, Me, KC O'Keefe. Middle is Akiyo Itoi, Juan our Driver from Cusco, Hisashi Yamamoto, Hiroshi Hirano. Rear is our driver Raul, Eernesto from the Capacy Cooperativa and Michael Phinney.
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Here you see distinct clumps of cherry on a loosely structured tree under shade, green typ. That means Typica in these parts.
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We stopped to check out some roadside coffee and attempt to find the Canelon area. The coffee was Arabica Typica with bronze green new leaf, different Typica than you might find in Guatemala where the new leaf is bronze on the Typica and green on the Bourbon. The fact is, there are mutations of both, and who knows what's what.
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Hung out with this guy for a few minutes, showing him some pictures of himself on the digital camera. The people are reserved and shy. They don't like snapshots taken of them but when you ask, and share the pictures, they really enjoy the process.
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Really handsome people here... His father was there, the farmer, and we got information on how to contact him in case his coffee cupped out well. An enterprising fella: he had a bag of parchment coffee all ready to go! It was good altitude, and this area, Yantile valley, has had good coffee in the past. So who knows...
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This clump shows you why quality coffee is handpicked. 7 totally ripe cherry, 2 totally immature.
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I can't take enough coffee cherry photos - they are just so beautiful. This was the dry season so the leaves and cherry were rather dusty.
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An image of Canelon as we approached. It is a small community that is a member of the Capacy Association, a farmer group we have decided to work with for reasons I will explain later.
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Note the incredible terrain, but also sadly this should be forested. If you see forest in the crevaces, it is only because it is shading coffee. Huge Peruvian cattle heards and "slash and burn" clearing took care of the forest pretty well. If you think buying Organic Peru helps the situation - well, you'll see later how it often does the exact opposite.
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Anyway, all roads are unmarked, and even our Cusqueno drivers couldn't figure which way to go when the road forked. So we ended up at a nice vista, a radio tower under construction.
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Nice bar sign: In this locale, we have credit, but I don't want to give it because why not keep what is mine.
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There is no shortage of fruit or fowl.
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Doorways, here wth a few cheap rub on transfers ... probably older than the building itself.
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The store at Tunquimayo, basically an open window. Maria ridicules me when I tell her how the concept of store struck me one day (they store what you cannot {afford}) and the convergence of the verb and noun never occurred to me. Sounds dumb, but makes a LOT of sense here where a "store" is little more than a pantry.
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Main street, Tunqimayo. No cars passed in the hour we were there. Since I read a lot of California history, I imagine the pueblo San Jose, or the like, being much the same in 1840 or so.
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Tunqiumayo, a blink of an eye on a dusty road. This photo basically IS Tunquimayo. Big enough to have an alcalde (mayor)? Hmmm... I wonder. But this is where one of the coffee producers I was looking for was at, Juan de Dios Villa Vincenzo. John of God. We found out from this guy that he was over the hill, picking beans with his wife, so we sent word for him while we took a look around this farm.
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Food is all around...
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His mill was quite nice. This is typical, hand pulper etc. But many have poorly constructed and maintained washing stations. While it is not ideal that it take this many turns, a hillside mill is difficult to keep as a sole straight run. This mill can definitely do the job. He has a water storage tank above for clean processing water.
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We started down the hill from the "town" to his coffee trees and house. As I said, the rainy season is late and everything is dusty and dry, but under ample shade it looked relatively good. In the picture is his compost box where he puts all his cascara, coffee husks, after pulping the peel off.
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The house of Juan de Dios - he has quite a few kids and it looks like they are allowed to have some fun with pens. I believe it says to take your shoes off before you enter!
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She looked a little protective of here pups as I approached...

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