Saturday, August 16, 2008

August 16, 2008
I´m sitting in an internet cafe in Chivay (pronounced Chi-Vye) after spending several days in Colca Canyon which is located high in the Andes. The headwaters of the mighty Amazon River are just over the ridge from here. We came in on Wednesday with both Kathy and I wearing our heart monitors. I admit I was a tad nervous at 14,000, then over a pass at 16,000 feet, but I did fine, matching Kathy´s heart rate beat for beat.

Picture the highest town in the U.S., which I believe is Leadville, Colorado at 10,000 feet. Well, we are at 12,000 and it is their winter. Day time highs in the eighties but it sinks to the twenties, or lower, at night. The factor, of course, is the sun. Tommy says it gets colder in the summer, because it´s the rainy season and the clouds block out the sun and it gets really cold.

We´re going to a wedding this afternoon in a small village. We went to a bar-b-que two nights ago. The tradition is to drink beer sitting around in a circle and they pass the bottle and the glass to each person as they go around. After about 25 beers I started dancing, and at 35 I started telling jokes. Then I realized, Hey, this is how I had a Wipeout, so I begged off and went home.

My doctor told me to stay away from anything that comes from a cow, but they eat alpaca up here and the steaks are mighty fine. Lots of soups and vegetables, though, and Tommy´s host father is 71 and still farming the high steppes and going to his estancia (ranch) 21 miles up in the mountains, walking all the way. His mother lives next door and she´s 95. Saw her today on the plaza as she hobbled along. These mountain people are quite healthy, but I can´t keep up with their drinking.

Lots of painting reference. Great hats! I´ll post all of them when I get home.

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