Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Monday, November 9, 2009
The feast of the patroness of Coroico, the Virgin of Candalaria, is a week-long celebration - a parade of flowers, masses, rosaries on the streets, a procession of traditional dances in which almost everyone is involved.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
" We do this by bearing the burdens of our life with simple fortitude and without ostentation. "- Rahner
I spent holy week paying for my sins. Many people of Bolivia make a pilgrimage during holy week, often walking long distances on the old Inca trails through the mountains. I accompanied a group of 15 young people and two Bolivian priests on a three day “peregrinacion” from the Christo statue on the mountain pass of La Paz (almost three times the altitude of Denver) down to the lush and rainy valleys of Coroico where we live - a journey of 60 miles by the main road.
We continued trudging through the gathering gloom and twilight with my heart sinking along with the sun. The path followed a steep valley along a loud river. It was narrow now and steep and muddy. We stepped from one rock to another up mountainsides then down to the river and up again. In many places streams ran down the middle of the path as we clamored over the rocks by flashlight. There should have been a full moon but it was foggy and now began to rain. After Marlene and I had been moving for three hours, we had not overtaken the group. Occasionally we came upon places in the dark that were flat enough to camp, but I had Marlene in my charge and she wanted to rejoin the group.
As I resigned myself to marching until midnight…a miracle! We saw lights in the distance. We arrived at an adobe house at 9:30 PM and learned that Choro was 15 minutes down the mountain. And it would have been had we not proceeded to lose the path in the rain and dark. When we encountered our group they were already settled in a family’s scattered huts. The girls were in a dug-out stone shelter and the boys in a tin-roofed open shed. I angrily confronted the leaders, calling out, “This walking in the dark was the worst idea yet....!” They agreed it was a very bad idea and apologized saying they had misestimated the distance and the trail. They brought piping hot soup, which even standing in the rain was wonderful.
On the third day we did some road walking where modern road overlapped the Inca trail. Then the final ascent from the river valley up to our town of Coroico was a hellish steep, muddy climb of thousands of feet. On slipping, weak legs – I paid for whatever sins I had left those hours. About mid-day our sweat-drenched group emerged from the brush onto the town soccer field. They continued the climb up to the town plaza and the church, and then cemetery for the Stations of the Cross. I stumbled into a café that overlooked the valley and river far below, dropped my pack , leaned my walking stick against the wall and ordered a large, cold Hauri beer …feeling quite purified.
When Jean welcomed me I learned she had not had water at our place for three days - forget the shower. But there was a carrot cake exquisite and a dry bed and loving arms.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
There are easier ways to cook a chicken, but can anything compare with dinner baked in a mud oven?
Catch, kill and clean the chicken. Stack some spare adobe bricks into a small oven.
...And while waiting, prepare mud.
Then the pan of spiced chicken - covered with newspaper.
In an hour the aroma of the chicken will beckon you to break open the oven
and strip off the yellowed newspaper to reveal the golden chicken dinner.
A dinner made exquisite by pleasant company.
Our muddy - handed hosts were Willie and Fabiola Aliaga, former students of the University
and good friends of Paul since he lived here in 2000.
Willie manages a large pig operation. Together they raise and sell their own pigs and chickens.
Willie is the designated community leader of the pueblo of Carmen Pampa this year.
In that role he has participated in small group meetings at the capitol with Evo Morales, the Bolivian president.