Nova Scotia Artist, Joy Laking, posts ramblings while she's travelling and painting in South America.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

May 5, 2013, Bogota, Columbia

We flew to Bogota on May 3.  Up at 1:30 am to catch our 2 am taxi to the airport..  The flight was uneventful and we were safely in Bogota at 7:30 am.  It was a very long day.  We have been staying in a cramped noicy expensive hostel and so we are hoping tonight we will have better accomodations but you never know.  Yesterday we explored Bogota, say lots of great churches and a bit of a rock concert (all we could stand) and spent alot of the day at the National Museum.  There was an interesting exhibition of black and white photography by Leo Matis and lots of paintings of chubby people by Boterio.

Bogota is certainly much more like New York city than La Paz Bolivia.  Today we are taking a bus, four hours north to a small village!
Love to you all

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Aucapata, Bolivia April 2013

Eventually after days of hanging around LaPaz, we got to Aucapata. I was disappointed to miss having my first Saturday class for the Aucapata kids but they were all thrilled to see us again. As soon as we arrived, I started in teaching art in some of the schools I taught in last year and because we had transportation and a driver, I taught in alot of new schools. Having the book that I made of our lives, the book from the Bass River Elementary School kids and photo's of Danica's from Kenya, I started alot of the session with the world map. And I taught the kids to use cameras and now I have photo's to put together for the Bolivian kids that also can be shared with Canadians and Kenyans. It was great to see some of the supplies that we left with schools last year, now being used. In Charaj, the teacher, Don Angel had had all the kids make books on themselves and they were bound with cut up pop bottles rolled onto pencils. He lives next to the school and has been teaching there for five years. Once a month he makes the arduous trip by bus to LaPaz to see his wife and two daughters. On our way to Aucapata, we picked up Don Angel on the way since he was stranded a twelve hour walk from Charaj. My biggest problem this year has been whether to be polite and eat food offered to me (later spending 24 hours throwing up) or be rude and not eat offered food.  Eventually I learned this tough lesson.

One aspect to our trip this year was to complete an inventory of local indigenious craft.  We were privileged to see many local people in their homes.  The typical home is about 3 metres by 3 metres and is adobe with a tin roof.  There are no windows and one door and a six inch hole through one wall for a chinmey for the small ceramic stove that is made in place and just fired by the constant fires that are in it.  It will hold two ceramic pots for cooking.  All dishes and food are hung on the walls and are on simple shelves.  There are usually two double beds on one side of the room and no other furniture.  The women weave the blankets and their blouses, cumberbuns, skirts and ponchos.  The men and the boys prefer shiny polyester soccer outfits  The looms for weaving are in the courtyards and are just sticks hammered into the ground.  The shuttles and beaters are a pointed lama bone.  Cumerbuns are often woven with the stings tied to the weavers foot.  Unfortunately new commercial dyes are popular now and noone we visited still used natural dyes.  Often instead of spinning their own wool for weaving, it too was bought in LaPaz and then perhaps spun a second time to make it thicker.  Allot of people could remember when ceramics were made in the area or when baskets and natural dyes were made but we found no one now that remembers these skills.  We did find rope and basket making materials and we found wooden bowls as well as fantastic dance costumes.  We documented everything we found and now have a basis that a programs to enhance creative thinking could be based on in addition to possibly rescuing some old craft in the future.

A second aspect of this trip was to get the Aucapata kids in to see their museum.  We accomplished this over four days and also brought the Cosnipatata school on the last day.  We enriched the museum experience, in addition to having the kids seeing and hearing about all the ceramic treasures, by having the kids draw some of the pots and then by actually making things out of clay.

One of the main aspects of this trip was to get several Bolivian Artists into Aucapata so that they will hopefully be part of a volunteer committee that will develop and sustain a program to enhance creative thinking in this area.   We did manage to get the first two Bolivian artists to the area, although the three days that they toured seemed very long to them and very short to me.  In addition to teaching one day, they saw the market town of Yanco and the incredible Mollan ruins of Iskawaya.  The hike back out of Iskawaya is one I will always remember.  I was happy that Don Manwell suggested a short cut because the climb out last year was extreme.  Unfortuntely the shortcut might have been shorter but it was much more extreme. I owe my life to Ernesto because in addition to carrying my painting stuff, he continually offered a shoulder so that I didn't go skivering off the narrow, loose gravel "path?" that went down down down around  a huge crevice in the mountain and then went up up up. Don Sophio when ahead with two big machetties to kill rattle snakes, maleria infected mosquitotes and the spiny plants that were everwhere if you happened to have to put out an arm or hand to catch yourself.

Afterwarys, before going up up up in the truck, we had lunch with Lucia.  She lives with her husband in the middle of no where and has bananas, oranges, paypyai  and other fruits because of her lower altitude.  Her table was a huge slab of stone on two tree thrunks legs.The table was surrounded by benches and semi walls of bamboo and there was a bamboo shade overhead. The kitchen was a dark adobe room with bamboo on the front wall.  A tiny ceramic stove was the cooker and meat and herbs were hung from the ceiling.  In any ways this is the ideal back to land situation.  Unfortunately now I'm afraid I'd miss my electricity, my flush toilet, my heating, my comfortable furniture and of course you, my friends and family.

Word Picture 2013 Aucapata
The road, a single gravel track,
Wraps around the mountain, hugging all it's curves;
Past orangey-yellow brown eyed susans,
Solitary fucia and foxgloves.
The shoulder of the road,
If there is one,
Is dotted with clusters of hot ink blossoms,
Shrubs with pale yellow slipper-like flowers
And what look like hundres of sun shine yellow five petalled trout lilies
Except that the foliage doesn't match.
There are many cactua and low dense fat-trunked thorny bushes,
All in soft gray green.
Trees are the exception.
Occationally Eucoliptus and maybe a pine of two
Help set the scale in this vast landscape.
The distant montains wear mottled cloaks of browns, yellows and greens.
Often they are shrouded in gray
As this is a land, higher than the clouds.

We bump and jossle
Along the moutain edge
In our old four wheel drive truck.
Danillo creeps over washouts and
Beeps the horn when approaching blind corners.
Ernesto gets outs and moves the giffest fallen stones
That we can't negotiate.
Usually, we see no other vehicles,
But Sunday, we met two buses.
We all slowed and then one of us backed
To the nearest spot where the road might be wide enough for two.
As we crept by the buses, on the outside edge,
I closed my eyes and wished for survival.
Several times, I have been given the front passenenger seat.
I know that both Jim and Ernesto grave the leg and shoulder room.
When I am in the front,
I just look and look.
I savour every shadow and every pool of sunlight.
My camera is at the ready for the lone old woman
 With a huge knife gathering twigs,
Of the tiny girl waving a stick to get her sheep up and off the road.
Sometimes, we come around a corner and in the distance,
we see figues hunched near low stone walls.
Yesterday, when this happened, we stopped
And climbed over the wall to see one old woman needling a cloth or food
And another younger very shy woman knotting a hat band,
One end looped to her toe, to keep the fourty of so threads taunt and organized.
The looms are just sticks,
Some hammered into the ground,
Some sliding back and forth.
The shuttle/beater is a hollow pinted lama bone,
Worn smooth from hours of work.
Sitting on the ground, with bare feet out behind,
The weaver woman hunches over her work.
Her shoulders pull and beat and her knarled fingers
And the pointed shuttle separate the warp to create the lines
Of patterns; lamas, eagles, condors, monkeys
Between areas of straght up and down weaving.
It is a labour intensive miracle.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Friday April 5th 2013

It has been a busy week in LaPaz, Bolivia. We had hoped to be in Aucapata by now but we are still waiting to leave. The first few days were easy as we had time to acclimatize to the altitude. Even climbing the three flights of stairs up to our hostel room left me gasping for air. We saw a wonderful procession for Good Friday with many people dressed like colourful KKK and carrying huge statues of Jesus and the ever weeping Delores. These were decorated with truckloads of fresh flowers. Our immense height compared to Bolivians is a big advantage when viewing parades. Monday, we started long days of work at the Ivar Mendez International Foundation Office. We start at 8:30 and leave at 7 unless I can think of some way to sneak off early. We've made lots of lists with Yumey, the director and had lots of meetings (today with two school officials in LaPaz). Our project this time is to try to get the art project on a sustainable footing. To that end, we will have two mature, well respected Bolivian artists, Mario Conde Cruz and Havier Fernandez visit Aucapata for a few days while we are they. They will teach with me for one day in a school that has never had any art and they will paint with me in the market of Huanco and at the spectacular Mollan ruins of Iskanwaya. These artists will be part of a volunteer Bolivian Art Committee that will come up with ideas to keep the art programs effective and ongoing. Much of this week has been spent shopping for the art supplies that I will need for my Saturday classes and for my teaching in the schools. This year I have a translator, Cynthia, and we will have transportation as we are intending to do an inventory of craft that is being done in the Aucapata area. We have also made arrangement for the school children to visit their local museum which houses a vast quantity of ceramics from Iskanwaya. Several weeks ago, I came up with the excellent yet hairbrained idea of having individuals of all ages in Aucapata take pictures of themselves and their homes and work and then put these into an emailable format that we can share with folks in Canada and in Africa where Danica is teaching. To that end, I did one photo book last week just before we left and the Bass River Elementary school did a book but not in an easy e mailable format. For the past couple of days, whenever I can grab an hour, I've been trying to reformat their book in the basic six pages so that I'll be able to help the Aucapata folks do their books. It has been entirely frustrating as the programs are unfamiliar and the computer is all in Spanish. I took a break and typed this blog and then tried to insert photos before publishing it. Everything disappeared and so I am sorry to say that this blog likely will not have pictures until a later date. We will be out of touch until we return to LaPaz on May 1 but I promise to catch you up then. Thank you for coming along with us. Hugs Joy Posted by Joy Laking at 6:26 PM No comments: Post a Comment Home Followers Blog Archive ► 2013 (1) ► March (1) ► 2012 (26) ► December (2) ► March (13) ► February (9) ► January (2) ► 2011 (2) ► December (1) ► March (1) ► 2009 (36) ► March (2) ► February (16) ► January (18) ► 2008 (3) ► December (3) About Me Joy Laking View my complete profile

Saturday, March 16, 2013

March 16, 2913

Off on another South American adventure at the end if the month
We'd love to have you along vicariously.