This is the first page of a new blog, which we are creating as part, and mirror too, of a vision that is gradually taking a shape: started twenty-seven years ago, the face of this vision is changing one more time.
Is springing up, and the name is “La Cuya”, a new project, the last after all the projects that in these three decades have been seen, conceived, completed, abandoned, suspended, lived as teaching, or still present, changed, expanded, consolidated.
In these recent months it has been prepared, dreamed, talked about, and actions have been done in order that it could take also a physical form: in the next months we will find out if times are right and our modalities adequate.
You can read the details about this project scrolling through the crowfunding link, but I would like to introduce it with some pages written the 28th of May, current year, while I was in the Amazon; on that day I walked for the very first time the ground of the land that we are up to buy and on which we would like this part of the Dream to take concrete form.
I report them to you as they are:
“Goodmorning girls. I’ve just got back from the one that should have been a nice little walk. But actually, even though the distance was shorter, it was worse than reaching the Laguna Sagrada (Sacred Lagoon): almost no pathway, mud everywhere, continously up and down, but above all, even if it is certanly not vergin forest, the selva left to itself in a few years becomes impassable, and so it was for almost all the way, with José in the lead, machete in his hand, opening the way meter by meter.
“Almost half an hour from Clarita’s finca” he said: we left home at 9.30 am and we got back at 3 pm, five hours of walking almost no-stop, round trip.
But: we begin the journey which leads to the finca, on a path made of rocks and mud, what remains of an ancient pedestrian road that Josè says once upon a time connected Quito to Tena, in fact in some sections of the route I wonder who took the trouble of bringing there boulders so large and put them side by side; it rained, obviously, the past days, so in some parts we walk in the fast-flowing water.
Josè stops, so do I: “Una culebra” he says, but I can’t see.
Aquì…and he points, su la piedra negra; I look at the stone but I still see nothing, then, suddenly, as a vision, the snake appears, always been there, but not for my eyes.
It’s about forty centimeters long, with its bendings and spirals, brown with darker patterns.
Josè is too still, so I think to myself that it must be venenous, and it has no intention of moving away.
The path is about half a meter wide: no place for us to pass.
Josè asks for my walking stick, and I give it to him, wandering how high can these snakes jump.
It is beautiful, but by now it’s clear how it is getting nervous: Josè touches it with the tip of the stick and it attacks like a spring, and bites the stick, then returns to the stone.
It looks like a guardian with no intention of letting us pass.
Josè decides to solve the situation, he goes back to the snake and with a swift move of the stick he throws the snake into the air: reckless move, I think, also because the beast, now really pissed off, lands a little further on, and what’s more, now it’s half hidden by the grass.
Josè looks at me, and I can’t say if he’s puzzled or what, and he asks if I have tobacco.
I light up a cigar and pass it to him, in the meanwhile I think that he’s young but he’s learning from his father, it’s just that we could have thought about it before pissing the snake off.
He puffs as a steamer, blowing the whiffles in direction of the snake, gesticulating in the air and uttering words that of course I don’t understand.
A cloud of cigar smoke stagnate low on the path, there is silence, we stand still for a while; then Josè moves the branches with the stick, gets close to where the snake has landed, rummages, then turns and says “It’s gone”.
We reach Clara’s finca, welcomed by the white kitty, who’s now alone, it looks like her black boyfriend has chosen the selva.
Chickens and ducks all around, we stop for a bit of rest.
Josè finds a survivor chick, pulls it out from the henhouse and puts it in a hamper, becouse the ducks would have killed him as they did with its brothers: we will bring it home on the way back.
We pass by the tilapia pools, and he shows me where we have to go.
I look at him puzzled: we have to go down and up a hill that looks impassable, and so it will be.
I was expecting something different, Carlos said that the land was flat, that it had been cultivated, but a part from a few wild guayusa plants and a couple of pinepples, as profane I can’t see the difference between this one and the selvas that I’ve already known, the only flat thing I can see is the blade of the machete which never stops moving: two, three, four shots and a step, and then more shots and one more step, and we go on like this, shinning following the bright sky glancing between the edges of the trees, up high.
I tell Josè that maybe we have a different concept of flat land: he smiles and says that here is perfect for guayusa. I can only see twenty meters high trees, and a curtain of branches, canes, lianas, and ferns, collapsed trees, spider webs that is incredible how resistent they are, and a continous up and down, and in many moments the only thing is possible to think about is to put one foot in front of the other, sooner or later it will come to an end.
But is not over yet, because he lose the way, so to speak, and we finally arrive in a place that yes, we can say it’s not a vegetal toboga and if I pay attention it looks like a plateau.
I brought my camera, my plan was sending you a photoshoot of a possible future messuage, but there is nothing to take pictures of but the jungle all around.
And the waterfall? Do you want to see it? Yes, while we’re at it…
We dive again into the forest, and the machete never stops.
I ask but how much work would it take to turn this chaos into a cultivable land? How many days of work? How much money are needed to bring out someting resembling a plantation, let’s say one hectare?
He stops, clearly satisfied with my question: he thinks about it, mutters something, counts on his fingers. Then he looks at me and says for one hectare, three people, four days. Two hundreds and fifty dollars.
I look back at him as if he’s kidding me.
So he explains to me that things are done by contract, people needs to work, and they’re really fast, and to show me what he’s talking about he starts cleaning a piece of forest, right there where he is standing, with the machete, and in three minutes razes a square meter. But then is needed to plow? No, it’s enough to make the holes and put the seedlings.
I begin to understand that here is definitely a different world, different way to do things, different times, different energy, and, oddly, I feel heartened.
But the waterfall is still far away, and we go down again, in direction of the river rumble.
Josè stops again, still, staring at the ground.
Another snake? Nope, a footprint in the mud.
Whose is it? No sè, pero es grandita, bastante, I don’t know, but it’s quite big.
He looks around, pricking up his ears, then he decides that we shouldn’t go on this way and changes direction, muttering something about wild animals dens, better do not bother them.
I’m almost done, and I see in front of me a dizzying descent made of mud and leaves, the river on the bottom. He points it out to me, I nod, now unable to utter a word and I resign myself to go down a slope that my body refuses, and that I would never have faced in other circumstances.
Finally we reach the rio, and we start to descend it, with the water at the edge of the boots, and I see myself leaping from big rocks and wade again and again the river, untill we reach the little waterfalls.
They are three, and the last is really beautiful. (Picture)
He talks, here is possible to dig out the sand, make it deep enough to take bath, here there is a small beach, there is possible to build some stairs to climb up more easily, and we keep on descending the river, and I can see myself dipping in these waters far from everything and everyone, half an hour away from an house that doesn’t exists yet, two hours away from civilization, and I tell myself I’m mad, but it’s a nice image.
I’m lucky to be here, with my pains, my knee twisted falling down twenty minutes ago, short breath, the legs that I don’t feel anymore, but I feel lucky.
We will go back to the finca, pick up the chick we saved from the ducks, make back home, I have the mirage of a shower.
At the finca we rest a bit, but him, implacable, disappears, coming back with a bunch of nettles: which one is the soring knee? I resign myself to flogging, that is still burning as hell, by now I can’t understand what I feel, but I manage to stand up and start to walk again.
On the ancient stone path I think about the snake we met and I wander if it’s still there waiting for us, but now there are butterflies everywhere, and one, white coloured with elegant black streaks, keeps on hovering around me. I let it do it, curious, but also busy as I am not slipping on stones, mud and slimy steps made with old logs, and the butterfly leans on my heart, overlooking the shoulder of the shirt, licking my sweat.
It will stay there for the last hour of the walking, and I am so pleased about this, I cannot express how much: with me untill my room door, Carlos’ house, and when I stop, exausted, it soars in flight, flutters around me and goes away.
I think that we have been together for an hour, but, perhaps, for it, whose life lasts not more than two weeks, one hour is quite a lot, spent with a stranger old, sweaty, muddy and panting: I’m grateful, it did me really good.
This is the day, and this night ayahuasca.
I enjoyed report this fragment, first piece of a puzzle, itself a piece of a bigger plan: the Elders say that the first event of a series, of a sequence, will define its evolution, and I think that the Snake and the Butterfy are adequate guardians for something we want to take care of.
May Beauty be always around.