Andean philosophy and music

Today I had my first day at Apulaya, the Andean cultural centre I had visited yesterday, so, after breakfast, I walked up with Tim and Jill, who were also going to do the workshop. Margaret and her adopted Ethiopian daughter, Terfay, weren’t ready so followed a bit later. It was only a short walk to Emerita and Valerio’s beautiful property, which is surrounded by mountains and has sheep, lambs, dogs, chickens and rabbits, all at home in the garden.

Valerio teaching me, Tim and Jill how to play the panpipes
Valerio teaching me, Tim and Jill how to play the panpipes

The whole of the morning was spent with Emerita, who explained a lot about the Andean culture and their beliefs in parallel worlds, these being Kaipacha (the objective or physical world of time and space), Pachamama (Mother earth and her cycle) and Ukhupacha (the subjective and invisible world that relates to ideas and creation). They also believe in the upper and lower world of Hanna and Nurin, with the upper world being masculine and the lower world feminine, and in a left and right world. Everything has to have duality or a counterpart. It is such a completely different approach to life that it is very hard to understand, especially for someone brought up in the Western World. It also requires a lot more than a morning to learn about the intricacies of the concept and the symbolism that is represented in all their art and textiles.

At about 12.30pm, we adjourned to the house for an excellent lunch together, after which, there was a little bit of relaxation time before the afternoon music class started. This I took with Tim and Jill, whilst Margaret and Terfay did weaving and other crafts. I learned how to blow the panpipes, as well as having a short session on the Andean flute. The class was taken by Valerio who taught us three songs, which he wanted us to play without music. Mine and Tim’s parts were the same and very basic (and when I say basic, I mean basic!). Valerio and Jill, who had played panpipes already for several years, played the more difficult part. I managed to play it for a while but then we had a break. Absolutely fatal as I could not then remember anything, including the words to one of the songs. I really sometimes wonder about my memory…!

Playing the panpipes in the garden
Playing the panpipes in the garden

At the end of the afternoon, everyone joined in playing percussion, flutes or panpipes so the noise was quite loud. The whole day was most enjoyable. I walked back with Bobbie, who had also been doing some weaving during the day. We decided to have dinner together and went to one of the roast chicken cafes in town. These types of restaurants (Polleria or Pollo Brasserias) are everywhere in Peru and you can order 1/8th, 1/4, 1/2 or whole chicken. The meal comes with soup (of course), help yourself salad and chips. We both ordered an 1/8th, which was more than enough and was excellent. We were surrounded by locals (there really are very few tourists in Calca!) and there was a spit going all the time behind us on which the chickens were roasting.

At the end of the meal, Bobby went to the Internet cafe and I walked home, observing the busy night life in the plaza as I passed by.

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