９月２４・２５日。イギリス人の友人がインカ道を歩くからいこうと誘ってくれました。Mercado Campesinoのさらに先、Parada de Norteに朝７時集合。総勢５人。イギリス人のトム、イタリアのジョルダナ、フランス人のフランシスコ、ボリビア人のアルド、そして私と偶然にもばらばらの国籍だけれど全員タリハ在住。外国人が多いとはいえないタリハ。逆にいえば、トレッキングをしたがるのは外国人くらいだということです。交通網の発達していないボリビアにおいて、歩くことは日常の移動の手段でもあります。緑と水と山の空気を楽しむためのウォーキングの概念はあまりないようです。タリハの自然を知るための最もお金のかからない娯楽。ずっとここを歩きたかった理由は「インカ道(El camino del Inca)」という浪漫のある名前に魅かれたこともあるけれど、学校の課外学習に組み込めないかと考えたからでもあります。今回の行程は一泊。ここまで長いものは無理でも、一部なりと出来ないか探りたいところ。
まずは小さな乗合バスでサマの山を越えた最初の町イスカヤチ（Iscayachi）へ。少し休憩した後、新たな客を乗せ同じバスがインカ道の入り口タクサラ（Tajsara）へ連れて行ってくれました（４５ボリ）。ラグナ・グランデ（Laguna Grande）、通称タクサラ湖（Laguna de Takjsara）はフラミンゴがみれることで知られているけれど、まだ飛来していません。乾季で小さくなった湖を横に歩き始めます。やがてサマ自然保護区(Reserva de Sama)の入り口を示す看板。このタクサラには女性の織物グループがあって、サン・ロケ教会前では草木染めのポンチョやマフラーを初めかわいい小物をたくさん売っています。歩きはじめは平坦。途中でリャマの大群発見。もちろん野生ではありません。オルロに住み、農業に携わる仲間からタリハのリャマは優秀だと聞いています。エリートリャマの集まるリャマコンテストでも注目をひいていたとか。気候と食べ物のせいだろうといいます。トムが言うに、タリハのリャマの飼育は草を根こそぎ食べてしまう羊に変わる家畜として、NGOが導入したのが始まりだそう。リャマは草の葉の部分のみを食べるし、その毛は良質。いいアイディアだと思います。それはともかく、愛嬌あるリャマはかわいくて、ジョルダナと沢山写真をとりました。
やがて道は登り坂。始めた地点で２５００ｍ辺り。３０００ｍを超えてくる地点になると息切れがして、苦しくなります。ようやく「ここからは下りだよ」という場所でお昼休憩。フランシスコの持ってきたツナに、イタリアに帰っていたばかりというジョージアナの持ってきたおいしいパルメザンチーズ。私は梨と母が送ってくれた飴を提供。二つのvalle（谷）を結ぶこの地点で多くの旅人が休憩をしたとのことで、石塚ができていました。涼しい風の吹く山あいでとる食事は最高。ここからEl Camino de Inca、インカ道の始まりです。丹念に並べられた大きな石。すり減ってなめらかになった表面が年月を感じさせます。この道があのマチュピチュ遺跡から続いてきたのです。けれども目の前にはそんな感傷もふきとばす、悲しい風景も広がっています。美しい山の稜線を引き裂くように走る道路。たった一本の車がすれ違うこともできない道は雑に機械を使って作られたため、山の水の流れを変えてしまい、ひどい土壌侵食と土砂崩れを引き起こしています。そうまでして作った道なのに、私たちが歩いていた数時間の間、走っている車をみることは一台もなかったのです。山に住む人で車を持っている人は少ないという事情もありますが、実際のところあの崩れ具合では車が走ることは早々にできなくなるのではないでしょうか。サマのレンジャー達と働くトムはこうした事情に詳しく、色々と説明してくれます。
日が落ちてから急激に冷え込んできました。ベットの用意をしてくれるこの家のお母さんは８人の子持ち。その子供達の大半は結婚してブエノスアイレスに住んでいるそうで、年末にはみな帰ってくるとのことです。どこから来たのかという話のあと、話は地震のことに。地面が揺れるのだというと、信じられない様子。カフェ色に染まっているとはいえ、お母さんの顔だちはとても日本人的。アジアからベーリング海峡を経て、北アメリカから南アメリカへ南下してきた人々がいたことを実感します。粗末な小屋ながらろうそくをともし、寒くないようにと毛布をたくさん用意してくれた部屋は居心地よくあたたかでした。夕食を待つ間、お母さんの用意してくれたパスタの煮込み（Guiso de Fideo）を食べながら、そしてお茶とクッキーでくつろぎ、ウイスキーの瓶を回しながら、言葉や習慣、料理を話題に話が咲いたのでした。星は降るように瞬いているけれど、風がひどく吹く大荒れの夜でした。翌日はうってかわってやわらかい朝の光が土で作った家と石垣に囲まれた小さな畑を照らす穏やかで美しい日。山からひいた水は冷たく、揚げたてのブニュエロとコーヒーの朝ご飯がとてもおいしかった。９時、泊まらせてくれた家のお母さんとお父さんに挨拶をして出発（夕飯、朝ご飯込で３５ボリ！）。さらに下り、石だらけの川を横切ります。地下水が湧き出て小さな流れをつくり、やがて川になっていく様子がわかります。水量が増え、泳いだら気持ちよさそうな薄い緑いろの澄んだ水たまりがあちこちで見られます。今度は水着を持ってこようと言いあいました。川を離れて再度山を登るつめると目指す村がずっと下に見えました。さらにインカ道をたどり、ごろごろ転がる石の間に足をとられ、とられしつつ歩くこと５時間あまり、ようやく山の麓に到着しました。振り返ると遥かにそびえる山。あそこから降りてきたとは信じられない思いでした。
翌週９月１３日、サン・ロケ祭りは最終日を迎え、仕事は昼休みなしの連続勤務で午後４時に終了。この一ヶ月間各地区で踊られていたチュンチョ、週末には全員集まってメインの通りで踊られていたこの踊りが、終わりをつげます。全参加者が集まって主な教会を回り、最後に聖母像（Virgen de San Roque) がサン・ロケ教会に戻っていきます。夜ボリビアの友人と近くまで行ったのものの、すごい人で結局よくいくハンバーガー屋さんのテレビでサン・ロケ前に集まった大勢のチュンチョの踊りを見守ったのでした。高いところから撮った映像はチュンチョ独特の羽帽子のてっぺんを飾る白い羽を沢山移して壮観でした。
コンサートは素敵でした。ゴンサロとエルメールのエルモサ兄弟の歌声はよく伸びて感情がこもり、タリハではめったに聞けないチャランゴやケーナ、サンポーニャの入ったフォロクローレを思う存分楽しみました。そして、コンサートの半ばマコトさんがヒット曲の一つ"Llorando se fue"（泣きながら）の一部を日本語で歌いました。ロス・カルカス大好きのDurvynから「この歌よ」とつつかれ今か今かと待っていた一瞬。大きな歓声があがりました。タリハ人はおとなしいのかコンサート中立ちあがることはなかったのですが、ゴンサロがマイクを向けると全員が大合唱。みんな歌詞をしっているよう。サビをちょこっとしか歌えなくてとっても残念。ボリビアらしく「アロアロ」のかけ声で小話（ジョーク）が数回入って、みんな大受けでした。私は１つしかわからなかったけど＞＜。最後の方はステージにかけ上がってゴンサロやマコトに抱きつく人がでて警官に阻止されたり、立ち上がって踊りだす人もでて、とても盛り上がりました。コンサートの後、生まれて初めての出待ち？を決行。ブロックしていた警察も私の顔（どうみてもアジア人）とマコトに挨拶をしたい！という言葉（可能な限りイノセントな感じで）にメンバーの乗る車に近寄ることを許してくれました。挨拶して、ボリビアにいつからいるのか、何しているのという簡単な会話を交わした後、泊っているホテルを教えてくれました。 とっても男前のマコトさんは気持ちのいい方で、日本公演に行ってきたばかりという他のメンバーも「コンバンワ」「アリガトウ」を連発しつて快く一緒に写ってくれました。
On Sunday, 21 of August I headed to Achacachi with some fellow volunteers to help the fair and to know a little more about altiplano or highland whose culture is totally different from that of Tarija. Most of the people living in Achacachi were the people of Aymara, and their main language is Aymara language. The current president, Evo Morares is of Aymra origin, and his people seem to have gained politically larger voice now.I was informed that people of highland are more closed and do not mix much with outsiders.It was not a case of Achacachi nor Sorata, probably because it is close to La Paz and people are used to foreigners.Soon after arriving at Achacachi, we went on a street to eat a fish soup for breakfast. People were nice and friendly, made space for us, and explained about the dish. They spoke Spanish without any difficulty, but used Aimara between them.
The fair was to be held in the plaza. When we arrived, several blue tents were already set and local people were selling their products; sweaters and scarves made of alpaca, cloths and handbags of Aguayo, a typical multicolored cloth of altiplano, wooden furniture, etc. Our friend, whose specialty is textiles, has set up her own textile group in Achacachi, passing on the members her techniques and the way to create a sales net work.At the opening ceremony she gave an address both in Spanish and Aimara.I was impressed and remembered fondly of the days I tried to learn some of Quechua, the language of other big ethnic group of Bolivia.It seemed like a long time ago.At the back of the plaza, we set up a small place to demonstrate a work of our organization and some Japanese culture like calligraphy and ceramics.Besides helping calligraphy booth, I walked around the plaza.All the handwork textiles were beautiful.I bought an alpaca cape to send my mother on Christmas, and a colorful bag and book cover of Aguayo for me.Our booth was always crowded with people, and when the event was over, we were all tired but very much satisfied.
After Achacachi, I headed to Sorata, a village 2 hours away from Achacachi. The guidebook says that the scenery to Sorata is really nice with a range of high mountains. The Mt. Illampu (6362m) is the highest in the area. The bus left sometimes after five thirty, and I could see the pale evening glow. Far away there were pinkish snow-capped mountains with a thin layer of clouds in the middle. I expected to see those mountains come closer and closer. However, after 30 minutes ride, we all were in a thick cloud. There was nothing but white mist outside. Feeling a bit disappointed, I sat back, but soon realized that there was a slight tension in the minibus. Only four passengers were on the bus besides the driver and his wife. All were leaning forward and telling the driver something like “there was a light!”, or “a car is coming”, well, so I imagined since all conversation took place in Aimara. Everyone was watching the front glass which was just white to me, and seemed worried about bumping into something or falling off, but interestingly nobody said to the driver anything like “why don’t you slow down a bit”. It was as if we were on the roller coaster in the cloud and I started to enjoy the moment. I also clung to the front seat as everyone did, after knocking my head against the ceiling. About 2 hours later, the minibus slowed down, and we went into a tiny village.
I got off the bus at the plaza, asked the last bus to La Paz next day, and headed to the hostel which my friend recommended to me. There seemed to be a Sunday fair in Sorata, and lots of people with their products on their back were walking around in yellow lights. I went down the street as told, but soon got lost. Two women whom I asked the direction kindly showed me the way, but there were no light on the road they pointed at. I doubled checked and stepped into the darkness without being able to see anything. I wondered if those Aimara people had better eyes than mine and could see things in the dark. On my back I could hear those two women talking to one another, saying, “She asked where Las Piedras (the name of the hostel) was, right?” “Yes she did!” It was quite a steep narrow road. I went down step by step feeling like Alice in Wonderland. Finally I came close to where exist a gentle light. After several blocks, I found a bright welcoming sign shining in front of a pretty house.
When I went into saying “Buenas Noches”, a woman came out. She was the owner of the hostel, Petra, a German woman who has lived in Sorata for 12 years. After settling in my room, I went down to ask about the place to visit in Sorata. Petra gave me a detailed map of Sorata Then I got mate tea and sat down on one table, and asked her to accompany me. She made a tea for herself and brought some cookies. We talked what made us come to Bolivia. She asked me about the situation in Japan, especially about the nuclear plant. I told her as much as I knew. Our conversation went to Hiroshima and Chernobyl, and then naturally we started to talk about the environment. She told me that once she tried to collect the plastic bottles, hired a truck, and brought to La Paz to recycle. She had no choice but to quit when the price of the bottles went down, but said that even though now the price has recovered, she did not want to start it. Actually some local women asked her why she didn’t start again, but she wants to wait till the local people will stand up and start on their own.
I understood that feeling. It was exactly what I wanted. I’ve already started my project in several schools. The schools have adopted the project in their way, not necessarily in a way I intended. However, it is the teachers who must carry on the project in actual setting, and all I can do is to give an advice to improve the situation or to solve the difficulty, or to say more precisely, to think of the better way with them. Now I am hoping to give courses helping teachers to create a project of their own, so that they can start and continue it without any outside help. Continuity is a key word for me since people in Bolivia, in my opinion, tend to see what they have started is something temporal and will finish in a certain period of time. I assume it is because they are getting used to adopt a project initiated by foreign government or NGOs. I don’t think it wrong, but believe that it is definitely much better if teachers or any local people take the initiative in a project and then ask for collaboration of outside institution if necessary. So, I enjoyed our conversation pretty much. I also could not help thinking about what made Petra decide to stay in Bolivia, about some kind of force working internally and externally, allowing people to make a decision to change or follow their course of life.
The next morning when I opened a French window, the mountains were still foggy and seemed mysterious. I went down to have a breakfast and chatted with two Swiss girls who had stayed in Sorata for a week, gone on trekking and were leaving on that day. They told me that until yesterday, the weather was perfectly nice. It was a pity that I did not have that luck, but I decided to look at a good part, as Petra said, it wouldn’t be hot and dusty. Actually I quite like it. About nine, I started to walk to San Pedro, a tiny village where the cave locates. The road was nicely moistened and the air was fresh. It seemed be an only road connecting Sorata with several communities in the mountain, but only a few cars and trucks passed. I also met two or three local people walking, but besides, the road was all for myself. Monday, a day after Sunday market, is a day off to most of the people there. I walked quite happily, singing, and enjoying scenery: a peach blossom, several yellow flowers, cows and goats grazing on a steep slope, terraced fields, canyons and rivers far below.
After two and a half hours, I got to the cave, “Gruta de San Pedro”. An old man was watching me walking up to the entrance. I greeted and watched the mountain beside him for a while. He offered me a guide into the cave. I wondered how much he would charge, but accepted his offer. Soon after going into the cave, I realized it was a really good idea to ask him to accompany, since the cave was quite dark in spite of some lights. I walked hurriedly following his flashlight. It was very hot inside. He explained that the cave is 480m long. After walking about 5 minutes, we got to the darkness. He sounded a buzzer and the lights were on, and then I could see a small lake ahead of me. Three small boats were tied. We pedaled a boat and went further into the cave. At first I could not see anything in the water. Actually it was bit scary and I imagined some huge creatures might swim underneath. Gradually as I got used to the darkness, I could see some rocks underneath. The water was crystal clear. The guide told me the lake is made of the water from the snow on the mountains and no creatures live in it.
Getting out of the cave, I said good-bye to the guide, and went down a hill to find some food. A small shop in front of the cave which seemed to be closed when I came was open and a young woman came out with her little daughter. I asked for a sandwich. A little girl was gazing at me while I settled myself down on a small table outside. I asked her name and how old she was. She showed her light blue cardigan, and told me she did not go to the kindergarten because she had a cold. I made a crane out of a small paper I had in a purse. She went into the shop to show it to her mother. A woman came out with a nice big sandwich. It was delicious. I started to chat with a woman. She was shy, but opened up after knowing we were almost the same age, asked me where I’m from, what I am doing in Bolivia, etc, and told me that she was divorced and now lived with her father who owned the land there. Meanwhile I bought some sweets and shared some with a girl. We talked about Sorata and Tarija and their similarities. Both towns locate in “valle”, more or less on the same altitude (Sorata 2639m, Tarija 1835m), though Sorata is more humid and greenish than Tarija. Both are comfortable to live in. She showed me the trees of grapes, peaches, and bananas besides the shop and those of chirimoyas down on the hill. When I got up, she went into her house, and gave me two chirimoyas. We hugged each other. I could see them waving when I turned back on the corner.
The path back to Sorata went slightly uphill, and it was getting hotter. I was quite tired when a nice taxi driver who shows shiny golden teeth whenever he smiles passed by. He told me that there are mines of gold, copper, aluminum, etc in the mountains near Sorata. I got off at the plaza, bought some chirimoyas to bring back to Tarija, and then went back to the hostel to pick up my backpack. Petra had gone to La Paz early morning, but a Bolivian family who works with her attended me. We talked over tasty fruits salad. She was listening to the radio carefully, telling me there was a blockade by miners on the way to La Paz. Luckily a blockade was over and miners were gathering at the central plaza. I saw them when I went up to the plaza to catch the bus to La Paz, and wished their negotiation would go well. I sat on the front seat watching Sorata disappearing in the mist. All the people I met in Sorata were kind and friendly, and I liked the village very much. I especially thought of the woman and her little girl who lived in front of the cave and their everyday life. I was with them just a little while, but they gave me a strong impression somehow. I am glad that I take their photo as the last picture of this trip. Unfortunately my camera just went out of battery, and I couldn’t show the picture to them. Ｉ hope I can bring the photo to them someday.
The next week after coming back from Okinawa, I spent four days going to schools, giving classes, making compost with kids, and participating in the dance practice at U.E Teresa de Calcuta. Then on Thursday evening, 18 of August, I flew to La Paz with Aerosur which I never wanted to use anymore because of my horrible experience beforehand that my flight at 4:00pm left 1:30am in the morning due to the bad maintenance. This time I had no choice but to use it since there wasn't any appropriate flight. Fortunately the plane left and arrived at El Alto airport on time .
The main purpose of this trip was to go and help the fair which one of volunteers was going to hold with her fellow workers in Achacachi, a small village near Lake Titicaca. I was planning to participate in an overnight trekking tour to Kayawalla with some friends beforehand. Just before leaving to La Paz, a friend called me to tell that our tour was postponed because of a blockade at El Alto which happens quite often here in Bolivia. Being afraid of disappointing me, she continued without pausing and said we should go to the festival of African Bolivians instead. It was a festival which supposed to be on the same day as a harvest festival in Okinawa and so I gave up going. Great! I arrived happily at La Paz and spent a good night at a house of my friend chatting over delicious vegetarian lasagna.
Tocaña, one of the several villages of Afro-Bolivians locates on a misty forest of northern Yungas in La Paz department. It is a small village of about 30 families, but well known as a birthplace of "La Saya" or Saya music. In order to go to Tocaña you need to take a bus or minibus at the stop of Villa Fatima and go to Coroico, a winter resort for the residents of La Paz, and from there take a taxi to the place. A route to Yungas was called "death road" since it runs along the cliff after cliff and every year more than a hundred people fall off to their death. Now a new paved road was contracted and an access to Coroico became much easier. However, the driver of our minibus who has a pretty face with mischievous eyes drove quite roughly at top speed, and I gave a sigh of relief when the bus arrived safely at Coroico, though, his driving technique did not stop me from taking some pictures on the way. High mountains with snow on the top and quiet mirror like lake have gradually changed into deep green as we went down the mountains for more than an hour. At last we found a small orangery village in the middle of a greenish mountain.
We went up along the central plaza of Coroic as advised, and waited for a taxi to take us to Tocaña village. There were several black women in their chola o cholita fashion which is typical indigenous clothing in the altiplano or uplands Bolivia. Afro Bolivians have intermingled with the indigenous Aimara people and accepted their culture, while preserving their own. After 30 minutes drive we were in the even smaller town of Tocaña. There was only one main road with several houses alongside which leads to a small church in the end. We got off the taxi and asked the place to stay to the people in front of the church. They told us to go to "pulga" and urged two little girls to show us the way. "Pulga" means flea and was the place that our cute old minibus driver had also recommended. We all wondered what this name stands for and made a joke about it during our whole trip. The hostel whose real name was "Montainta" was a typical plain hostel, and we got a room with two beds and several mattresses on the floor all for ourselves. Needless to say, before we went to sleep at night, we made double sure that no fleas would bother us during our sleep.
Seeing us all settled in our room, the owner Pulga showed us an interesting video made by some Americans which tells the history of Afro-Bolivians and their current life and problems. Afro Bolivians were taken to Bolivia to work in the silver mines in Potosi and then in coca plantations in Yungas, and till 1952, the year of Bolivian revolution, when the agrarian reform process began and all the indigenous people and women finally got the right to vote, they had been treated as slaves and worked under a brutal condition. The video says the discrimination still continues and even though they get their own small land, their living is very poor and many young people have to leave their village to a big city or work in a vacation house of rich Bolivians near their town as they used to do before. It was a first time for me to listen to the Saya with translation, and it was very touching. They sing as if they want to comfort themselves through singing.
Afterwards we all went up to where the church was to see what was going on. While waiting, elderly people in their costume started to gather, walked to the other side of the town, made line and began to dance "Molenada" with a live band, heading back to the church. The night view of Coroico was shining on the mountain before us and many fireflies were glowing among the trees. When reaching the church, the people in their normal cloth started to join in a file, and so did we. We danced and talked with villagers and some Bolivian tourists from La Paz. Feeling hungry after several hours, we began to look for something to eat, but did not encounter anything. Eventually, we decided to cook in the kitchen of the hostel, and bought some pasta, tomatoes, onions, paisley and a can of sardine in tomato sauce in a small shop. An Italian girl and two Argentineans who we met up there also came back soon after we started cooking. It seemed there was no restaurant in the village or at least was not open during the festival.
Two cousins now living in La Paz
Again we went up to the church in a dark. There were more people, and the bands started to play music of Molenada again but stopped soon. A group of young people with drums started to play music: the Saya. Some young girls made a file, and started to dance rhythmically singing and moving their hips in a way that only they can do. This was the moment we were waiting. Their music, dance, singing, movement of the body, all were so beautiful and natural. As the folkloric music movement became strong in Bolivia, the Saya music also spread and became popular. However, most of them were just an imitating of the rhythm and far different from the original Saya in terms of their spirit. So Afro Bolivians stood up to show their original music, and the Saya became a symbol to regain their pride in their own culture and their sense of identity. Their African blood has lived on in their music and dance. I could hardly breathe and took my eyes off them.
The next day we woke up hearing rain dropping. Mountains were all misty and we could barely see Coroico on the other side. It was quiet and peaceful. Far away I could hear the sound of drums intermittently, but it was gone as the rain became heavier. We all went to kitchen and prepared a sandwich with cheese and tomatoes, and settled around the table outside in front of the kitchen. The air was fresh and contained a comfortable humidity, and the breakfast was really delicious. Other lodgers also joined, and we chatted over a hot tea. Only then did we learn that "pulga" was a nickname of the owner given by his mother since he was a kind of a kid who never stops moving around. It seemed that he hadn't lost his nature since he soon stood up just as he sat down. We spent the whole morning like that, and finally the sky began to clear up a little by little. The rain has lifted.
An Aimara girl
Wishing to see the Saya one more time, we went up to the church. Soon after we arrived, the worship started. This repesented the beginning of the festival of the Virgin Mary and it was to last till Sunday. The Friday night dance we joined was just an eve, and therefore was quite casual. After the service, there was a ceremony and the elderly started to dance Molenada. At that time our taxi had already arrived, but we asked the driver to wait a little more. We were sure that the young were about to dance the Saya since they gathered in their white costume. And then it started. The exciting sound of several drums called "caja" and pestle like instrument called "guiro" spread, and the girls started to form a line and dance to the rhythm. They all headed to the school yard which located on the other side of the village and was decorated for a larger festival. Villagers told us to stay one more night. We truly wished we could; however, even though we couldn't, we were happy to have the opportunity to be there at the moment. We could see that the festival would continue a whole day till late at night. After all, this is the biggest and the most importnt festival in a year, and all the villagers who lived outside of the village had been returning. Wishing them all the best, we got on a taxi and left the small misty village. The beat of the drum followed us after we lost the sight of Tocaña.