Friday, 23 January 2015

The morning scramble

Here’s one for all you foodies and fitness enthusiasts. Tello and his explorers were obviously pushed to the limits on the expeditions, and tio Hernan always loves to point up the many and varied privations they had to endure, living rough in Peru’s wild and dramatic landscapes. Life was hard but never boring. 

photo by Marco Garro ©PromPeru 

This post is also inspired by a lucky find.  A couple of years ago my father in law gave us tio Hernan’s old diary. This week I discovered this wonderful negative, previously unnoticed, tucked in between the pages.  Hernan’s diary definitely deserves further investigation before it crumbles into dust.

I think the photo may have been taken at the Cumbe Mayo aqueduct site, one of the locations mentioned in this story.  Camping out amongst los Frailones - the Stone Monks - must have been something. Local legend has it that a traveling group of Spanish priests and soldiers once stopped for the night here.  Instead of sleeping, they robbed one another, angering the surrounding hill Gods, who converted them to stone. Hernan’s main preoccupation, however, here as elsewhere in the story, appears to have been food.

I like to think that Tello’s own personal take on breakfast as described here was inspired by his English wife Olive Cheesman.

And one last thing worth mentioning. Pedro Rojas Ponce, the final remaining member of the original team, lived out his twilight years on a state pension in a small flat near Avenida Brazil in Pueblo Libre in Lima.  He continued to practise yoga daily, and died, aged 96, in the summer of 2008.

The morning ‘scramble’ 
In which we hear more about the physical torments of life in the field, and discover the individual and unique gournet talents of (some of) the team. 

The expedition to the Marañón River Basin uncovered a wealth of discoveries. We were ten members and employed more than twenty peons working on the coast for almost three months. The whole expedition lasted in total just over seven months, during which time hundreds of plaster molds and thousands of photographs were taken and sent to Lima.  

The results it produced were outstanding, all the more so considering that there can never have been an archaeological expedition in the history of Peru that cost less. When I think about it, it never ceases to amaze me how we live on so little and produced so much.