Again, visiting Las Mercedes and Terekai

Too much has happened since last I wrote on Friday. On Saturday we went to Luis's farm and stayed till Sunday evening. 

The big story for me was the harpist we hired to come to the farm on Saturday. Alvaro "Peachy" Ramirez arrived about 1:30 PM on his motorcycle, but his harp came about an hour later. Meanwhile, he took interest in my little harp, and made great music with it. He quickly bonded with Luis and Adolfo, who love to sing with gusto. The three of them played and sang continuously until after dark, about 5 hours! They know scores of great old songs, and sometimes they make up new words. 

There was a barbecue featuring roast pig and beef ribs. It was served in traditional manner with no silverware, no napkins, just the meat cut up on a bed of fresh banana leaves, laid on the table. Luis rather prides himself in being an indian, indigena, sikuani. This may seem strange, given his privilege coming from a ranching background generations deep. However, he is very respectful of tradition, as a musician and hands-on cattleman.

I got no photos or recordings at the farm, because I failed to take my phone charger. There is electricity, but I was just stupid. Once I accepted the fact that I could not record events. I just relaxed and enjoyed the scene. There is something to be said in favor of keeping it alive and real.

Sunday morning we followed a rough track across the plains to Terekai, a new ranch that Luis is establishing. I've learned a lot about the ecology, sociology, and sustainability of ranching. The ranch consists of a windmill installed a month ago, a small herd, and a simple pole structure of tarps and laminated roofing. Encargados (residents "in charge") are an experienced ganadero and his wife. Luis is a hands-on manager.

The founding of a ranch is a feature of the old folklore, to be celebrated. In this case, the celebration involved composing a song. This is Adolfo's very special talent, but Luis is no slouch. At some point I will put down the lyrics. Basically it says "Terekai is a little ranch, built little by little (poco a poco) by Luis and Milena, enthusiastically (con ganas)." 

Adolfo is a song-writer and story-teller by nature. Before leaving the ranch, he captivated the children with some of his songs presented as Doctora Gallina, "doctor chicken." These are complete with animal sound effects. One little girl, Dana, was spell-bound. She had seemed rather somber before, but now she smiled and laughed out loud. Earlier, she had noticed tiny ticks on my legs, and she alerted Erika who provided treatment. Upon leaving, I gave Dana my harmonica, not just out of gratitude for finding the ticks but also because I think she is may be motivated to become a musician.

On the way home Sunday afternoon, we stopped in several places where Luis and Adolfo made two-minute videos showing how they go about establishing trees in the grassland. This is widely desired, but the challenge is that the grazing cattle destroy the saplings. Their solution is to plant the sapling very near an established clump of bushes or trees that do not attract grazing animals. Adolfo has an online group of more than 150 ganaderos, with whom he shares his brief video consultations. 

This morning I walked into the center and made a few small purchases, including a new harmonica for me. We decided that tomorrow Adolfo, Erica and I will go by bus to Yopal, Casanare, a 6 hour trip. We will visit farms and musicians, then return here by the weekend.

Next on the agenda today will be to go to Peachy's house to return his harp and connect with his father, who was a renowned harpist in the past. Sidelined by a hand injury, this man now has a recording studio in his home.

Other topics later, maybe.