martes, 15 de febrero de 2011





Already, we had been in Huancayo for 3 days now & like always, I have the same idea- walk or use any of the typical public transportation. It is better access & provides a deeper understanding of the city or town along with everything else that you happen to encounter. We don’t take taxis nor do we stay in hotels because it separates us from the existential way of living & of course, more money. It would mean less days wherever we travel so we choose the same measure with the food-the same with everything & compare it to extra days of travel or days of gold. On this morning, we were ready to go to Cochas but first, breakfast with the family (by the way, they are great) & off to the bus stop… There, we will find different forms of transportation such as “custers” (cheaper but more time) or “collectivos” (faster & more expensive station wagons). I asked Tiffany, “what do you think?” & obviously, we decided to travel by CUSTER, yee haw!!! No, we do not have regrets-we never have regrets.

On the road to Cochas I had a magnificent idea to ask the time from a man sitting to my right. He was traveling alone & had a very fragile aspect. He was wearing an antique blue sweater but impeccable & of course, a typical hat that fit like a ring on the finger. He said it was 10:35 in the morning & I immediately asked, how soon will we be there? He said only 10 or 15 minutes. Later, he asked if we were looking for mate burilados & if so, he kindly suggested that we visit his home/business where he & his family have been doing this all their life. I had the data of a famous artisan that my friend in Huancayo had given me but now, I have changed my mind. In this case, I felt that with Mr Pedro Veli, we would find the perfect extract of this town that has more than 100 years of developing into to this spectacular type of handicraft from Peru. He agreed to an interview & we took the road to his place.

Mr. Pedro Veli Alfaro lives in Cochas Chico. In this same town, he was born, as well as his parents, grandparents, great grandparents, his children & grandchildren. It is a long trajectory of family in this small town. He has 6 children & 10 grandchildren, all of which practice the same art (gourd carving). The youngest is 7 years old but she began when she was 5. As far as Mr Veli can recollect, the history started more or less in the year 1877 when his grandfather Felipe Alfaro dedicated himself to the elaboration & commercialization of this famous handicraft. From then until now the mate (gourd) is brought from Piura, totally dry & ready to carve. They sketch, carve, burn with a smoldering stick to color the carving, hollow & clean. Originally, it was commercialized in La Oroya by the “gringo” miners & from others passing through town. Later, in the year 1946 the mate burliados began to sell at the Sunday Fair in Huancayo. At this time, Mr Veli was 5 years old & was already working with the mates (gourds). Now, after 65 years they sell globally & have brought the production & exportation to unimaginable levels.
Like all popular art, where one expresses graphically the reality, customs & day-to-day living, the mate burilado is not without exception. I believe that it is one of the clearer forms for us to see their past reality & to clearly understand the existential importance these small mountain towns. We are able to see up close their parties, their beliefs, their love, & devotion to the nature but mostly, about all their gratefulness & tribute to the life.

Don Veli is dedicated to the development of the ”traditional mate”. He is one of the artists that have preserved the popular ancestral tradition. Never, has he left the pure & conceptual style. His work illustrates millimeter by millimeter his quality, like artisan & human being. His commercial themes are necessary to drive the rest of the family & really, they drive well. We had the luck of seeing his 2 granddaughters working in which they only use 3 simple tools & fire. Without a doubt they have constituted a system & production series that even the Japanese won’t believe their eyes!!!

I put some related images that describe & I hope that you enjoy! Don’t forget to travel by custer!!!

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