puno spinning lesson 3, originally uploaded by Hannahcha.

Last weekend, David and I took a much-needed last minute trip to La Paz, Bolivia so I could fulfill my visa switcheroo — leaving for 24 hours to come back and get stamped for another 90 day stay, since I’m still here under a tourist visa. The trip was disastrous in several ways: 1) we didn’t bring nearly enough cash to cover our needs AND the surprise $100 visa that is suddenly necessary for all US citizens entering Bolivia, so we were left with $15 for our weekend in Bolivia. 2) I got whammed by el soroche, or altitude sickness, and spent most of my time vomiting, trying not to vomit, battling dehydration, or groaning from my horrible headache. 3) The migrations officers in Bolivia asked us for “propinita” on the way there, to repay the favor of giving me a last-minute visa, and we politely declined to bribe them for any “favor.” They conveniently forgot to stamp David’s passport so that two days later on our way back, they asked him again for money to repay them for correcting the error that was somehow supposedly our fault.
HOWEVER: despite all this, we really enjoyed the trip. Somehow in the midst of all the stress, we let ourselves thoroughly appreciate the beautiful mountains, the deliciously cold rain, the idyllic farmland passing by as we drove several hours through the countryside, snow capped mountains and heavy clouds in the distance, just being the two of us, cozy together against all odds.
On our last day, in Puno, Peru (around the famous Lake Titikaka), we went in search of alpaca fleece for spinning. Around the corner from our hotel, we found a lady selling artesanias who was happy to sell us a very large bag of deep caramel-colored alpaca fleece. Much to my delight, the woman insisted on giving me a spinning lesson. She pulled out her drop-spindle and showed me how she has spun since she was 7 years old. It was amazing to watch her — her hands moved so rapidly, drawing out and spinning a long impossibly thin and even thread of alpaca fur, without any carding at all. This was exactly what I needed to see — how to manage the fiber. She let me take the drop spindle with me, we exchanged contact info, and I left, glowing with happiness from my surprise lesson. At home with my drop spindle and my wheel, I’ve been practicing every day, still feeling clumsy and slow, but enjoying very much the attempts I’m making. I’ve successfully been making a relatively even and thin thread on both tools, and my first attempt at plying lies ahead…

I made these last night: http://coconutlime.blogspot.com/2006/05/lime-buttermilk-cupcakes.html
highly recommended!

Sergio is here today. He and David just roasted a coffee sample we recently got, which is a “monsooned” coffee from India. What is monsooned coffee, you may be wondering? after being harvested, the coffee was left to dry in the monsoon winds, which resulted in it being inflated much larger than most green coffee, and so it roasts in a special way. we just tasted it in espresso, and wow, I have never tasted an espresso (especially single-origin) that was so low in acidity and full in sweet flavor.

Business update: The coffeeshop opens in about two weeks! (we won’t have monsooned coffee, but we will have a variety of Peruvian coffees that are also quite delicious.) The bar will be installed on monday. !!!! Things are moving right along!