We went visiting the community of Chuco, with our beloved friend Pascual Sánchez, one of our oldest and dearest librarians. Pascual recalls when he used to walk 12 hours to visit one of the rural libraries under his charge, in the community of El Chorro, walking up mountains and into valleys, carrying his saddlebag full of books.
Pascual has passed on that love to his son, Manuel, who has taken up the baton from his father as library coordinator, and to his granddaughter Sonia, whom made the endearing appearance in the film Libros y Nubes about Bibliotecas Rurales.
Our next stop was in the community of San Isidro with our friend Antonio Vilchez.
In the evening he gathered his family and his community to share in the All’pata Paguikun, the Offering to the Earth. We thank the earth, the mountains and the deceased, using the blessed coca leaf, sugar and alcohol to do so. We remember all that the earth provides us with, sustains us with, and through this offering we show her our respect and gratitude. After the offering we form a reading circle, taking turns, young and old, men and women, to read stories from our book “The Storyteller”.
The next day we meet with several of the librarians that Antonio coordinates with. Agustin, from the community of Canish, travelled 4 hours on foot to be there. The librarians spoke of how they encourage each other to read – sharing and recommending books, helping each other as readers just as they help each other as farmers.
On the road to Cajabamba we stopped to visit Fausto Salirrosas, librarian from the community of Huamaní. There are 22 librarians that Antonio coordinates with. A portent of volunteering.
The written word unites and inspires from mountain top to valley, especially when the written word carries the wisdom of our elders and illuminates the way for our children.