November 10, 2013
On the way to the Museo Costumbrista Friday night (Museum night in Sucre, when twenty museums are open until well after midnight, and they’re all free) we stop at the Centro Cultural Masis to see the children playing panpipes. It’s amazing how well they keep the melody going considering each is only playing every second or third note—the tune bounces around like early experimental stereo LPs. And we’re in luck—after ten or fifteen minutes, Los Masis themselves take the stage. Los Masis have been around since 1969, and opened their cultural center in 1981; they play traditional music from this area, and vigorously. An eight-piece band (three panpipers, three guitars, a charanga player, and a drummer), they present the traditional (and complex) rhythms of the indigenous music here more clearly than the loping stuff I hear on the radio. They sound more “folk-rock” too, and they’re clearly more intellectual, but they’re stirring to hear anyway, especially when accompanied by ten or twelve more teenage panpipers in Tarabuqueño outfits and an extra drummer beating a gigantic tom-tom.
The Museo Costumbrista is a disappointment, showcasing almost exclusively late Victorian fancy dress; afterwards, however, a nun plays the seventeenth-century organ at the Convento de Santa Clara for us. By ten-thirty, the lines to get into the other museums are over a block long, so we go to bed.
Today Philly, Zannah, Carlos, Paola, and the four of us take the Q bus through the mercado campesino, which takes forever, out to the edge of town and onto a dirt road; we then walk downhill for about two miles to visit Siete Cascadas (Seven Waterfalls). We eat a picnic lunch under an acacia tree, then hike up a mostly dry riverbed into a very rocky canyon whose cliffs look like they were turned sideways and upended. Soon we reach a series of three pools connected by meagre waterfalls; dozens of kids are in the second and biggest. It’s the first time I’ve swum in months, and I’ve been longing for it, dreaming about it. Carlos and I rescue a couple of six-year-olds who don’t know to swim, get out of their depth, and panic. Jacky has a great time climbing up and down a crevice in the cliff; on the way out, Carlos, Zannah, and I join him. We come out on a different road than we came in on; we walk down to a village and tell a truck driver that we’ll pay him to give us a ride back to Sucre; he agrees, and drives us on a one-lane winding eroded dirt road overlooking sheer drops.