The trip to Huanta takes about an hour by car and the scenery is outright stunning. Although this event does not directly link to my work, I am tickled pink to be included even if we are crammed into the backseat and the mountain ride is a tad scary (days later I learn that 12 people were killed and 39 injured in 2009 when a bus plunged into a gorge in Ayacucho province).
Blissfully unaware, I savour the trip up to Huanta and fall in instant love with its lush green square.
Being the Director of the CTB program, Betty is slated to speak, but she's got larangytis and all she can do is croak. She still manages to speak for a surprisingly long time. The ceremony takes about an hour and a half after which wine appears and we all toast the good outcome of the program. We are fed chicken brochettes with potato.The humble potato is native to the Andes and Peru is famous for its multiple varieties ~ I've heard 4000 and up, but nobody seems to know the exact number of species ~ being grown in micro climates across the country.
I get introduced to Guillermo, a local CTB team member. Betty is suggesting he can organise some visits for my second day in Ayacucho and Guillermo promises to be in touch. Along with the rest of the CTB team, I get kissed on the cheek by a stream of grateful women ~ did I mention Peru is a 'kissing society' and it is not at all unusual to get kissed by total (male and female) strangers ~ and we all pile into the car again to make a quick stop at a local Huanta handicraft association and wind our way down the mountain accompanied by a most spectacular sunset.