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The Improved Palo Blanco
Now, the same community protecting its forest and exporting its cacao presents us oral tradition, rural tourism and organic chocolate.

Cambiar a español | Go to Made in Piura | Go to Frontpage
By Marco Flores Acho, Marco Paulini Espinoza and Nelson Peñaherrera Castillo.
Photographs by Marco Flores Acho and Marco Paulini Espinoza.
FFACTORTIERRA.NET



The Palo Blanco Community is 17 km or 11 miles to the northeast of Chulucanas, Peru, and one of its tasks is having one of the private areas of conservation in Piura Region - its dry forest.

CHULUCANAS, Peru - The night when Miguel Rivera was watching his property in Palo Blanco Village, he noticed  two little lights appeared at the fence. His cousin, who accompanied him, supposed it was about people walking through the muleteers route going parallel to Yapatera River's upper course, so he let him to know.

When Rivera spoke aloud to identify the ones carrying the lights, he got no answer, so he shooted up the air in disuasive mode. The lights froze.  Supposing the advancing ones had understood the message, he tried to contact them for knowing who they were. It was when the lights started to approach towards his cousin and him. The rare was while the shining spots got closer, the carriers' steps were not heard.

Fearing an assault, Rivera shooted straight on them and both lights separated in opposite directions at a blink speed. The two men scared because, even running, the terrain on the slope  is quite wild, so going up or down fastly in the middle of the darkness had been complicated.

When they thought to take the possible threat off, the two lights rounded them. Then, they realized nobody carried the lights, floating in the air. Understanding the prodigy, the farmer kept his gun: "Damn it, little ghost, what fu****g would you with me?"

Then, the light in front of him began to take away slowly. Going over the fear, both male followed it up until it went into a bush. Rivera moved the scrubs trying to catch it, but it sank into the soil. the another one was out his vanishing point, although his cousin assured it was still there next to them.

"I think they wanted to point us a gold burial," he explains now beside the wood fire, a Saturday night, very close where the incident had happened. "The ancestors used to bury the dead with a lot of riches," he concludes.

And his explanation could not be weird at all. Actually, many goldsmith rests saved for the archeology were found in massive burials across the mounts around Chulucanas, Morropón Province's capital city, even enlarging until the neighbor Frías District (Ayabaca).

"Those lights mean gold urials,"  insists Miguel Rivera, who also has seen  how one of them seems to fly above 45 km or 28 miles from Callingará Mount in Frías, until Pilán Mount in La Matanza, two points where UFO activity is assured, what is consistent to sightings  made from Tunal, in Sapillica, where there are petroglyphs amid a Catholic cemetery, as FACTORTIERRA.NET told in November 2016.



The Palo Blanco Community is also known for its awarded cacao, that now is being processed as tasty delicatessen by entrepreneur women.

One Of Many Petroglyphs
Uphill where Miguel Rivera  assures his experience happened, and amid a little forest, is The Marked Rock, approximately 1 cubic meter or 35 cubic feet, that contains the same sculpted patterns we were found in Tambogrande and Sapillica.

There are two types: the upper ones are evidently curves and the lower ones are zig-zag lines, what means for FACTORTIERRA.NET's contributing archeologist Daniel Dávila Manrique that  they could be carved in different moments, 3200 to 4000 years ago.  "The curved ones are archeologically most recent, an the right angles  could be most ancient, perhaps Amazonian origin."

The Marked Rock is 230 meters or 755 feet altitude, very close to Yapatera River, and it seems to set an imaginary line or seq'e with other two mounts extending to the West, at the plains where Yapatera Town is located, 4 km or 2,5 miles to the north of Chulucanas City, which we are about 20 km or 12,4 miles to the northeast, according to the GPS device we carry on.

Although the petroglyph seems to orientate towards those mounts, Palo Blanco leaders tell  it initially saw to the sky, like the one in Tunal, Sapillica. The ambition to find a supposed gold burial made the people to excave its occidental side, and the rock ended to turn down 90 degrees.

Behind it, tehre are littlest rocks likely aligned to it, as marking a path projecting another seq'e until the forest in Palo Blanco Mount, an actual private area of conservation, and where Víctor Chamba, one of the César Vallejo Community's leaders, which the sector belongs to, assures  there are three or four more petroglyphs.

None of them have been studied by the archeology yet, although they  have been object of offering and even predation, indeed.  The good news is the traces on the rock are well conserved.

Palo Blanco people attribute them an Inca origin, but the great Tawantinsuyo Empire started to born 900 years ago, so that possibility could be discarded. "We would like the specialists come here to study them for learning more," comments Chamba, who also had a biologists crew two years ago, for sustaining the viability of the dry forest now under communitarian protection, approved by the Regional Government of Piura.


This petroglyph called The Marked Rock seems to be part of an imaginary line connecting the local mounts around Palo Blanco.

Satisfied Visitors
Chamba and other leaders also said FACTORTIERRA.NET they would like to show  this atraction to the ones wishing to know it, although they have not made a rural tourism project yet, in the beginning. However, there are isolated experiences those seem to result successful.

Stanley Rivera remembers that some years ago, a group of gringos on their way to Frías discovered a house in the neighbor Platanal Village where cow's cheese was offered.

What seemed to be a simple exchange operation for minutes, turned into a conversation for hours with the homeowners about the process, the milk quality, and the market: the visitors ended to stay three days hosted in that home, making their own cheese and enjoying the place.

Under a permission of  the actual César Vallejo Community's president César Patiño and the supervision of the local Farmers' Patrol Committee, our crew experienced to camp close to Yapatera River, next to the old muleteer's trail connecting Chulucanas to Pacaipampa, what resulted a funny and teaching time, as much as it tests the solidarity and the teamwork.

If the view of the forested slope is a wonderful postcard, going into the havens created by the river to take a bath is anoter experience you can't miss.

FACEBOOK: Look and comment about how our crew spent a rural tourism experiment in Palo Blanco.

There is much potential for adventure sports, especially mountain bike, the trekking, and the rappel.

Miguel Rivera tells he had a practitioner Budhist who ate none meat -that forms a big part of the local diet-, but despite he found dozens of places for meditation. "He said the trees, the stones, the mount are full of energy because our ancestors where out there."

In fact, it is supposed his was the stage where the Vicús Culture achieved during a millenium before and another one after Christ, until it was merged into the Chimú empire, almost at the same time the Incas were initially consolidating.




The Palo Blanco Community has a very high potential for rural tourism, as the FACTORTIERRA.NET crew could prove: from camping to trekking, or just leeting to wonder by the amazing views at Yapatera River.

An Organic Offer
But if the past still pending of exploration, the ecology of its protected area (the ornithological potential of its forest is interesting for the people dedicated to birdwatching), or its oral tradition full of lights, ghosts, and burials are not enough, it is necessary to say that Miguel Rivera works on apiculture, although his production volume is small. However, his major asset is the purity of his honey and its harmlessness as much as  he can guarantee it's organic. The whole zone is dedicated to this type of agriculture, and that could explain it all.

FACTORTIERRA.NET: The Sullana-based little company exporting organic honey.

Actually, as FACTORTIERRA.NET also told it, Palo Blanco is one of the places where the porcelain cacao is cropped, what is mostly addressed for exportation under the fair trade model. The international standard demands the production to be totally organic, what  adds pure air and healthy food to the locals, and the tourist or the visitor as well.

While we dinner huge wheat-floor tortillas baked by Stanley Rivera's wife, we learn the local ffruit production  includes the tangerine, the sweet lime, the taperiba, the mango, and the star fruit.  The avocado was growed just some years ago, but it began to disminish and decimate.

The families producing cow's cheese get the buttermilk as bi-product, what  is mostly dedicated for feeding the animals. Someones drink the surplus, but  they don't know how to flow what they don't consume when  they have a raising market  among the bodybuilding-&-fitness target in nearby Chulucanas.


Eating healthy is possible to do in Palo Blanco, like those tasty wheat floor tortillas baked by Stanley Rivera's wife for our dinner.

Take Chocolate
If tat is not enough, fruits, cacao and milk are taking advantage now by the Palo Blanco's Entrepreneur Women Association, that has a little plant  where it transform all this raw material in chocolate bars for eating and drinking, chocotejas, simple chocolates, and even cacao liquor.

According to association's president Daisy Montalbán, although the whole making process is adequatly implemented, it does not allow them to produce volume, however they offer harmlessness and purity as competitive advantages.

One of its critical points is the Piura's taste and the international taste are very different. While the local people like the sweet chocolate flavor, the foreigners prefer it  with its natural bitter.

"To guarantee the product to be one-undred-percent organic, we sweeten it with sugarcane granulated pan," Montalbán explains.

Its closer granulated pan provider is in Frías.

Another of the characteristics the women expect to incorporate is  the strawberry flavor, so they will experience if the crop is capable to adapt  to the clay-loam soil of Palo Blanco.

Currently, their two key problems to solve are the cacao supply for increasing the production, and when it happens, to have major-capability machinery that allows them to accomplish their lots for sale in the fifth or sixth part of time than they take now.

[YOUTUBE: Daisy Montalbán presents the products and challenges of her organization (in Spanish).]

However, FACTORTIERRA.NET learned their cacao supply is conditioned by the surplus quantity of exportable production, in other words it means they are only provided with that doesn't come out to the international market, what doesn't mean lower quality.


This road going from Chulucanas to Frías could make a difference if asphalted, not only for Palo Blanco (on the photo) but hundreds of people who can dynamize new fields of the local economy.

Difficult Promotion
Overall Palo Blanco leaders recognize that even having quality products, accessible prices for the most of public, a growing-up interest of the markets about what they do (once they know them), their common trouble is the publicity.

The another trouble is the low mobile connectivity because the signal is weak, not because few available devices instead, that gets complicated to stay in touch with their potential buyers or visitors for example, who only can wait to locate in specific marks to share their experiences via the wireless networks in the other hand.

Their contact with people abroad convinced them of the social media's power, but they are now targetting to Peruvian national media for aiming them to broadcast all what they have, what they are discovering, what they are getting, nationwide.

And being just 17 km or 11 miles away northeast of Chulucanas, on a strategic road (what could  be more atractive if asphalted), and having a high identitty and a skillful entrepreneur spirit,  why couldn't they be a big attraction for the sustainable commerce and tourism?

More than promises, in Palo Blanco we should work on  a stronger asset -  its effective development model.

FACEBOOK: Look and comment about the more things Palo Blanco can offer for you.

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