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― Ned Raggett, Thursday, 12 April 2007 18:07 (6 years ago) Permalink
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― Ned Raggett, Friday, 27 April 2007 22:15 (6 years ago) Permalink
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― Mike McGooney-gal, Tuesday, 15 May 2007 19:38 (6 years ago) Permalink
― Mike McGooney-gal, Tuesday, 15 May 2007 20:18 (6 years ago) Permalink
― Ned Raggett, Tuesday, 15 May 2007 20:25 (6 years ago) Permalink
So, this has been the least amount of time weâve spent in Sipas yet. After my last update, we went up for a day while the market was happening to publicize our stove distribution plan. Laurie already wrote about this on her blog, so Iâll skip that. Tomorrow we are going up for a single-day visit again, hoping that a lot more people signed up on the sheets Laurie left with Adela.
This past weekend we went to one of the private museums that isnât covered by the official 10-day tourist ticket. It was a truly amazing collection devoted to pre-Columbian art, a lot of it on loan from a Lima museum that has the worldâs foremost collection. Many beautiful examples of bottles (carved like cormorants, owls, or realistic likenesses of human heads), strikingly painted plates, and a really stunning wooden staff with a duck head, so simple and so realistic. The Mochila people did the best wood carving, and the Nazca had the most elaborate painted bowls. Also examples of other pre-Inca cultures like the Huari and Chan Chan. As it turns out the Incas were only on the scene for a couple of hundred years â more on that later.
Yesterday Laurie and I took a bus to the town of Urubamba, you go north from Pisac instead of east to Sipas. We passed through the town of Calca, regional pride increases as you travel north and Calca has signs saying (loose translations) âCalca: We Donât Vend, We Defendâ and âTo Lie Is To Act Like A Slaveâ. Urubamba was small, clean, and lazy, with a tiny little Plaza De Armas. We ate lunch at a tourist sofa bar and then continued on by cambi to Ollantaytambo, our destination for the night. Laurie is friends with a family who lives there.
Ollantaytambo is where the royal Incas fled after the Spanish conquest. It has unbelievable ruins that are directly above the town on the mountains, with huge steps that the Spanish couldnât figure out how to climb (there was a secret back path). After the Spanish dealt with that (it took them a while, it seems) the Prince and the remaining Incas retreated to Patakancha, 1200 meters up into the mountains (higher than Sipas!). Today they are 90% pure descendants, but of course have lost most of their culture and heritage (and I note again that the Incas basically gained a lot of their knowledge through conquering others and were really kind of latecomers compared to the Huari empire). Anyway, Ollantaytambo has that ânever really been colonizedâ feeling bigtime. The streets are pretty much the same as they were pre-Conquest, with gorgeous little canals running all through them. I took a ton of pictures. It felt like being at the edge of the known world.
Thereâs a new wanna-be conqueror in town though â global capitalism! Since Laurie was there 3 years ago, hostels and cambis have doubled in price. There is an explosion of turisto type places. The family Laurie is friends with owns some property in town where they have a non-profit restaurant setup that feeds local kids for free. Since the last time, they have moved the restaurant to new digs down the street and are now renting out the space to other businesses. Carlos, the lead kid of the family (there are like 5 brothers) said that it is good for the economy, but that some customs are being lost. Interesting to note that there are a lot of cultural pride type measures going on, though â I kept wanting to mention that thereâs this whole program in Sipas where the kids get traditional style backpacks instead of whatever hand-me-down 1st World Disney or Nike crap comes their way. Thatâs just one example â the Calca signs are another.
Last Sunday we also gave away our first stoves in CâOrao! Very exciting. They have to sign an official contract saying they canât resell the stoves. We are going to post everybodyâs picture when they receive their stove. Tomorrow after our visit to Sipas we will see the first ones fully built and installed in peopleâs actual homes!
I am continually amazed by the hidden courtyards here. A door you never saw open before can suddenly reveal a whole world behind it. That and the narrow stone streets really appeal to my Dungeons & Dragons sensibilities. I bought a map of Cusco and have been studying it, walking around to fill in the gaps of my knowledge.
This coming week Laurie goes to Trujillo (north of Lima on the coast) to visit friends. I will be wandering Cusco solo, perhaps even visit some outlying areas although most have to wait for our ten-day tourist ticket period at the end of June. More news next weekâ¦
― sleeve, Tuesday, 22 May 2007 23:32 (6 years ago) Permalink
Laurie's blog btw:
gonna bump this once more when I get the new flickr photos up
― sleeve, Tuesday, 22 May 2007 23:34 (6 years ago) Permalink
OK, I had a big computer crash at the internet cafe and only posted ten photos, but they are really cool ones - link is above in the thread. More will come tomorrow.
― sleeve, Wednesday, 23 May 2007 22:55 (6 years ago) Permalink
It’s a rainy Wednesday in Peru. Laurie gets back from Trujillo tomorrow! It has been a quiet week, I have had exactly six conversations in English, most of them short. Also have become proficient enough in Spanish to have conversations, which is nice. I keep buying the papers and reading them, looking up words I don’t know over and over. Past tense is still elusive, but whatever. Quechua remains even more elusive, although I can pick out words I know at times I still can’t form sentences more complicated than (e.g.) “don’t touch” (“ama llami”, but different pronunciation than Español). I bought nail clippers from an old guy on the street who was delighted when I thanked him in Quechua, most people here get enthusiastic when I say even my bare minimum of words.
Last Wednesday, we had a successful day at the Sipas market, giving away 16 stoves! Our total is now 20 that are on houses. Soon we will post photos. When we returned to Cusco, there was an email for us from a German guy who is also doing freelance stove projects. He gave us important new info – that the metal rockets don’t last very long in the Inkawasi models and that we should coat them with clay before installing (with the ash layer around that). This results in a fired piece of clay in the shape of the rocket once the metal wears out. So we scrambled around that night to coordinate with Pave about getting a message to the folks we had just given stoves to!
The same guy also told us that they were training ceramicists to make rockets for a tenth of the cost of what we just did. But there is nobody even near Cusco yet who could do it, and we still aren’t sure how they could possibly be transported up the mountains to Sipas! So perhaps next year…
I have been walking a lot, about two weeks ago it was like somebody flipped a switch and there are noticeably more tourists here. New traffic lights keep appearing as well, the latest one right on the street outside our apartment! Yesterday I discovered an entire street devoted to shops with religious wall hangings. Scrounging the few English book exchanges for good books, we have gone through what we came with (me: Ulysses, Laurie: 100 Years Of Solitude).
I have finally managed to stay up late enough to check out some of the bars and clubs, which don’t really get going until 10:30 at the earliest (for bands) and usually midnight (for dancing). Went to Ukuku’s around 1 A.M. on Friday with two friends (Chicho and a Belgian woman named Karen that Laurie and I met in Ollentaytambo) and it was full of dancing and revelry. Last night I discovered a yummy pastry place that serves little savory empanaditas.
Eating breakfast specials in the morning, usually a bowl of fruit/yogurt/granola plus juice and coffee for five bucks, pretty expensive but good fruit is a luxury. I could eat meat and rice down the street for a dollar. And that usually is what I have for lunch, although the lunches are huge and come with soup for about $1.50. I have experimented a little bit with pisco, a clear grape brandy that is Peru’s national drink, but only had one kind that was truly good, very grapey. Mostly I stick with the Cusqueña, brewed locally and quite drinkable.
During breakfast, I can look out a balcony onto the main plaza. There are small armies of cleaning people dressed in blue that totally remind me of Oompah-Loompahs. They sweep the streets and sidewalks. There is another group of people dressed in green – the Garden Gnomes – who tend the flowers and grass of the plaza. Ironically, the dogs are given free reign to run around everywhere including the plaza, while people and even toddlers are chased off the grass. The dogs in the city are totally indifferent to people, often running in groups on some top secret doggy mission. Or else they’re just casually wandering the streets or pissing in the flowerbeds on the plaza. Or sleeping on the sidewalk. This is in great contrast to the dogs of Sipas, who are always scrounging for food during the day and very hostile and territorial at night.
It is moving into winter here, we have learned the meaning of the term “abrigarte!” (“cover yourself”, roughly). Next week we will return to Sipas for three full days and hopefully give away the rest of the stoves for them. Then it’s on to Sonco and one last visit to Sipas before we morph into tourists and then return.
― sleeve, Wednesday, 30 May 2007 19:47 (5 years ago) Permalink
Three weeks left! Last week we had a few extremely busy days in Sipas. Of course, everybody waited until the very last minute so Wednesday was absolute chaos, but when the dust settled we had given away every single stove! Early on Wednesday morning I went with a truck and 34 stoves to drop off in Soncco (alternate spelling is Sonqo, Quechua is one of those indefinite languages like Arabic where there is no exact spelling). We were worried, because that left us short on stoves for Sipas, but unfortunately (or fortunately, depending, since now we don’t have to buy more) we had enough no-shows that it turned out OK. The last three people had to draw straws for the last two stoves. We included a bunch of new people (around a dozen, I think) who we put on a waiting list until 10 A.M. when we decided we had given the slackers enough chances. Most disappointingly, a number of the no-shows were families we had already taken the time to interview. Sipas has a really bad reputation for this kind of behaviour, we will see if Soncco is different next week.
We also took some time on Tuesday to give out all of the pencils that my nephew’s school had donated. The power outlets were hellishly capricious as usual, so I only got around 8 minutes of video, but that included a class of kids singing the Sipascancha theme song! Also lots of photos, I think we’re going to have a Flickr posting marathon this weekend.
Today I went and got fitted for a tailored suit that I am having made. In my search for the Yanapay school (more later) I found a whole street of tailors and decided to take advantage of the hideously unfair exchange rate to get a suit for about $70 US. It’ll be ready next week. After much searching, I finally found a hat to go with it in the San Pedro market today. The look is very classic, like a Bogart movie.
Next week I am going to spend a few afternoons tutoring math at the Yanapay school, a local nonprofit. It should be fun, the kids range from six to twelve. Discussing the current curriculum with their teacher, I had the horrifying realization that I can no longer remember how to derive square roots (or cube roots, etc.) through the long division type process that you use for such things, I need some math books in Español! Since they (of course) don’t have any I will buy them some and do a quick crash review before next Thursday. The following week, we are going back to Sipas to say our goodbyes and then starting on a crash course in tourism at the end of the week.
I thought I’d describe the journey to Sipas in a bit more detail, it is just a little too familiar to me now. We get up at 4:15 A.M. on Mondays. Usually we walk to the Puputi bus station, only about 10 minutes away. We catch a bus to Pisac at 5 A.M. which is invariably packed to capacity. It takes maybe 45 minutes to get there. In Pisac, we fight our way off the bus through pushy crowds of Peruvians vying for seats, and then we immediately go to the panaderia to get fresh hot bread – the best part of the morning! Then we wait with the other teachers for the combi (basically a stripped out VW van type vehicle with seats) and pile in with (not kidding) twenty other people. They usually insist on us sitting, so I’ve only had to stand once so far. It can get really insane.
The combi travels up past Pisac, and the road turns into a dirt one. We drive along the side of a mountain for a while (see earlier picture on Flickr of the view down 1000 feet to the river), and then climb through a number of different communities. One of these is the Parque De La Papa, essentially a bioreserve for potatoes with over 200 varieties cultivated and studied. Then comes Cuyo Grande, then Quello Quello, and there are a few more. All of these places are a little more urban and well-off than Sipas.
Finally we come to the last pueblo and the road continues to climb through grazeland until it starts a series of switchbacks that take us over the mountain pass into the next valley – the District De Colquepata. Sipas is just over the mountain, down another set of switchbacks. The combi lets us off up above the pueblo because the road is too rough for anything except big trucks (although some hardcore Peruanos do drive their cars down it on market day). Then it continues on to Soncco, which we will also do next week. The trip from Pisac takes about two hours. It can be very bumpy, some combis are worse than others. Finally, we hike down the hill to the clinic, usually arriving around 8:30 or 9 A.M.
Yesterday, as usual, we walked unsuspectingly down the street towards our fave breakfast spot and were confronted with a massive hoo-ha (word coined by my friend Rachel, means a big party essentially). It was El Dia De La Corpus Christi! The cathedral had a huge amplified mass out on the front steps. Everybody eats a traditional meal on this day called chiriuchu, which we had for dinner at Eggo’s. It consists of indigenous food – cuy, chicken, toasted corn kernels, seaweed, fish eggs, dried and reconstituted mutton (salty, like a lunch meat), and sausage (which they were out of). Also, everybody eats coconuts and sugar cane. It was the biggest fiesta I’d seen yet, at 2:30 I tried to go to the Yanapay school and literally could not get into the plaza. Around 4 in the afternoon it started clearing out a bit and Laurie and I walked around some. I made field recordings of the numerous different brass bands competing with each other, and we drank a bottle of beer with two older Peruano men who turned out to be artists. One was the director of the Museum of Popular Art in Cusco, and he gave us free tickets! We talked to them for a while, it was fun to converse with intellectual left-leaning atheistic Peruvians. Definitely a different perspective. We asked them what they thought of Bush and they said they thought he was a dry drunk who beat his wife. We also talked about the U.S. treatment of indigenas and as usual I had to apologize for my fucked up country, which they really sincerely appreciated. EVERYBODY was drinking in public, it is one of the few days where that is tolerated. Corpus Christi is not, apparently, an official Catholic holiday, this is another example of syncretism.
Next week we will report back from Soncco, and then we start to say goodbye and wrap things up!
Love to all,
― sleeve, Friday, 8 June 2007 22:40 (5 years ago) Permalink
Wow, they must have extended the text limit for posts! Thanks!
― sleeve, Friday, 8 June 2007 22:41 (5 years ago) Permalink
will bump for photos this weekend when they are up.
― sleeve, Friday, 8 June 2007 23:42 (5 years ago) Permalink
First of all, you folks who aren’t on Laurie’s email list should read her last two posts about Soncco, she says a lot more (and a lot better) than I could this time around for sure.
We have been back in Cusco since Wednesday afternoon. As Laurie says, the Soncco giveaway was a big success, 34 families in one day. We had so much basic interviewing to do that I started doing my first solo ones, getting a crash course in Quechua at the same time. I learned like 5 new words, fortunately I have a more extensive Spanish-to-Quechua dictionary than my English-to-Quechua phrasebook.
Nonstop fiestas seem to be the order of the day, both today and yesterday were holidays. I spent the afternoons at the Yanapay School, but they were slow days and I only helped one little girl with triple-digit multiplication. Yanapay is really an afterschool program for kids (many of them orphans) with nowhere else to go. Lots of volunteers, usually there are more kids. Thursday afternoon we watched Shrek in Español! English subtitles helped a lot. I had never seen it before! What a great flick.
We have spent the last two days cleaning up, preparing for our thank-you party tomorrow night that we are having for all the people who have helped us here. Next week we will spend one morning in Sipas saying goodbye (and giving out our last seven LED lights to the teachers, some of them got defective ones). Then on Tuesday we are going back to Quiquihana (where the nun’s pirate radio was, site of our first two stoves) to go up into the mountains and check out a village called Usi, where we are tentatively planning to do a stove project next year. Laurie is thinking about forming a 501(c)3! Wednesday we start our real vacation, we will head out for Machu Picchu but haven’t formulated a definite travel agenda yet (except to be back in Cusco for Inti Raymi on the 24th).
We took some fantastic photos today, we should get them up by this weekend.
More next week!
― sleeve, Saturday, 16 June 2007 02:04 (5 years ago) Permalink
What a week. Many things to write, best to go day by day…
Last Saturday we had a little party for all the people who had helped us here. Attendance was kinda low, but it was fun. We stayed up pretty late talking to Pave and her sister Sefora about all kinds of stuff. And we had leftover guacamole and bread and soda!
The next day, Sunday, we went out to C’Orao where there was a little goodbye party for us in the Purikuq weaving market. Most of the families came, and a couple of other ones showed up to present us with a very official (stamps and all) request for 14 more stoves. Apparently they are all part of some neighborhood association along with the 4 stove recipients (who actually got theirs for helping with Purikuq as I understand it). Unfortunately we are too broke right now, and we need to research the ceramic rockets. We told them we’d get back to them. There is a very sweet 13-year-old girl (named MaFre, for Maria Fernanda) who has adored Laurie since L made a special trip back to C’Orao with pain meds for her when she had a bad tooth. They walked around arm in arm the whole time and she made Laurie a special deep-fried cuy that was much yummier than the usual oven-baked version (which I got, along with one for Laurie, giving her two cuy). With Pave’s guidance Laurie cut the heads off and gave them to the little kids, who sucked happily on the brains.
Later that afternoon we went to a chicken dinner fundraiser for an artists’ collective that Chicho joined recently, basically a way for some of the more creative types to legalize their street vending. It was the first time that everything clicked socially and I actually knew more than one or two people. There were lots of different performers with an MC and a PA and a beautiful view over the city. People played music, told stories, read poems, juggled, did a little play, it was a lot like some talent show night at Sam Bond’s in Eugene. We bought lots of beer and shared it with people. Then we took Chicho out for an extravagant dinner at Perro’s.
The next day we went to Sipascancha for our goodbyes. Took a few more photos and bought some really nice weaving. For a bunch of reasons Laurie outlined last time, we felt kind of bittersweet about leaving, definitely mixed feelings about the experience there. On the way back down the mountain range we stopped in Cuyo Grande for lunch with another one of Laurie’s godchildren, little Jose Anderson and his parents Quintin and Paulina. Jose’s adorable 4-year-old cousin was also there, can’t remember her name. I pleaded vegetarianism, having tired somewhat of cuy the day before. Ours came without heads this time, and I tore the little legs off for the kids.
FRUIT INTERLUDE: While we were there we tried yet another new fruit, the tumba. Kind of like a very sour, orange pomegranate with more fruit on the seeds. Looks more like a cucumber though. We have also tried:
Lucuma – very sweet and avocado-like.
Starfruit – crunchy and super tart, more of a garnish fruit.
Chirimoya – luscious, more melon-like, need to try again.
Pepino – super delicious pear-sized cantaloupe-ish yumminess.
Granadia – another melon-like thing, but you suck the pulp and seeds out of a harder shell.
There is also maracuya which I have not yet tried.
On Tuesday we took the Sicuani bus to Quiquihana to say goodbye to Hermana Nellie and the pirate radio nuns. We also went to check out a potential project for next time, the village of Usi. Nellie lent us her car and found us a driver and we went up a ridiculous road (4WD necessary). Sister Luz Marie accompanied us and said an elaborate prayer as we began our steep climb. When we arrived in the village we found the presidente and talked to him and a few other guys. We learned they have village meetings on the 30th of each month and decided to try and get Pave to go to one in the next few months. The scenery was even more beautiful and mindboggling than usual, and the village also seemed much more compact (houses closer together, little tiny streets, etc.). They have a tiny little school with maybe one teacher and a health person visits once a month. That’s absolutely it. They also have water, but no electricity. The poles have been laid on the road going up, but it will probably be a few years before lines get added to them and fully installed. All the roofs are straw, they have no access to the clay tejas that more populated areas use. We got a good vibe from the place.
After inspecting the initial rockets (one of which works great, the other of which does not have enough space around the edge of the pot for the heat to rise up the sides and needs either a chisel or a skinnier pot), we headed back and turned in early. Wednesday we got straight back on the bus and headed to Ollantaytambo, but we took a different route that was a bit shorter than last time and through different country. After arriving in Ollantaytambo we hooked up with Laurie’s friend and local dude Carlos, and we got a ride up to a tiny village about 10 minutes away. There Carlos recruited a local kid and we set off on a trail up to a pampa (grassy, shrubby plain) that overlooks the valley and city. The entire valley has been laid out as a solar calendar, and the light does very specific things on the dawn of the solstices and equinoxes. We ran kind of late and ended up hiking the last 20 minutes or so in the dark, but had plenty of light to set up our tent. Carlos and the boy (13-year-old Isaac) went scrounging for wood and we built a fire, ate food, and had a bit of rum (except for Isaac). We didn’t really sleep much, but we were warmer than we expected to be (Ollantaytamba is about 500 meters below Cusco). The light in the morning was predictably amazing, but I don’t think we’ll have flickr pictures up until this next Thursday or Friday. Sorry.
We spent the next day and night in Ollantaytambo. Having bought our ten-day tourist tickets the day before we were now authorized to enter the ruins. So we spent the afternoon hiking around the last true Inca stronghold before the Spanish took over, marveling at the engineering and general scale of things. On Friday morning we took a combi to Urubamba and hired a taxi to take us to two famous places nearby – the 1000-year old salt mines of Salinas and the Inca agricultural laboratory of Moray.
As we approached the salt mines I was totally flabbergasted yet again, even more than any mindblowing mountain scene so far. The scale is huge, the construction is intricate, and this giant complex grows out of a tiny little stream only a bit bigger than Cougar Hot Springs. Plus, it is at least 1000 years old, people have built successive layers of pools and gathered salt there for a really long time. Now it belongs to the nearby village of Maras.
About 8 kilometers down the road from Maras is a restored agricultural site that the Incas built that looks kind of like an amphitheater, except the successive lower levels are all terraces. Here they experimented with different plants at different altitudes (at least, that’s what most of the folks who studied it think). It is also huge and amazing, with an irrigation system and clever little stairs made of long flat rocks that stick out of the walls at intervals. We returned to Urubamba, had lunch, and then made our way to the nearby town of Yucay in order to discuss an impending baptism with a priest friend of Laurie’s. Laurie is probably writing more about it, but we are arranging a baptism (in Cusco, by request of the family of Pedro, Juanita, Laurita the godchild, and the other two sisters). It takes place the day before we leave. Knowing no priests in Cusco proper, we were very lucky that Laurie knew this guy (Father Rene) from before. He is the pastor for the oldest church in the whole Sacred Valley, dating to the year 1600. We didn't look inside but the grounds were quite beautiful with lots of peach trees, although it is definitely a fixer-upper and one whole living quarters building is unusable without a lot of work. He arranged everything for us, got us a priest and a church and a time, and generally saved our asses. Some of the family has never been to Cusco before, and I’m sure none of them have ever been in a Cusco church (well, maybe Pedro since he went to school here). We had this vision of the hopeful family arriving on Sunday morning and us having nowhere to take them! So after breathing a big sigh of relief, we headed back to Cusco and arrived around 7 last night. Sometime during this week we discovered we had miscalculated our budget a bit, so now we are going to go just a bit into the red for our last week (don't feel sorry for us, we have been more extravagant than planned). On Monday we are going to do Machu Picchu, and then we have more ruins and museums to visit than we probably have time for until Friday evening, when our tickets expire.
Today is the day before Inti Raymi, the traditional festival of the Sun/Solstice, and the whole week in Cusco has been nothing but parades, 7 A.M. firework explosions, and huge-scale events in the main plaza. Last night there was a full on rock concert, right now there is another parade and announcers. Tomorrow is the big day... Inti Raymi was banned for almost 400 years, the Catholic church only relented in the 50's (we think).
― sleeve, Saturday, 23 June 2007 16:35 (5 years ago) Permalink
Another busy week…
After I wrote the last email the parades just kept going, all of Saturday night. I was stupid (not used to carrying the money) and took some cash down into the crowd where I was promptly pickpocketed in the crush of people. No ID or cards, just cash and my goddamn 70-sole tourist ticket which I had to buy again.
Sunday we got up early for the festival of Inti Raymi (Quechua for “Sun Festival”), which brings in some hideous number of tourists (like 80,000). The day begins at the ancient Inca temple of Qorikancha with a 10 A.M. ritual. We skipped that and decided to head up the hill to the Inca fortress of Saqsaywaman to try and get an early seat for the main ritual. Got there around noon, thinking that it started at 3, fortunately it started at 2. We were some of the last people to get decent seats (which was nothing but a steep hillside, the “real” seats cost $80 US). At 2, elaborately costumed actors began the performance of this ancient solstice ritual, which involves over 600 costumed participants arranged in groups all over the different levels of the fortress. Very impressive, although the entire thing was narrated in Quechua and therefore difficult to understand.
That night I went out to Perro’s and the owner got me sick-drunk on too much free pisco, which he kept pouring into my glass. I met a cool older guy from Montreal and took him to Ukuku’s to see Amaru Puma Kuntur one last time. Fortunately I got sick later that night instead of in the morning, because we had big plans for Monday.
On Monday afternoon we took a bus back to Ollantaytambo, had dinner, and caught the famous train to Machu Picchu at 8 P.M. – the only way to get there. We arrived in the Pueblo Machu Picchu (until very recently named Aguas Calientes after the hot baths there) at 10 P.M. and got a hostal room (El Tumi, very nice, cheap, and recommended). In the morning we arose, got a ridiculously expensive breakfast, and got our bus tickets to go up the road to the site.
Nothing I have seen here previously could possibly have prepared me. The scale is immense, the scenery is more amazing than anything I have ever seen, and the sound was also just unbelievable – you can hear everything from the valleys down below rising up the mountain chasms along with the songs of dozens of bird species. These days, scholars think the site was a summer resort for the Inca royals, not primarily a ritual site as had previously been thought. It was also possibly a retreat/refuge, which I can believe due to its ridiculous inaccessibility and the fact that it is totally hidden from below. We spent all day there, but were unable to make the climb to the adjacent (and higher) peak Waynu Picchu due to it being an unusually busy tourist day. Still, there were many times when we were totally alone. We also took a short hike to an ancient Inca bridge that you can view from a distance, however the rest of the trail to it is in ruins. Really, words fail me, I promise to have Flickr pictures up this weekend.
Spent a leisurely night in the Pueblo before catching the 5:45 A.M. train back to Ollantaytambo, where we had breakfast and continued on by bus to Pisac. There we presented our tourist tickets and hiked the Pisac ruins, some of which are pre-Inca. They have a pretty amazing volcanic rock sundial thing as the centrepiece, which of course is totally invisible from the valley floor. It was a long hike and we took an even longer pathway down a side canyon instead of the terrifying stairs that are the main access. It seemed to me, like Ollantaytambo, to be an almost impenetrable fortress and I can’t imagine how the Spanish dealt with it.
Today we tried to get maximum use of our tickets (since Laurie’s expires tomorrow) and went to Qorikancha (the Temple Of The Sun where the morning Inti Raymi ritual is performed), the Santa Catalina Monastery Museum (tons of hideously gruesome Christian death-worship, even more than usual, along with a lot of really cool stuff like wall frescoes and this amazing “trunk of the Story Of Christ” that folded out into a 300-piece diorama of staggering intricacy and detail depicting various biblical scenes), and the Regional Museum of Cusco (more pre-Columbian stuff and some later Christian paintings and furniture). Tomorrow we visit Tipon (an aqueduct site) and some pre-Inca ruins in between here and Pisac. Then our tickets expire, although we still have personal invites to the Museum of Popular Art that we plan to use on Saturday. Sunday is our baptism, on Monday we leave!
I’ll write one more update after we return discussing this last weekend. Friday the 6th slideshow is still a go as far as I know. And, of course, I’ll let y’all know when I get the pictures up.
― sleeve, Thursday, 28 June 2007 22:48 (5 years ago) Permalink
you're fighting the good fight, right on.
― Wrinklepaws, Friday, 29 June 2007 00:20 (5 years ago) Permalink
bump for new photos, update to follow in an hour or two along w/more photos.
― sleeve, Sunday, 1 July 2007 23:14 (5 years ago) Permalink
So yeah, lots of even newer photos just went up on Flickr, check it out.
Well, here we are in the internet café. On Friday we went to the ruins of Tipon, a massive terrace and aqueduct site about 10 miles from Cusco. That night we went over to Humberto and Maribel’s house for dinner, it was nice and relaxed and we compared cultures and lives. Saturday morning I went by myself to the ruins of Q’enqo (“labyrinth” in Quechua) where there is an amazing underground grotto with seats and windows carved into it, plus a giant amphitheatre with 19 carved seats. That afternoon we had lunch with Pave at a ceviche place, and that night we had planned on checking out a 10-band punk show! We did go to the show, but a band was setting up at the time. While we were waiting, I had some kind of massive allergic reaction (probably to a previously uneaten species of shellfish in the ceviche) and we had to go home where Laurie dosed me with Benadril.
Today we got up at 7, and were at the bus station at 8 to meet Pedro’s family – who had gotten up at 3 A.M. and walked to Pisac to catch a bus. We went to the church and the padre that was Rene’s friend was doing mass (there were two, a smaller later one that was mostly for kids and the big early one). After everybody cleared out, he did a simple baptism in Quechua (Laurita the 3-year-old only speaks Quechua so that was cool) and we were done. Laurie went off with them for lunch and I went home for a nap, still suffering from post-allergy effects. The thing about baptisms in this country is that it is like a legal document or birth certificate, and Laurita will benefit from having those records as an adult, I'm not exactly sure how but it is a privilege that not many campesinos get. I'm not a godfather (I was more of a photographer), but they gave me gifts anyway.
For the rest of the day, people came by and gave us gifts, and we gave them stuff in return. First Pedro and Martin showed up, then Pave, then Chicho and his visiting Trujillo friend Vanessa – we’re going out to hear music with them later.
Tomorrow we’re spending seven hours in the Lima airport before our redeye flight. We have books and a blanket. I’ll write later this week with some loose ends and post-journey thoughts…
― sleeve, Monday, 2 July 2007 01:16 (5 years ago) Permalink
Great thread. I'll be in Peru the first week of April and will undoubtedly be taking some of your recommendations. I'm flying to Arequipa to meet my girlfriend, who will be there on business. We're probably going to do some hiking around there before heading up to Machu Picchu and then I'll fly home from Cusco. Airfare was pretty expensive, but I am hoping the trip will be worth it.
― jaymc, Wednesday, 2 January 2008 21:05 (5 years ago) Permalink
cool man! I don't know Arequipa but that is close to Colca Canyon, the condor refuge. I recommend getting up early for Machu Picchu since it easily takes a full day.
Good restaurants in Cuzco: Los Perros for dinner and Tratamundo's for breakfast/lunch (go for their breakfast combos, fruit & yogurt is muy delicioso). They are both either on or close to the Plaza de Armas. My fave club for night stuff was Ukuku's, and if you get a chance to check out that Amaru Puma Kuntur band I totally recommend it.
― sleeve, Wednesday, 2 January 2008 21:16 (5 years ago) Permalink
also if you feel adventurous you can take a bus to Ollantaytambo, check out Inca ruins, spend the night, and take a shorter and cheaper train to Machu Picchu than from Cuzco. That's how we did it, leaving Ollantaytambo in the evening, getting a room in Machu Picchu Pueblo, doing the ruins the next day, and going back to Ollantaytambo the following morning.
― sleeve, Wednesday, 2 January 2008 21:19 (5 years ago) Permalink
Sounds great, thanks! Yeah, we've talked about doing Colca Canyon, but I honestly haven't done much reading up yet. Are there any travel guides you'd recommend?
― jaymc, Wednesday, 2 January 2008 21:22 (5 years ago) Permalink
I'll ask my girlfriend and get back to you via this thread. Lonely Planet is pretty good as usual, especially with the general historical overview. If you learn even a few words of Quechua you will also be a big hit. 'thank you" = sulpayki (pronounced sool-pai-kee).
Also, our plans are still on for another stove building project in late 2008 as mentioned above.
― sleeve, Wednesday, 2 January 2008 21:30 (5 years ago) Permalink
hey jaymc, how are your travel plans shaping up?
Laurie and I have now been sponsored by the same organization as before for another trip, making it official. We leave in late November, tentatively.
― sleeve, Monday, 17 March 2008 20:49 (5 years ago) Permalink
Good! It looks like things are breaking down like this: I get into Arequipa on Sunday, March 30 (Krista will have been there for a few days already), we'll do Colca Canyon on Monday and Tuesday, more Arequipa on Wednesday, then (hopefully) an overnight bus to Cuzco, from which we'll try to do Sacred Valley on Thursday, Machu Picchu on Friday, Cuzco on Saturday, and then I leave on Sunday. Kind of a lot to pack into a week, but I think it's doable.
― jaymc, Monday, 17 March 2008 22:58 (5 years ago) Permalink
(My girlfriend stayed an extra week, so that's why you don't see any more photos of me past the first half.)
Trip was fantastic, btw, and everything went pretty much as planned.
― jaymc, Sunday, 20 April 2008 18:04 (5 years ago) Permalink
Returning to Peru for four months...
Laurie has a comprehensive writeup of our fundraisers, thank yous, et cetera over at her blog:
The main initial focus of our return trip is to do the same health tests and interviews that we did last time for the people of Sipascancha. In the intervening 18 months, we have learned that there is very little medical data on high altitude respiratory systems. Allegedly we have accumulated one of the largest bodies of data in the world! We probably interviewed 150 people. This time, we will be hoping that the new stoves have improved their numbers. If we can show objective indicators of improved health it would be very useful for future grants.
We also have a small control group, consisting of those people who we interviewed that did not come and get their stoves. We will have to track all of them down as well.
So for our first month we will be spending a lot of time in Sipascancha. Looking forward to seeing it again. I found this amazing book of Quechua folk tales called She-Calf, and the best thing is that it has the English and Quechua side by side. So I can read stories to the kids in Quechua! Very exciting.
After we re-interview as many people as we can, we will head south to the village of Usi, near the town of Quiquihana, where we will spend the remaining three months on a new stove project. Supposedly Pave has found us a room there, we will see. That whole project is more up in the air than Sipas was last time, but we know we'll get at least something done. Our goal is to build 100 more stoves.
Our flight leaves Seattle for Lima at 7 A.M. Monday morning, we will be in Cuzco Tuesday afternoon. Regular updates to follow!
― sleeve, Tuesday, 11 November 2008 17:43 (4 years ago) Permalink
Very cool -- looking forward to these again!
― Ned Raggett, Tuesday, 11 November 2008 20:17 (4 years ago) Permalink
Well, here we are! All flights were smooth, no delays although the LAXairport can go die with their ridiculous sprawl setup. We barely made itto our plane with a 90 minute layover. Once we arrived in Lima everythingwas very smooth, we got into Cusco around 1 PM. Pave met us at theairport and we went to our hostal. The patio (that´s what our apartmentis called) wasn´t ready, they were still working on the kitchen. Werested for a while and then went out with Pave and a Spanish friend ofhers named Juana to Los Perros for our favorite pumpkin curry soup. Wehad coca tea as well, hoping that we wouldn´t have a repeat of Laurie´ssickness this time. Oh well, so much for that! Around 10 PM, after we got home, she started projectile vomiting and continued until 6 A.M., at which point we went to the clinic. ClinicaPardo was full so they sent her to a new hospital, Clinica San Jose. Theyput her on an IV drip and ran some tests. Finally, at 4 PM, they let hergo with inconclusive results. They thought it was food poisoning, wethink that is dubious at best and are leaning towards altitude sicknessa.k.a. siroche. At any rate, she is mostly recovered today, but we lostall of yesterday hence the late email. While she was in the clinic, I went out to try and get some basics to setour apartment up. It was at this point that I really noticed how muchmore capable I am of getting around than last time. San Pedro market? Noproblem! Haggle in Spanish? Sure! I even managed to recover from givinga taxi driver wrong directions on my way back to the clinic (havingconfused it with Clinica San Juan where Laurie used to volunteer). So Ireturned to our patio victorious, bearing an hervidor (electric waterboiler), a couple of cups, some ramen, some coca leaves, and a bulb ofgarlic. Several people complimented me on my Spanish, but I really need afew complete Quechua sentences because that was always asked next, like achallenge - well, you might speak Spanish OK, but what about Quechua? Last night I fed Laurie ramen and we went to bed at like 7 PM. The timeis really confusing here, I remember only being an hour off the West Coastlast time but now we are THREE (?!?!?) hours off and it gets dark MUCHearlier, like 5:30. Climate is hot, but it can easily drop 5-10 degreeswhen the sun goes behind clouds. Yesterday out the clinic window we saw aterrifying rain front several miles away that completely failed tomaterialize. By the time we were headed home it was gone. Cusco has a lot of familiar smells - wood smoke, eucalyptus smoke, carexhaust, that incense wood they burn (Paulo Santo), dust. It is really arelief to feel familiar with my surroundings this time, last time I wastotally dependent on Laurie for the first six weeks. Pave informs us that she has found a source for blocks of pumice, and shealso found a guy with some kind of table saw that can cut it into thepieces we want. A promising start. When we go to Usi in late December wewill apparently be staying in Hermana Nellie´s convent. Our favorite nun,Hermana Luz Marie, succumbed to dementia after doing an unbelievable featof heroics. Somehow she came upon a guy from the village who had tried tokill himself and she carried him on her back all the way to the hospitaland saved his life, but she never recovered physically or mentally fromthe effort. Like something out of a Garcia Marquez story, I swear... Today we are at our fave breakfast spot Trotamundo´s. Now we head out toacquire more essentials for our patio. Next week on Monday or Tuesday wewill head up to Sipascancha and start trying to track out people down tore-interview them.
― sleeve, Friday, 21 November 2008 16:29 (4 years ago) Permalink
that's arzcusco at speedy dot com dot pe
― sleeve, Tuesday, 3 February 2009 17:50 (4 years ago) Permalink
the same week that the McDonald's opened in Cuzco, Gaston Acuria opened a restaurant in SF... I noted the cultural trade imblance in my travel journal.
― (*ﾟーﾟ)θ L(。･＿･) °~ヾ(･ε･ *) (Steve Shasta), Tuesday, 3 February 2009 18:00 (4 years ago) Permalink
I was just talking about going to machu picchu today
― Edward III, Tuesday, 3 February 2009 18:41 (4 years ago) Permalink
Hi Edward, yeah I noticed that on yer beautiful cloud thread!
Here's a new update:
A long and productive week… last Saturday we got to meet Jorge’s volunteers. Inanother bizarre small world coincidence, one of them grew up in Eugene and knewLarry Winiarski (the “grandfather” of rocket stoves). Another was from Seattle. SoDan (Eugene guy) and Cynthia are married and had spent the last two years inNorthern Peru working for the Peace Corps. Brian (Seattle dude) is new here butspeaks very good Spanish. We hung out with them and Jorge, talked stoves, etc.
On Monday we all went out to C’Orao for our second home interview, they also broughtalong another volunteer named Christian, so there were seven of us! Victoria, thewoman who had the stove, was very psyched about the new one. She buried her oldone! There was much discussion as Tomas was there also. We boiled up the potatoesand did our whole interview rap in about two hours. After that, we went to Anna’shouse for our 2nd interview, but she was working in the chacra (farm). So we caughta bus back to Cusco and I went to check in with Victoria about the potatoes onTuesday morning. She said that after two hours they were a little overcooked, whichis awesome. This means the retention cookers are performing well, I deliberatelyselected biggger potatoes for her.
Tuesday was a doctor and dentist day for Laurie so I amused myself on the internettrying to find eBay bargains. Since we decided to leave two weeks early I have alittle bit more disposable income to play with. Wednesday we went to Urubamba inthe hopes of finding a better climate, we were not disappointed. It was gorgeousthere, hot and sunny with perceptibly more oxygen in the air. A nice market on thestreets. Laurie bought a sun hat. We hung out in the plaza for like two hours andnobody tried to sell us anything, a huge relief after the almost-abusive hard sellonslaught of Cusco that we have to negotiate every day. We spent a long timetalking (more like being talked at, really) to a German/Spanish guy who had done alot of work with the indigenous movement since the 70´s. Interesting to get some ofthe history around the struggle to get the UN to recognize indigenous rights. Hesaid the Quechua people were having a harder time organizing than (for example) theMapuche of Chile, but I never got a chance to ask why.
Thursday was another doctor/dentist day, Laurie is almost caught up with the dentalwork and her health is steadily improving. Somewhere in all this (last weekend, Ithink) we finally got caught up with the new season of Lost by downloading episodesat our local internet cafe and watching them using a signal splitter for two sets ofheadphones. So exciting! Anyway, while Laurie was at her appointments I went outto the “suburb” of Choco, where Jorge’s Hampy project is working.
The first thing we did was take a taxi to the edge of Santiago, past where Nino andAdela live. Then we walked for a few minutes and came to the “lower” community,called K’uychari (“rainbow” in Quechua). Here, an organization called World Visionhad recently (like, last week) built 15 stoves. Jorge had not seen them and we wereall curious. The model was VERY similar to what we are building with Tomas, exceptthat they used a metal plancha (plate) for the top of the stove where the burnerholes are. They also had a flue/damper flap built in. The family was quite pleasedbut apprehensive about how long the metal would last – it was quite thin. Picturesare on the Flickr site, for the curious among you.
After spending a leisurely morning discussing various other issues with the family,most of us continued our walk up to Choco proper. There, I checked out anotherstove that Jorge had built for a woman, it was closer to a traditional model and waslacking a chimney. However, it was drawing properly and all the smoke was pouringout of the hole where the chimney should be. It is my understanding that this woman(Juanita) will receive one of the five chimneys we are giving to Hampy.
As we were leaving, we stopped in briefly at another stove that had been built nextto the Choco community center. This one was poorly designed and rarely used. Ihave no idea who built it but it was far too expensive for what they got. Again,photos on Flickr.
Yesterday we returned to C’Orao for more interviews. We made our way to the firsthouse, one of two families with a padre named Juan Quispe. As soon as we walkedinto the yard, we knew something was wrong. Smoke was pouring out of the front doorof the building where the new stove was. When we went inside, we realized that itwas a two-room building with a half wall separating the two rooms. In the othersection, five feet away, a traditional stove was smoking like crazy and filling bothparts of the building. Laurie just barely kept her temper. As we looked around alittle more, we realized that this was definitely a family that needed moreeducation. There was a muckpit of shit and trash in the middle of the yard, thekids had no shoes on, chickens and puppies were running around with the kids, etc. So we sat down with the mom (who was 60) and two of her three daughters, both ofwhom appeared to be single mothers. We fired up some potatoes for the retentioncooker and did our health rap. When we brought out our poster of the “family withproblems”, we asked the older daughter what she saw in the picture. Did she commenton the trash, the baby with diarrhea, the drunk father, or the pregnant mother? No,the first things she pointed out were “Oh, look, there’s a tree! And a squirrel init!” Our work was cut out for us.
So after we discussed the proper uses of bleach, soap, fingernail cutters, etc., wedid the health interviews. When we got to the questions about wood collecting andfood being cooked, we discovered that for some reason the mother and her daughtersrefused to work collectively. Each had their own stove. Each gathered their ownwood. No, of course the daughters could not use the mother’s new stove. We leftsomewhat discouraged, but resolving those problems was clearly beyond us. Hopefullythe other daughter can also come up with 30 soles for one of our spare stoves, theywere definitely interested in doing that.
Our next two interviews were with families we had already worked with before, sothose went much faster. Mostly we discussed the use of the retention cookers. Whenwe were coordinating the next few families with Tomas, we discovered that Andres(MaFre’s dad) was for some reason dragging his feet on his stove, had not collectedthe clay, and kept putting it off. We promptly marched down to his house to askwhat was up, and he was disturbingly evasive. Since he is one of the key people atthe Purikuq market, we are very concerned that Pave refused to let him work withTomas and is possibly also refusing to let him have a stove. Of course, he did thattypical Peruvian thing that isn’t exactly lying, but simply refusing to talk. Weoffered him a job doing the checkups on the families for the next two years, and hewas also evasive about that, saying he would have to think about it. HMMM. We aregoing to be doing some detective work this Sunday!
Last night was a big night, we went out for the first time since Laurie got sick,it’s been like a month! We went to Ukuku’s to watch music. As we arrived, we saw abouncer marching a well dressed Peruvian woman down the stairs and out the door. Ihave never actually seen a bouncer dust his hands off after ejecting someone! Unfortunately, the band was only half decent and the sound was TERRIBLE, harsh andbright and full of treble, excessively loud as well. So we ditched out quickly, butit was still nice to be out. I noticed to my great delight that this excellent bandcalled Totem is doing some shows at the end of the month, I got to see them whileLaurie was sick.
Now we are here on the internet. Laurie is applying for new jobs and writingletters to Soncco and Sipascancha about how to fix their stoves. We are waiting forEpisode 4 of Lost to finish downloading. We have a full schedule this week, fourdays in Mandorani. We booked our flights, and spent a little extra to fly directlyinto Eugene instead of Seattle. We arrive on March 4th.
― sleeve, Saturday, 7 February 2009 16:43 (4 years ago) Permalink
Laurie has gotten way ahead of me on updates this week, so I am stealing some from her again.
“i am just now back from another day trip to mandorani. steve left early after not sleeping well last night and what was a challenging first family. rather than challenging "first family", i should say, challenging stove. this particular stove, while no different than the others (perhaps other than it´s position) lit fine but the draft was so rapid, it prevented the flames from really licking the bottom of the pots and blew through nearly sideways. so it took forever to boil the damn potatoes. which of course threw off our timing. oh well. more important than the timing was the fact tomas was also there and that we all witnessed this. this is why it's so important to see every stove in action! so in another post where steve mentioned going to choco, he described a stove that had been positioned in line with the door to aid the draft. in this case the stove was off to the right side of the door with the chimney in the corner. We talked to tomas about adding a flue. and he brought up the point about it perhaps needing to be in front of the door. later he also talked about repositioning the stove. regardless, it was clear there was a problem. it used way too much wood for just a pot of potatoes not to mention way too much time. our gracious homeowner´, jose luis (there in place of his mother) understood the problem and is expecting tomas tomorrow to come and correct it.
teaching went fine but yet again, the difficulty in testing all family members came up. not everyone is home all the time. and what with just 14 families participating it is looking unlikely we will acquire enough clinically significant data. i (on the more positive note ) said, "well, if so and so tests this volume this time and is improved the next, what´s wrong with that?" Steve´s comment (on the more negative side, but true) was " we will not qualify for grants if we don´t show more numbers." today it had been our intention to catch up and do bernadina´s kids and tomas' sons also. what we failed to remember are buses are not as dependable on sundays, not to mention the unexpected time duration at jose luis and the fact when i got to bernadinas, no one was home and then on return to tomas´s house, his kids had to go to cusco! yagain, oh well. what is a girl to do??´ my only thought at this point is to set up one day where we go just to do that and announce it prior, maybe our last sunday here?
second home was that of simon. he is a member of the local government but proudly is bucking their system and wanted a stove anyway. what a house! (steve really missed it!) about the cleanest i have ever seen in these parts! a living area in the middle with the kitchen on one end and a bedroom for the kids on the other. and in the kitchen everything was hung up in neat little rows on the wall and a seating area sat opposite the stove. sweet! so this stove fired right up with the potatoes boiling in less than 20 minutes. the teaching was a breeze! All of his sons were home, less one that lives in lima. his wife however was not home. (so we did get more testing done here!) what i thought was sweet was to see him discuss in quechua with his three sons, (20, 17, 14) the posters we have of the dirty household vs the cleaner, more organized one. it was striking to see him discuss this with his near adult sons. the potatoes did their fifteen minute cook time and we illustrated the retention cooker. he proudly said his boys helped their mom and would show her how to use it.
one other note. Lucita came by the house of jose luis earlier today. appparently she was one of the original 20 families and somehow was later claimed to be one of the five who did not want a stove by victor. well as it turns out she wants her stove and if i understood correctly she had paid for it and victor had not given her money back. so of all things she insisted i not go to retrieve her money. she gave me an additional 30 soles and will have tomas retrieve the money she origianlly paid to victor. so we are up to 14 families now in mandorani!
otherwise, there was not much time for detective work re: this andres mystery. timotea did allude to the fact another problem is that andres is pretty tight with juana and victor. i still wonder what pave may have to do with this. the truly unfortunate thing is that his wife needs the stove. and if he actually builds it, fine, its just that he paid, signed the contract agreeing to tomas to build it, to the visits and for receipt of the retention cooker. we need some one-on-one time with him. after our visits tomas, timotea and i batted this around a bit over a delicious cuy dinner coming to the conclusion everyone can make their choice.
one very nice thing he shared with me is how much each family has noticed and liked that we are coming to each house. this appears to be making the impression that we indeed care about each stove working well and giving each family the attention needed to use it correctly, along with the retention cooker.”
Friday we returned and went to Lucila’s house. As Laurie noted, there was a lot of trash in the yard. When she asked Lucila about it Lucila said that it was her neighbors! Please note that these neighbors are the same problem family that I talked about before who had the kids without shoes and the separate kitchens that they would not share. A good example of how bad apples can impact the whole community. I was pretty pissed off and decided to come back with empty bags and gloves, clean it all up, sort and separate, and give it back to the offending family with instructions to knock it the fuck off. As Laurie mentioned, Tomas has been very helpful and he agreed to take our notices of a followup meeting for health testing (Saturday the 21st) to some of the further-away houses. We checked in on the stove that had given us problems on Wednesday with the excessive draft, and Tomas had installed a damper in it which had solved the problem. We also talked to Andres and worked everything out with him, he is in the middle of the village politics but he will build a new stove when he has time. As we did the interviews, we discovered that MaFre (the older daughter) has some major problem with her cornea and needs an expensive operation, the diagnosis alone was 150 soles. We are going to help them out as much as we can.
Last night we were supposed to have dinner at Rosanna’s. I failed to mention this story before, but back in late November or early December her business partner was robbed at gunpoint of $14,000 (!!!). He was taking it to pay a lot of people somewhere in the jungle where there are no banks, if you are wondering (like I was) why the hell he would carry that much around. Anyway, she needed to make a loan payment and borrowed $2K from us. We have had some problems getting her to pay it back, her not returning calls, etc. We were getting kind of worried (although she only owed us like $400 by this point) and so Laurie went to the school to talk to her. We learned that she had been taking care of two German students who had arrived at the school with Dengue Fever and malaria, respectively! Yikes! Also, she has set up an entirely new business which is inspired by our discussion about welfare and the Juntos program, she will be teaching single mothers how to teach English. We are going to see her new office on Monday.
Anyway, Rosanna got stuck in Urubamba last night and had to cancel dinner. On a whim, we decided to spend money and went to Cicciolina’s, probably the best restaurant in town. We had one of the most unbelievable dinners I have had in years. We started with tapas – an amazing lomo saltado skewer (beef sauted with onions in a kind of soy-based sauce), hummus and grilled zucchini, a smoked trout and wild mushroom and red pepper thing on bread pieces, a dizzyingly delicious skewer of fried prawn with sweet potato and a wasabi sauce, and then their mouthwatering fried calamari with a hot/sweet sauce and more hummus on bread. We each had a red wine from Argentina called Trilogie, a blend. Then we got two more of the prawn skewers and an antipasto plate that was also exquisite. Dessert was an incredibly perfect little glass of espresso and Bailey’s with a dollop of vanilla ice cream on top. Just a little side note there for the foodies amongst us. Our total bill was slightly over $20 apiece with tip.
Today we went back to Calle Huayruropata where I bought my rubber boots, since I discovered that the reason the right one was hurting was because it was a quarter inch narrower than the right! The woman remembered me and very graciously agreed to let me trade them in for a bigger pair, it is so much better. We also bought rubber gloves for our cleanup plan. In the afternoon we went to the used market in Santiago for several reasons. We wanted to find a new Swiss Army knife for Laurie, since hers was stolen by a scumbag taxi driver about a week ago. Nino and Adela have a booth there and they sell knives, plus we wanted to talk to them concerning several items of business (school exchange stuff, visiting, etc.) As we wandered around waiting for them, I encountered a booth full of vinyl records! My eyes bugged out when looked through them and I realized that the woman had run a store in Cuzco, probably 25 years ago. The 12” LPs were beat up garbage, but she had two or three hundred 45’s that were totally unplayed mint Peruvian pressings of stuff from 1977-1982. B-52s, Go-Go’s, Fleetwood Mac, disco stuff, oh my goodness. I ended up buying about 25 of them for a little under four bucks. Then later on we found ANOTHER stall selling all-Peruvian records, I got an LP of solo guitar by various artists and another LP of ceremonial dances and songs. Needless to say, I was very pleased.
We have three families left out of 15, only one of them has a completed stove because the other two have not paid their 30 soles yet. We will be doing his house tomorrow. Monday we need to spend a big chunk of the day extending our visas. I was off by one day about our return, we get back in the afternoon on Thursday March 5th. At this point we are counting the days and trying to make sure our to-do list includes everything. On Monday we are also transferring our 5 extra stoves over to Choco. Somehow we ended up with three extra baskets for retention cooking, not sure what we’ll do with those yet.
Last week we went to a jewelry store and bought two very simple silver engagement rings. We would appreciate it if people didn’t make a big deal out of this because we aren’t going to. There are a number of very practical reasons why we are considering a civil union. Our relationship does not need to be legitimized by the state. That said, we might have a big party this Halloween, which will be our 4th anniversary.
OK? OK. Only seventeen days left until we leave Cuzco, probably two or three more updates.
― sleeve, Saturday, 14 February 2009 21:14 (4 years ago) Permalink
One week left! Last Saturday Dan and Cindy came over for dinner, we made spaghetti and meatballs. About halfway through dinner something that was (to me) very weird happened. My first thought was “why is somebody pounding on our door so hard?” Literally less than two seconds later, Dan and Cindy had leaped out of their seats and into the doorframe of the kitchen. About half a second after that, I realized that it was an earthquake and dragged Laurie into the doorframe with me. Then, of course, it stopped immediately. Dogs were going crazy everywhere. Our friends are from Southern California, which explains their reaction time.
On Sunday we went out to C’Orao and did another interview, this one at the house of the soldadura’s (blacksmith’s) father, Lucio. He had a complicated family with stepdaughters and various other configurations, and his son had also tricked out his stove with an oven (!!!) and a third burner. We talked to Victoria about doing our followup visits and she agreed. As our last item of business, we took our big rubber boots and our arm-length rubber gloves, went over to Lucila’s house, and cleaned up most of the trash her neighbors had thrown into her yard. We stuffed three rice bags full, and the rest was in standing water that was too deep to wade into. Good thing I’m a hardened Oregon Country Fair Recycling Crew expert, there were used diapers, bottles of urine, and all manner of mud-filled tins and bottles. I am pushing for us to have Victoria keep tabs on that situation to make sure the neighbors stop their behavior, we have a little bit of incentive since they got a stove and want their 30 soles back.
Monday morning we went off to the Visa office, bright and early. Last time it was a major production, we had to go pay at a different bank, bring back a receipt, go to a copy shop to copy forms, wait in lines, the whole nine yards. This time they had greatly streamlined their process, we were done in less than an hour. We were amazed and pleased. With some of our extra time, we visited Rosanna’s new “Second Chance” project, which is just getting off the ground. They are still doing construction work within their rental space. Later that afternoon, we sent off our first stove to Choco, and had a lovely dinner at Rosanna’s, talking to a Swiss and an American as well as her family.
As the week progressed we did some grocery shopping since our budget is getting tight, sent off another stove to Choco, and had another one of Laurie’s friends over for dinner (Carlitos, a guy who had been working in the jungle as a vet at a rare animal shelter). On Thursday Laurie spent the day in Ollantaytambo trying to get Hermano Vidal’s stove working, but he hadn’t gotten all the materials together so it wasn’t finished by the end of the day. That night we went with Carlitos up to a bar in San Blas that we didn’t know called Siete Angelitos (7 Angels). As we scouted around the bar for seats we were quite surprised to find most of the Hampy crew (Dan, Cindy, Brian, and two newer folks) hanging out in a little room off of the main bar. Turns out most of them live near there in San Blas. We stayed up late and got fairly drunk, at some point I was talking with Laurie and Carlitos and realized that for the first time ever I was actually talking and thinking in Spanish… finally. Right before we were leaving, it started to POUR down rain, more than I’ve seen anytime except that one night in Sipascancha. The streets literally looked like rivers, with several inches of rushing water in them, pouring down the steep inclines. After 15 minutes it stopped.
This past Saturday we had planned a big meeting in C’Orao, we had sent notices out to all the families and were hoping to get more interviews of people we had missed before. Silly us, thinking we were more important than working in the fields or markets. Almost nobody showed up. Tomas had been called away for an emergency in Cusco, Lucio (the welder’s dad) showed up to say that the two women in his house couldn’t come (they were in the fields), and Erasmo showed up just to say hi (we had done his whole family already). So we decided to go off and start looking for people. We ended up getting six more interviews from various houses, bringing our total to 48 out of 70. Even though that is pretty good, we decided to go back this Wednesday and try to get some more. We also discovered that the first stove that had been built, at Bernardina’s house, was having excessive draft problems similar to the one Tomas had put the damper into. We left a note for him and will make sure the problem gets resolved when we go back this week. We also promised Timotea that we would take a rain check for her lunch that she had planned, now we have it down for next Saturday. Sadly, the watermelon we brought won’t last until then, so we need to eat it starting today.
Yesterday was supposedly “Carnaval”, but it was totally dead and very little went on. The night before seemed more festive, we went to Kamikaze for a bedtime shot (having discovered an acceptable kind of rum, the Cuban Matusalen brand) and they were gearing up for a busy night, with masks and all. If anything did go on, we missed it ‘cause we were sleeping. The only thing that happened yesterday was that a bunch of annoying teenage boys ran around throwing water on people, especially women. Since it was cold and cloudy, this did not seem amusing. I tried to put on my “lens of cultural differences”, but it still seemed like a bunch of macho bullshit in the end.
Today we are knocking off a bunch of errand-type stuff from our to-do list, and I am going to attempt to visit the Cusqueña brewery to take some pictures for my brewer friends in Eugene. Carlos is also trying to get us to visit a village up above Ollantaytambo where he is building a comedore (kitchen building) along with some other projects. We might do that Tuesday or Thursday, but time is running out!
― sleeve, Monday, 23 February 2009 15:20 (4 years ago) Permalink
Here I am at the internet café, Laurie is pre-packing staff. It’s Saturday. Last Monday I tried to go visit the Cusquena brewery. As I walked around it trying to find the visitor’s entrance I realized it was HUGE. First I found the truck/loading entrance but the guards wouldn’t let me in. Finally, after circling an area that was maybe 6-8 city blocks, I found the visitors’ entrance. Unfortunately, they wanted me to make an appointment and told me that photos were strictly prohibited. So I gave up. Sorry, brewer friends! Please note that Cusquena is the only Peruvian beer that follows the German Reinheitsgebot, the beer purity law that allows only barley, hops, water, and other natural ingredients like fruit flavors, spices, whatever. They have cheaper beers here, but they are vile hangover-inducing swill. There is a “craft beer” that they brew here in Cusco, but I tried it last time we were here and was not impressed.
On Monday night our friend Carlos came over, he postponed his work trip to Australia because he ran into some woman from Singapore who is financing a big project in a village called T’astayoc up above Ollantaytambo. As we talked, it became clear that he needed some help with the stove for the kitchen they were building. When it is a whole kitchen they call it a comedore. The stove needed to be double size, so we couldn’t just give him our plans. We decided to hire Tomas to come up there, and made plans to meet up early in the morning on Friday, come up to the village, and document the building process with photos (which we hadn’t had the opportunity to do yet).
Tuesday I was taking laundry to our lavenderia and walking through the plaza when I encountered Laurie’s old friend Oscar. I was delighted because he sells bootleg pisco which is exponentially better than the stuff you can buy in stores or bars. We had thought he was out of town in Ica, the part of Peru where the best pisco and wine is made. And we had run out of the bottle from last time. So I bought one full bottle to mail home and one half bottle for our last week. We went to his house and he poured it out for us out of a 5-gallon jug, into recycled bottles. I had some trepidation about mailing it because it was totally bootleg, no label on the bottle and no receipt. But the woman at the post office didn’t care as long as I paid the staggering sum of $40 to mail a package slightly over 1 kilo. Needless to say, it will be saved for special occasions. I’ve never tasted anything like it.
On Wednesday we had to go out to C’orao to see if Tomas could do this crazy stove thing we had decided on with Carlos. When we arrived bright and early at the Puputi station they told us there were no buses to Pisac that day?!? What the hell?!?! We got into a taxi with 3 other people and quickly learned that there was a strike on. The background here is that for at least two months there has been a major controversy brewing because of a border dispute between two regions of the Cusco Department (departments are like our states, regions are the next biggest entity and then provinces which are like counties, kind of, except regions are in between). Apparently the border between Calca and La Convencion has been redrawn for some reason, putting two and a half provinces that had been in Calca into the jurisdiction of La Convencion, and resulting in 29 schools being transferred. The Calca folks (Calquenos) are PISSED about this, and we can understand why. Not only the schools and students, but all the jobs and state money that come with them are being transferred.
Our time in C’orao was uneventful, Tomas agreed to do the T’astayoc trip and we also stopped by to see MaFre who had just had her eye operated on with money donated by Laurie and my mom. She was going to lose her vision otherwise and she is to smart to have that happen. Plus, we really like her and her family. So there she was, all bandaged up. Her brothers, who are 6, 7, and 10, all kept poking into the room and it was obvious they cared a lot. The middle one, Lenny, had a Pikachu doll and played with it in a most adorable fashion. Her folks boiled us up some fresh corn and it was delicious. We discovered that the doctors had, um, neglected to give her pain meds so we grumbled our way across the street to the Centro De Salud to buy ibuprofen. On our way back, oh shit, here come the Calquenos! They were marching on Cusco in a huge procession of buses and cars and combis, all flying the blue and white Calca flag. We later learned there were around 8,000 of them.
We gave MaFre her meds and caught a taxi back to Cusco. When we approached the city, the Calquenos’ plan became apparent. They had blockaded the entire road up above Cusco heading to Pisac and Calca.The taxi had to stop, but we were able to walk through down the hill with no problem, it was a one-way blockade. We had to laugh as we saw several doomed tourist buses optimistically heading up the hill past us as we came down. Calca isn’t a tourist town and is proud of it.
Later that day the main body of Calquenos came down and marched on the central plaza and the Municipal Palace. They also blockaded intersections in the streets. The next day, we read the same typical foam-at-the-mouth bullshit that you would have read in US papers about a boisterous protest. OH MY GOD SOMEBODY BROKE A WINDOW!!! Violencia injustificable!!! For a protest of 8,000 it was really quite calm from our point of view. The next day, Thursday, they called off their “huelga indefinida” (strike with no ending point), the roads returned to normal, and the relevant authorities agreed to hold talks between the two regions. I really don’t see how Calca can prevent this though, as Laurie noted it seemed more like a face-saving exercise to me – letting people know that Calca can’t be pushed around without a fight. The rest of the day was uneventful although I must note that Laurie made some really really good pork chops for dinner, which we had been planning for a week or more.
On Friday we were up at 5 AM. Carlos had told us about a street where there were cheap buses directly to Ollantaytambo, and he was right. Ten soles! We rode with three nuns and some other guys while the driver played a gruesome selection of the worst romantic ballads that the 80’s had to offer. You know it’s bad when Foreigner’s “Waiting For A Girl Like You” represents a distinct uptick in quality.
In the plaza at Ollantaytambo we met Carlos’ “chauffeur” (i.e. friend with car) and Tomas showed up a little later. The chofer tied the double-size chimney on top, and up we went. And up, and up. This was new scenery to me and it was stunning. Native forests, cataracts rushing down steep mountain slopes, up into the clouds we went. At the very peak, we arrived at T’astayoc, which tops out at 4200 meters. From there it is downhill to the jungles of Quillabamba.
We met up with Carlos’ dad, Ismael, also his dad’s 2nd wife and two daughters who we were previously unaware of (Laurie has known the whole other side of the family, mom and five sons, for years now). They had finished a wide variety of impressive projects including a big greenhouse (too cold for vegetables otherwise) and solar powered lighting. About 75 people live there, and there are 30 kids. The houses are made of STONES, with thatch roofs. I started taking pictures, and we will have them up on the Flickr site later tonight or tomorrow.
Unfortunately, Laurie almost immediately became very sick with siroche (the Quechua word for altitude sickness). We hadn’t thought 13,000 feet would be much different from 11,000 feet, but we were very wrong. Within half an hour she was vomiting with a splitting headache (siroche causes edema, actual swelling of the brain, and you can die from it further up than where we were). So I alternated between taking photos and massaging her head. There were a bunch of other guys working on the comedore while Tomas built the stove, I’m pretty sure some of them weren’t from there. For lunch we were served a delicious soup of quinoa and alpaca meat, plus strong black coffee with sugar.
Carlos had mentioned earlier that he would be up to get us around 3 in the afternoon, and Laurie was ready to go by 1:30. Tomas, however, needed more time to complete the stove because Carlos had drastically understimated the amount of available adobe (we needed 40, they had 15 plus a bunch of broken pieces). As a result Tomas had to improvise and change the model to accomodate that. Ismael promised us that Carlos would be there to get us by 4 or 4:30. At 4:30, Tomas finished the stove and cleaned up. Laurie was still very sick. We walked up to the road to wait.
We kept waiting. Once it hit 5 PM, the sun went behind the mountain and the rain kicked in. We had no gear at all for spending the night. We started trying to flag down cars and trucks, all of which refused to stop. If it had been a real emergency somebody could have died. Laurie vomited some more and was reduced to tears. Finally at 6 PM Carlos showed up with his friend and the car. Laurie is still pissed at him, he really didn’t acknowledge that there was any breach of contract or problem. By the time we got back to Ollantaytambo it was pitch black and too late for Tomas’ bus home. We took him to Cusco with us on an empty tourist bus, and put him up at our house.
This morning we went out to Mandorani to say goodbye. There was a little party with cuy, potatoes, and orange soda. We also said goodbye to Andres, MaFre was in Cusco so we assume she is recovering just fine. Laurie has just informed me that we have run out of room to pack stuff and are going to have to start triage. We have leftover soup for dinner tonight, and if we are really lucky the crepe place will be open and we can have dessert crepes. It is like winter at the beach here, the absolute bottom point of tourism. The tour and restaurant hawkers sometimes walk a block to try and catch us. They are invariably disappointed. Fortunately Los Perros reopened after being closed for most of the month, so we plan on having a last meal there on Monday night before we head to Lima. I may update from Lima, but it’s equally likely that I’ll wait until after our 16 hours of airplane/airport hell. We’ll see.
― sleeve, Saturday, 28 February 2009 23:38 (4 years ago) Permalink
i am going to peru for two weeks but thread is v v long. can someone pls to summarize highlights?
― tehresa, Saturday, 9 May 2009 01:08 (4 years ago) Permalink
― tehresa, Sunday, 10 May 2009 17:26 (4 years ago) Permalink
hi! where are you going to be? or are you trying to plan destinations?
― sleeve, Sunday, 10 May 2009 19:29 (4 years ago) Permalink
Machu Picchu really is the must see if you will be in Cuzco at all. Lima is huge and intense, not that great except for maybe a night or two of restaurants and or clubbing. Arequipa and Urubamba are also small beautiful towns in the highlands.
― sleeve, Sunday, 10 May 2009 19:32 (4 years ago) Permalink
For $$$ you can also take 3 or 4 day jungle tours from Cuzco to the Manu Jungle which I have not done but really want to.
― sleeve, Sunday, 10 May 2009 19:34 (4 years ago) Permalink
lima, arequipa, and cusco i think?
my sister lives in lima but is v bad at communicating/planning so i'm trying to figure out what things i should study up on/not miss.
― tehresa, Sunday, 10 May 2009 19:35 (4 years ago) Permalink
i think i've been told we're not doing any jungles (i checked on this like 30 times becaue i needed to figure out whether i needed the yellow fever vaccine)
yeah you need that, there is also a malaria/dengue fever risk.
I haven't been to Arequipa but it should be good for just chilling. In Cuzco on Avenida Del Sol there is a tourist office where you can buy these tickets that get you in to like 15 attractions around the region. This is separate from the whole Machu Picchu thing, where you take a train from Cuzco, stay overnight in Machu Picchu Pueblo (because there are no roads there, train or walking only) and buy a separate ticket. That takes up most of three days. The tourist ticket is good for ten days, key locations are the Temple Of The Sun, Q'enko, Moras and Moray (near the town of Urubamba), Saqsayhuaman, Pisac, and the local museums. There are also a bunch of other locations on them, you would have to stay super busy to do them all in ten days.
u can webmail me thru ILX if you wanna know more details. Decent Cuzco restaurants are The Bondiet for empanaditas, Trotamundo's and Los Perro's for good tourist food, Cicciolina's for fine dining, and the cheap sandwiches at Carmen's Refrigeria on Plateros.
― sleeve, Sunday, 10 May 2009 19:44 (4 years ago) Permalink
also if at all possible take a plane from Lima to the highlands, it's 24 hours by bus and grueling.
― sleeve, Sunday, 10 May 2009 19:46 (4 years ago) Permalink
and be careful of eating too much or exerting yourself too much the first few days, altitude sickness is a bitch. The pills they sell in the boticas as "siroche medicine" do work though.
― sleeve, Sunday, 10 May 2009 19:47 (4 years ago) Permalink
sister also recommends cocoa leaves!
all the doctors i've talked to have said i don't need yellow fever if i'm not going to the jungle. honestly, i'd like to go to the jungle, but it seems time limits prevent that?
― tehresa, Sunday, 10 May 2009 19:53 (4 years ago) Permalink
here we go again
Leaving on the 27th for a month to do some followup work in Mandorani, health exams and interviews for the 20 families with stoves (or as many of them as we can track down).
Then we're gonna be looking at a few projects our sister organization in Peru, Paskay, wants us to help fund.
We're also slowly getting the application together for 501c3 certification, and hey we have a website now!
― sleeve, Wednesday, 9 March 2011 00:52 (2 years ago) Permalink
link to Paskay here:
― sleeve, Wednesday, 9 March 2011 00:53 (2 years ago) Permalink
I love peru
― Slow lorax loves getting tickled (dayo), Wednesday, 9 March 2011 01:17 (2 years ago) Permalink
man I love Cusco, we just got here around an hour ago. Trujillo was awesome too, a few days of vacation on the coast before we start work in the mountains. Found some LPs in the used market, fixed our friend´s stereo (blown fuse from accidentally switching from 220V to 110V), played with kids, and ate insanely good local food (ahi de gallina, anticuchos, and ceviche).
It´s a really interesting time to be in Peru - they're having their once-every-six-years presidential election and there are five parties with significant voting blocs. The top three have been in a dead heat for months, switching back and forth. The election is April 10th so we will be here. One of the candidates is the daughter of disgraced (and imprisoned) right wing icon and mass murderer Alberto Fujimori (former president), she is running on a tough-on-crime ticket. Pretty surreal.
― sleeve, Friday, 1 April 2011 19:27 (2 years ago) Permalink
cusco is so awesome. i bet that main square is abuzz with political signage, etc.!
lil sis is kickin it in lima for a few more weeks and i'm jealous of both of you.
― tehresa, Friday, 1 April 2011 20:08 (2 years ago) Permalink
Lima still kinda scares me, so big and crazy. Trujillo was really crowded and crazy too, more so than Cusco. And yes, there was a rally in the main square yesterday by supporters of Alejandro Toledo, one of the front-runners and kind of a centrist as far as I can see. He also ran in ´01 and ´06.
We went out to Mandorani today and all of the stoves seem to be working great! Very relieved. The one kinda problematic family from before seemed a lot more together. Apparently there is some legal fallout still from our conflict with Victor (who is now the president of the neighborhood association), and our friend & stovebuilder Tomas is being taken to civil court on Wednesday. Victor is claiming we never gave him his money back, that´ll teach us to not do receipts. Fortunately Laurie has blog entries referring to it that we are printing out, complete with dates. We also have witnesses who remember us talking about it. The end result is that there are six families that (according to Tomas) don´t want to have anything to do with us (although their stoves are working fine as well).
At worst we will have to pay the money again, I am actually kind of curious to see a court process. We called our lawyer friend Maribel to see if she can help us. They are also claiming that Tomas, as part of the association, had no authority to accept our money and (I think) they are demanding that he pay it to them? This is one of those times when we wish we were really super fluent in Espanol.
The important thing is that the stove design has proved itself to be solid and dependable. Even the initial one that was built in June of 2007 is still working fine.
We also saw our young friend MaFre (now age 16) who we helped get eye surgery last time. She is doing great, does not need more surgery, and is in college studying to be an accountant. She´s also learning English.
We were planning on having a big meeting next Sunday, but then we realized it was Election Day! So no way will we get anything done then. We switched to Friday for our followup visits and testing.
― sleeve, Sunday, 3 April 2011 19:37 (2 years ago) Permalink
Well that was a rough couple of days, but everything turned out OK. Laurie got sick yesterday and ended up in the hospital for a night with altitude sickness aka soroche. After an IV drip and a night of oxygen she was OK enough today to go home to our little hostel room where she is resting now after a big lunch of quinoa soup.
On Monday we finally found our friend Rossana who is a local mover and shaker, and discovered she is running for Congress! She´s probably gonna win too, polling at 70%. She is amazing. She´s on the PPK ticket (Pedro Pable Kuczynski, one of the presidential candidates). Her boyfriend Mario is a lawyer and he told us he would help us out (Maribel never got back to us which is not at all unusual in this country). We agreed to meet in front of the hostal at 10 AM on Wednesday. Then we got sideswiped by the hospital trip, but we made it out this morning and were on the corner at 10 sharp.
And after all that, we didn't even have to go to court... all we have to do is sign some papers on Monday. I even bought a dress shirt at Topitop! Oh well. Our friend Carlos also showed up to translate into English and offer moral support.
It was a bit more complicated than we thought - Mandorani is run like a commune, the land is owned by the association not the people who livethere. So what they were doing was trying to use the fact that Tomas worked with us to take his land and house away. As Carlos said, "Tomas'land is the sandwich they wanted, the money Victor was claiming you didn't pay was just the mustard".
Mario said that providing copies of the contract and LVM info (website etc) was plenty of proof that we were an autonomous American NGO and not bound by Mandorani association rules. We were reassured from all sides. Carlos told us that he had had a similar experience with his guinea pig farm (i.e problems with local gov't), and ended up only working with individual families on a private basis. So that is our path from here on out.
It was so awesome when we were waiting on the corner with Tomas (the dude who built our stoves last time and a great guy), and Mario and Rossana pulled up in their tricked out PPK-mobile pickup covered with PPK flags and big magnets and their crew riding in the back, it was like the cavalry arriving. I cracked up when Rossana, never missing a trick, started campaigning for her party with Tomas and asking him how PPK was doing in Mandorani.
Then Rossana told us not to go back to the hospital so we took her advice. Carlos came with us and we paid our bill - $400 for an overnight stay, IV drip, oxygen, and lab work. A lot more than last time but we ain't complaining.
So now that we´re back on track, we are planning on going out to Mandorani on Friday to give money back as promised and do the health tests. One thing that was kind of a bummer was that the retention-cooker baskets we had provided were nowhere in sight at the 6 houses we visited on Sunday. But hey, the stoves work, that's the important thing. Oh and there are only four families who are siding with Victor now out of the 15! I´m still gonna go to their houses and give them their money back, with a receipt this time.
Early next week, after the elections, we'll be headed downhill to Ollantaytambo where it will be warmer and more oxygenated. We may end up leaving a week early, we don't know yet.
― sleeve, Wednesday, 6 April 2011 21:45 (2 years ago) Permalink
some more random impressions...
We spent a few days in Trujillo, on the coast. Very bizarre weather patterns, not like anything I've experienced. Hot in the mornings, cold in the afternoons, some rain, humid at night. Laurie has a godson there and we stayed a block away from the family and hung out with them pretty much all the time.
One day in Trujillo we went to an archaeological site called Huaca De la Luna (wall of the moon) that was built by the Moche people starting around 300 AD (I think). The amazing thing is that five consecutive times over hundreds of years they filled the temple in with bricks and built a larger one on top. It is now being excavated and is open for visitors, which was not the case two years ago. The wall frescoes alone are staggering.
Cusco seems more polluted than before, the cars/buses in particular are awful. On the Ethiopia thread somebody said that they thought Addis Ababa was where all the vehicles that fail their emissions tests are sent, but I think that dubious honor belongs to Cusco. Sometimes I literally cannot breathe for upwards of 30 seconds when walking on the street, which sucks when your oxygen levels are low.
It's really hard to tell who's going to win the presidential election - it looks like Ollanta Humala (the most left/populist candidate) has a slim lead. You read a lot of fear-mongering in the more right-wing papers about how he's gonna be just like Chavez or Castro, but I seriously doubt the military (or most of the country, in fact) would allow him to pull that kind of power move. We'll see!
― sleeve, Friday, 8 April 2011 14:56 (2 years ago) Permalink
It's Election Day!
Voting is MANDATORY in Peru, 20 million people are expected to cast votes today. Charmingly, they won't have results until Tuesday. The whole country is under a dry law that has been rigorously enforced since Friday at noon, you can't buy alcohol anywhere. It lasts until midday on Monday. Obviously we are for Humala the quasi-socialist, but all of the candidates except Keiko Fujimori seem like they would do a decent job.
We had a great visit in Mandorani yesterday, now we have seen almost all of the stoves and tested/interviewed most of the people from before. On the whole, the project has been even more successful than we hoped. Also, we saw a lot of chimneys in the village that we didn't build. The idea is catching on, which is what we wanted. Anecdotally, people are reporting less wood usage, up to half of the previous amount. Lung expiration volumes seem higher as well, I'll have to crunch those numbers later.
― sleeve, Sunday, 10 April 2011 16:13 (2 years ago) Permalink
OK, I feel kinda dumb because that election ended up being like a primary... I think if somebody had gotten over 50% it wouldn't have been? Anyway, the REAL election is in July.
Anyway, what happened was that the three centrist candidates split the vote, so we have ended up with lefty Humala versus super-right Fujimori, a choice that Mario Vargas Llosa compared to "AIDS vs. cancer", um not really helping there dude. M.V.L. later said that he would never vote for Keiko Fujimori, but he "could work with" Humala. The 3rd place party, PPK, has vowed to support Humala, I would be surprised and very disappointed if Keiko wins.
Spent the last few days wrapping up loose ends. An internet friend of ours who we had never met came and visited us. She's Peruvian, but was at college in Portland when she found our website. Oldest of ten kids, from a super poor region, now she has a degree in natural resource management. We hope to work with her more in the future. Laurie and her went out to Mandorani to do the last two family interviews while I finally got the rest of our things back from Rossana's, where they had been in storage for two years.
We also finally met our friend Leander IRL, she runs a nonprofit called My Small Help and has been focusing on getting help and education for disabled kids. We also met Lourdes, an 18-year-old Peruvian woman with spinal bifida who had literally never been outside of her house in her whole life until the last six months. Leander somehow got an appeal for a wheelchair onto Peruvian national TV and one was donated from Spain. We had dinner with her and Lourdes, watching Lourdes in Cusco was some really amazing flower-blooming Helen Keller type experience. She is now involved in making silver jewelry to support herself.
Today we leave for Ollantaytambo, Leander is kindly putting us up for free this week. Sunday we have a table at a local environmental fair in Urubamba, we have 100 copies of stove plans and some other visual aids. The rest of the week we will be visiting various projects of Leander's and Carlos', we may even get up the nerve to go back to T'Astayoc (at 14,000 feet where Laurie got so sick at the end of our last time here).
Next Friday we'll be headed back to Cusco for our last weekend, we are hoping to make it to Sipascancha as well!
― sleeve, Friday, 15 April 2011 14:48 (2 years ago) Permalink
So, we wrapped everything up in Mandorani on the 15th. Laurie and our friend Luisa went out and did the last two family interviews. A few words about Luisa – she is a Peruvian who contacted us on Facebook while she was getting a degree in Natural Resource Management from a college in Portland. We were never able to meet her in the States, but she took a bus from her hometown of Andahuayllas (sp?) to meet us and see some family and friends (in a strange coincidence, she has a sister in Soncco, where we built 20 ill-fated Inkawasi stoves in 2007). She is the oldest of ten children, from a very poor village in one of the poorest parts of Peru. The new mayor in her town is unfortunately not very receptive to her ideas (the old one was), and so she is now looking for projects to get involved in (or start). Laurie gave her some personal money to get started, and we are considering working with her in the future because she is smart and dedicated and amazing. The next day we found a great cheap bus line that goes direct from Cusco to Ollantaytambo called Diamante Express (10 soles!). Our friend Leander of My Small Help kindly offered to put us up in her house. We were thrilled to see such unheard-of luxuries as a full size fridge and a WASHING MACHINE!!! Nice beds, too. Once we got settled in, we continued preparing for a table at the Urubamba Bioferia (kind of an eco-fair & craft market). Early on Sunday morning we headed out to Urubamba (a 20-minute drive) where Tomas had agreed to meet us. For a while we just sat there as people set up the tents and tables, they all seemed to know each other and were really busy. Once things got rolling around 10 AM, we were mobbed by people for six hours straight. Between Tomas, Laurie, and myself we must have talked to 60 or 70 people. Most of them took stove plans (which we had for free), and about twenty took Tomas’ number down. Hopefully he will be able to make some money while helping people! The vendors were eerily similar to the Oregon Country Fair demographic, lots of dreadlocks and hippie garb. But they all turned out to be really nice (lots of these expats aren’t), and we bought a few things from various tables as the day went by. Another nice thing about our table was that it was set apart from the main section, and almost all of the people we talked to were Urubamba families in town for the regular market day (which was also happening up the street). Exactly the people we were hoping to reach. We left at 4 PM, sunburned and exhausted but very happy with how things had gone. On Monday we took a hike out to where our friend Carlos wants to eventually build a type of eco-village for tourists. Laurie very reluctantly rode a horse partway, while I just huffed it up the constant slope. It took about an hour to get there, and once we did we were maybe 2/3 of the way up the ridgeline. Below us, on the other side of the valley, we could see where we had stayed for the Solstice dawn in 2007. The land has a lot of potential, but the only real development aside from organic crops has been a partial building frame (roof, corners, and floor joists). Carlos is going to be travelling and working over the next year or two and then he might have more resources to put into the project. Tuesday we went with Carlos to buy food for the children of Thastayoc, the small village with stone/thatch houses that Laurie got so sick at last time (it’s at least 14,000 feet). We delivered the food and checked out the larger-sized stove. Tomas had originally built one with us in 2009, but we ran short of adobe and the stove apparently had not functioned well. It had been rebuilt with a big range hood that connected to the old chimney, and was doing a surprisingly good job of pulling the smoke up and out. Unfortunately, all of Laurie’s careful preparations (no food, coca tea) came to naught and she spent yesterday evening being very sick with soroche once again. So we decided not to visit Sipascancha this Saturday. Carlos also took us by a school on the Ollantaytambo-Urubamba road called Pachar. It seemed like a location that could really use some help – the greenhouses had fallen into disuse and disrepair because the government had not repaired the water/irrigation system (meanwhile there are two huge rivers within a few hundred feet). In an area which is routinely (and deliberately) neglected by the government because of their leftist voting habits, this wasn’t exactly a surprise – but it was sad. They need an internet connection, those are much more difficult and expensive around here than they are in Cusco. We talked about the possibility of a school exchange with the head professor. As usual we saw a plaque with several nonprofit names on it bragging about the greenhouse, we would bet money that none of them have ever been back to check on it. This morning we had a long talk with Sonia, the founder of the Living Heart NGO. We will be funding a community stove for them in a village of their choice. Tomas will build it and they will provide followup and updates. We are very happy to be able to work with them, they share our values as an NGO. Today we are going to visit a family that Paskay helped out with some of the money we paid them for Mandorani follow-ups, and then in the afternoon we plan on visiting Lourdes’ family with Leander. Thursday is free for now but we’re sure it will fill up quickly. Friday we head back to Cusco for a few days of relaxing before the flight.
― sleeve, Wednesday, 20 April 2011 15:55 (2 years ago) Permalink
argh no line breaks, sorry.
― sleeve, Wednesday, 20 April 2011 15:56 (2 years ago) Permalink
As always, enlightening and fascinating reports you provide.
― Ned Raggett, Wednesday, 20 April 2011 15:58 (2 years ago) Permalink