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