Wednesday, December 30, 2009

30th of December

Doug and I are now back in Peru. We arrived last night, (actually this morning) and made it to the hotel without incident. For the first time in all the times I've visited Peru, the red light came up when I went through customs. After you pass through immigration, pick up your luggage, and get to customs, you have to push a button. If it comes up green, you pass right through and are on your way. If it comes up red, you have to have your luggage scanned and searched before you can leave. This time we put our luggage through the scanner and were on our way.
We had lunch with Maximo's family today; his wife, Dora and Wilma (Maximo's sisters), Jimmy and Richie (other relations). It was a great time to reconnect although we couldn't stay very long. We were invited back for a New Year's celebration tomorrow.
Our order of business today was to pay some bills and reconnect with friends in Peru. One bill was a health insurance premium. I've been bragging about how simple things are in Peru but this was anything but simple. I went to the bank to transfer the money as is usual to pay bills in Peru. They couldn't complete the transfer as they didn't (and I didn't) have a code they required. After three different tries, I finally went to the office of the insurance agent. They sent me to the insurance company, (fortunately close by) and I was able to pay it there. What a pain; fortunately we only have to pay this once a year. FYI, the premium to cover both of us with high quality insurance internationally was around $5000.00 per year.
We also changed our reservations for going north because our dalmatian won't arrive until after the 4th of January. Her rabies shot had to be administered at least 30 days prior to her transfer. At this point, we hope to meet her on the 4th and head home on the 5th. We're anxious to head home to see the progress on our home.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

17 December

Wow, the last few weeks have been so hectic! We've been sorting and trying to sell tools and furniture that we are not taking to Peru. We put an add on Craig's list for the tools and had upwards of 50 e-mail inquiries a day for about ten days. At this point, we've sold probably 2/3 of the shop tools and most of the furniture found new homes.

Yesterday, Doug and friends, worked on putting up trim, painting the living room and touching up the paint in the kitchen, organized the tools left in the shop, cleaned off the back porch and got furniture ready to be moved. Doug replaced an element in the hot water heater, so now there's plenty of hot water upstairs. Carpet has been installed in Blaine's old bedroom...and there's still more stuff to go. I left for Denver to visit with my sisters on Tuesday, so all that stuff has been left in Doug's hands.

The container was to be loaded on Monday, but soon after they were supposed to be at the house to pack, we found out the container and ship were no longer scheduled to go to Lima. The movers came anyway hoping that a new container could be arranged at the last minute. They went ahead and packed up the house. We had a few piles set aside of things we were planning on taking ourselves, and then they went to work. And they packed everything else. And I do mean everything else. I had set my knitting bag aside as I was working on a hat and mitten set to take with me to wintry Denver and Chicago. I had taken out the hat and one mitten to show a friend and for whatever reason, those two pieces did not end up back in the bag. The movers packed them so when the load gets to Peru, I'll have a wool hat and one mitten! I think I'll just buy a set if I need to...much simpler. As for the container, there should be one available by the end of this week or the beginning of next week.

Progress is being made in El Nuro. The workers are living on the property and have built a temporary shelter to live in during construction. They've set up a kitchen too, so have meals prepared for them on site. They' ve begun digging the trenches for the foundation of the buildings on the upper level. I'm thankful that Koki, our architect, has kept us informed by sending us pictures and updates weekly.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

10 December

This week has been super busy as we try to tie up loose ends here in Oregon. The container will be loaded on the 14th. We've learned that anything other than clothing and books is taxed at 30% of their value. At that point, we decided to pare down even further. We are now in the process of selling the entire woodworking shop; machinery, tools, and accessories. Craig's list has generated a huge response so I have been busy responding and sending information.
I've also decided to go through the rest of what I planned to take and rethink it. The piano and the loom will definitely go, but some of the other stuff we can probably do without or replace once down there.
We asked the man who built our cabinets for a remodel in our Wilsonville house and in our Molalla house if he would like to build the cabinets for our home in Peru. We didn't really expect that he would be interested, but he responded within minutes, "Hell yes!" He is building the kitchen cabinets, the bathroom cabinets and closets for our new home. These will go onto the container even though the tax will make them quite expensive. However, we haven't seen any decent cabinetry in Peru so feel this will be well worth it.
So many decisions, so little time. We still want to connect with friends and have tried to free up enough time to do so. Unfortunately, we will not be able to see all the people we would like to. So, those of you that we didn't get to'll have to come see us and stay in one or more of our guest cottages!

Friday, November 27, 2009

27 November

We spent a lot of the day on the tennis court. We had a one hour lesson with Quang at Glendeveer in Gresham this morning and then played doubles with Sue and Kurt this evening at the Clackamas River Racquet Club. It felt sooooo good to be out on the court again and even though our playing was somewhat inconsistent after three and a half months, we had a lot of fun.

We hope we can play a lot more before we take off again.

When the excavation of the pool begins on our property, much of the dirt removed will be put down where the tennis court will eventually be built. We're hoping to have a court built on community property there so we can keep playing.

We've broken ground this Monday, but haven't received any pictures or information as to how that went.

We did purchase a dalmatian pup from a breeder in Texas. She is 6 months old and a favorite at the breeder's facilities. We will meet her in Lima as they will ship her to us there. I am soooo excited to meet her. Some of her handlers have sent great stories about her. What a cutie!
Thanksgiving was great; we spent the dinner hour with Marc and Diane at the Union Mills Horse Ranch. There was tons of food and lots of good company.
What a whirlwind week this has been in Oregon. We've tried to organize taxes and finalize various other things before the container is loaded on the 14th of December. Wow!!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

24 November

Being back in Oregon has been a bit of a culture shock. It isn't just that the landscape is so much greener and lush, or that some of the fall colors are still apparent. And it isn't even that the language is different. What seems so different is that the traffic is tame, the hours of daylight are shorter, and that we are going separate ways trying to get things organized and ready for the final move.
Our first day back, we each made lists of things of things that needed to happen and went separate ways to accomplish those things. Doug went to check on telephone, internet and cable, retirement insurance, a month's membership at the tennis club, and contacting the plumber and electrician for repairs needed here at the house. I went to pick up paperwork to get our taxes ready, went to the post office for change of address information, went to Whole Foods for some VitaBiotics, REI for mosquito nets, and contacted our stock broker to set up an appointment so we can finance this adventure of ours. Our list continues and we hit the road each morning trying to get things accomplished. Doug's main focus will be to finish the remodeling we started a few years ago; painting, molding, the final touches. I've been relegated to gathering necessary information for taxes.
We did purchase a dalmation pup. She is 6 months old, so is house broken. She will be spayed and then shipped to Lima and we will pick her up there. Our first dalmatian, Smudge, was such a pleasure. We had to put her down after she was hit by a car and had broken her leg. She had lived 16 years with us and had gone deaf. There is no replacing her, but I think "Stormy" will be a good fit.
I've also been able to reconnect with family and friends the last couple of days which has been wonderful. I truly appreciate those connections now; for some reason I've been somewhat of a recluse in the past.
We broke ground on the construction of our home in El Nuro on Monday. I'm saddened that we weren't there for it; but so glad we are finally getting started. Koki, the architect has sent twenty workers and his best "maestro" (contractor) to work on the project. The biggest issue for them is food. They will build themselves a shelter to sleep in, but the food will have to be brought out to the site each day; possibly twice a day. I'm anxious to hear how they figured out the logistics.
Thanks to all of you that have followed this blog; know that there will be a guest bungalow available for you when you wish to visit.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

21 November

I'm not sure what the high or low temperatures for today were, but I know I'm cold! We arrived in Oregon yesterday afternoon and spent the afternoon trying to get cell phones and internet access for the time we are here. This proved to be a bit of a hassle, but I have to say the people at Best Buy on 82nd Ave stuck it out with us and finally got the job done. Here are our phone numbers for the next six weeks; Karen 503-406-7676 and Doug 503-406-7677. Feel free to call and check in. Hopefully we will be able to connect with a lot of you during this time.
On Tuesday the architect, Koki came up to see the property, visit with us, and check on local prices for building materials. The bus dropped him off at the entrance to El Nuro and we met him there a little after 10:30 in the morning. He came up to the house and really enjoyed the view (he had only pictures and technical information about the property). We ate lunch at the house and shortly thereafter, Georg showed up and the beer started flowing. I let the guys drink and I packed up the house. When they were ready to move on, everyone chipped in to help us move things into a storage building behind Georg's house.
We drove into Los Organos and Koki visted some building supply stores to get some prices. Meanwhile, I checked in at the furniture store where we bought the bed and they had the missing piece and the queen mattress. So we loaded matress on top of the bedframe in the back of the pick-up, picked up Koki and took the furniture up to Jay's. Once unloaded into the room we will rent, we took Koki into Mancora to catch a bus home.
Once in Mancora, Koki could not find passage on any bus line back to Chiclayo. Apparantly, there was a protest going on near Zorritos that had shut down the highway for two days. The protest was against a foreign oil company that had been granted permission to do siesmic testing on the ocean floor. This testing however interrupted the fishery there; driving the fish out of the area. No traffic was passing north or south so many busses were stuck. Koki finally found one seat on a bus and immediately took off. We had thought he would spend the night, so had made reservations for him, but he wanted to get back for work in the morning.
Our trip home was long, but uneventful. We left Georg's house Weds. afternoon, taking the reservation the architect didn't take at El Refugio. I figured we paid for the room, and since they wouldn't refund us for the room, we'd take it. I was really looking forward to the hot water shower. Not! It was our luck that their hot water was down and would be fixed the next once again cold showers.
Victor, a driver we first met on an earlier trip, drove us to Piura. In Piura we caught a plane for Lima in the early afternoon. Domestic flights in Peru are very favorable for the foreigner. The fare for a Peruvian for this flight is $52. Doug and I each paid $138 a piece for the same flight.
Once in Lima, Maximo's wife, Teresa picked us up and drove us to the health insurance agent we had contacted to get insurance coverage. We found the office amidst rush hour traffic, which in Lima, is ugly.
We met with the agent, filled out paperwork and got the process started. We had to do it that afternoon since once Doug turns 61, on the 14th of December, he is no longer accepted for private health insurance policies. I was rather proud of myself for doing all the negotiations and filling out the application in spanish. As a matter of fact, the agent said my spanish "was very good."
We then went back to Maximo's house for dinner and a bit of celebration in honor of Maximo's birthday. Maximo and his wife returned us to the airport about 11:30 for our 1:40 a.m. flight to LAX. We spent the night in Pomona with Doug's sister and then flew to Oregon the next day.
And here we are, back in Oregon. The blog may get a bit spotty during the next six weeks, but will fill you in on anything that happens toward our final move to El Nuro, Peru. Meanwhile, you can contact us through the above phone numbers!

Monday, November 16, 2009

16 November

Today's hi 81, 52% humidity, sunny

lo 66.8%, 78% humidity, clear

Bed partners? When Doug headed to bed last night this little creature was there to share it with him. The rock wall is the headboard for our bed. Doug got out the fly swatter and urged him back outside! These lizards are all over the place here, and until now, I've only seen them outside.
Doug cleaned the house this morning; moved furniture outside and then swept, and mopped the floors. Sanchez came and he wiped down the furniture. I did a couple loads of laundry, baked a loaf of sourdough bread, and hemmed some pants.
We then went into town to get the bed frame and mattress. When we got to the store, the gal said they did not have a queen bed or mattress. I showed her the queen bed but there wasn't a mattress to fit it. We bought the bed and will pick up the mattress upon our return from the states.
We tried to get a hold of Jay so we could take the bed by, but he wasn't available. In the process of shuffling things around, we found out we were missing a piece of the bed. So back to the store and we were told that the boy who handled that stuff was out and would return by 5:00.
When we returned at 5:30, we were informed that the missing piece wasn't available but would be tomorrow. I'm starting to get the hang of Peruvian time. I've already made bets against that piece being available tomorrow and added a queen size air mattress on our list of things to bring back from the states.
The architect was supposed to arrive tonight sometime around midnight. He just called to say his bus had been cancelled, and he couldn't get here before tomorrow afternoon. We'd already made hotel reservations for him and arranged with Jay to deliver the bed at that time. Another change of plans; at least Peruvians are good at this sort of thing!
The count is down to 2; 2 more cold showers before we leave and hopefully will encounter hot water thereafter.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

15 November

Today's hi, 80.1; 64% humidity, sunny

Lo 65.7, 78% humidity, clear becoming cloudy

This was a very quiet day, although Doug took a 4 kilometer walk up the beach toward the vilage of El Nuro.

Here are some other things we've learned;

We would never be able to do this without our Peruvian friends. They have watched over us and been ever so willing to answer questions.

Be patient. Peruvian time isn't the same as US time. Just because they say they'll be there, doesn't necessarily mean today, tomorrow, or the next day.

Our driver's have become protective of us. Before we had our own transportation, they watched out for us no matter where we were. One driver called us after we traveled to Chiclayo by bus to be sure we had made it to our hotel safely! Another offerred to bring the doctor to me at any time of the day or night when I had tonsilitis.

A lot of togetherness is a good thing when your companion is your best friend as well as your partner and lover.

You have to have the memory card in you camera to save any pictures you take.

Having only one hour of electricity is do-able.

Don't leave any clothes on the floor as some critter may take up residency.

Be thankful for normal bowel movements and rejoice if they are regular.

Spices come in packets like sugar in a restaurant and have some weird names that don't give you a clue as to what it is. One packet proudly displayed the name "Comino" which the dictionary translates to "I don't give a damn."

We don't have to worry about losing electricity no matter how hard the wind blows.

Hang your T-shirts by the bottom so you don't have clothespin marks on your shoulders for days.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

14 November

Today's hi; 76.3, 72% humidity, sunny

Lo 64.9, 76% humidity, clear

The surf the last couple of days has been quite turbulent. If you look closely at the photos, you can see the spray drifting with the wind. We could see rainbows in the spray, but they didn't show up on the pictures.

I baked some rolls from the sourdough sponge. Half were plain sourdough, the other half were cinnamon rolls (made without brown sugar, which is non-existant in Peru) . The rolls burnt on the bottom a bit because of the cinnamon sugar, but still had a great flavor. I did however have just a slight problem with storing the flour!

We took off for Talara to find a bed. A queen sized bed to use while we are staying with Jay. We only found double beds and mattresses. I think one of the salespeople lied to us as she told us one mattress and frame were queen size, but when we took out our measuring tape, it wasn't. She hastened to tell us that queen sized mattresses aren't available in Peru. We know this to be false, as we have and are sleeping on a queen. So needless to say, we didn't buy one. We thought there was one in Los Organos, but when we went back to the store, the saleslady said they didn't have the mattress, but they did have the frame.

On our way into Talara, there was a huge tractor trailer loaded with onions on it's side and across the road. It had not negotiated one of the many hairpins turns well. There was a gathering of people to watch the clean up. In Peru, if the load is insured, anyone can pick up any part of the load on the road or roadside for themselves. On our return, there were twenty or thirty people helping to repackage and reload the onions onto another truck. Yesterday there was another accident just south of where we are that overturned with its load of cement.

We did get more of the plans printed into blueprint size. We are still missing plans for the solar panels and batteries, water tower, septic tank and irrigation system. Just the important stuff.

The architect is supposed to come here on Monday so hopefully we can iron everything out so they can start construction while we are gone.

While in Talara, we met Charlito, Perico;s daughter. She works at El Refugio and had taken the bus specifically to go to the bank. The line for the bank was out the door and down the block. Saturday is the day to pay bills (which you do at your bank) and do other banking business. Once we were allowed to enter the bank, inside was a sea of people. There were even longer lines inside for the two ATM machines (with the ability to pay bills) and the lobby of the bank was elbow to elbow (Peuvian style, that's CLOSE). I swiped my debit card to get a ticket to see someone at the teller counter. Kinda like when you go to DMV? In about 10 minutes my number appeared on an overhead screen and I approached the teller. My business was soon done and I had to wind my way outside. Some Peruvians are very polite and willing to move out of your way, but there are others that look at you and stay right where they are.

Once Charlito and I were out of the bank, she took us to find furniture stores. Two stores are in the middle of the market and cannot be seen from the outside. The market itself is a warren of booths, and stalls selling all kinds of things. We had to walk through who knows how many stalls to actually get to the furniture store.

We then brought Charlito back with us and delivered her to El Refugio. We stayed and had another excellent meal.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday the 13th

Hi today; 76.7; 52% humidity,sunny

Lo today; 66.6; 79% humidity, overcast

This is our lucky day! Doug and I were married on the 13th, so we celebrate Friday the 13th as an anniversary! Great day.

Today we went on a hunt for a bed. We are hoping to put a bed in the room Jay is renting us so that when we come back, we have a place to sleep.

There are a couple of places in Los Organos that have furniture. We found queen mattress at both; at one the mattress would cost S/.450 whereas the other it would cost S/.900. The first place had some headboards, but most had flaws and looked like they were used. At the other store, they had a pine headboard and a foot with drawers in it. The quality of the pine furniture was definitely superior to the other. We decided to look at our plans for the house, take some measurements, and then take a look at what might be available in Talara.

The first picture here is of the waves near the harbor of El Nuro. You can see the fishing fleet moored in the background which is about three kilometers away. The rocks often sport a beautiful spray of water when the waves hit. It is also the one and only surfing spot of El Nuro. In the next picture, you can see the fishing boats returning to port after a day out in the ocean. Often times they disappear over the horizon and come in late in the afternoon. The tuna have been running so many more boats than usual are going out, and are going out even further than usual. We knew something was up when so many boats left the harbor than the usual amount, and were out longer than usual. Once we went to the market and found tuna available again, we figured they were running again.

We contacted a gentleman about getting health insurance here in Peru. He sent us various options which we will have to study before making a decision.

I worked some more on my tapestry while Doug read the New York Times on the Kindle and studied Spanish. It was a very relaxed and peaceful afternoon. We even laid out in the sun for a while.

Friday the 13th

Thursday, November 12, 2009

12 November

Hi 82 degrees, 57% humidity
Low 67 degrees, 72% humidity
It rained this morning! Well, we had raindrops. You can see how much it rained by the mess on the windows of the truck!
Our stay at the El Nuro house is coming to an end. The owner and his family will come for their annual vacation on the 20th of December and will probably stay throught the month of February. Georg had said we could stay at El Refugio for this time at a 40% discount. A room with a queen bed, bath, breakfast and one meal included was $2810 a month. Wow! Even with a 40% discount it's spendy. Of course, this time period is their high season and so things are double what they would be otherwise. Anyway, after we paid the deposit, we decided to look around to see what else might be available. We e-mailed some friends; Felipe, the owner of Tenis y Playa that we had originally looked at to buy, and Jay, who bought property from Felipe and built a "hotel" (all four rooms) next door. We also checked out some other local hotels to see what their prices might be.
We drove into Vichayito, where Felipe and Jay live. We asked to see Jay at the gate to the development. We were denied access originally because Jay had not informed the guard that we were coming. We finally got the guard to call someone to communicate with Jay that we were waiting at the gate. Once Jay gave the go-ahead, we drove up to his house. He has had a rough go over the last several months as he broke up with his long time girlfriend, and had two family members pass away. Last time we saw him, he was definitely under the radar but we didn't know what was going on. When we saw him this morning, he was much more his chipper self. He agreed to rent us a room and give us access to his kitchen for $500/month. What a difference! All I said was you have a deal and shook his hand. He does not have any furniture, so we will have to buy a bed for ourselves. There will be electricity (most of the time), and hot water. A step up in the world!
Afterwards, we drove by the spa place and commented how nice it would be to get a massage. We both jumped on it and went to see when we could schedule an appointment. After lunch at El Refugio, we had our massages with hot stones and have been quite mellow ever since.
Once back at the house, I used the sourdough sponge to make a dough for rolls in the morning. I'll make a batch of cinnamon rolls and plain rolls. We're thinking of sharing it with the chef at El Refugio, and then giving him the sponge to maintain. Should be an interesting interaction...I don't think they are familiar with sourdough here.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

11 November

Hi today; 74 degrees, 65% humidty
Lo today; 66 degrees, 73% humdity

Doug's spanish teacher didn't show up again today. We figure he's given up. It was a lot to ask of a 16 year old boy. There are other possibilities out there.

Doug went and played with the horses at El Refugio and enjoyed a nice leisurely ride while I laid out in the sun thoroughly enjoying myself. I don't think I've included pictures of El Refugio before, but since we talk about it frequently, I thought I would include them today. We ate a late lunch and then returned home.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

10 November

Weather today;
this morning at 5:00 it was 66.8 degrees, 76% humidity, cloudy
this afternoon at 2:00 it was 76.8 degrees, 60% humidity, clear

I know, tough to take. The month of November has been very comfortable; ranging from 68 degrees at night to 82 degrees during the day.
This morning we went into town for a few groceries and water. We've been buying our drinking water in 5 gallon jugs. If you buy them from the store, it costs you S/.27 ; S/.15 of which is a deposit on the jug. Refills at the store are S/.13. We now have a new vender that gives us 5 gallons of water for S/.2 if we provide the jug.
Maybe we're learning the ropes?
Doug finished laying out the house on the property. I did some laundry. We laid out in the sun.
I also began my tapestry. It will be slow going as the fibers are much finer than I am used to and I won't be able to combine different colors together in the weft. I'm not sure how the tapestry will look when it is done; for sure a different style than I've done before. It will be made with all Peruvian fiber and will be very colorful. Yarn is hard to find in the first place unless you are up in Arequipa where there is a factory for yarns or in Lima where there are some outlets. Most of what you find elsewhere is wool or acrylic and very bright in color; maybe even florescent!

Monday, November 9, 2009

09 November

Doug's spanish teacher didn't show up this morning, so he spent the early morning on our property laying things out in preparation for building.

At eleven, we met up with our young friend Feruquo, and drove to Talara. We received the final plans for the house including structural, electrical, sanitation and water plans. We put these files on a zip drive and wanted to get them printed on large size paper. There wasn't anyone in the Los Organos or Mancora area who had the equipment to do this. It took some looking and asking for location, but we finally found the company in Talara that would do this. When he saw there were thirty-two pages to print, he said it would take him several hours to complete the project. We couldn't wait that long because Feruquo needed to take his parents to the bus station mid afternoon. We arranged to have the plans printed, rolled, and then sent by bus to Los Organos. The plans were S/. 7 each ($2.50) and the freight was S/. 5 ($1.75). We should be able to pick the plans up sometime tomorrow.
While we were in Talara, we searched for yarn for the tapestry I'm now working on. After inquirying in several shops, we were finally directed to one that had a limited number of colors and a limited amount of each. I purchased several colors and can only hope the amount will be enough.
We returned to El Nuro and then took Feruquo to lunch at El Refugio. I really enjoy their octopus stir fry, while Doug enjoys the shrimp curry. The food there is quite excellent!
We said good-bye to Feruquo and headed to the market in Los Organos to find a measuring cup and baking pan for the sourdough bread. The sponge is ready and has a really nice aroma! I'm excited to try it out. We'll have to take it to one of the chefs we know so they can use it and feed it while we are gone.
This afternoon Doug sat out on the patio and watched a team of fishermen lay out their nets.

There are two boats somewhat similar to the river drift boats in Oregon. They paddle their boats stern to stern. Each has a net aboard, and they join the nets and then take off in opposite directions, laying their nets out as they go. They make a big circle and then spiral in toward the center. Then they start making noise in the water with some kind of plunger; we think to attract the fish. Then they reverse the process, pulling the net in as they go and removing the fish caught up in the net.

Sorry, some of these pictures are out of sequence. I spent the better part of an hour trying to put them in order without much luck. Hopefully you can figure out the order from our description of the process.

By the way, I love all of you who are following this blog. Only three people have become "followers" but I know many more are reading our entries. It would really be nice to know who all is reading the blog....send me a message?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

08 November

This was a quiet day for us. We drove into Mancora and worked our way back along the "ancient PanAmerican Highway", which works it's way along the coast between Mancora and Vichayito and then onto the PanAmerican highway close to Los Organos. Our friend, Luis, the tour guide, has some clients that are interested in renting a house along the beach. We found ten possibilities for him and sent him the phone numbers for them.
We did a little shopping in Los Organos for Sanchez before returning to the house. Along the way we picked up some bamboo pieces to use as pots for the plants we have started from seeds. The dirt we tried was very much like clay, and the seedlings were very small. We shall see.
I got my loom set up for my tapestry. I wanted to get more detail, so I made the warp 12 per inch. However, when I started to use the yarn that I have, some of it is too thick to cover the warp as weft. I do have several fibers that will work well, but won't be able to use more than one fiber at a time. It changes my whole idea about how this tapestry will work on this loom, but am not unhappy with the new look. We are going into Talara tomorrow morning and will look for more fibers to work with as well as a place to print the plans for the house.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

07 November

One thing I forgot to tell you yesterday was about our visit to Lupe's house in Los Organos. She and her husband borrowed money from the owner of Samana Chakra to buy a house. They paid S/.1200 (about $425) for this space that they will eventually make into a home. Lupe and Franco took us to their home to see it. I was a small space, maybe 500 sq. feet. Dirt floors, bamboo walls to the outside with plenty of "ventilation", no kitchen or bathroom, a bedroom with two twin beds and not much else. Once again, I am reminded that life can be simple. They are both thrilled with their own space and look forward to making improvements that will give them a bathroom and kitchen. The contrast between their home and ours, in which we plan to employ Lupe, is obscene; at the opposite end of a spectrum of living conditions and style.
This morning we went into Los Organos for a quick shopping trip. We found tuna at the market again; it has not been available for a couple of weeks. Doug had said that a larger amount than usual of the fishing boats had left the harbor early in the morning. This morning was the same. We figure that is because the tuna are biting.
This afternoon and evening, Doug and I did some planning for the next month or so. We had return tickets to the US for the 19th of November. I called the airline to change them to Christmas time. However, according to the conditions of the tickets we had, it would cost us over $500 a piece to change. So, we will be going to the states on the 19th of November and plan on staying until after Christmas.
It seems like every day we see something that is so "Peruvian", but we either don't have our camera at the ready, or aren't quick enough to catch it. Today is was a surfer returning to town on a motorscooter; sitting on the front end of his board over the seat, and the rest of the board hanging off the back end. In Talara the other day, we saw a pick-up loaded with building materials; metal screens, rebar, plastic tubing, and various other things. Also in the back were two men holding the materials need for tie-downs! Earlier we saw a mototaxi coming into town with a tuna; it's head sticking out one side, and the tail sticking out the other side. And numerous times we've seen trucks full of passengers in the cab, and up to fifteen other people in the back! I'd love to make a collage of these sights; they define Peru and Peruvian culture.

Friday, November 6, 2009

06 November

This was a lazy morning for me. Giordy came for Doug's spanish lesson this morning at 8:00. I finished my breakfast and disappeared into the bedroom to let them do their thing. I studied a bit of spanish myself and the fell asleep. I slept hard until noon!
Here is our pick-up. It has been sooooo nice to have our own transportation! It definitely gives us another layer of freedom. It also complicates our life; insurance, services, diesel..... It's a choice we make for the convenience it offers.

This afternoon we met with Lupe and her husband Franco. We first met Lupe when Mandy, Elena and I came to Mancora and stayed at Samana Chakra, a hotel known for its offering of yoga. Lupe was working as a servant there; serving dinners, cooking and cleaning the guest rooms. We really enjoyed her personality and her radiant smile and have always made a point of greeting her when we were in town. About six months ago, she asked me if she could work for us when built our home here. Over the last six months we have communicated numerous times over the internet. She has not been very happy with the administration at Samana Chakra and wants a different position. So today, we talked about why she wanted to work for us, what her expectations were, her compensation and responsibilities. It is common to employ a house maid for S/.600 (a bit more than $200) a month. We asked her and her husband to make a list of what they would like in terms of compensation and benefits. We'll negotiate from there.
I feel a bit awkward in negotiating with Lupe without letting our friend Lucia, the administrator of Samana Chakra, knowing what is going on. For various reasons, Lupe doesn't trust Lucia, and I would bet the feeling is mutual. However, the owner of Samana Chakra really like Lupe and she makes the final decisions. I also talked with Lupe about the fact that up until this point in time, we have been friends. Once we employ her, the relationship changes a bit and she will have to take orders from me. Most advise columns would tell me not to hire her and avoid any possible problems in the future. Maybe so. We still have some thinking to do.
This evening we fixed up a huge batch of calamari. We found out that in order to keep the calamari soft and not chewy was to cook it on high heat for only two minutes. Otherwise, you need to cook it for over 30 minutes for it to soften up again. Next.....octopus. Anyone know any good recipes for octopus? I find it interesting that a search on the internet yields many italian recipes for octopus.
We also received the final plans for our house tonight; structural, and electical details. We are only missing the sanitation; water and sewer plans. Another step closer.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

05 November

This morning we drove to Talara, about an hour away, to have the pick-up serviced. We took some Peruvian friends from Mancora with us, as they are somewhat familiar with Talara. Without too much trouble, we found the service center and they took the pick-up in right away. The first service at 1000 kms. is a visual inspection of the truck, fluids, filters, lights, battery, tires, alarm; pretty much everything mechanical in the truck. The only thing that came up was the windshield wiper fluid. It had been filled with regular Peru water which is not clean and has enough sediment to clog up the works. They drained it and then put in three containers of Mr. Muscle cleaner and told us to add 3 liters of filtered water when we got home.
Our friend Feruquo was so fun to watch during this service. He was looking over everyone's shoulder and got right in the middle of everything. At one point, he was in the passenger seat while a technician was in the driver's seat, asking about this dial and what it's function was; and what about this dial? The technician was very patient with him and explained things to him. At one point, the service technician took out the manual and pointed out where in the manual he could find answers to his questions. Feruquo was going to make sure everything was as it should be!
After the service, we took our friends to the bank. They are managers of a hotel in Mancora noted for its yoga, and do their banking in Talara.
We then walked through the market; somewhat akin to a flea market. Much of what we saw was junk; cheap stuff. I did find some mechanical pencils, a watch, and some kitchen knifes. The pencils are made by Faber Castell, a familiar brand so should be fine. We'll wait and see about the watch for S/.12 ($3). We were told that it had a 30 day guarantee; but he never gave me a receipt or bill of sale. Does that mean the 30 days are any 30 days we choose? We saw many poorly made knives but found a cleaver for S/.11 (about $4) and a 7" kitchen knife for S/.5 (less than $2) that were of decent quality.
Some things in Peru are very inexpensive. Many things are of poor quality as well. Diesel is about the same as in the states, $3.50. Paper is quite a bit more expensive and harder to find than in the states. Cartridges for the printer are probably 20% more expensive. Food is generally much less expensive; good meals at reasonable restaurants run about $10, a dozen eggs are $1, one kilo of fruit or vegetables will run about $.60, fresh fish at the market (marlin, tuna, shrimp, calamari) is about $2.30/lb., rice is about $.60 per kilo.
On our way home from Talara, Feruquo wanted to stop at milepost 76 to have Lucia, his wife, take his picture. He is 76 years old. What a character!
We then came back to Los Organos where Lucia and Feruquo wanted to take us out to lunch. The restaurant was right on the beach and have a wonderful view of the fishing fleet and the pier at Los Organos. The food was excellent! Lucia's son, Feruquo, joined us as well.
Once back at the house in El Nuro, I worked on setting up my table loom for a tapestry while Doug worked on the layout for the house. It was a quiet afternoon and evening.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

04 November

This morning after Doug's spanish lesson we drove into Los Organos to do a bit of shopping. We took Sanchez with us as he was having problems with his bicycle and he wanted to get repairs done in town. We dropped his bicycle off and then went to his brother's contractor's store. They had an assortment of building materials and tools, and a relatively large yard of lumber including bamboo and woods brought in from the jungle.
Then we were off to the market. Yesterday, we pulled some chicken out of the refrigerator and it was nasty! I think it probably wasn't so fresh when we bought it and then combined with the marginal coolness in the refrigerator, it didn't survive. That was the chicken in the sea. Today, I started to make a soup of calamari and shrimp, but the shrimp was even nastier than the chicken! Doug took it back to the sea, came home and took a shower, and I did laundry to get rid of the smell. Even the soy milk had curdled. I'll bet even Hostess donuts wouldn't last a year here. Lesson learned; buy only for today and the next. Nothing more.
One thing I was looking for in the local market was some crochet thread I was using for the warp on my loom. They didn't have anything there, but suggested I find a Senora at the grand hotel in Mancora. The place where I saw the sign for "hilos" (threads) in Los Organos apparently sold jute twine for macrame. So we bought our groceries; broccoli, cauliflower, fish, chicken, eggs, rice, water, wine and beer. I was very tempted to buy some octopus, but don't know how to cook it. I'll have to investigate and go from there.
Then we headed to Mancora to find this Senora. We did indeed find her at the Grand Hotel and she then took us to her shop next door. She had a large selection of beads, thread and yarn in her store. She actually had the exact same crochet thread that I needed for the warp on my next project. The lot number on her thread matched exactly with the thread I bought in Santa Cruz.
My tomato seed sprouted today. When it gets a bit bigger, we'll plant it in some dirt in a large water jug. We can then hang it upside down to conserve the water. The sourdough starter is getting bubbly and starting to smell sour.
When we went to Lima to buy the truck, we decided not to bring our camera. I remember putting it in a safe place; it was so safe, we couldn't find it when we returned. While in Lima, we needed to have Sr. Sanchez send Doug's driver's license. Sanchez had come into the house and searched through my purse and sent some cards from my wallet. When we realized that he had sent the wrong documents, we had him look again for Doug's wallet. The second time around, he had the right documents and we had what we needed in Lima. Upon our return, we could not find our camera. I knew it was here, but could not remember where I have put it for safe keeping. I finally asked Sanchez about it, thinking he might have seen it. He hadn't, and I figured it would show up eventually. This afternoon, Sanchez asked me about the camera and I told him I had not found it yet. I told him would keep looking for it and that I was sure it was in the house somewhere. He asked if he could look for it, and I said sure. In a matter of minutes, he found the camera in between my blouses stacked in the closet. I was astounded as I had already searched through my closet. He was so happy to have found it as he felt responsible for the security of the house. He is truly a treasure!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

03 November

Today was somewhat of a quiet day. I worked on a design for a new tapestry and began measuring out the warp thread. I ran out of warp thread, so will have to investigate what fibers are available in Los Organos. I have seen a sign for "threads" but don't know exactly what threads it is referring to. Spanish doesn't distinguish between knitting and weaving; using the same verb for both. Definitely gets confusing at times. Doug studied spanish some of the day; hoping to get a head start on tomorrow's lesson with Giordy.
The wall to the compost pile had been knocked down, so Doug built it back up and went higher yet.
The sourdough starter is perking! Time will tell if it works or not.
Doug also created Chicken of the Sea. The chicken we bought a couple of days ago went bad so instead of putting it in the garbage, he threw it out into the ocean!
Georg was here this evening (though he said he would be here at 11:00 this morning) and installed a new solar battery so hopefully we will have more electricity than before. It is almost 8:00 and we've had electricity since 6:30!

Monday, November 2, 2009

02 November

Yesterday we asked our friend Perico if there was someone in his family that could teach Doug to speak Spanish. His 16 yr old nephew was appointed. Giordy arrived this morning at 7:00 and he and Doug sat across the table from each other, each wondering what to do next. Finally, to break the ice, Doug took Giordy for a walk and showed him our property, the house layout and the surrounding territory. Once back at the house, Giordy decided he was going to work on pronunciation and had Doug read several stories from a beginning Spanish text we brought from the states. Even after a couple of hours, I'm not sure either one of them knew what was happening. At any rate, Giordy will be back twice more this week for lessons. As a former teacher, I'm biting my tongue and trying not to interfere!
Just after lunch we drove into Mancora to visit our friends at Samana Chakra. We need to take our truck into Talara for its first service. Lucia and Feruque are quite familiar with Talara, so we asked if they might go with us to show us around while the truck was being serviced. We'll go with them on Thursday.
Later this afternoon, we went into Vichayito for massages. Origenes spa is a beautiful spot right on the beach with very modern facilities. The massages that we've had there have all been great and at reasonable prices; probably high by Peruvian standards, but quite reasonable by US standards ($60-70). I tried the hot stone massage for the first time and really liked it.
We then went by El Refugio to talk with Georg who is up from Lima. When we do break ground, one of the first things they build will be the cystern for water. The plan has it located in the exact spot Georg's septic tank is. Within the next week or so, Georg will have to move his septic tank onto his own property. We also talked about getting a generator; asking him for his opinion as to what would be needed.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

01 November

Wow, where did October go? Oh, that's right....we were waiting for paperwork in Lima.
I started a sourdough starter today. We'll see how it goes.
I also started the compost pile today. Doug built a rock wall around a small area and we put a cylinder of wire mesh inside. Hopefully the dogs won't get into it.
We spent hours on the computer this afternoon at El Refugio trying to download books and podcasts onto my iPod. We didn't have much luck though. I think I only got two new podcasts. Oh, well; this will have to wait for unlimited electricity.
Doug talked with our friend Perico about getting some spanish lessons. Perico will send his nephew up here in the mornings to work with Doug.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

31 October

Happy Halloween! We have seen very little sign of Halloween here. There were some decorations at the hotel in Lima, but otherwise, not much. This date is celebrated in two ways here in Peru; 1. the smaller children dress up and collect candy much like they do in the states, 2. the older generations celebrate the criolla holiday with food, dance and party.
We arrived safely back "home" last night at about 8:00. We unloaded the pick-up and pretty much fell into bed. It was nice to get back to our own routine, space and time today. We went into town for groceries and supplies; amazing how much faster the trip was in our own vehicle versus the mototaxi! Doug spent the day on our property laying out the house and locating markers for construction. It is impressive how accurately the architect has designed the house to fit the contours of the land.
I spent the day cleaning and restocking the kitchen. I also finished the table runner I had on the loom so am now ready to begin putting a tapestry on!
The final plans for the house should be ready by the 6th; and total material lists and costs done by the 13th! Finally.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

29 October

Holy smokes! After a cocktail of Pisco Sour, and now three glasses of wine, I'm calm enough to relate our experiences for the day!
Actually, most of the day was unremarkable but our arrival in Chiclayo was interesting, to say the least.
We left Lima this morning at 6:00 hoping to get through town before the traffic got crazy. Being a city of 10 million people or more, it still took us an hour to get out of Lima. Once on the Pan American highway north, things went quite smoothly. For the most part, there were no problems navigating through towns along the way. We learned that things were not very well marked; and following the majority of the traffic didn't necessarily keep us on the Pan-Am!
We were stopped once by the national police. He checked our paperwork, and asked our destination. Once we told him we were going to Chiclayo; he sent us on our way. He made sure to tell us arriving in Chiclayo, or other cities along the highway, later at night would be dangerous and to take care. He didn't check our passports or driver's licenses.
We had already been warned Chiclayo was a dangerous place to be after dark. Being a port town apparantly offers some unique challenges. A transient population added to a population with a very high unemployment rate is not a good combination. We planned on staying at the Inti Hotel as they had secure parking facilities; the problem was, we had an address, but no idea where it was in town. We even located it on line before arriving in town; but the roads were so poorly (or not) marked, we were soon downtown in traffic with little idea of what to do!
In order to get this picture, you have to remember that driving in Peru is crazy! A four lanes accomodates six or seven vehicles across. Stop signs are ignored; traffic lights are only for decoration. Merging traffic happens with fraction of inches lee-way and the most aggressive wins. So, I'm looking at the map on the computer in the car and Doug is trying to navigate the streets. We finally find the hotel; I hop out and run in to find out where there parking is. The receptionist tells me to back up a half block to enter the parking lot! way. (she must be living on another planet!) All in all, we make it into the parking lot, into the hotel, and into our room. Whew!
So now, after four glasses of wine, I'm feeling good and looking forward to an evening of TV, hot water and sleep.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

28 October

Well....we were to get the SOAT documentation at 10:30 this morning but by 11:30 we hadn't heard or seen our agent. We did get over to the mal to get my glasses repaired; thankfully it was fairly simple and they didn't charge us anything.
When we finally did get the SOAT documentation it was about 12:30. The only piece that had not yet been confirmed was the installation of the GPS system required by the insurance company. We had thought this had been done while the pick-up was at the dealership... But, no. Our agent told us we would have to call the insurance company, make an appointment and have it done. Fortunately, we were able to do it this afternoon and now are planning on leaving Lima early in the morning!
We're ready to get back to the sunshine, our own space and having some time we plan for ourselves. We're not looking forward to cold showers, and limited electricity!

27 October

We finally got our pick-up this afternoon! The paperwork came through and we headed to the dealership. We called the insurance agent who was to bring the SOAT certification (the government required insurance) so he could meet us there. However, he couldn't buy the SOAT until he had copies of the paperwork and wouldn't be able to do that until tomorrow. We went ahead and brought the pick-up back to the hotel. Just as we were checking everything out, the dealership realized the plates on the pick-up didn't match the number for the plates on the paperwork. It turns out they had put the plates on the wrong vehicle. The switch was soon made and we were on our way.
We had time for a quick shower before we were on our way to Maximo's opening. In the rush, I sat on my glasses and totally bent them out of whack!
The show is being put on in an old spanish colonial home in the center of Lima. The inauguration began with a few speeches and a welcome toast. Then two dancers performed in the center of the courtyard. The dancers held what look like a pair of shears in their hands; but they rang like castanets in time with the music. They did several moves including handstands, the worm, somersaults; a native breakdance?! There were many photo ops and then people began to walk through the galleries to view the tapestries.
Maximo displayed 75 of his tapestries dated from 1997 to 2009. He displayed a new series of work called the Galapogos Series; designed and made in honor of Darwin's anniversary. Of all of his work, I think these are my favorites. He used the same bright colors that I like so much, and the subjects are the various types of wildlife one might find in the Galapogos. The show was well attended; we guess about three hundred people were there.
Afterwards, George, Nathalie, Doug and I went out for dinner. We went to a very posh shopping center in Miraflores on the oceanfront. We ate at a Japanese restaurant that was fabulous. We ordered a "boat" filled with a variety of sushi, fish, and tempura which easily fed all four of us. Not being familiar with Japanese cuisine, this gave us a chance to try out several different dishes. I'd definitely return for more.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

25 October

Wow, where has October gone?
We are still in the hotel in Lima awaiting the paperwork for the truck before heading north. Not much we can do to speed things up, so we are trying to develop some patience.
Our good friend Maximo has an exhibition opening here in Lima on Tuesday. He will be showing seventy-two pieces; the largest show he has ever had. We will be attending the inauguration on Tuesday to celebrate the opening of his show.
Since we came down only to buy a vehicle and planned on returning North in a few days, we were not prepared for an opening. I called Maximo's daughter, Paola, and she and her friend Karina took me shopping this evening for an appropriate outfit. Karina was definitely the one to have on such a shopping trip as she was very familiar with the offerrings of the mall. I tried on dresses that ranged from the conservative to the high fashion sexy. We finally agreed on a practical skirt, top with shawl and heels. It really was great fun to try on dresses that I probably never would have worn again. There was a part of me that would have liked to dress the sex-pot; but...don't think I could have pulled it off.

Friday, October 23, 2009

23 October

We finally received a set of plans from the architect that included room measurements and placements of columns. Hopefully it is enough to give the maestro here in Lima enough information to give us a bid. I feel like our emotions have been on a roller coaster with this project. When we left Oregon, both of us were really excited about getting thing going. Then we hit a wall when the architect here wanted to redesign. Then we've had weeks of waiting. And now that we have a set of workable prints, I feel like we've cleared another hurtle. But, things are still not ready to begin. We still await the electrical, water, and solar power plans and final tweeks. Intellectually, I know this planning period is critical and time spent planning will smooth the rest of the process.
Maybe I'm just ready to go back north into the sunshine. I don't think Lima's weather, not wet but dreary, has been helpful.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

22 October

Last night we went to a cultural dance dinner theater with Georg and Nathalie. The group putting on the dances were from Puno near Lake Titicaca. They presented some of the traditional folk dances from that region with an orchestra behind them. The music, the dances and the costumes were beautiful. In between performances, the orchestras played music for the audience to dance to. Those dancing were, for the most part, doing the salsa, Peruvian style. I found it interesting that 99% of the dancers on the floor were doing the same step. In the same situation in the United States, I think most of the dancers on the floor would be doing their own thing. Peruvians love to dance and start at an early age. Georg was trying to teach me the salsa, but I don't really think it was the best time or place. We had a lot of fun.
We are still waiting in the hotel for the documents for the truck. Nothing yet.

Monday, October 19, 2009

19 October

The last few days have been our time for visiting with friends. Friday afternoon we went to Georg and Nathalie's home for dinner. Their home is in a very posh section of Lima called Monterrico. Their home is built on the side of a hill; 4 levels with a glass front. We never did get a tour but the view was beautiful. Nathalie fixed a french meal of rabbit which was very good.
Saturday we went out to Maximo's (the master weaver) home for lunch. Many of Maximo's family joined us and it was a grand time. Lunch and lots of beer. We also had the pleasure of viewing two new pieces of Maximo's new line of work in celebration of Darwin's birthday called the Galapogos. They are beautiful; very bright colors and not as busy as others.
Saturday night we met with my Spanish teacher, Edinson. He brought a friend of his who is also involved in teaching Spanish as a second language. We had a great visit over dinner and drinks.
Sunday night another friend of ours met us at the hotel and we had dinner.
Today, Monday, we were able to get a couple of things done toward the process of getting our truck on the road. We met with the insurance agent again to actually sign the policy. We paid him for the private insurance as well as the nation required insurance. Once we get the paperwork, he will purchase the SOAT (govt. insurance) sticker and bring it out to the dealership before we drive off. We also had pictures taken for an international driver's license. We have been given many conflicting opinions as to what we do or do not need to drive. Some say we can drive with our US license and passport. Others say we need an international drivers license along with our US license and passport. And yet others tell us we need to get a Peruvian license. At this point we would like to avoid having to get a Peruvian license as they are rather involved. they require a physical health, a psychological exam, a written and driving exam. And as things are in Spanish, we'd rather delay this as long as possible.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

15 October

We met with the insurance agent today to discuss the coverage of the Mitsubishi. He took a copy of the sales receipt from the dealership and will prepare a policy for us. With full coverage we will have replacement value for two years. As part of the policy, they will install a GPS system to locate the vehicle is it is stolen. There are two insurances we will get; one is the government required liability insurance. This costs us about $100 a year, and provides us with a sticker that must be displayed on the windshield. The other insurance is a private insurance we get in addition to the liability. At some point, the insurance agent will meet with the dealership and be sure that all the security measures have been installed on the truck.
Meanwhile, we wait. We are getting good at waiting. Really good at waiting.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

14 October

I went to visit a psychiatrist today to see about prescriptions for depression. I've been taking Cymbalta and our inquiries in Peru told us that Cymbalta was not available in Peru. After checking with my doctor in the US., he strongly suggested I see someone here. As it turns out, Cymbalta is available, but only in one or two pharmacies in the Lima area. He gave me a prescription for the medication and we were off to the pharmacy. They did indeed have the Cymbalta, so I bought three months worth. With the purchase, I was also given a month and a half for free. The pharmacy also said they could send the medication to me in Nuro when I was ready to have refills. They also did not take the script for the medication. I asked Luis about this and he said the script would be good forever so to hang on to it. The pills were expensive; approximately $100 a month. The doctor charged me $30. for his consultation.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

13 October

We bought a pick-up truck today. It's a Mitsubishi L200 which is very similar to the Toyota Hilux. Most of these pickups in Peru are sold as a work truck. Many of the oil, gas and mining companies buy them. In a comparison of the two brands here, the Mitsubishi had more of what we wanted for a better price. It will be sooooo nice to have our own transportation and not have to depend on mototaxies!
Once we decided to buy the truck, we went to the bank and transfered the money directly into the account of the dealership. We then took this receipt to the dealership and gave them copies of our passports. They will take care of all the paperwork, file the right forms with the ministry of transportation, get the license plate, everything. Once the paperwork is done (in 5 to 7 days), we'll be able to head back up north.

Monday, October 12, 2009

12 October

We are currently in Lima trying to buy a pick up. We've looked at a couple of used ones, which don't really seem like such great deals. Most of the Toyota Hilux and Mutsubishi trucks are bought by the oil or mine companies so the used ones are usually offered by these companies after a couple of years. These trucks are used hard and may not be that well maintained. Most private consumers don't buy the pick-ups, but tend toward the SUVs. We have a couple more to look at tomorrow, and then we'll have to decide what we want to do. Aparently when you buy a vehicle in Peru, regardless of whether it is new or used, you have to wait 7 to 10 days before you can take possession. So unless we buy the Toyota we saw in Los Organos, we will be here in Lima for at least a week.
On Tuesday of last week, I became ill. By the morning I had a raging sore throat and had trouble swallowing. I had Doug take me into Los Organos and our driver, Juan, took us to a clinic. I was able to see the doctor at the clinic within a few minutes. He diagnosed tonsilitis and prescribed some anti-biotics and some anti-inflamatory medication. The consultation with the doctor cost me about $7. The medication, about $40. By the next morning things were worse and I was in considerably more pain. So, we went back to the clinic. The doctor then asked me if I had been drinking or eating anything cold. Well, of course I was; weren't you given ice cream as a kid? The doctor said anything cold would only agravate the tonsils and impressed upon me how important it was to stick to warm liquids. I guess the ice cream came after surgery.... He also gave me a shot for the pain which put me out for several hours. By the next morning things were marginally better, but still very painful and the infection had spread into the sinuses and my right ear. We checked with the doctor once more, and he then prescribed a stronger anti-inflamatory medication. The doctor never charged me more than the original $7.
It was that very afternoon we boarded a bus to Lima. The trip is an 18 hour trip which I wasn't looking forward to in my condition. We left Los Organos at 6:00p.m. and got ourselves settled into our seats on the second class upper level. The seats were surprisingly roomy and reclined quite a ways so sleeping was not too uncomfortable. Because it was such a long trip, they also served us dinner and breakfast. However, at about 8:00 in the morning, we were delayed because of a head on accident with a bus that closed the highway for about two and half hours.
Once arriving in Lima, we were picked up at the terminal and taken to our hotel.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

2 October

We left Santa Cruz this morning after breakfast. Wilmer, his wife Magali, their two children, Chielo, Luis' daughter Nicole, the mother of Nicole's nanny, and the three gringos hopped into the van and 4 1/2 later we were in Chiclayo.
We ate lunch with Luis and Ed and then said our goodbyes. We walked to the bus station to get our return tickets to Los Organos. We also shopped for a printer. We also found a a nice griddle. We have been looking for decent cooking pans; something other than the flimsy aluminum ones.
We met again with the arquitect, Coqui and looked at his floor plans. We made a few changes and he promised to have the floorplan and views of the inside and outside by Wednesday.
We were back at the hotel by 9 and retired.

1 October

We had breakfast with Liz, her husband, her mother and her aunt. Liz is a teacher at the school and was the one who MC'd the reception at the school when we first arrived. While we were there we discussed ways we could help the school. We basically discussed the same things with Henry yesterday; white boards, computers, language lab, and obtaining "speedy" internet.
We then ate lunch at the home of Luis' nanny, Imelda. She served us a shot glass of the "agua caliente" after some fruit had soaked in it for a couple of months. It was very smooth! She then served us cuy with rice and potatoes. Ismelda's cuy was probably the best we had tasted so far.
After lunch we went to buy tickets to the final round of bullfights. It was scheduled for 3:30, but it was after 5 before things got started. The first matador to go tonight was one that didn't perform well in the last two rounds. His performance was a bit better, but he didn't kill the bull quickly. Even after the bull was down, it hung onto life. Finally, someone cut his throat and opened his chest to open the heart. We found out later that cutting into the bull is not appropriate and the stock contractor should be fined 20% of the cost of the bull for the infraction.
The second bull fight was better; not the best in style but a quick kill. He earned one ear.
There was a long delay after the second bull. The crowd was definitely getting restless; getting drunk and shouting "toro!" It escalated to throwing bottles into the ring; the glass ones breaking and scattering glass. The police came to find the culprits which turned into a physical confrontation in the crowd. And still the delay continued.
Unbeknown to us, the stock contractor accosted Jorge, Luis' brother who is the president of the festival, demanding his payment right then and there. The organizing committee had paid half up front and were to pay the rest at the conclusion of the event. But, for some reason, the contractor wanted his money right then. Even after Jorge esplained that he didn't have the money and that ticket sales had yet to be counted for the night, the contractor threaten to attack Jorge. As the grape vine picked up the action, cell phones went into action. Soon there was a support group behind Jorge. Jorge was also arguing that the fine should be withheld which helped to fuel the escalating tensions. The contractor then called the matadors and told them not to fight the third bull as he hadn't been paid. So all was at a standstill but emotions both in the stands and behind the scenes were on edge.
Then someone released a bull into the ring, but the bullfighters stood by. The bull then jumped the inner wall toward the crowd. We were four rows up and people in front of us were screaming, yelling and scrambling up into our laps. The fans are behind a second wall that is close enough to the first not to allow the bull room enough to come over into the stands. At this point, the bullfighters got involved, got the bull back into the ring and the third bullfight commenced. The matador was the famous Fernando, the rock star. He did a great job fighting the bull with some entertaining moves. However, when he tried to kill the bull with the sword, it took four tries before he was successful. And even then, he had to stab the bull in the brains to finish the job. Bloody, gorey, and brutal.
And behind the scenes.... the contractor was paid and violence was averted. Such drama tonight.
This evening Doug and I went to the yarn shop and bought 1/2 kilo (1 lb.) lots of 7 yarns, another small cone, 4 balls of crochet thread for warp, and some butterflies of some additional colors to serve as accents. All this was about $40. I'll be able to start a small version of the tapestry I've been designing with the fish, lizards and pelicans.
The men stood outside for at least a couple of hours drinking beer and trying to dispel the tension of the early evening. They were joined by a maestro (building contractor) Luis plans on using to build the fourth floor of his building in Lima. The maestro wanted to see the design of our home so he came in and we discussed the project. Without studying the plans, he estimated a price per square meter $100 less than the arquitect in Chiclayo. We agreed to get a bid from this maestro, who was a school mate of Luis in Santa Cruz. He was here for the festival, but lives in Nasca.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

30 September

This morning we drove up to the Chancay hot springs. It is located further into the hills from Santa Cruz and has a beautiful vista across valleys. The hot springs are reported to be medicinal mineral baths. The baths are organized by rooms which accommodate anywhere from 2 to 20 people. Our room for two had a changing area and a pool that was probably 3 x 9 yards. It was very relaxing and we soaked for about 20 minutes.
On our way back to Santa Cruz we stopped in the small village of Chancay for something to eat. We sere servers a soup made from Casga, a river fish that has a hard "shell" like a lobster but looks something like a small catfish. The soup was very tasty and getting to the meat of the casga was interesting as well. All in all, quite a tasty meal.
Upon our return to Santa Cruz, we were offerred lunch. All three of us declined, as we felt the fish soup had served as lunch. If nothing else, our hosts wanted us to be well fed!
The second course of the bullfighting came this afternoon. The same three matadors competed with very different results! One of the bullfighters from yesterday that had such a poor performance had the best performance of the afternoon. He earned two ears as well so there was a tie for first place.
On our way home from the bullfights, there was a minor accident involving the truck carrying the matadors. In the back and hanging off the rear were their helpers. Apparantly, someone bumped into the truck from behind which could have been serious if one of the helper's legs had been inbetween the bumpers. Tempers flared and the matadors were out of the truck and attacking the driver. However, it was all over in a matter of minutes. The girls in our van were both excited to be in such close proximity and concerned for the welfare of Fernando, the famous Peruvian bullfighter. Such teenage idolatry. " Ohhhh, Fernando!"
After dinner we gathered in our hosts living room and drank beer and visited. The principal of the school came by and we discussed what the most urgent needs of the school might be. Most of the classrooms had ancient chalkboards and the chalkdust was creating some health problems for the teachers. Even more ancient were the computers in the lab. The school has a total of 14 computers for class sizes of 40, which meant that there were 4 students per computer during a class. They did have internet access which was controled by the ministry of education and was pulled from a satelite. None of this was very reliable. They were also hoping for a language lab where they could teach english. The ministry sent them the CD's but the school doesn't have a way to deliver these lessons to multiple students at a time. After much discussion, we proposed the following;
1. Doug and I would look into buying white board material in the states and transporting along with our household belongings.
2. Our friend Ed was going to try finding donations for more up-date computers or people willing to donate the cost for a new one here; $350.
3. Ed was also going to check with local schools in his area to see if they had out-dated language lab materials that might work.
4. We also offered to begin a fund for "speedy" internet access. The problem being that once they declined the ministry's satelite service, they would never be able to go back to it. So Ed and I donated a total of $1500 to be used for this purpose. That would guarantee them three years of service. That would give everyone some time to think about how to maintain that balance for them.
5. I also volunteered to return in March or April to teach a week of english.
After visiting the school, I realized how easy we had it in Wilsonville. We did our share of complaining, but these teachers deal with what they have and are still cheery.
After some hours of visiting and discussion, we went to bed early.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

29th September

After breakfast this morning we went to see a motocross race. The course was set up some distance from town, so we took a mototaxi partway and then hiked another mile. We were one small part of the exodus from town. This was the first time motocross has come to Santa Cruz and it seemed like everyone wanted to see it. There were three races; starting with some very young kids and the other two races were run by older kids/adults but differentiated by the size of the bike's engine.

After lunch the first of three bull fighting events took place. There are three matadors; one from Peru, one from Mexico and one from Venezuela. They will compete for top honors over the three days. Before the actual bull fighting, there was an exhibition of marinara dancers and folk dances by school kids in the region. The costumes are so festive with bright colors and elaborate embroidery.

After the first two matadors, I began wondering what the attraction was. The stands were overflowing with spectators, but I didn't get the draw. Very shortly after the bull ran into the ring and the matador and his assistants had teased him, a large draft horse came in looking like a medieval horse in a lance competition; his belly, legs and body were wrapped in rubber and draped over that were heavy blankets like the ones we use in moving furniture. The horses eyes were covered and I don't hink he could see anything. The rider has a lance that he jabs into the bull's upper back, presumably to weaken the bull. Then the matador teases the bull with his cape with much posturing and showmanship. The basic idea is to get as close to the bull as possible and then have the bull chase the cape while the matador stands still. Once the bull passes, the matador will reposition himself for another pass. At some point, the matador, or one of his assistans will stab the bull with the picadillos. Generally there are two sets put in to further weaken the bull. The picadillos are about 24"long, brightly decorated with a viscious barbed point at one end. The matador returns with his cape and teases him further; weakening him further. When the matador judges the time to be right, he uses a sword to hopefully deliver the death blow. The best strike would into the animal's heart. Once the strike is made, the matador's assistants, two or three at a time, tease the bull with their capes hoping the bull with collapse. Once he has collapsed, another stab is made into the brain to finish him off quickly. If it's a good fight with the cape, style, crowd appeal and a quick kill, the matador may be rewarded by being given the ears cut from the bull. A lesser performance may earn the matador only one ear, or nothing. A great performance might earn the matador the two ears and the tail.

The first performances were not what I had expected. The matadors didn't stand while the bull passed and often just ran away. The kills were long and drawn out whilte the bull suffered. No great attraction.

The third matador from Peru, was very young but is very famous in Peru. He is know as a "rock star". He came into the ring with tons of confidence and very smooth moves. He was definitely entertaining without beign outrageously pompous and arrogant. His kill was clean and quick. He was awarded two ears and was carried around the ring on someone's shoulders; the champion for this night's performances.

Putting aside the cruelty of it all, (no small thing), if it was performed well, it was entertaining.

We stayed in the stadium to let the crowd dispurse and were soon drawn into a group drinking beer. We probably stayed and talked for a couple of hours.

For dinner we met Tony and Franco, two brothers from the village that now live in the US. Tony manages a hotel in South Beach, Florida. Franco is a graduate student in Texas studying diplomacy.

Then after dinner we went to the dance. The organizing committee had hired a band from Trujillo for this event. It was very loud and well attended. And as is typical in Peru, you don't stay standing around watching. They will draw you onto the dance floor in not time. Small groups fromed around cases of beer and most everyone danced and drank until the wee hours of the morning. Many stayed until 5 or 5:30 in the morning. We wimped out at about 1:00.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

28th of September

We had a leisurely morning and didn't get out and about until after 10:00. There was a mass at the church followed by a procession through the streets. They took the statue of El Senor del Costado out of the church and walked through town surrounded by much of the congregation and townfolk. A band went with them playing music throughout. Every once in a while the procession would stop and prayers and blessings would be said. Many families had decorated their balconies in celebration of El Senor del Costado and the women had made streamers of flags to hang across the road. A man with a long bamboo pole accompanied the procession. His job was to lift the electrical lines and any other obstructions up so the statue could proceed. The procession itself took about an hour and a half.

Then after lunch there were cock fights. Doug and Ed went while I rested. They only stayed a short time and then left. The Peruvians love their cock fights and they love to bet on them. Gambling is big here. Doug and Ed could now say they had been to a cock fight, and will probably not go to another.

During the late afternoon, we were invited over to Luis' brother's home for "coffee." It was not only coffee, but a full meal with cuy, rice, beans and bread. And yes, these cute little creatures are raised in backyards for eating. Cuy is considered a basic meal for these people.

During the evening we drank beer with our hosts, Wilmer and his wife Magali as well as the mayor of a neighboring town, Luis, and Ed. After dark we went to the square to see the fireworks which were early because of the huge dance being put on. We went back to Wilmer's house and resumed the drinking until 2 a.m. Wilmer was asking us about raising children in the US as his impression was that the family unit was not strong there. He was also asking about what role the Native Americans had in today's society. It was interesting to hear his views and to recognize that his information about the society in the US was limited at best, and often erroneous.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

27 September

This morning Doug and Ed were out and about while I slept in. They went to breakfast with the band. Each day a family hosts the band and the committeemembers that sponsor the activities for that day.

Then they went to Renato's (Luis' cousin's) home for another breakfast. They had a great time; playing with the kids and visiting.

Later in the morning, I joined then and we visited Luis' childhood home. The home has basically been abandoned as his father remarried shortly after his mother died and live in another house. His brother stays there on occasion but there isn't any runningwater. There are people staying there during the fiesta.

Luis' sister became pregnant at 15, which created a big scandle and his parents social standing suffered. Her mother died before the baby was born and the general feeling is that she died of shame. Luis' father remarried within a month which created a chism between the kids and their father. The home has now been put into the children's names (all 6 of them) and they now have to decide what to do.

Then Chelo, Luis' sister took us to the fair. It was very similar to our county fairs; there were artisans showing their work, people displaying their produce and also typical dishes served in Peru. Cuy, guinea pig, was very popular.

After lunch we went back to the fair to watch the marinara dancers; the competition had three age groups. They were impressive and all really enjoyed themselves. Afterward the judges performed which was entertaining as well. Each of the winners received S/. 100 (about $30) and the girl was given a sash to wear like the kind beauty queens wear.

After the dance competition, we watched the Peruvian Paso horse competition. Only two horses were entered; and each had their strong points. Once a winner was decided, each horse and rider showed off the various tricks they had taught their mounts.

Tonight we went to a reception dinner in honor of those that had contributed money to support the fiesta. The reception was held in "La Casa del Maestro", the house of the teacher. It was a large hall with a stage at one end and was built by the teacher's union. The invitation said the reception was at 6. Luis said we'd leave the house by 6:45. "Nothing ever happens

on time," he says. And sure enough, when we arrived at 7:15, there were about a dozen people sitting in the plastic chairs that line the two walls. No tables, no music; just people waiting. On the stage were several women with four or five huge pots. At least two of the pots had been used over a wood fire. Imagine how heavy they must have been! By 8:00 our host arrived, set and things began. First, a toast with sangria; brought around on trays like at communion. Dinner was pork, rice and potatoes brought around for us to eat in our laps. Bottles of beer were distributed and were drank in the Peruvian way; one glass, one liter bottles of beer shared among five to ten people. And finally, shot glasses of "agua caliente" were served to flush out the fat of the pork. This liquor is made from the sugar cane; something like white lightening?

After dinner we went to the town square to listen to the various bands and to wait for the fireworks to begin. The square was very crowded with all sorts of people but I think we were the only gringos. One of the firework displays was in honor of Luis' mother. It too was built of bamboo and had her picture and El senor del Costado on a banner that unfurled as the fire

works went off. There were also several of the paper hot air balloons that were launched.

Monday, October 5, 2009

26 September

We met Luis and Ed McMullen, from Georgia, this morning for breakfast. Ed is a retired school teacher and lawyer who has known Luis for many years. He jumped at the chance to visit Luis' village for this fiesta. The village of Santa Cruz is definitely not on the tourist map and we felt honored to be invited to share this time with the local Peruvians.

Luis said we should bring towels, soap and pillows along with the usual toiletry items. So before we left Chiclayo, we stopped to do a little shopping.

We left Chiclayo about noon. Luis' sister and cousin also joined us. The first 20 kilometers was a paved road that then turned into a dirt road. It shortly became a one way dirt track. Anytime you met another vehicle, someone had to pull off. The trip to Santa Cruz was another 80 kilometers from the end of the pavement. This 80 kilometers is the roughest, curviest road I ever remember being on. It was one switchback after another and in some places the river or streams ran across the road and we forded through. 80 kms in three and a half hours. As the crow flies, I'd wager the distance is at the most a quarter of the 80 kms. Even more amazing, large passenger buses travel these roads frequently from Santa Cruz to Chiclayo. There were parts where it was a sheer drop off on my side of the van; I can only imagine what it would feel like in a huge bus!

Once in Santa Cruz, we were taken to the school that Luis went to. Some time ago, Doug and I had donated some money to the school to help them build a cement patio or courtyard at the school. Previously it had been a dirt area that became muddy during the rains. Ed had also donated some money. We were treated like royalty; seats of honor, toasts, and speeches. The students performed for us; two young children (4th-5th) grade performed a marinara dance that was extremely well done. Another group of 8 students did a folk dance that had some intricate patterns. The school band played and an honor guard presented the Peruvian flag.

Dinner consisted of cuy (guinea pig), rice and potatoes. Afterwards, we walked to the town square. There's a large park in the center. We attended mass, then joined the crowd in the square where another school band played.

Throughout the square and adjoining roads there were stalls selling clothes, shoes, watches; you name it. There was also an area for slot machines, air hockey, and other carnival games.

To top the evening off, there was a fireworks display. This display was like nothing I had ever seen! They build towers out of bamboo. Each level was a hexagon of bamboo panels about a meter high. Once they built one level, they would build and put another underneath the first. They continued to do this until the tower was twenty levels high! Each level had some kind of formation; circles that would whirl, or flowers that would light up; figures would appear or a line of fireworks would go up the center of the tower. On the very top, something was spelled out. The tallest structure tonight spelled; El Senor del Costado. That is the patron saint of the village and in whose honor the fiesta was put on.
There were also paper hot air balloons that were being launched. What a festive evening!
I will post an album of photos of the fiesta on Facebook.