Thursday, July 16, 2009

July 1
We finalized the price for the land this morning and spent the rest of the day arranging for a wire transfer of the money. I took two trips to Los Organos where the closest fax machine was available, several international phone calls and several e-mails to get things done. George spent most of the day with us but also with the lawyer drawing up the contract and getting copies of the supporting documents. He didn't return to El Nuro until about 10:30 p.m.
July 2
I confirmed that the money was successfully transferred into our account in Peru and then took off for Talara to get the cashier's check from the bank. We then came back to the lawyer's office to finalize the contract. It is customary to have a private contract of sale between the seller and buyer and a separate contract reflecting a lower price (and therefore incurring lower taxes) that becomes public record. There is a risk of discovery in that Georg will have to prove to the tax authority how he came by the income from the sale. We opted to have only one contract, totally above board, not wanting there to be any hassles or confusion between the authorities and the gringos.
We then went over to the notary who certified the contract. I gave Georg the check and the deal was done. We now have possession of an acre of land in Peru. In the documentation we have a fifteen year history of the land and its possessors. Ten years is the landmark time frame as it is generally considered enough to claim ownership. In the years to come, we will have to be able to prove possession of the land by asking for an inspection, paying taxes, maintaining photos and a presence.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

June 30
We drove to Talara (approximately 80 km south) this morning to open a bank account and to meet Georg's wife Nathalie. After the holiday this was the first day the bank was open. It was also the end of the month when bills need to be paid. In Peru, you don't write check or have on-line bill pay, but you go to the bank and make your payments there. Inside there are two automated stations for paying bills and there were two lines extended across the bank's interior and a crowd at the door trying to get in. If you wanted to see a teller, you had to take a number and wait. In order to open an account, we also had to take a number to see a bank representative. The bank was incredibly busy!
It wasn't as easy to open an account as we had been led to believe. Because we are foreigners, Georg had to "recommend" us to the bank and vouch for us. Since we didn't have a physical address or phone number in Peru, Georg allowed us to use those of El Refugio. He basically ended up sponsoring us. At any rate, we now have a savings account with a debit card in Peru. We also have access to our account on line and not only do we have a PIN but we also have a digital code device whose number changes every minute. So when you log on, you not only enter your pin but also the number showing on the digital device at that time.
We then took Georg out to lunch before going to pick up Nathalie at the airport.
On our way back to El Refugio, we drove along the ocean front through Cabo Blanco where Ernest Hemingway wrote the Old Man and the Sea. We stopped once again at the property to show Nathalie what we were thinking. Negotiations continue and hopefully will be finalized in the morning.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Almost as soon as we got there, the procession began. The lead boat carried musicians who played throughout, and towed a raft with a statue of St. Peter. Everyone else fell in behind and the parade went down the coast a bit and then looped back north before returning to the pier. Some people carried big bouquets of flowers that they set adrift in memory of family members, relatives, or friends that have lost their lives in the sea. These bouquets were placed in the water after their boat had circled St. Peter and a prayer said.

Once back on land we gathered in the central square for more festivities. Georg bought a case of beer to thank those who allowed us on board. We then met the chief of police for the entire area, the mayor of El Nuro and other dignitaries.

As we were sharing these beers, the festival organizers began some contests. Each participant paid so much and the winner took all.

The first contest was a foot race to the end of the pier and back.

The next was a drinking contest; the drinker stood on a cart and was to drink a liter bottle of beer while the cart was in motion. The winner was the person who drank the bottle without spilling a drop, or falling off the cart first.

There was a race for the women where they had to move a stack of bins from one of the square to the other one at a time.
When we left in the afternoon, they were playing musical chairs.
This evening we went into the resort town of Mancora to visit Carrie as she leaves for the states tomorrow. We ate dinner at Samana Chakra and were surprised to see Lupe serving dinner. I met Lupe a year and half ago when I stayed there with Mandy and her friend, Elena. We had a lot of fun with Lupe and thoroughly enjoyed seeing her again.
We later sat out on the beach with a group of Carrie's friends around a bon fire.

June 29th

After breakfast this morning, Georg drove us to El Nuro for part of their celebration of St. Peter's Day. We arrived on the pier at El Nuro to find a large crowd gathered along the entire length of the pier. We met up with one of Georg's friends who took us through the crowd, down some steps and onto9 a boat. There were probably 40 or 50 boats decorated with the Peruvian flag and the streamers of triangular flags. We had about 15 people on our boat; others were considerably more populated and yet others had only 2 or 3 aboard.

Friday, July 10, 2009

In the early evening Georg took us into Los Organos to see the fireworks in celebration of St. Peter, the patron saint of the fisherman. We drove along the beach in the "boogy". It was a

fun ride but by the time we got there, we were covered with sand.

We first stopped at the home of Perico, a long time fisherman and patriarch of a large extended family. He was originally a butcher but after 25 years in the business he had a heart attack and decided to do something he loved. He supports the entire extended family by fishing. He fishes every day from four or five in the morning until around 10a.m. from a raft made from 5 lightweight logs about 12 feet long. His catch is mostly calamari and shrimp. He also helps some of the other fishermen unload their catch directly to the beach and thus avoiding the tax collected on the pier. In exchange, he often gets a fresh tuna or marlin.

Perico is one of the elders of the community; well known and respected. He is the "go to" guy when you need something as he has the connections. We were honored to be invited to share a beer with him. He started to send his daughter for glasses for each of us, when we said we enjoyed the Peruvian custom of drinking beer with friends. The custom is this; the host opens the bottle and pours a share into a glass. He then passes on the bottle while he enjoys his drink. When he is done, he flicks whatever remains in his glass to the ground and passes the glass on to the person holding the bottle. Then this person pours himself a portion and passes the bottle on, etc. The only change in the routine is for a woman; the glass is poured for her and passed to her. The bottle is then passed to the next person in line. Our host then served a platter of calamari and shrimp from his catch that day. Despite the fact that the calamari were whole, tentacles and all, it was very tasty. He also served us a bowl of chifles; a traditional treat of banana chips.
Things were relatively quiet in Los Organos until about 10:30 when more and more people moved into the street and walked toward the town square. The fireworks were supposed to start at 8pm but didn't actually happen until around 11:00. At this point a huge crowd of all ages had gathered around. In the square itself there was a special band that had been brought in for the festivities. The organizers were selling tickets into the square itself for dancing and the true fiesta. It was midnight when we left and they still hadn't let anyone into the square; the party hadn't really started.
There were food stalls, souvenir and carnival type stalls. The roads into town were clogged with mototaxis, cars, and people trying to get through. We tasted anticuchos (skewers of beef heart) that had been cooked over a hibachi type grill.

June 28th

Another quiet morning relaxing and enjoying the surroundings. We took a long walk along the beach and scattered the crabs. It's amazing how much sand those little guys can kick up!
In the afternoon I went to Origenes, a spa on the beach. I had a Chakra Dhara massage-1-1/2 hours of pure indulgence. It started with a ritual washing of the feet and then a head massage with acupressure. This was followed by a deep massage with warm oils. And best of all, she spent a lot of time on my hands and feet!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

On our way to the property, Georg told us the story of his uncle's demise. His uncle was killed in a car accident many years ago along the old Pan American Highway. As is common in Peru, a small memorial was built to mark the spot. This memorial looks like a miniature church with a large cross on top. As the story goes, the locals became very wary of the site as strange noises and whispering voices were reported during the evening and after dark. To this day, the spot is locally known as the German's corner and drivers avoid the spot. Drivers often refuse to drive by it at night; and if they do, they double their price.
After lunch with Georg, we went into Los Organos and met with the topographer (equivalent to a surveyor) who then adjusted the property lines to fit our plans. In the end we'll hopefully buy approximately 3775 square meters. After visiting with the topographer, we saw the lawyer who is going to draw up the basic contract of sale.
Since Monday is a holiday, we'll go to Talara Tuesday to open a bank account. We will then have money transferred to cover the purchase. Once the money is in this account, we will have the bank certify a check for the purchase price. Then both the buyer and the seller go to the notary, exchange papers and money and the deal is sealed. However, we still haven't settled on a price.

June 27th

Today we drove up to the property in El Nuro. Georg put on a fabulous BBQ lunch; fresh tuna bought locally from the fisherman in the village. The tuna steaks were put on a wood grill over slices of oranges. The meat was soooo tender it truly melted in your mouth. Georg's chef also served a version of ceviche, salad, potatoes, sauces, wine and beer. We sat outdoors looking out over the ocean. It was a bright, sunny day and was just so amazing.
We then walked the land with Georg and tentatively measured out space for the swimming pool and house. We had originally though to buy all four lots totalling 5400 square meters, but once out there, the first two seemed adequate.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

June 25
We woke up to an overcast day and a super calm ocean. It wasn't until midday that the sun broke through and burned off the clouds. We sat out by the pool most of the day; reading, kniitting, swimming, and relaxing. A tough life, I know.
We were surprised by a visit from our friend Carrie. She is a yoga instructor that has been at one of the resorts in Mancora for the last three months. She travels all over the world to various resorts where she stays free of charge, teaches yoga to the guests, and searches for waves to surf. Her next stop is to an island off the coast of Spain. Her husband is a coffee guru and travels all over the world for business. We have enjoyed listening to her stories of their adventures.
Georg arrived later in the afternoon. We visited a bit before dinner and then ate with him. He was born in Peru to a Peruvian mother and a German father. They attended school in Peru through secondary school, and then he, and his two brothers, were sent to Germany for University. All three brothers studied to become printing engineers and moved back to Peru where they are the only three printing engineers in Peru. It was while he was in Germany that he met his wife, Nathalie. Both Georg and his wife fluently speak four languages; Spanish, German, french and English. I suspect they both speak other languages as well. George had just returned from China; to which Peru exports many products.
After dinner we sat around a fire and talked while roasting marshmallows with three other guests. One couple live in Lima; she works for an airline and her husband owns a restaurant. The other gentleman works for Skanska and the oil companies here. We drank a traditional drink, an algorrobina, which is made from the fruit of the algorrobo tree.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

June 24,09
We left our house in Molalla at 3:30 yesterday morning. We arrived at El Refugio in Vichayito, Peru at 8:30 this morning local time. Overall a 27 hour trip door to door.
Our driver from the airport, Victor, got us to within 50 feet of the gate to El Refugio only to find the road blocked by a huge mound of sand. The bulldozer driver cleared a path for us, but Victor was soon stuck in the sand that remained, tires buried. Victor then takes off on foot in the direction of the resort, cursing the bulldozer and its driver, leaving us in the car. After several minutes Victor returns with a a chain, has it hooked up to the back bumper, and the bulldozer then pulls us out. Once out, Victor rams into the bulldozer, curses once again, jumps out to pull the chain off, and backs out the dirt track to find an alternate route.
We later found out the sand is an ever-present hassle to deal with during the winter months. The resort sits right on the beach and the winter winds blow the sand into drifts against the fences and across the roads. The sand is constantly moving and the winter winds only makes the sand more invasive.
Once settled into our bungalow, we nap and try to re-energize after the long trip. This and a shower, without hot water, and we're out to enjoy the sunshine. During the afternoon, we lazily sit by the pool and watch the birds ride the air currents. They hang in the air, sailing like a kite in the wind with no need to flap their wings. They appear as if in a photo as they seem to remain motionless in the sky above the ocean. Later, we watch a group of pelicans, perhaps thirty in each grouping, for a line and then skim over the surface of the ocean as it rolls with the waves. They dance along and at some signal unknown to us, they fly upwards, regroup and start skimming again. A few fishing boats are in sight, spreading their nets for another catch.
The sun sets at about 6:30 and we marvel at how the colors change. Even the shape seems to morph from round to oval, then a squarish shape and finally disappears beyond the horizon, leaving its glory alive in the clouds for several minutes more.
Dinner consisted of seafood; chicharon (battered and fried) for Doug and a chaufa (seafood fried with rice-Chinese style?) for me. I found a tiny squid, body and tentacles intact, amongst the rice. It was a bit disconcerting to see and recognize the whole animal, but when eaten in its entirety was quite tasty.