Thursday, September 24, 2009
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
- The pickings at the markets are best in the morning. The best looking fruit, vegetables, chicken and fish are the first to go. Most venders start packing up around noon.
- If we leave the house to go into town, Sanchez will come in and clean.
- One of the two grocery stores in town close on Mondays. But since both stores are owned by the same owner, if something is not available on Monday, they will unlock and get it from behind closed doors.
- The fishing boats head out under sail at about 5:00 a.m. and begin to come back in starting about 3 p.m. and continue until dark. During the day many of them appear meerly as dots on the horizon.
- Be patient. Sit and watch and you will be rewarded; whether by whales, dolphins, seals or birds. Something new every day.
- You must be getting comfortable with the language when you start talking to the dog in Spanish.
- Riding in a mototaxi can be akin to a roller coaster. Sand drifts across the road at beach level produce some slides and slips. When going up a steep hill, after revving up to gain enough inertia to get to the top (hopefully), it can get quite wild and crazy. Sometimes we even cheer on the driver and mototaxi.
- Cold showers are so bad. We do, however, wait for the sun to do whatever warming it will do, and take showers in the late afternoon.
- Cooking by gas is a lot faster than cooking on an electric stove. I do miss the broiler though.
- A walk each day leads to a new discovery.
- There are mysterious deposits of abalone shells on certain parts of the beach. There are also some rather strange looking sea creatures that have washed up on the beach.
- Crabs don't appreciate sharing their holes.
- Life can be simple. I think we complicate things with all our stuff. Right now, our "electric hour" is devoted to getting on line, charging our electronics. If we didn't have all this stuff, it wouldn't bother us to be so limited on electricity.
More tomorrow, as our electricity is now out. Hasta luego.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Today, Perico's catch was rather small. He still gave his friends some of the smaller ones and then will take the rest to town. He showed us a red colored fish whose dorsal spines looked quite lethal. When the fin was fanned out, you could not push the frontmost spine flat to the back of the fish. However, if you pushed the second spine down first, the other followed quite easily. He has given us the names of the fish, but they aren't sinking in yet.
Then this afternoon we went into Los Organos to buy bus tickets for our upcoming trip to Chiclayo and further to Luis' home village for their spring celebration. Two tickets cost us S/. 50 ($16.80) for what will be a six hour drive. We'll leave Los Organos at midnight and arrive about 6 a.m. We were very thoroughly warned by our taxi driver that Chiclayo is a dangerous place for foreigners; especially at the bus station and at night. Our driver wanted to be sure I understood (which I did after the first five explanations) that he stopped someone along the street that spoke English and Spanish and asked him to translate for us!
We visited our friends at Samana Chakra for a bit and then brought them back up to the house so they could see our land.
Monday, September 21, 2009
We also went into town to see about taking the bus to Chiclayo at the end of the week so we can visit Luis' home village. So far no luck finding bus service from here to there.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Perico came this morning, but decided it was too turbulent for lobster fishing. Doug went down to see him and Perico took him for a walk south on the beach. Around the next point is a cavern in the side of the cliff. Perico carved Douglas' name and the date in the roof of the cavern. He'll have to take me down there someday so I can see it. For not speaking the language, Doug has made many friends and seems to communicate quite well. For example, he and Perico had a discussion about the respective hearing losses. This is an amazing talent that baffles my mind.
Friday, September 18, 2009
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
This little guy came to visit last night. He's about three inches long and has a stinger. We were happy to escort him outside.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
We watched our friend Perico fish from his raft throughout the morning. When he came in about 10:30, Doug went down to help him beach his raft. Sanchez and one other local also met him as he came in. He gave each of them some fish, but Doug declined as Perico had given us so much the day before. Without knowing each other's language, Perico and Doug agreed that neither one of them could hear well.
Doug is studying his Spanish quite a bit and has made huge progress. He is developing a vocabulary for things and has learned how to ask what things are called. As you know, he is not at all shy about trying to communicate with others regardless of language barriers.
I spent a good portion of the day designing a tapestry. I want to incorporate three aspects of life; the sky, the land and the ocean. Here at the ocean these might be represented by the pelican, the lizard and fish. Elsewhere in Peru, those things are represented by the condor, the puma, and the serpent. I've alway been fascinated by Escher's tesselations so am trying to incorporate this as well. If nothing else, it occupied my mind for much of the afternoon.
The topographer never returned to place the stakes or give us the final map. Fortunately the architect can proceed without the topographer's final report.
The architect also asked to redesign things to fit with the land samples and existing elevations. Could be interesting, but we'll have to wait 4 or 5 days to see the plan.
Monday, September 14, 2009
We awoke this morning to a beautiful sunrise at about 6:30. All was quiet and peaceful. Maybe a bit too quiet as the morning wore on. By 11:00 both of us had "cabin fever" and decided to head into town and not wait for anyone else to show up.
We met with Sr. Espinosa, the lawyer, and let him know we were living here and beginning the process of building our home. He gave us some good information about the excavator, Mario. He recommended that we get everything in writing and clearly spelled out as to what was included in his price. He also recommended a local architect who perhaps would be more accessible to us as things progressed on the project.
We then went to visit a friend of Georg's we met on our last trip. Perico, a fisherman and elder of the village, welcomed us with open arms. We brought him four liter bottles of beer, one of which he insisted we share with him even though we said no. He went ahead and opened a bottle and then said he didn't want to drink alone! After I conceded, he told me I was a true Peruvian. We also asked him where to buy fresh fish. He didn't really answer us, but gave us two fish and a kilo of shrimp. He fishes everyday out in front of the house. He told us if he saw us and he had some fish, he would bring it up to us.
Then off to the market. We bought veggies and fruits, a chicken and a dozen eggs. One of the fruits we bought, we have no idea what it is or how it tastes, but we'll find out.
We also bought notebooks, a couple of sketch books, masking tape, a spatula and story books to help us learn the language.
We met our driver in front of the market and back to the house we went.
Mario, the excavator, came by in the afternoon with his operator. They were here to see how much time they thought it would take to level the property to one level. They were also looking to see if Mario's equipment here would be sufficient or whether we would also need a backhoe to move the biggest rocks. Mario and his operator thought the job could be done in three days. If they felt they needed the backhoe, Mario had a nephew close by he could call.
We then checked with the architect, and he told us not to do anything until the final report had been sent from the topographer and just before construction began. Both of us were disappointed we would have to wait, but have a lot of faith in our architect. Supposedly, the topographer will be out tomorrow to set the stakes to mark the boundaries and give us his final report. He DID tell us he would be here Saturday or Sunday, so only time will tell.
The caretaker's dog was hit by a car today and was tumbled a bit. Nothing serious, but a couple good cuts and a sore shoulder. He didn't like the peroxide we put in his wound to clean it, but accepted the neosporin rather well.
Sunday, September 13, 2009
Doug and I took a hike up the hill behind the house just to explore. Up over the crest is a large expanse of white pebbles that look like they are quartz. Georg gathered these pebbles to landscape part of his yard.
I think laundry will become part of the morning routine. If we can do a bit every day, it won't be such a chore. The t-shirts and light stuff is no problem, but jeans are difficult! Doug's first comment to me when I put jeans on this morning, "Remember you don't like to wash jeans."
At about noon we went in to El Refugio for lunch and electricity. We also went a bit further up the beach to a spa and both had 1 1/2 hr. massages. Afterwords, we had HOT showers. Yahoo!
Then we went back to El Refugio and decided to eat dinner there too since by the time we got back to the house it would be dark.
Saturday, September 12, 2009
Friday, September 11, 2009
Doug has been fighting an outer ear infection since we left Lima. We've been putting hydrogen peroxide in his ear to fight the infection. It has been swollen shut for about five days now, but he says the pain has subsided. He's not yet willing to brave the local clinic and doctor so peroxide it is.
The peroxide has become quite useful. We use it in the water that we have boiled for at least fifteen minutes for an added protection against whatever. So far neither one of us has taken ill, so it must be working.
Before leaving home, we bought a Sawyer filter system which is guaranteed to filter out biological, bacterial and viral contaminates in any water. Doug spent the better part of a day modifying one of the big jugs of water to accomodate the filter. We had everything working and thought we were pretty smart. This morning Doug had a cup of coffee and it tasted terrible! When I got up, he asked me to sample the water. I took one sip and spat it out. Yuck!! So, the lesson learned is that even though you filter the heck out of water so it will be safe to drink, doesn't mean it will taste good!
This evening we went into Mancora to see our friends Lucia and Ferucko who manage the resort called Samana Chakra. We went out to dinner with them to an Italian restaurant off the beaten path. It was superb! Mancora, being a resort town, tends to be noisy and crowded. There are all sorts of restaurants and bars along its main drag but they are right on the PanAmerican Highway and are so small you feel like you have to eat quickly as people are waiting for your table. This restaurant was quiet and peaceful and we were able to interact with the owner. j Good friends, good people.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
I had some good quality time at my loom this afternoon. I sat and wove while listening to a story on my i-pod.
This afternoon we went into Los Organos to meet with the topographer. He had used the coordinates in the original plan and found them to be off by a few meters. Apparantly the original plan was done using GPS, which in this area can be off by quite a bit as there aren't enough satelites. So the topographer's measurements are much more exact. However, he will have to move some of the property bounderies to correct the inaccuracy of the first. Then he will come out and put in the stakes for the excavators. We bought bright yellow paint so we can paint the stakes.
On the way home in the mototaxi, we passed another mototaxi that had two six foot tunas on board. The tails were hanging out the side and the nose was sticking out on the other side!
Once home we scrambled to cook dinner and take showers before our "electric hour." We are trying to capitalize on what little electricity we have. So far we haven't figured out how to charge all our electronics in that bit of time. I think we average about half an hour each evening.
We cooked up some more of the tuna we bought. I put it in a fry pan on top of slices of lime and then slowly cooked them. The tuna was so good. The left-overs will make good tuna salad.
We've realized that our refrigerator isn't functioning very well. It is cooling a bit; but probably won't store food for more than a day or two. The idea of buying food on a daily or two day basis seems like the best plan for now.
We've been discussing the possibility of wind power as the wind is fairly constant; and certainly up on the hill behind us it is constant. We'd like to take a look at the solar panel Georg uses here, if for nothing else to know what not to do.
We have also talked with various people about buying a vehicle. Our friend Luis in Lima has been checking out the ads in the newspaper for used vehicles in good condition. We are a bit nervous though about driving about here as we've been stopped so frequently by the police.
Gringos are natural targets, I guess. Maybe once they know we are living here things won't be so unsettled.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
This morning at 6:00, Doug went down to the gate to wait for the bread man. He comes by on his bicycle every morning and sells fresh bread. Mmmmm good.
Most of this morning for me was spent doing laundry. I used the kitchen sink (which is about the size you would find in the typical camp trailer) and boiled water on the stove. I could only do two or three garments at a time. I finally worked out a system where I used the rinse water from one load for the soapy water for the next. Water is quite precious here and all we have is what is in the tank mounted on a tower. Everything is gravity fed from there. I took things outside to put on the line. Between the first and second loads, Sanchez had added clothespins and brought us more to use.
Sanchez is so good to us. We asked him for a broom once, and he came in to sweep. While we were gone today, he cleaned the bathrooms and emptied the garbage. He always comes by in the evening to tell us the lights are on.
Much of Doug's morning was devoted to trying to modify a 20 liter water jug so we could use it with our water filtration system. The system is supposed to filter out biological, bacterial and viral contaminates in any water. Once filtered, we should be able to drink the water. He got everything hooked up but didn't have enough pressure to prime the system. Back to the drawing board!
Some men from Talara were suppose to arrive this afternoon to look at our property, but never showed. Luis, from El Refugio, did come and install some different batteries for the collection of solar power. So far tonight we've had lights for an hour!
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
We also bought shrimp ($6.50/1/2 lb.), chicken, cauliflower ($1/kilo), tomatoes ($.15/1/2 kilo), avocado ($.60), oranges ($.90/lb), a dozen eggs ($.90). There was so much to choose from, it was amazing.
The topographer came Tuesday morning to survey the land and get elevations for the different levels. He spent all day working out in the hot sun with two assistants. We brought them water and lunch which wasn't expected but definitely appreciated.
Monday, September 7, 2009
The rest of the day was devoted to measuring out the property lines and marking the for the topographer who is supposed to come in the morning. We also laid out where the house and swimming pool would sit. At this point our property is at three different levels. Originally, we bought two plots, each having been leveled out separately. Then we moved one of the property lines to make the property a bit more usable which then took in land at a third level. The topographer's job will to determine the elevations of each and determine where it should be leveled to for one level throughout.
We've also started a compost pile. We worried about neighborhood dogs getting into it as we doubted they ate anything other than scraps from the table. So our compost pile is now buryed under some rather hefty rocks.
The caretaker for the property took very good care of us today. He swept the house, gathered the garbage, brought me screwdrivers to put my small loom together and came to tell us when the electricity was on.
After dark, we had half an hour of electricity before it went off again. That precious half hour goes to charging cell phones, computer and other electronics. Luis never came up today to install the newer batteries, as the generators for the hotel he manages were not functioning and he had to sent them to Lima for repairs.
I did manage to set up my small loom. I started planning out a project to make some washcloths as these seem to be an American thing. I only got so far before darkness came.
As for plumbing, it is standard not to flush toilet paper as most sanitary systems can't handle it. There are alway small cans for the disposal of TP. However, one of us forgot the routine tonight and the one working toilet is backed up. Ahh, the wonders of Peru! This will have to wait until morning, as we have no lights and no tools to fix it.
Sunday, September 6, 2009
In Los Organos, we went first the home of the topographer. We hired him to do the elevations of the property for the architect. He'll be out there on Tuesday morning.
Also on Tuesday morning the person who does the soil testing will be out. His job is to determine where the bedrock is so the architect can design the footings for the house.
Then we were off to the grocery store. This place was about the size of the typical mini-mart at a gas station! Even so, we were able to get the staples, fresh meat, vegetables, and fruit as well as soaps and laundry detergent. We also needed towels for the shower, so we walked down the block to the local market. The market is a large space where various venders have set up stands. I suspect you can find almost anything there; clothes, shoes, jewelry, electronics, backpacks, lotions, toys. We found towels and also bought batteries for the flashlight and a "coffee pot." The coffee pot is a small glass vessel with a screen cylinder sitting on the top and extending into the pot itself. You put the coffee into the cylinder and then add hot water.
We then went back to the house to cook some breakfast. Sanchez had brought us a small canister of natural gas so we could cook. Still no refrigeration available.
After breakfast I unpacked and tried to organize our stuff. Thankfully, Georg and Nathalie had cleared out closet space for us.
About noon, Luis Torres arrived. Luis is the manager of the hotel Georg owns in Vichayito called El Refugio. He brought us a large canister of gas so hopefully we can get the refrigerator hooked up. He also explained that the electricity was powered by solar panels but that the batteries that should store energy during the day were not working well. He will bring us a couple of batteries tomorrow so hopefully it will extend our time with electricity in the evening a bit. He also talked about getting a small generator for us, but I'm not sure how this will happen as he also said he didn't have one to loan us. My Spanish is still lacking!
I returned to El Refugio with Luis so I could access the internet and charge both computer and phone. Along the way, we discussed how necessary a vehicle would be for us. I gave him an idea of what we wanted and he'll look around for us. How would we ever do all this without friends here?!?
So here I sit in the dining room of El Refugio listening to the music on the stereo writing my blog. I've been contemplating the change we are making. I've always thought that Peru is a country of contrasts. There is the dessert along the coast that in parts are desolate and in parts are lush with crops of sugar cane and rice. In the mountains you have some spectacular scenery and amidst it all there is such abject poverty. There are magical sites like Macchu Picchu and inner cities that look like war zones. And here we come; adding to the contrast I'm sure. We'll build a large home with many conveniences that most don't have, hire a maid and maintenance person and live like royalty. Both of us are looking for opportunities to give back to the community and want to contribute as we are able.
We met with the maestro first and he gave us a price that was double what we had expected; and it didn't include the roof or the materials. We were a bit shell shocked by this as we thought this would be our cheapest option.
We then went to the architect's office to meet with him. He laid things out for us in terms of what needed to happen and in what order, time frames, and what his package included. Once again, the price was considerably higher than we had anticipated. Coqui, the architect, was very thorough and we liked the way he interacted with us. The best thing about Coqui's proposal was that he took care of everything.; all the materials for construction, the crew, their lodging during construction and hiring other contractors. When he is finished to our satisfaction, all we will have to do is move in. At this point, we decided to go ahead with the ground samples, topographical study and leveling of the land.
We then drove on to El Nuro and arrived at Georg's house about 7:30. Sanchez, the caretaker, opened the gate for us and let us into the house. He made our bed and welcomed us. The electricity only lasted about half an hour; then we depended on flashlights and candles to get settled in for the night. The master bathroom toilet was not functioning, but the other bathroom was. Not all the faucets delivered water and the stove and refrigerator were not functioning. The only temperature of water was cold. So rustic indeed!
Friday, September 4, 2009
We left Huanchaco early this morning and started our drive to Chiclayo. Just as we were getting onto the PanAmerican Highway, we were pulled over by the police. At various spots along the highway they set up checkpoints and will wave you over to the side if they want to. In this case, they told Luis that the windows on his van were too dark and thus illegal. Luis said this was the first time in 5 years, since he bought the van, that anyone said so. Luis argued his point; the policeman said that we would have to go to the police station if we continued with our objections. After that, Luis spent another twenty minutes or so conversing with the policemen before offerring them a bribe of S/. 20. (Twenty soles worth a little less than $7 US) We then continued on our way.
About twenty minutes into the drive, we passed the same pilgrims walking alongside the road carrying the statue. We figured they must have walked though the night to get that far!
Another hour or so down the road, we were pulled over again. For the same reason! His windows are no darker than the average car; not like the ones that are obviously tinted. We surmised they were cracking down on the transportation of drugs and the dark windows made it difficult for them to see who was inside. Luis was able to talk his way out of this one though and we were soon on our way. We had no more trouble along the way to Chiclayo.
Once in Chiclayo, we picked up Luis' uncle who recommended the "maestro" (building contractor) who had built his home. We contacted the maestro so we could interview him. He was on a job laying tile for a kitchen so simply arranged to meet with him later in the day.
We then went to visit Luis' cousin, Jorge, who is an architect. We found him on a job, but he took time out to look at our plans. There was also an engineer on site who gave his imput as well. We liked Jorge a lot and gave us an approximate cost for the project. He would take care of everything; testing for the footings, redesigning the plans to accomodate the footings, buying the materials, building and finishing. Everything! He took one set of prints and told us what needed to happen before he could do the redesign and begin building; testing for the footings and leveling out the land.
Once finished there, we met the first maestro, Francisco. He looked at the plans and said he could handle the project. He needed to have plans which included the electrical wiring, water lines, and gas lines. And, of course, he wanted them in Spanish! Imagine that. We think his bid will be lower than Jorge's, but will have to wait until tomorrow to find out.
Each have their plusses and minusses. Jorge would do the entire project. Also he and his engineer would oversee his maestro throughout. I also think the architect has some design ideas that will be interesting to see. He already suggested wood decking around the pool and carrying the same flooring from the entry through the foyer and on outside. Francisco would be cheaper and his work is good. We would be picking out everything for the house as we would be buying the materials. However, Francisco would build strictly from the plans; not offerring any suggestions for design.
Finally in the afternoon, we found a hotel and have been watching the US Open tennis on TV while we discuss our options.