Thursday, September 24, 2009

24 September

This morning we went down to meet Perico as he came in from fishing as has become our daily ritual. Again today his catch was small but he did pull a seahorse from his shirt pocket to give to me. Another fisherman came in with a sack of shrimp and at least one large lobster.
Later this afternoon we sat out on the patio and watched the whales go by. This calf was very playful and would come out of the water and then splash on his side. Mom was close by but not as visible.

Tonight at midnight we leave for Chiclayo. The bus leaves Los Organos and will arrive in Chiclayo at 6 in the morning. Hopefully tomorrow we will meet with the architect and see his design. We've been really anxious to see it and want to begin moving forward.
Saturday we will travel to Santa Cruz, a small village in the mountains which is Luis' home town. They are having their annual celebration of the beginning of spring. We plan to be there the better part of a week. We don't plan on taking any electronics with us other than the camera which means we'll take lots of pictures, but not write on the blog until we get back.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

23 September

Some things we have learned so far;
  • 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

22 September

This morning we sat out front and watched some very large animals in the ocean. We could see the spray from blow holes and saw some very large dorsal fins but no flukes. We suspected they were dolphins but they seemed so large. Our fisherman friend said he had seen the whales throughout the morning. Oh so much fun.
We went down to meet Perico when he came in from his morning fishing. It still amazes us how he can support so many people by fishing from a very crude raft. You can see the large paddle he uses to maneuver. As he came in through the surf, Sanchez, another friend, Doug and I met him to help him beach his raft. Perico comes in as far as the water will bring him and then a log is put under the front. They push the raft up onto the log and leap frog using two logs to its spot high on the beach.

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

21 September

This morning we met Perico as he came in on his raft. Sanchez and another man were there to meet him as well. As he came into the beach, the guys laid out the logs to roll the raft up onto the beach above the tide. He had several kinds of fish in his bucket, including an eel, some ling cod and others. He told us the names of the others, but they soon disappeared out of my mind. One thing at a time. He gave the eel and a couple of small fish to Sanchez's friend who proceeded to gut the eel on the beach. The sea birds circled above just waiting for an opportunity to swoop in and enjoy the left-overs. I thought I had pictures of all this, but later found out I didn't have the memory card in. Darn!
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

20 September

We took a walk today south along the beach toward the desalination plant. We then continued south to the cavern that Perico had shown Doug. It was amazing how much the landscape changed once we rounded the point. The rock formation were beautiful with lot of color. After rounding the point, we also saw a lot of crabs; these were bigger and colored a bright red. As we walked, we saw masses of them scurrying across the sand and diving into various holes.
The cavern was quite spectacular; so beautiful in its smooth lines and openess. So simple.
Along the way, we passed the spot where Perico beaches his raft. It is amazing to think he not only supports his extended family from this raft, but also provides fish for others in the community like Sanchez and us. I have yet to watch him launch in the morning or come in mid day but Doug has been down quite often.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

19 September

We sat out on the wall overlooking the ocean this morning and watch a couple of whales play in the ocean. Sometimes we saw a flash of white, so thought they might be killer whales. Later we saw the flukes of some blue waves as they were playing in the water. Even later in the day we some more. Seeing the huge splashes and those flukes rise up out of the water and come down for another splash is so amazing. We spent a lot of the day just watching. Unfortunately they were too far away for photographs. We decided that a telescope may be in our future.
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

18 September

We finally got the topographer back to finish his work. He laid out the boundary lines and marked them with rebar posts and yellow paint. So, we now have the property accurately laid out.
Our next step is getting the redesign from Coqui, the architect.
We watched some of the fisherman cast their nets this afternoon. There were two dories, each with two men. They were using a plunger to make a popping noise at the surface of the water. In Alaska, when my first husband, Rod, fished, they would use a plunger to scare off the seals so they wouldn't get tangled in their net or eat the catch. Sure enough, we soon saw sea lions close by. The fishermen brought in their nets and moved on to another location.
Our friend, Perico, didn't show up this morning. It seems curious to us as he tells us he goes out every morning without fail. Hopefully we will see him in the morning.
I worked some more on my tapestry design. Finally, I was able to get a tessellating lizard that I liked. Now I am on to the pelican....
I am getting used to cooking with gas; a totally new experience for me. It is especially challenging since we don't have pans that sit flat. I will be so glad to have my own cooking utensils in several months!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

17 September

We had another visitor this afternoon. I was sweeping the floors and moved some clothing and there was a scorpion! We escorted him outside and over the embankment. I then shook out, inside and out, the clothes that had been left on the floor. Lesson learned.

This morning we went into Los Organos for some groceries and some other items. We bought a broom and dustpan, and various other staples for the house.
We also went to the National Bank to pay our Nextel and Claro bills. Nextel sent us text message a couple of days ago to remind us that our bill was due on the 19th of September. We found out the amount of our bill by dialing a code on the phone. We then took the account number to the bank, they looked up our account, and we paid in US $. Our Claro account, which is for the internet, we also paid in the same manner except it was in soles. I guess in an area where there isn't any postal service and where most people don't have personal computers, this is the best way to get bills paid.
We also had water delivered today at the house. The truck filled the two tanks up on the towers as well as two tanks on the ground. It cost us about $100. We'll have to see how long the water lasts before we have to replenish.
We bought some beef at the market today. It was chewable, and had some flavor, so we didn't put it on the bottom of our shoes. For whatever reason, good beef is hard to come by here. Argentina has good beef, we hear. We'll have to figure out how to try some.
In eastern Oregon, we saw elk and deer in the back of pickups as the prize to a hunt. Here you see fish. This morning on our way into town, we saw a marlin in the back of a pickup. It was so big that the nose and head was leaning up over the cab!
Pelicans fly by on a regular basis. This one was approximately 30 feet from Doug when he took the picture. They generally come by in flocks of eight to forty. It is always fun to watch them as they skim the water; over the swells without ever touching the water.
Every try tessellating a lizard? Can't imagine tessellating a pelican.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

16 September

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.
A very quiet day; weather and activity wise. The wind was gentle and we chilled.
The sunset came about 6:15 and we sat out to watch it. We also watched the pelicans and some of the fishing boats heading back in.
Life is tough.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

15 September

Another quiet morning. The wind picked up throughout the morning and by afternoon was quite strong. The flies were terrible as well. I took a short nap after lunch and woke up to "thwack!", and then another "thwack!" Doug was on a swatting rampage. The seemed to multiply as the day went on and both us swatted away. Finally after dinner, we sprayed with the deadly flying insect spray available here and went for a walk. Now that it is after dark, the wind has died down and the flies seem to be under control.
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

14 September

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

13 September

Today was mostly overcast and quite a bit cooler. We did have a few sunbreaks which were nice, but not beachy weather.
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

12 September

Today was a very quiet day. The people who were to do the soil tests were supposed to be here by 8:00 this morning. They did finally arrive at about 11:00 and set up to take their samples. At one point, they had their core drill stuck in the ground and were trying various methods of getting it out. The foreman told us there would be no issues building on the property as it was solid ground. He also told us his price would be much cheaper than he had estimated. He later called the architect and told him to move ahead with his design so obviously the samples never made it to the lab.
This afternoon, Doug and I sat out on the wall at the property line and watched the pelicans and shore birds skim the water, dive for fish and hoped for a whale. During the day we noticed several areas of intense activity; the birds were circling in swarms and the water was agitated. It was cool to see the flocks of birds swoop and change directions and then dive seemingly in unison. We also watched the fishing boats coming back into the harbor with their sails hoisted.
Even though it was a quiet day, one huge step was made toward beginning construction. The next thing to get done is for Moscol, the topographer, to move the property lines and mark out the lines for the excavator.

Friday, September 11, 2009

11 September

Today was a very quiet day. I did a little bit of laundry this morning and then wove for the rest of the morning. I finished a washcloth on the loom and just have to hem it before it will be put to use.
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

10 September

This morning was more laundry and then had some down-time as we waited for the excavator for the third day in a row. We decided to give up on him and invited a neighbor to bid the job. Probably better in the long run; using a neighbor.
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

9 September

We are still trying to adjust to darkness, and thus bedtime, as early as 8 and waking up early to utilize the daylight. The sun goes down about 6:30 and by 7:00 it's too dark to do much. The sun rises a bit before 6:30 but we have light by 6:15.
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

Today we went into Los Organos to buy groceries. We decided to brave the local markets instead of going to the store. The market is situated in a large warehouse type building with various stalls throughout. There were vegetables, fruit, eggs, meat, chicken, fish and whatever kind of food you might want. Everything is open air, full of people, and bustling. We started out at one of the fish vendors as he had tuna. For S/.26 ($7) he fileted the fish (2 kilos) into slabs.

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 mototaxis definitely outnumber cars and trucks here. They are basically a rickshaw on a three wheeled motorbike. They are a bit slower than a car but are considerably cheaper to hire. They aren't afraid to go anywhere; PanAmerican highway, doesn't seem to matter. However, there is a memorial casita alongside the road into Vichayito, the town where the resort is, most won't go by after dark. The casita was built many years ago in memory of Georg's uncle who died in an accident on that spot. Over time, rumors have surfaced that the site is haunted and people have reported hearing voices there at night. Alongside of most roads here you will see these casitas. All of them have a "little house" built with a religious statue of some kind inside. Some are about the size of a small doghouse, while others are big enough a man could stand inside. Some are simple, many are quite elaborate. I noticed our driver crossing himself when he passed a casita in memory of a friend.

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.

Some of the cactus are in bloom as it is the beginning of spring here. The other bushes around the house are also in bloom.

And here's Doug checking e-mail by candlelight. Last night we only had 15 minutes of electricity so couldn't get everything charged. I'm once again writing at the resort using their electricity. We brought all of our electronics with us to charge!

Monday, September 7, 2009

7 September

Wow, what a learning curve I experienced today. We have a bank account in a Peruvian bank so that we can tranfer money from the US and have it available to us here. The account also has the equivalent of a debit card we use to make purchases. After we had contracted with Coqui, the architect, for the soil samples and the redesign accordingly, I promised to send the money electronically. Easy enough, right? No. first of all, I forgot the 6 digit password to enter into the account. (This is different than the four digit number I use for debit purchases.) So, after trying three times, I was barred from entering our account until the next day...(that was yesterday.) So this morning I tried again, but the password still wasn't right. The information on the web page said to call the bank if I had forgot the password. So I call...remember everything is in Spanish, rapid Spanish. After several, "no comprendo" (I don't understand) I finally got all the security questions answered and then was told, (I'm sure,) what to do and "have a nice day." Well nothing came in the e-mail; so I waited and waited. Later, I logged in again and found a button for creating your password. That done, I finally log in but before I can initiate any transfers, the page times out. At this point, I give up. I will try later. This evening after dark and when we had electricity, I logged on again. This time I got all the 6 digit password correct but it asked for another 6 digit number. This number is on a electronic key issued by the bank when we set up our account. This number automatically changes every minute or so. I punch in the number and, sure enough, it changes between the time I get it in and can click on the "next" button. Once more I go back to the electronic key and wait for it to change; knowing I now had a minute to complete the process. Finally all was done; money transfered.
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

06 September

This morning we called Victor who has a car service for transport to and from airports in the area. We used him on our last trip here to get us around. Fortunately, he was in the area and came to pick us up to take us into Los Organos so we could shop for groceries and towels. We talked with him about hiring a car to provide transportation for us until we bought our own vehicle. He said he would talk with a friend of his that lives in El Nuro to see if he would be available. Victor lives in Mancora, so his services would be more expensive because he had further to travel.
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.

06 September

We met Luis for breakfast and discussed our options concerning the maestro and the architect. Luis recommended the maestro as we knew his work to be good and he would probably be less expensive. We shared our concerns about the lack of eye contact. Luis thought this was a matter of respect; but we didn't buy it. Perhaps he knew we didn't speak the language well and so chose to deal with Luis.
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

Blog Search

4 September 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.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

3 Sept. 09

We arrived in Lima just before midnight on the 1st and got through customs, immigration, and to our hotel by about 1 am. After a long awaited horizontal sleep, we headed out with our friend Luis to find cell phones and internet access. Nextel phones was a relatively simple affair but had to use Luis physical address as we don't have a postal address in El Nuro. Unlike the states, you don't get your phone immediately at the store. We will have to pick up our two days hence in Chiclayo.

We went to Claro to get the device we needed to connect to the internet. Once again, Luis stepped in as they required proof of income to be sure we could pay for it. The internet access is provided by a modem that you plug into the side of your computer. It's pretty cool to be able to use the internet while we were traveling in the van!

If we ever decided to run off, Luis would be in trouble!

Later that afternoon, Edinson, my Spanish teacher, came by the hotel and shared dinner with us. Not long after dinner, Georg showed up and we were able to go over the house plans with him and ask questions from our long list. Georg has the contacts and he was very helpful in giving us advise.

Thursday we were up early and on the PanAmerican Highway north. The entire coast of Peru is a dessert so we traveled through expanses of sand dunes. At different points along the way the sand had blown onto the highway and workers were shoveling it off by hand. I imagine their jobs are secure as drifting sand seems to be quite a problem along the ocean beaches. As it is still winter here, there has been some misty rain falling and some valleys were green. We had some beautiful views of the ocean.

Along the way we encountered two groups of pilgrims walking along the side of the highway. They were wearing purple robes and carrying a statue of Jesus. They were also carrying small backpacks and sleeping rolls. They told us they were walking to Piura which is more than 1000 kilometers from where we encountered them! Many of the religious take on these pilgrimages as a penance or in the hopes the Lord will grant them a wish. For example, if a member of the family gets cancer, other members of the family and friends may take on a pilgrimage.

We stopped for lunch at a Chinese restaurant in Chimbote a little after one o'clock. Chimbote is a fairly large city and port along the coast. It wasn't very clean or prosperous and apparantly the crime rate is quite high as well.

At about 4 in the afternoon we stopped at a hostal in Huanchaco. It was still overcast but the surfers were still out trying to catch a wave or two. We'll head out to dinner here pretty soon, and will probably turn in rather early. Tomorrow will another early start.
The long reed canoe like boats leaning up against the wall are used by the local fishermen. They sit astride the boat and fill it with their catch.