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.

25 September

Victor drove up to the house at about 9:00 p.m. We had both laid down to rest; I was listening to a story on my iPod and Doug rested but didn't sleep much. When 11:00 came around, we gathered our stuff, knocked on the car windows to wake Victor and we were off to the bus station.

The bus didn't pick us up until 12:30. We climbed up the stairs and found our seats. We had to wake up a couple men who were in our seats before we could sit down. Virtually everyone had reclined their seats to sleep. The seat bottom moved forward while the back reclined. The head of the seat in front came into your lap while your feet scooted underneath their seat. It looked a lot worse than it was. I slept most of the way while Doug remained more vigilent. The bus itself was a double decker; seating on the top and cargo underneath.

We arrived in Chiclayo at 6:00 a.m. There were numerous taxis and mototaxis awaiting the bus but since Victor was so insistent we not take one of these, we went into the station itself. Office personel didn't come in until 8:30-not wanting to wait, we called the hostal and they recommended a taxi service. As soon as we got to the hostal, Victor called to be sure we had safely arrived. We napped for a couple of hours and both enjoyed a HOT shower.

Chiclayo is a world different than the beach area. It is on the coast, but is a port town. It is definitely a bustling city with crowded cobblestone streets and pedestrians going every which way. As we maneuvered our way around, we also had to watch out for mortar falling from construction above the sidewalk, mounds of sand and debris across the sidewalk and into the street, and uneven sidewalks. Taxis, as opposed to mototaxis, are the norm here. You see many private cars, but they are still outnumbered by the taxis.

We met with the architect at 11:00. He had totally redesigned our house. He gave us four reasons for the change; 1. The original design did not take the topography of the land into account. It currently has three distinct levels that vary by 2 - 2 1/2 meters from one another. The ground is very rocky and hard so it would be very costly to level it completely. 2. The original did not take the view into account. Doug and I had already recognized this and talked about rotating the plans accordingly. 3. He also felt the original plans were a bit disconnected. He felt that typical Peruvian beach houses were designed in a different style. 4. He took into account the wind patterns for this area.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

25 September

Victor drove up to the house at about 9:00. We had both laid down to rest; I was listening to a story on my iPod and Doug rested but didnt' sleep much. When 11:00 p.m. came around, we gathered our stuff, knocked on the car windows to wake up Victor and we were off to the bus station.
The bus didn't pick us up until 12:30. We climbed up the stairs and found our seats. We had to wake up a couple of men who were in our seats to get them to move. Virtually everyone on board had reclined their seats to sleep. The seat bottom moved forward while the back reclined. The head of the seat in front of you came into your lap while your feet scooted underneath their seat. It looked a lot worse than it actually was. I slept most of the way while Doug remained more viligent.
We arrived in Chiclayo at 6:00 a.m. There were numerous taxis and mototaxis awaiting the bus but since Victor was so insistent we not take one of these, we went into the station itself. Office personel didn't come in until 8:30. Not wanting to wait, we called the hostal and they recommended a taxi service. As soon as we arrived, Victor was on the phone checking up on us to be sure we had a safe arrival. We then napped for a couple of hours and both enjoyed hot showers.
Chiclayo is a world different than the beach area. It definitely is a bustling city with crowded cobblestone streets and pedestrians going every which way. As we maneuvered our way around we also had to watch out for mortar falling from construction on the 2nd floor above the sidewalk, mounds of sand & debris, uneven sidewalks. Taxis, as opposed to mototaxis, are the norm here. You see many private cars but they are still outnumbered by the taxis.
We met with the architect at 11:00. He had totally redesigned our house. He gave us three reasons; 1. the original design did not take into account the topography of the land. It currently has three distinct levels that vary by 2 to 2 1/2 meters from one another. The ground is very rocky and very solid so it would be very costly to level it completely. 2. The original design did not take the view into account. Doug and I had already recognized this and talked about rotating the plans accordingly. 3. He also felt the original plans were a bit disconnected. He also felt that typical Peruvian beach houses were designed differently. He also took into account the wind patterns when he came up with his design. We agreed to meet when we returned from Santa Cruz and he would have a floor plan for us.