Sunday, January 31, 2010

31 January 2010

We did our usual run out to the property with food and water. Since it was Sunday, the crew wasn't working. Some of them were waiting for a ride into town for their day off.
We met with Georg and Nathalie to go over plans for our trip to the Galapogos Islands. We'll head up to Guayaquil in Ecuador on Thursday, spent the night, and fly to the Island of Santa Cruz Friday morning. We will stay overnight there before beginning our cruise Saturday morning. We are going on a renovated pirate style sailing ship that accomodates up to twelve people. We'll cruise five days and four nights. At this point I'm not sure what a pirate style sailing ship is, but I am going to find out.
We had lunch with our friends Lucia, Feruque and son Feruque in Mancora. The restaurant next door to their apartment serves a traditional Sunday meal of roasted goat. It was very tender and very tasty. I had it with rice and beans; Doug had the goat with a tamale, plantain and rice.
Later in the afternoon, Doug went horseback riding with Caroline while I watched a movie and quilted. Jay cooked an incredible soup with carmelized onions, tomato, rosoto and rice. I made a tossed salad to go with it. As you might surmise, we are not lacking for good and plentiful food here. It is so nice to have so many choices and to experience so many different kinds of foods.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

30 January 2010

We were awakened early this morning with a phone call from Sanchez out on the property. They were out of propane and needed more to cook breakfast. So, we were up and out early. We had one tank in the truck, but assumed there was a second tank. As it turned out, there was a second tank but it was empty as well.
Once out there, we were able to see the completed pour for the roof. The forms around the edges have been removed so we were able to get a sense for how it will look. The supports underneath will remain up for about 10 days so the concrete can cure. Then they will come in and pour the floor. Hopefully all this will be done by the time our container arrives so we will have a place to store our stuff.

My body has been feeling seriously out of whack lately. The Peruvian diet is definitely different than what we are used to. It is very heavy on the starch; a meal often including rice and potatoes in much larger portions than meat or veggies. In the last week or so, we have been eating out with friends rather than cooking for ourselves. Sure enough the diarhea struck this morning and I decided to lay down after getting back to our room. The next thing I knew it was 5 p.m.; I had slept for 7 hours! That's what I meant; seriously out of whack.

Doug went for a horseback ride this afternoon and enjoyed his time with them. It's really wonderful he is able to continue to work with horses. He doesn't mind not having to do chores either.

We will be traveling to the Galapogos Islands next week! Georg and Nathalie have made all the arrangements; we travel to Guayaquil, Ecuador by car, then fly to the island of Santa Cruz and have a five day, four night cruise of the islands. I am really excited. It is one destination I have always wanted to visit and now have the opportunity.

A quiet night tonight. Jay, Caroline, Doug and I sat out front and watched the sunset. Had a good dinner and then relaxed in our room.

Friday, January 29, 2010

29 January 2010

Today was very HOT! We were out at the property by 10:00 this morning. The equitorial sun was very strong and there was very little breeze. When we got back to the room at 2:00 this afternoon, the thermometer said it was 83 degrees with 73% humidity. I actually think the hottest part of the day is just before noon.

Today was a big milestone for the construction. They were pouring the cement for the roof of the service zone. Much of yesterday afternoon was devoted to preparing for the pour. First they built supports for the roof. Across the top of these poles, they laid slats of wood. And spanning the gaps between the boards, they laid the roofing tiles. Between each row of tiles there was rebar. Forms had been built around the edges. Also before pouring, the conduit for the electrical lines were put in. After all this preparation, it was time to pour.

The mix was made in the mixer. Workers filled their 5 gallon pails with cement and hoisted it up on their shoulder. Then they climbed a plank up to the rooftop and poured their bucketfull between the brick tiles. There were about seven workers in the line from mixer, to rooftop, back to mixer. Constant motion. Once they begin this kind of pour, they have to continue until they are done.

Traditionally, the workers get "chicha" at the end of the pour and the rest of the afternoon off. The chicha is a Peruvian drink made of fermented corn; basically a corn beer. We went into El Nuro and Los Organos but couldn't find any chicha. We finally settled on a case of quart bottles of beer.

Today was Georg's birthday. We were invited to El Refugio for the celebration. They had roasted a baby pig in a large adobe pizza oven. The meat was so tender and so moist; probably the best pork I've had. Good friends, good food, good drink.

Georg also has arranged for me to get a Nextel internet connection. Our current system is through Claro. Apparantly, Claro works very well in Lima, but in this territory it becomes very slow and less functional because the Claro towers aren't the same in the north. However, with Nextel, you get the same service here as you would in Lima. We completed the paperwork tonight so should receive the modem next week. Finally, we should be able to use the new computer we purchased in Lima in early January. We've finally figured out that the Claro modem is not compatible with the Windows 7 system.

We also talked to Georg about the use of his house when school starts for his kids in March. He again offerred the use of his vacation home while we continue construction on our house. It will be so very nice to be back out there, in our "own" space. As much as we enjoy Jay and Caroline, we have both found it difficult to find a groove here in Vichayito.

28 January 2010

Today I let Karen sleep in after a stressful day in Talara.

I went into Organos and stopped in front of the little market we have been shopping for the crew, I called for the owner and gave him my list. I then drove back around to the water store and loaded 25 gallons of water. Then back to the grocery market where my order was waiting for me to pick-up. I paid the bill and was gone in less than 1 minute.

On the way to the property I saw an iguana on the rode, it was about a foot and a half long and as big around as my wrist. Jay says there is a larger iguana living in a bush on the side of his property, but we haven't seen it yet.

I arrived at the property to a busy work crew, a load of bricks and a nice day. Part of the crew (5) men are still trying to dig one meter down for the mechanical room for the pool. The pool is (4ft.) 1.2 meter deep and in solid rock. These guys are digging with picks and drill pins driven into the rock with 20 pound double jacks. This room will house the generator, pumps and filters for the pool. Three men are working the re-bar for the roof of the battery storage room and bedroom for the maid. The concrete roof will be poured on Friday. Two men are still drilling footings for the dining room-bar area. These guys are working extremely hard everyday.

I only needed to make one water run today since I made a run late yesterday.

On the way back to Jay's I stopped at El Refugio to see Natalie since she had borrowed our Internet stick. Caroline and I went back to El Refugio at 12:30 so the Caroline and Melany could ride the horses. The girls rode into Organos and back, during the time that they were riding I had a message from a spinal specialist. My back feels much better finally. When the girls got back, Natalie and I got on the horses for about 15 minutes to do a little training. I then got a lead rope on the baby horse and did some ground work with her. Melany and Caroline are both wanting to learn how to start a young horse. We did some softening exercises, picked up all of the feet and did some lead training.

Lupe and her friends, who wanted to come to work for us asked for a meeting at 4:00 this afternoon, We met with them and Karen told all four that we had decided not to hire anyone. There are only two of us and this is our home. At the most I might hire a maid one day a week. Lupe and her fusband then asked for a ride into Vichayito so that they could look for a job while they walked back to Mancora. Lupe has been quite ill and missed a substantial amount of time at work. Her employer cut her back to half days and then will let her go on the 15th of February. Her reasoning was that if she rehired Lupe after such an absence, she would have to extend the same opportunity to all the workers.

Jay, Caroline, Karen and I all went to Jim and Daniella's home for home-made pizza and drank a lot of beer and wine. Karen and I finally got up at midnight and went home.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

27th January 2010

This morning we went to Talara to get the 5000 kilometers service done on our truck. We dropped it off at 8:00 in the morning. Jay and Caroline came with us and so we began to wander through town.

SENASA, the Peruvian equivalent of the department of agriculture, wanted a health certificate for Stormy to be sent to them 15 days after her arrival since we didn't have the original health certificate from the U.S. The vet in Talara gave Stormy a quick once over and said he could write up a letter saying she was in good health, but the only ones who could issue a certificate of health were at the veterinarian college in Piura. We decided not to hassle with this. We seriously doubt they will ever follow up.

Then I went on a search for a new pair of glasses as I have lost my most recent pair. We stopped at a vision center and told the sales gal what I needed. She then walked me over to another office tucked back behind other shops for an eye exam. The exam cost S./15 ($5). The doctor used the typical eyechart with the giant E at the top. He also used a pair of "glasses" that fit onto my face and he could change the lens that went into each side. Once the eye exam was done, the gal from the vision center walked us back over to her shop where we proceeded to pick out frames. The exam was very inexpensive, but the glasses were not.
We then went to the market looking for an embroidery hoop. We went back to the fabric shop and the shop owner was very patient with me. I had a heck of a time describing what I wanted. I began to get frustrated and she just said, be calm, we'll figure this out. Once she understood what I wanted, she gave the spanish words for it and sent me down to the next shop. We never did find an embroidery hoop, but are still so thankful to this woman in the fabric stall.
We finally picked up the truck at 4 in the afternoon and headed home. This time we decided to take the road through Cabo Blanco to El Nuro. The beach road was impassible in Cabo Blanco itself, so we had to circle around to get to the other side of the obstruction. The hillsides were beautiful red rock formations and it turned out to be a very scenic route.
Once at the property, the brick master had built a wall of the pantry and part of the kitchen wall. The workers were also excavating the mechanical room for the pool and for the columns of the dining room.

26th January 2010

We took two trips out to the property with food and water. Our architect, Koki, was there with the engineer and we had a chance to discuss some changes with him. First of all, we are going to put in some glass blocks on the exterior walls of the master bathroom to give it more natural light. We also talked about changing the roof material from the thatch to something that would fit the more modern style of the house. Koki said he would send us some specifics. We also talked about moving the cistern to a different location. They are finding the property very difficult to excavate as it is very rocky, so they wanted to put the cistern somewhere where this wouldn't be such an issue. They have also modified the septic system plan. The ground doesn't absorb enough liquid so they will have to go out toward the road where there's more fill. We also discussed the glass walls and windows. The first meter from the floor will be solid glass and the next panels will slide open and have screens. As hot as it gets here, we want to be sure there is enough circulation to keep things as cool as possible.

The workers had poured the columns for the service zone. We need to have this area completed by the 10th of February when our container is supposed to arrive. We will have to unload the container and store everything in the service building until the rest of the house is ready.

The plumber was working on the plumbing for the pool this morning; laying the pipe the would go underneath the pool itself. The workers also began placing the forms for the columns and plan to pour the concrete roof on the battery storage and the servants quarters on Friday. We took them out to dinner in Mancora and had a good meal.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

24th January 2010

Last night at dinner we met a young woman from Germany. She was actually born in the United States as her father was working there, but they soon moved back to Germany where she was raised. She is an architect living in New York. With the depressed economy, there wasn't much work for her and she decided to travel throughout Columbia, Ecuador and Peru. This was her last night in Mancora before moving on. She was robbed her first day in Mancora. She was walking back to her hotel from a restaurant in town when a mototaxi came by with three men. They grabbed her purse. The purse ended up giving way and her things spilled all over the ground. They grabbed her cash and took off. Fortunately, she was able to recover most of her belongings; including her blackberry and a ring with sentimental value.
Unfortunately, this kind of crime does happen around Mancora. It's tourist town and with this being the "high season" there are many strangers in town looking for opportunities. The police take it very seriously; they recognize that the economy of the town depends entirely on tourists.
We went out to the property this morning with our friends Jim and Daniella. They are from Dawson in the Yukon territory. Jim works in the gold mines and Daniella runs heavy equipment. They're in the process of building their home here in Vichayito. Neither are retired, so they can only spend 4 months a year here.
Jim and Daniella have heard us talk about our property, but hadn't seen it until today. I think they both really enjoyed the site and enjoyed looking at the architects rendering of the finished home. They were also with us when Jay spotted a pod of dolphins traveling north just beyond the breakers. We counted at least ten in the group. So smooth as they move through the water.
We also went to lunch in Los Organos at a restaurant call Bambu. It sits right on the beach at Los Organos with a great view of the fishing pier there and the goings on on the beach. Daniella and I both had lobster in a buttery garlic sauce. Jim had the parihuela; a milk based soup with all varieties of shellfish and seafood. Doug ate a chicaron; typical Peruvian battered and fried fish. It was a great relaxing lunch with good friends.
Today, being Sunday, the workers were not working. This gave us a chance to get closer to the actual construction. Doug was inspecting the work, while I was looking at what they built and putting it into context of the finished house.
One thing we lack here is a mirror. Doug has been unable to shave and I haven't seen myself except in photos for almost a month. However, while Doug was out for a walk, he found a large mirror fragment that he brought home. He uses it to shave, I still don't look at myself.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

23 January 2010

Today's Blaine's birthday. Happy Birthday Critter!

Out at the property this morning the building crew was pouring the cement wall at the back of the lower level of the master suite. The forms were built around the rebar mesh from the other day. There were five guys in continuous motion. They would get a 5 gallon bucket full of cement from the mixer, hoist it up on their shoulder, and walk it over to the top of the form and pour it in. One guy after the other. Every once in a while, they'd fill the buckets with sand, gravel, cement and water to keep up with the supply needed. Sorry, no pictures of this process I forgot to return the card to the camera yesterday.

Doug and Caroline went horseback riding today. Caroline is a high school friend of Jay's who is staying here for the next month. Her family has a ranch outside of Edmonton. They had a great ride inland from the beach.
Later this afternoon, we spotted the vermillion flycatcher as we were sitting on the patio out in front of Jay's. The picture doesn't show how bright a red ths guy is; stunning.
Tonight Jay, Caroline, Doug and I are going into Mancora for dinner. I don't care for Mancora very much as it is THE destination for tourists in this area. There are tons of restaurants in Mancora so the competition is stiff; the really good ones survive, the others change owners frequently.

Friday, January 22, 2010

22 January 2010

Today was a great day. We went out to see the progress on the house and they had laid the bricks for the second lift of the service area. They had also built the rebar reinforcement for the wall at the back of the studio and the forward end of the master bedroom. Each day there is more progress. It is exciting to see. This is the stage of construcion that seems to go quickly and then it seems to slow down when the finish work happens.

As we were looking things over this morning, be saw a flamingo on the side of the road just below our property. What a beautiful bird! The guardian for the property said this was the first time he had seen a flamingo. Generally they don't appear in this part of Peru. They are more common in the south around Paracas, or in the Amazon area. This one bird created quite a stir as the grape vine informed the locals, they all came out to see it.

This afternoon, we put Stormy on a long rope and took her down to the beach. We played in the waves and the long rope gave her some freedom to move about. She still wasn't entirely comfortable in the water. Doug picked her up a few times and walked her into the backwash. He would then drop her into the water as the next wave came in. She ran for shore, but it seemed like she got more comfortable each time. We have been training her to heel, sit, and come. She is very intelligent and picks it up easily. She has also been trained to stay out of the kitchen. We find her a joy; very intelligent, affectionate and fun to have around.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

21 January 2010

At the construction site, the workers have built the first lift for the walls in the service area. It is beginning to look like what I expected. We are still waiting for the plumber to get here from Chiclayo, but there is a big transportation strike going on right now. Getting a ticket to get from Chiclayo to El Nuro just hasn't been possible. Who knows how long the transportation strike will go on for or how long we will have to wait for the plumber.

The stem walls were being built for the kitchen, dining and living area. Many of those walls will be glass, but the storage and pantry will all be walled in.

On our way out to the property we watched fishermen move one of their boats from the beach into the water. They used logs to roll it, but had to lift the back end of the boat to get the rear log out. Definitely a team effort.

After a quick stop in town for our own groceries, we headed "home." I had bought two boxes of wine and set them on the floorboards in the back seat. Didn't really think about it until I glanced back to check on Stormy and she had picked one up, set it on the seat and chewed a hole in the bottom of the box. Wine was spilling all over and she was lapping up what she could. I rescued the box before it made a huge mess. We always carry a couple of water bottles with us in the truck so we drank one and then put the wine into it. There was, of course, some left in the box so I had to hold it in such a way that it didn't leak. By the time we got back to Vichayito, I was sticky, but had managed not to drip on the seat. Funny dog. She's now chewed a shoe (which was reasonable repaired by a local shoemaker), my glasses (which Doug rescued and untweeked), and the wine box.

We ate dinner tonight with Georg and his wife, Nathalie. Georg wanted to talk to us about taking the next step toward having title to the land. He says the process can take two years to complete, but once done we will own the land, not merely possess it. Georg is willing to do the process and since he has the connections to make it happen, we are more than happy to allow him to do it. Once he has title, we will go through another legal procedure whereby our land will be separated from Georg's and we will have our own title. Having a title to your property is not a given here. It does at least double the value of your property.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

20 January

This morning at the construction site, the workers had started on the walls for the service zone. The back and side walls were about a meter and a half tall. They told us that the walls for this building would be completed within three days. They would then do the floor and finally the roof. This is the building we need to have completed in the next couple of weeks so we can store the our belongings from the container. The container is due to arrive on the 2nd of February, and depending on who you talk to, it arrives either in Lima or Paita. The movers have gone through some transitions, so it is hard to know what the channels of communication are. We're hoping the original promise of door to door service still applies and the movers will take it through customs.

This afternoon, I laid out the backing, batting and quilt top on the floor of the kitchen. It was the only space large enough to do this. We are living in a space just shy of 200 square feet. I got the layers basted together and all is looking good. I want to head into Mancora tomorrow to a shop that has yarns, thread and beads. I'm hoping she will also have a hoop so I can begin quilting.

Also this afternoon, Caroline and I went to Mancora for a yoga class. The yoga classes are offerred at Samana Chakra, a hotel we've stayed at several times. It turns out that this week is a workshop for yoga instructors but we were welcomed into the class. The instructor is from India but currently living in Lima and is up here for this workshop. The poses for this class were done using ropes anchored on a wall, chairs and blocks. It certainly wasn't your typical yoga class. Challenging but not organized for beginning yoga students.

This is also where we originally met Lupe, who has begged us for work. Her original request grew into a request to hire four workers. We have told them we do not need or want four workers, but will hire only two. So far they have not listened to us and all four are still looking for employment. When we left Samana Chakra this evening after the yoga class, the guard at the gate told me that Lupe's husband, Frank was waiting at the corner. Sure enough, as I approached the corner for the turn off to the highway, Frank, Mario, his wife and child were there waiting for me. Apparantly, Lupe has been ill and has returned to her hometown of Piura to recuperate. Frank, Mario and his wife wanted to talk with me about hiring them. I gave them my phone number and told them we would be willing to talk with them. Doug and I are not hiring anyone until May and will only hire two people. The longer this goes on with Lupe and Mario, the more convoluted it gets. I suspect we will not hire anyone of them and will end up hiring someone from the mountains that we don't have a personal relationship with.

Afte we

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

19 January 2010

The 19th, the day Nextel bills are due. I have been trying for the last four days to get on line and pay the bill. Each time I tried I got an error message telling me my identification code didn't exist. I tried all the numbers I could find on my paperwork from Nextel, but none seemed to work. Remember, there is no postal service here. So, I call the bank and in spanish try to explain that my identification code doesn't exist, so what IS my identification number. After several tries, I understand it is not the bank's problem but Nextel's. I remember last time I paid the bill, I called Nextel and chose several options on their menu and they sent a text message with the invoice number and amount. So, I call Nextel, and again in spanish negotiate through several options. Finally in the fourth call, I get the right options, they send a text message, and all goes smoothly from there. I realized the bill payment option from the bank works well, but each time you pay you have to have the invoice number. Nextel doesn't have just one account number for me. Each month it will be a different ID number.

On Sunday, we went up to the property as usual to deliver water and groceries to find all the workers in clean shirts, all dressed up to go to town. As is typical in Peru, they all climbed into the back of the truck and off to town we went. All in all, there were 15 of us. As we came through town, we were stopped by the police. The men in the back promptly jumped out and walked away. The police kindly told us we couldn't carry that many people in our truck. We nodded our heads, si senor. A local joke is how many can you get into a mototaxi? The same goes for other vehicles. Being gringos, I guess the same rules don't apply to us.
Yesterday, we took Stormy down to the beach to play. She still wasn't sure about the water moving into her space. But as we played, she got her feet just a tad wet. We had a great time playing the old game of approaching the water with the backwash and then running to get ahead of the incoming wave. She is such a good girl; she is a great match for us.

Yesterday we drove to Talara primarily to pay our Claro (internet) bill and to figure out why the modem does not work in our new laptop. We bought the new laptop when we first arrived in Lima after the holidays, but haven't been able to connect with it. I talked with Toshiba for some time last night and they thought it was compatibility issues with the modem. The modem works great on this computer, but the new one has a different operating system which might make a difference? I don't know but would sure like to get it resolved.

Once we got to Talara, I was informed that my voucher from November was not an official voucher and was no longer good. The young gal that helped us that day apparantly just pocketed the money and made up a voucher. Our friend Luis told us we should take the voucher to the bank. We'll try it next month.

Also on the way to Talara, the thong on my flip-flops broke. I tried walking with it as best as I could. At one point, I took them off and went barefoot. No problem until we got out of the shade and the cement was HOT. I skittered across it as gently as I could and hopped over a curb onto some grass. I could hear some locals laughing and could only laugh with them. So on I stumbled.
Today I took the thongs and another shoe Stormy had chewed to the shoe maker. He looked at them and smiled. Told me to pick them up tonight. S/.15 ($5).
I was also looking for a fabric store as I had completed a quilt top and needed backing and batting. In the central market which is a rabbit warren of stalls, we actually happened upon a shop with floor to ceiling bolts of fabric. Only about half of the shop was visible from the aisleway, and as I explored I found loads of fabric. The owner showed me the batting once I described what I was needing and then led me to cotton fabrics for backing. It was amazing; certainly not something I expected to find in the market. My next step is to lay the backing and batting out with the top and baste them together. Then I can begin the actual quilting.
Out at the property this morning the workers were building the walls of the service area with bricks. A large load of bricks came yesterday. The truck wasn't able to get up the hill or through the gate, so they unloaded the truck across the fence. There were four workers, two in the truck, two on the property. They unloaded those bricks one by one from the truck and stacked one by one on the property. Today as they were building, those bricks were brought over to the work site one by one by wheelbarrow. They work like a well oiled machine. Each has his own job to do and when the brick layers need bricks, they are already there for them.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

16 January 2010

With the increased humidity that comes in summer here, the bugs and mosquitos are out in force. We bought mosquito coils to burn at night and bug repellent to sleep with, but there were always those few bugs that manage to find your ear or eyelid when you really want to sleep. So, we fashioned a frame for a mosquito net we had brought to Peru with us. We went to the local contractor/hardware store and bought lengths of PVC pipe. We tied these together and then hung our net. Haven't been bothered since. I think the netting has been treated with a repellent as well.
This purple building is where we are staying while construction continues on our house. The room we are living in is very small, but has a good sized closet. The bath has vey HOT water 24/7 except when the power goes out. The power has only been out twice in the last three weeks, and only for a couple of hours. The kitchen is in one of the ground floor rooms. It is also scantily equipped; two cooking pans, a rice cooker which doubles as a crock pot, a small refrigerator and a single burner to cook on. We do have a full set of dishes, silverware and glassware. Jay, our landlord, is so easy going that we end up sharing meals and food and everything balances out. The top deck is a great spot to sit as the breeze blows through and you have a great view of Vichayito and the ocean. Sunsets are spectacular!

At the construction site, the workers have poured the foundation and stem wall for the service area.
Yesterday they were digging the footings for the master suite by hand. Remember, this is very rocky soil. I was amazed at the size of rock they removed from the slope by hand. Today they were filling these footings with concrete. These guys just keep plugging away, 6 days a week. Tomorrow when we go out to deliver groceries and water, they will probably all hop in the back of the pick-up, all 12 of them, and catch a ride into town.

Nathalie, Georg's wife, and her two children are staying in their vacation home next door to the property. They have a swimming pool up there, but the water isn't very clean. For some reason, they have not been running the pump to filter and recirculate the water. Georg's son, Mathies and a friend, decided to go swimming. They looked at the water in the swimming pool and decided that wasn't where they wanted to go. So, they went down the hill onto our property and jumped in our "pool." The workers were incredulous...."What are you doing? This isn't a swimming pool!" The tank which you can see on some of the pictures is a storage tank for water which the workers use for the construction; mixing concrete, etc.

In our quest for buying groceries daily for 15, we've discovered a new little market stall. Sanchez, the guardian for the property, went with us one day as I didn't know what some of the things on our list were, and because we were unsure where to buy in bulk. This little market has a huge variety of beans, lentils and rice; sweet potatoes, potatoes, yucca; corn and many vegetables and fruits. We now go in there daily, hand the clerk our list and he fills it. A typical order includes 10 kilos of sweet potatoes, 3 kilos of chicken, S/.2 of limes (25 count), and several cans of tuna. We're spending about S/.50 to S/.60 ($18 to $20) a day for food for the crew. At the most with food and water we are spending $35 a day for 3 meals a day for 12 workers, plus the cook and her husband. So we cart all this out to the property every morning. I find a slip of paper between the bamboo slats of the wall which has the next day's grocery list.

Friday, January 15, 2010

15 Januay 2010

Several times in writing this blog, I have talked about how we complicate our lives. Getting this dalmatian from the US and importing her to Peru was certainly a complication. However, now that all the documents are done, and filed in the proper offices, and she is free of customs, she is a delight. Yes, in many ways she requires additional considerations in our life; but she is such a delight. She is so affectionate and so willing to learn it all seems destined to be. We took her to the market today; there were many new sounds, smells and things to take in, she seemed a bit overwhelmed. She keeps close to our side and seems very comforted by that. Being the newbie on the block, many of the other dogs initially bark at her. She is a bit frightened by them, but she handles it well. Once they know her, I don't think it will be a problem. I took her to the beach this afternoon for a walk. She wasn't quite sure what to think about the waves coming into the sand where she was standing. We started to run along the beach though and she really enjoyed the interplay of water, sand and wind. She met a friend on the beach; a weimerand (sp?) who approached to investigate. They both wanted to play, but Stormy was limited by the leash. I'm very reluctant to let her off leash until I know she will respond to a command from me.
This morning when we went to the market to get food and water for the workers, we went to the same market that Sanchez took us to. We give them our list of provisions and they fill it. This little stall outside of the main market has most everything you could want. The advantage to this stall over the others is that they deal with large quantities of potatoes, rice, lentils and have fresh veggies as well. Each day, Juana, our cook out at the property, gives me a list of the things for the next day. I don't think she can read or write, but each day a list is tucked in the bamboo wall of the "kitchen" that lists the things needed for the next day. I can take this list to the stall and the proprietors will complete the order and send me on.
The number of workers at the property has increased to 11. They have poured the foundation for the service building and are building up from there for the walls. They have the footings for the master suite dug and put rebar grids in the bottom. They are then ready to pour the concrete footings for the master suite. I am amazed at how much they accomplish each day. The ground is full of rocks and isn't the easiest to excavate. These guys do it by hand. Day in and day out!
Because we now have 11 workers, the amount of water consumed each day has increased. Today we bought another 30 gallon can for water. Up to this point, they have had two 20 gallon cans that we've filled daily for drinking water and cooking water. As the number of workers increased so did their demand for water. As of today, we are taking close to 60 gallons of potable water out to the property each day.
As we say here, poco a poco. The construction progresses a little each day.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

14th January

Today was Stormy's first experience in the market. She was a bit overwhelmed with all the different sounds and smells and stayed very close to us. While there, we were approached by a man who also had a dalmatian; an eight month old male. Quite a coincidence.
While out at the property, we watched the workers dig out the footings for the lower level of the master bedroom/studio space. They were also putting in the forms in preparation of pouring the foundation for the service zone and the kitchen/dining area. I am amazed how much earth these guys can move in a day. The ground is hard and full of boulder sized rocks. The workers just keep plugging away.
This afternoon, we hung out in our room enjoying the breeze coming off the ocean. I gave Stormy a squeeky toy and about died laughing. It didn't take her long to figure out how to make it squeek. She continued to make the toy squeek in all sorts of ways and would pounce on it when it got away. She went at it for more than an hour before I finally took it away from her.
Doug's back has been hurting so he went down to the spa here in Vichayito to get a massage; his second in a week. It seemed to have helped some, but he still seems to be in a lot of discomfort. The manager at the spa said there is a women in Mancora who is a "bone specialist" that Doug may try if he doesn't get any relief soon.
Beautiful weather again today; hot at about 11:00 a.m., but the breeze off the ocean keeps things comfortable. Highs today were about 88 degrees with humidity around 70%. Each day we appreciate our view from our property more and more. The view from our room in Vichayito is nice, but not nearly as wonderful.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

13th of January

I've been off-line for a couple of days because I went to Lima to pick up our dog which was shipped from Houston. It is difficult to describe the difficulty and incredibly complicated process this was. Stormy was shipped from Houston on the 11th of January. I was told to make arrangements before she arrived to clear her through customs. In actuality, I couldn't do anything before she actually arrived. She came in about midnight on the 11th so we were unable to initiate any process before the 12th. A Peruvian friend of mine who lived in Michigan for 5 years went with me to help translate and smooth the process. We arrived at Continental Airlines at 8:30 in morning when their offices opened. Their documents were to go to the Department of Agriculture of Peru and to the Customs Agents. All in all, we spent 8 hours shuffling between 18 offices to get stamps, to pay fees, and get approval on various documents. The biggest hang-up was that the department of agriculture here insisted on the original international health certificate which had been made in the US. However, Continental Airlines in Peru only received a copy of the certificate. Apparantly the original never left Texas. Continental Airlines wrote a letter pleading with the Department of Agriculture of Peru to make an exception as they had lost the originals. We were assured that with this letter all would be well. The Department of Agriculture was not impressed and were not willing to sign off on the documents. They finally agreed to let us have the dog given two options; 1) we could obtain the original health certificate and send it to them or 2) after 15 days of quarantine, she could be examined by a Peruvian veterinarian and given a health certificate. We took the 2nd option as it allowed me to receive the pet and get her through customs, and later get the health certificate. The bottom line at this point is that she is officially in quarantine, but in my custody. The health certificate or original documents will need to be sent to the Department of Agriculture here for her to be legal.

This whole process was incredibly complicated and time consuming. We have heard since that there are "fixers" for hire who will do all the running and paperwork for you for a fee. At this point, I think they are worth every penny they charge! Given that they know the routine, know the clerks in the various departments, they can get the process done in a fraction of the time. If we had only known!
She arrived with a camoflage (sp?) scarf around her neck and a very special pedicure. All of her toenails were painted pink! Our Peruvian friends thought I was crazy for buying a dog in the first place. (There is an abundance of dogs as the Peruvians do not believe in neutering their animals.) Then I was considered even more crazy for importing the dog to Peru. (for all the dogs available here, couldn't I just find one?) Then when Stormy arrived she was adored for her cuteness, but oh how they laughed at her pedicure!
However, I've arrived back "home" and am not anxious to travel away again. Life here is so relaxing...why would anyone want to take on the hassle?

Now that we have her, we find her to be very gentle and affectionate. He has had no formal training but obviously has the desire to please. She will be an exceptional companion.

For my part, I am really happy to be back "home", even if that is a temporary stay in a room of a friend's "hotel." Things seem to be so much more down to earth here; it is what you make it. Even though we have yet to be in our own home, the area is our home.

We continue to take groceries out to the cook on our property and work continues. Tomorrow they will have the wood needed for the forms for the swimming pool. And in the next couple of days, the plumber will arrive to lay the pipes.

While we were out there today, the workers were digging out the slope that will form the interior wall at the back of the second level. It was incredible to see the huge rocks they were excavating by hand. Manual labor, or hard labor for convicts in the stories, has nothing on these guys. Their work is steady and each obstacle is met with the same patience as the rest of the work.