Friday, April 27, 2007

i'm up in the internet cafe of Trotamundo's and outside in the plaza its a totally crazy scene! today is the day of the big hoopla to encourage all who have not voted, to vote so to make Machu Picchu one of the 7 NEW wonders of the world. (i already voted!) i headed over here and encountered a huge parade including practically every school, all the kids in their respective uniforms, some dressed as Incas, some carrying the rainbow flags, dancers, groups of campesinos, mamitas, business women, and men. yikes, a crowd, and nearly impossible to get through!! there is a formidible sounding announcer i can hear from here introducing all the groups and talking about the wonder of Machu Picchu and Cusco, it being the navel of the world, (in spanish, el ombligo.) i saw some signs encouraging a yes vote for the site because it will then be better protected. i could go for that. but yikes, to think of more tourists here?! hmm. regardless of my opinion, many, many people here get by because of tourism. so you can vote if you like by going to

Ok. the weekly report! for some reason its not easy to write. it was a busy week, some things that are happening are incredibly promising. some however have succeeded in making me a bit nervous as to what the outcome of our project might be... i think at one point i have alluded to the fact that one has to be alert, keep their eyes open and as well acknowledge even with the best of intentions, things like this are not just in our control because we happen to carry the money. i will explain and hopefully by the time i complete it, i will regain my faith in it all working out as well as it possibly can.

so i think i left us off where we were headed to c'orao last sunday to help pave secure a tour group to regularly visit the market there called Purikuq. and we did it!! as it turned out a woman from the states runs this tourist agency and has groups come to peru every other week, once tourist season starts up. she had been to bigger markets in chinchero and pisaq and was quite impressed with how mellow ours was. and of course she especially liked the idea by bringing people there she was supporting actual families, and the women of those families who leave their village to tend the market for a week at a time. and if you check out the photos, you can see they do incredible work and that it is indeed a beautiful site!!

well onto sipascancha. we had set up a nice plan where we could just rent our own combi and driver and take all of us, inc. edy numero uno straight up to sipas along with our rocket and chimney for the model. previously i had asked the site to be ready, for 40 adobes, a sack of ash, dirt for the mud, and a couple of helpers. well of course what happened was this: first our driver was late and drunk, and managed to lose the key, perhaps the van, and some important card. pave was aghast. even tho we arrived to edy's very late, he was just getting up and they were just finishing the welding of the little top for the chimney!! (la hora peruana?) we then ended up paying alot of money to get us all up there by way of one taxi from cusco to pisac, and another up to the mtns, as well as holding that taxi there to wait for edy to construct the stove and get him back to cusco!! oh well. as you will see, it worked out.

so we arrived----was the site ready??? no. were there adobes? no. was dirt nearby? no. was there ceniza? no. was anyone ready to help? no. what was clear was that a meeting was also happening nearby at the same time. so, to give everyone the benefit of the doubt, perhaps they were waiting for that and had no idea of what my request had been of the president the previous week? ayayay, the problems of not always understanding each other.

so i say,¨donde estan los adobes?¨ (where are the adobes??) there is no answer and no one clearly paying any attention. i say ¨piensas esta cocina caera´ del cielo como magico o con la ayuda de todos???¨ (do you think this stove will fall out of the sky like magic or with the help of everyone??) again no answer but definitely a chuckle or two! i find out the plan had been for each woman to carry an adobe to the site. good god. but the women were at an interchange of some sort in puno involving microfinance. excellent but did not solve our adobe problem! so i look around and see some off by a path and say, ¨de quien estas adobes???¨ (who owns those adobes??) a little peruvian guy indicates its him. i say, ¨yo pagare' por estas adobes, si yo tengo que. vamos ahorita por los adobes!! (i¨'ll pay for the adobes if i have too, just get them NOW. please!!) so at the mention of money they all hustled. i was mad but also wanting to NOT have to pay edy more to stay longer. so once the adobes were there, they ran for the dirt. and then pedro showed up and i asked him to help edy. thankfully i was seeing a bit more in the way of motivation, at least from a few men. it took 3 hours to finish it and i must say it's a beautiful model!! and once everyone saw it there was a huge amount of interest. in fact we all marveled at how we boiled 5 liters of water in 12 minutes! the meeting continued and more came over a took a peak.,. then they put on 50 liters of water to boil to make avena, on oatmeal based drink for all. however to boil this took almost an hour. but noticeably less in the way of wood.

well, the biggest potential problem in having bought the adobes is setting some sort of precedent. nino, our teacher, who is doubling as our helper, and pedro, our new helper for nino both assure me people are making their adobe and saving their ceniza. we hiked up and tried to talk to the president about it but will have to wait till our next week. i am hoping to make it perfectly clear that is the last time that will happen!! and to involve him in our plan to get them constructed in a month!!

so in spite of the women being gone, we still got a reasonable number of interviews done. and the stove is really quite beautiful. and sleeve got to participate in el dia de la vaca with adela and all the little children!! on the down side, he started showing signs of giardia. we were both a tad discouraged by the fear that the community may not be as motivated as c'orao , for instance. and that everyone wants us to be godparents! and that giving things away is not easy. and that you may encounter a response one is not quite prepared for. many villagers came seeking medical attention. i should say, practically pleading for medical attention and not interviews. they call me ¨doctora´in spite of my telling them over and over again i'm a nurse and can't always help them with what i don't know about. (previously this was my role and its hard to make them understand now i'm also here for the stoves....) i saw a little old woman, the wife of a man i had taken care of before. he told the teachers he trusted me more than the doctors and just wanted me to visit her. his clothes were threadbare and he cried when i told him i couldn't help. others presented with back problems, a young couple with a baby with diarrhea, and a man with a report of an ultrasound he had done where the doctor said all that could be done was to operate and him wanting to know if i had medicine to help.


so it was a week all over the map. i think we have processed this and have some to terms with what we can do and can't. it's still hard sometimes to know how to deal with it all. and thankfully we're handling that as well as the challenge of being together nearly 24 hours a day, most of it working. we are OK thanks to the both of us working at it!!

otherwise on the vitamin front, i just went back to the damn DHL office and read the riot act to the best of my ability in spanish about how unhappy i was with the service of their organization! and if they couldn't help me, to just give me my money back ahorita. ie., NOW. i apparently made an impression because he did reach the usually absent Alex and Alex did tell me something new. then the phone died before i could ask all of the questions i had. (only in peru!) but, i have the right number now! Now i have to take my documents to the Ministry of Health and then with some other document THEY will give me, i may get the vitamins. the drawback is that i apparently need to go to Lima to do this!

i also headed to Antonio Lorena Hospital today. I had volunteered there before and wanted to talk to my doctor friend there about some donations i have. but, he won't be in until monday. si, siempre hay mañana!

we checked on the rockets and chimneys in santiago. i want you to know they are beautiful. i must be crazy to think rockets are beautiful, but they truly are! and we were able to ask the welder to make some of the chimneys longer as we have seen quite a few high roofs on our home visits.

and, a special treat was to meet a very nice business man in the used bike shop. (we are getting 2 bikes to use in the mtns so to get back and forth between soncco and sipas, once we are involved in stove construction in both places, and also to get back and forth to Colquepata to the health dept.) so i'm dickering with the owner and this professional looking gentleman stands there next to a bike i wouldn't mind having. we tell him about our little project and he is so pleased. he too loves working with the poor! he ends up taking us to his house to see a beautiful bianchi, which we couldn't afford and then to another bike shop, where we ended up finding new ones for less than what we thought we'd spend on used ones. they may not last long but will work for us! he gave us his number and asked we call him if we need anything. when i told our new friend, juvenal, that we didn't want to trouble him, he said as he placed his hand on his heart, saying, ¨de corazon, de cariño....¨

i feel better!

ps: theres lots of new photos, just click on the link!

Friday, April 20, 2007

well, sleeve has made a nice entry for today. yes, it's beautiful weather here, but messing with me. i think its because of the radical temperature changes or something. it can be so warm and in minutes, or even on the other side of the street, much colder. i seem to have 'la gripe', like a cold, but causing me a very sore throat. i wonder if that's why they sell so many damn hall's cough drops here. hmmm. well i made a big pot of this mixed up herb tea and added lime juice and some rosehip looking thing and will drink it all. and continue to suck on hall's!

yes, sleeve is getting some dental work done, courtesy of edgar, a friend here and former husband of my friend rossana. dentists work in the evening here! his next appt is 6 PM tonite. and pave is coming by after to go over the game plan for sunday regarding the busload of american tourists who will pay a visit to the c'orao market. so we'll get a fix of talking in english and promoting all the great work of the siervas de cristo, our little stove project, and the villages. should be fun!!

and sleeve is dj'ing!! it was cool. he did a great job!! my old friend chicho and i quite enjoyed it and had a chance to catch up on the last few years.

so i got 7 interviews done up in sipascancha. you will see from the photos, it's more of the same sad thing. poverty. dirt, sooty blackened walls, smoke everywhere....reduced lung function, ...every family continues to be excited to particpate and about their pretty new cocinas. their reaction is so rewarding and we haven'teven started building them yet!! again it is a privilege to be working with them!

i got to visit pedro and juanita's family. a bit of history, juanita is a woman i had met before with this horrible lifestory of way too many pregnancies, an abusive partner that kept impregnating her, and the loss of something like 5 children to malnutrition...anyway she had a baby while i was here before. she actually delivered with the help of her son pedro at home. she was sick and feverish after and this baby was a dry bag of bones. so i helped out as best as i could and she named the baby after me and to this day brings me a sack of potatoes when she sees me. her, her mother and her son pedro, now 22. so her big sister came to get me, a little pixie, tiny boned who practically skipped to her house down below. when i arrived pedro greeted me and showed me all the work he had accomplished around their place. and then i got to see little laurita. adorable in her little typical clothing of the andes. they fed me (more) cuy and potatoes. we all laughed as i told them guinea pigs were pets in the US and had little houses and toys to spin on (maybe thats really hamsters....) then they played music and little laurita danced for me, even swingling her little hips. again, adorable!

another family we visited was that of antero and maguerita. again smoky, humble, god what can i say. we left there overcome by the smoke. what was striking was to then go to the home of efrian. why? he had a fireplace with a chimney. NO SMOKE. and more striking was the normal lung function tests and lack of respiratory illness! they had gotten the design from somewhere in calca, a town a few hours away. they had been living there nearly a year and a half and felt the difference. it gave me hope that in a year we WILL see a difference. i say this because as i shared with sleeve, family after family with problems makes me feel a bit silly doing all the tests. but sleeve reminded me what we're doing is looking for the difference it will make.

on another note i'm working on a little exchange between North Branch School and the school there. one day soon we will hand out all the donated pencils from the kids and families of north branch. i'm encouraging pancho (the director) to have the students begin working on letters we can carry back. when i visited the classes i got a great response from the individual teachers. just have to do it right by working with who is in charge! sleeve will film all this as it happens and then we can make a dvd to bring back to the kids at north branch! the primary school is looking good. its being remodeled. our model cocina, near there, will be what the mothers use to make lunch for the preschoolers. i think i mentioned once they cook for them because they are the ones' doing most of the developing. and yes, in the past when they had more in the way of donations they cooked for each and every child.

so we have settled in. just wishing the people selling massages would realize we aren't tourists and stop trying to sell us massages. so today i'm off to DHL, again to find out where in the hell those vitamins are. umberto and meribel are coming for dinner. i want to make sure they'll still in the country and not sitting on the doorstep of my former house. he's the doctor who said he'd write me a letter and get me some data from the centro de salud about sicknesses in the last year in sipascancha. it feels good to be social too !! sleeve gets to practice his spanish and i'm sure umberto will pick our brain about american football. and meribel is also looking for girlfriends! speaking of which, a big soccer game is upcoming here. cienciano vs mexico. they put it up live on the big screen in the main plaza. a big party!! sleeve will probably be recording it!

a fun day yesterday en el molino, fred meyers under a tarp here in cuzco. i got a cd player and spent a long time with a cute peruvian chickie playing for me whats popular here in peru and latino america!! now i have a little collection. i will try not to drive sleeve crazy with them!!

so thats all for now. as i finish he's posting photos. (and hey if you get a chance, email me and let me know you're getting these. geez its hard to know and of course it's always nice to come back into town and hear from everyone!)

Sunday, April 15, 2007

a quick entry to answer some questions i've received ...Shelley, you've asked about the weather. well here in cusco, it can be quite lovely. the blue-est of skies and very warm. in fact this morning while waiting for the bus to go to C'orao to do a few interviews, one side of the street in the sun was probably 15 degrees warmer than the other side in the shade. and when its grey and rainy, it can be quite cold. and it seems about 6 PM its the chilliest but when we head out in the evenings for our stroll, its not quite as cold! go figure! and as far as sipascancha goes its much colder but also does the switches between bright sun and cold grey skies. and jesus when it rains there it comes down in freakin sheets and puts our oregon rains to shame.

ellen, you asked about how often they elect the president, or if he is even elected. i meant to ask adela this because when i was there three years ago, it was a man named lorenzo. now it's ciprian. i am guessing every few years there is an election. and steve has noticed how they paint on the outside of houses recommendations on whom to vote for. you may not recall, but there was a candidate for the president of peru named Ollanta...can't remember his last name. he was more left than garcia and on the sides of houses up there you see 'MARCA ASI', with an x or something inside a circle, so to vote for him. (this means marca your vote like this...') ...but he lost.

and more about what folks eat up there. well, we've had cuy, fried, however it can also be baked, but not many people have outside ovens. we have also had fried beef. (ha, i think, i suppose it could've been goat!) i've been told they grow 130 varieties of potatoes in sipascancha alone. when at the market today, i thought i should take a picture of the potato area (there is an area for everything!) just for folks to see how many types they have. but back to the community, they have a weekly market and one can buy vegetables, dried meat, noodles, rice, fruit, etc. they grow abbas, a bean, trigo, which is wheat, another plant that sure looks like lupine with a similar leaf pattern, and the purple flowers but here produces a grain, called ________, (eegads, i've forgotten but will fill this in later!!.) anyway what they eat depends on what they have monetarily or can grow or raise. breakfast is often a hill of potatoes (like 8!), or bread and a hot mate, and maybe a boiled egg. lunch is often just a soup of cabbage, carrots, noodles, lots of salt, but i think for us as guests they have also served us meat and fresh cheese. in the evenings it is often just a hot drink and maybe what was leftover from the day.

this brings up our fav restaurant ego's. for just 4 soles when we are in town (like a little over a dollar) we have an incredible bowl of soup, either cremas, or vegetable, or a meat or fish broth, all yummy), and a segundo, which is typically meat or fish sliced tomatoes, a hug pile of rice and fried potatoes. this is served with either chicha morada, a red corn drink or chicha blanca, a white corn drink. our fav is the morada. we always bring home leftover rice!

so, here it is sunday already! we've been to c'orao to do interviews of two of the 4 families who will get stoves there. we'll be making a mini order of 5 rockets and chimneys with a local soldedura the beginning of may. we got to complete 2 of the interviews: the family of andres and anna. the daughter of andres had a terrible toothache and was crying the whole time. in fact i kicked myself for not carrying any tylenol to give her. and it so bothered us that when we came back to cusco, i went ahead and made a bag for each family with a bit of tylenol and ibuprofen, pencils, toothbrushes, and colored pencils and on sleeve's 30 soles returned to the village to deliver them. she was so sweet, still crying and took the ibuprofen and gave me the sweetest hug. hopefully she will get to the dentist soon. her dad said no one was in the local centro de salud and that they couldn't get her to cusco until this week. so, because of this i have decided to make up little simialr packets for families ith the doanted items we carried here.

and then upon returning, we headed to ego's. i had trout (they farm it in urubamba) and sleeve, chicken. we headed to a favorite market and stocked up for our trip to sipascancha tomorrow. its been a beautiful day, lots of sun and lots of time with all our new friends. even a lovely midday nap! a new entry will follow later in the week and hopefully more photos, both of the families in C'orao and Sipascancha!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

sleeve mentioned if anyone was interested in donating anything at this point LED lights would be great. i agree. true value in eugene has them cheap and i wouldn't encourage you to get the spendy ones in REI. apparently they have replacable batteries, but that wouldn't be necessary because they do last a long time. we're covered for helping the most needy, and otherwise are really encouraging people to pay what they can in the form of a sliding scale. and as i've written before at this point we're under budget, and if it changes we'll let everyone know!!

our address is: Laurie Iaccino, Calle Arequipa #251, Cusco-PERU.


Friday, April 13, 2007

The rockets and chimney and their little hats and the grates are ordered!! i spent the morning at the bank retrieving the money. thanks, tracy, it worked! just took awhile. a note here: peruvians are soooo patient! good god, the line went on forever. i waited an hour only to discover i was in the wrong line! and then i decided i better meet steve and eat at our fav place, eggo's. a busy little locals place with great food for only 4 soles or about 1.50$. a big bowl of soup, a choice of 4 or 5 entrees with lots of rice and potatoes, and chicha, morada or blanca. ummm. anyway it was back to the bank and then maybe another hour before i had 1/2 the payment for edilberto, our welder in santiago. i was so nervous carrying that much money!! i hopped in a taxi directly outside the bank door and sat in the middle of the back seat. it's not in the safest part of town, let's say. when i got to the welders, i made him go in the very back for us to count the money! i got my receipt and we have a date of the last monday in april for them to be completed. at this point we are spending 36$ per stove for 100 stoves. yet to buy is the rebar, the truck ride up there and for nino's help up there. it'll be about 46$ per stove once we've paid for everything!! we are under budget!! and at some point, we'll order the final 20 and head to soncco and do it all over again!!

so very cool. i'm happy to see it moving in the right direction and we've only been here a few weeks.

time to go! steve's done with spanish class. speaking of which, you should hear him speaking quechua!! he's quite entertaining during the interviews! and everyone he speaks to does a double take and smiles! he especailly good at telling the mamitas they have beautiful babies!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

we´re back from our first trip to sipascancha! we left monday morning at 5AM from calle puputi, a bus station nearby. we arrived in pisaq about 6:15. we got to stop at a local panaderia, complete with an outside clay oven to buy little pancitos for our time up in sipascancha. then we waited for the combi, a type of van, that headed up the mountains with all the teachers who work both in sipas and soncco. it was full to say the least. very little leg room! the road up there is treacherous to say the least and i made a mental note to not take pave up on her offer to drive ourselves up there in her car!! i think all told, it took about 4 hours from cusco! and due to the fact the road is pretty much trashed down into sipascancha, we were let out above and then hiked down into the village.

alot had changed! first, i saw the new mercado! beautitful! Of note tho, on the day of it, the old mamitas still lay their stuff out on the floor and don´t make use of the areas for display of all their stuff! more on how old habits are hard to break! the beautiful greenhouses that were there are gone. pave had told me that after a snowstorm one had collapsed. i'm not sure what happened to the other. she had come at one point to discover them both dismantled. originally this had been funded by a group in spain and france i think. the aim was to grow vegies for the some 300 childrens lunches. well, its no more. but on a brighter note the municipality of colquepata has dumped a bunch of money into the community. so they were rebuilding the jardin, or preschool, putting in a little playground where one of the greenhouses had been, have helped with a the construction of the new primary and secondary school, built bathrooms throughout the community and in the homes, and given them computers and school furniture. so there was quite a bit of activity and MUD. ha! its the rainy season and the mud is everywhere. the men of the village were doing most of the building and construction of the school voluntarily in their sandals. (the construction of the bathrooms is being done by paid workers.) they were covered with mud!! steve and i wondered why they weren't freezing! in the days we were there they completed the roof which was done classically with the orange half circle type tiles. tejas, under them, was mud and bamboo. one row is upside down, the other right side up, to allow for drainage. amazing what they work with. the children were everywhere and of course i ran into many who recognized me! we were in the hands of adella, one of the teachers. she and her husband nino are going to help us with the interviews, we´ll eat together and nino when not teaching in another village of soncco will be our technical support for adobe stove-building. originally the president of the community had seen to it we would have a room downstairs in one of the peoples´ homes. it was complete with a dirt floor, a very small short room, and they had not yet constructed the bed or hooked up electricity. but, when they discovered how tall sleeve was, they changed our room to one of the spots in the clinic building that locks, complete with a tile floor, running water and an electricity! (note here, peruvians are short!!) so everyone came in and cleaned the space. apparently NO ONE had been there since i had left nearly 3 years ago. it was a little surreal to see all my posters that i had drawn and the calendar page not turned after september 04! none the less it is a very suitable space for us on our days working up there. we ended up buying a blanket to add to our sleeping bag only because me, a softie, couldn't quite take the smell of blankets the president had lent us! (ie., a mix of urine, smoke and lord knows what else!!)

we were immediately invited for lunch or almuerzo at the home of one of my god babies up there, cynthia. she's grown into a very cute 4 year old! alberto and ricardina, her parents were my first interview! cynthia came for us when it was time and went straight up the mountain like a little goat, i'm sure her own short cut! it was freaking hell to be climbing at 13,000 feet but we did it! we were lead into their cocina. (pictures are uploading as i speak, in flicker and i'll tell you how to get there when sleeve tells me!) well it was a classic scene. black soot covered walls above a firepit where ricardina sat, smoke visible in the sunstreaks coming in the door. she served us fried cuy, yes, guinea pig and peeled boiled potatoes, some fresh, some dried. i like cuy, but have never cared for the dried potatoes! we ate as much as we could graciously!

the interview followed and went well, given that ricardina spoke only quechua and alberto spoke spanish. i had to keep telling him to translate rather than answer the questions for ricardina. i showed her the picture of the new stove and she seemed to understand and smile. not surprisingly, alberto, cynthias father asked me for money to start a business, a tienda or store. i was taken aback and explained well first come the stoves for everyone. he was gracious. but when he took me below to the other home (yes, other) where there is already a tienda, and where he wants the new cocina, i again made a mental note that he seems to be doing fine. more on how one can clearly see the differences in economic success in sipascancha will follow.

i was able to do three more on my own with sleeve photographing. another family with yet another god child, flor de mayo, invited me to lunch the next day and the interview followed that. he did not ask for money and i was grateful. but he did give me a beautiful woven bag, made by his wife, rosalina. lunch was fried meat, i think beef, potatoes and fresh cheese all served in ametal bowl with no fork. (thats customary!) one night we went out with nino and visited another family where the father was out with his animals and it had to entirely be done into quechua. and what a family this was!! four sweet children and a beautiful mother all warm and loving to each other. she made fresh cheese, squeezing and shaping it, squatting on the floor, as she answered nino´s questions. i was so struck by them, their togetherness in this adobe shack, dirt floor, again, firepit and soot covered walls. cuy were running around and squeaking! when she saw the picture she loved it! she gave us some cheese but sleeve and i decided not to eat it...and what was totally weird tho was to see a TV hooked up to a dvd player on a shelf on the other end of the house......

i´m happy with how the interviews went. everyone was happy to do the spirometry test and let me listen to their chests and do the liottle oximetry tests. the kids thought it bvery funny to have the nose clip placed so all the expired air would exit via the mouth! because of my damn knee, i am opting for the families who live faraway to come to me for the interviews and otherwise i´ll hike around to everyone else. i do have a walking stick and that helps. what is the challenge is that the families work and the kids are in school so they mostly have to be done prior to 7 AM and after 6PM. but, everyone seems quite excited about the stoves and more than willing to do what they have to. another challenge is the rain. people need to keep their spare adobe safe from the rain. and that may be an issue for some.

so i will jump to the subject of money. many have offered to donate and i think from afar it may seem the thing to do. these people are so poor. some have paid either 20-25 soles already. some may not have it until the first week of june. some may not have it all and can pay in their two finest cuy for another project in soncco i have mentioned. some may be able to work it out by helping the single mothers who need help in construction. and this is thanks to not only drake but to christa and sarah! what is most important is that the ones who can pay do. if a stove is simply dropped in their laps, its just another gift from someone better than they that will sit unused. there has to be a sense of ownership. when pave went to the meeting in lima, a huge discussion and presentation was about eactly this. the need for ownership. for example, a group has come in and put in bathrooms. flushing bathrooms and showers. 30% of the people use them. so as steve suggested in his blog, we need the little led lights. they really do need them and there small and useful. check his blog for the address. and bottom line should we go above our budget we will let you all know! so at this point we plan on a sort of private sliding scale, with the poorest and neediest, the single mothers getting the most help. thank you all for your concern, tho!

so a bit on synchronicity. (really ever since pave and i started on this it has had many synchronistic moments!) so, we met a physican and lawyer up there one day. this all was a miracle because we had planned to actually be hiking around doing interviews, but no one was home. we discussed the project and umberto, the doctor and maribele, the lawyer cautioned us in regards to the free bathrooms albeit loving to meet ´altruistas´ like us! i showed him my data thus far and he explained the low oxygen saturations were due to the altitude and their being accustomed to it. but he didn´t think the low expiratory volumes were because of the altitude and more likely due to the smoke they have been inhaling for years. as i watched them writyn their customary documentation with stamps and signatures and such, i had a brainstorm. my vitamins!! so i mentioned the fact they were stuck incustoms and he can help!! nothing like a formal peruvian letter! and he can give me the stats on illnesses suffered in this community ijn the last year. so we have plans to visit him in colquepata in the next couple of weeks!

so more on synchronicity, we rode home in a big truck carrying everyone back from the market. an old friend who i had ridden with before. he had invited us to lunch once we were in pisaq. at first we accepted and then decided to head home instead and postpone till next week. so we head down the street and get into with the taxi drivers seeing our little white faces and thinking they can get away with charging lots of money to cusco! so one by one they offer first 40, then 35, then 30, and then the boss or the organizer of the taxis says so what will will you pay? i tell him him 15 but agree to 20. we get in the car and head out. everything the poor guy says he begins with excuse me miss,´´ i think because i came off tough. as we talk i discover he is a friend of another couple who are parents to yet another god child in cuyo grande!! we talk and he realizes i wasn´t lying to the taxi drivers in pisaq! i gave him a note to deliver to the family and ended up paying 25 soles and giving him the fresh cheese! what a world. so small.

so finally i want to tell you today pave and i hired our welder. an order is in for 100 rockets and 100 chimneys complete with little grates for the wood and little sombreros (ie, théir little hats)for the chimneys!! its a fine grade of metal for the rockets. they won´t be able to be round because the metal is 1/8!! (ie., they´ll last longer!!) and it looks like our budget will allow for a second order of 20 to follow!! I am so damn excited!! they´ll be ready by the 30th which is a monday and it looks like we can bring them up that day by a big truck. hopefully it´ll be one of the guys i know who truck people and their wares for the market!! and i was able to open an acct here with the help of my friend rossana and even get a phone. (i´ll post that later.)

and also photos are up on flickr. thank you sharon!! here´s the link and maybe some day we´ll figure out how to put it on the sidebar.

take care all and much love!

Sunday, April 08, 2007

happy easter! two stoves are in!!!! sleeve and i have a couple of incredible days!

the first stove went up in quiquihana. a bit of general history here: its a town south of here where the siervas de cristo is based, the group pave is affiliated with. apparently in the year 2000 a group of columbian nuns went to quiquihana after the town had all been deserted because of terrorist activity. they are all settled in there with three nuns there and little hermanitas, ie., nuns in training. they feed children from 9 communities in the mountains who walk 2 hours to town and school. my favorite nun is luz maria, she is also from columbia, like a little pixie. she is really very sweet. so, we went by bus to the south in the direction of sicuani. it took about 2 hours for the ride. after a little snack of columbian hot chocolate and pancitos (bread), we left for the site of the nueva cocina. more history: when i first brought up the topic of stoves 8 months ago, pavela talked to hermana nelly about them. and after we sent her to the meeting in Lima back in december, hermana nelly so liked the idea, she paid the welders to make her 2 larger rockets and chimneys for the big kitchen there. they are building an orphanage mostly funded by a group in germany. its a total construction zone. their building materials are more or less ours but the frame is of irregular eucalyptus trees, sometimes bamboo, bricks, rocks, everything. whats finished is pretty amazing considering the materials they're working with. the plan when open will be to house i don't know how many kids, a comedor, baths for all, and a weaving area for the women of quiquihana to make the incredible mantas or blankets, scarves, bags, etc. anyway our job was to construct the first one here, a double cocina with 2 rockets and 2 chimneys because in this kitchen they'll be cooking for many children, not just the orphans.

edy numero 1 and eddy numero 2 arrived early with the welded parts. we had two campesinos from a couple of the villages helping us. hermana nelly and pave dug right in too. steve filmed the process in steps with pave narrating in spanish and one of the men translating to quechua. the power for the camera was via pieced together wires all hooked up to a what seemed a totally burned out extension cord. i spread mud but also was in charge of getting the plug to work right so to power our camera! it was composed of adobe bricks layered with mud. a man dug and mixed the mud that was spread in between the layers of adobe. adobe was chipped away in the event the brick didn't fit. two spaces were kept open for the dual combustion chambers or rockets. around and under each chamber ash is placed for insulation. if you can imagine that each rocket is L shaped, in the lower part the wood is placed and lit and of the upper part is where the interior chiney begins. the heat and smoke travel towards the back of the stove and out the chimney. the hottest part is directly over the fire and along the back it's still hot but not as hot. we filled in the little cracks with piecse of brick and mud. holes were cut in the top so that the pots sit on top of metal bars set into the stove. around the pot there's a small distance open to allow for air but not too much. (pictures i hope will follow today if i can get onto a computer that will take my cd!!)

well it was heartwarming to watch the enthusiam of everyone helping! when we completed everything but the chimney, we lit some wood. the look on the faces of the campesinos seeing NO SMOKE was incredible. they immediately talked in quechua of course about bring this to their villages!! the way these stoves work with less in the amount of wood required, as a result less in smoke and their efficiency in heating the pots is whats so amazing!!

today we went to Choaro and installed a second stove in the market. a bit of history on this market: siervas de cristo bought this land and the campesinos built stalls for the women of the community to sells their weavings. its really pretty! grassy, alpacas roaming around, and kids playing. (again pictures will follow!) here they needed a kitchen because the women take turns coming down from their communities and then stay a week. they sleep in dark dirty little rooms, the rooms are quite minimal and one for each community of soncco and sipascancha. but they also cook there and dye their yarn with local plants. so they needed a big stove for the big pot used to dye the yarn and a smaller cocina to cook their food.

we arrived to a few people there selling their weavings. some locals joined in because they had heard about the stoves! two men insisted we go their homes to see their kitchens. oh my god. firepits, black walls, pots of various sizes, laughing dirty children trailed with us. so bleak. only the picutres will adequately describe them. we talked about illnesses the families had a result of the inhalation of all the smoke. of course they wanted a stove! apparently in this community a large percentage DO have better stoves, nut not these people.

we then dug in for the construction of the next stove! as it turned out we were not in a construction zone. so we didn't have as many little makeshift parts. so we made it entirely of adobe, some random metal and mud. the first took about 4 hours this one was done in less than three!! they were so jazzed it made me cry. when it was done up to the point of the chimney we again fired her up. we ended up dying wool! the water boiled fast but i didn't time it. they were thrilled.

whats showing up as major points are as follows: 1.) they need to save up the ash as it requires quite a bit for the insulation. in the case of Choaro, anna, went to nearly every house collecting up ash and we still didn't have enough. they plan to work on this together. i'm not sure, maybe a bonfire! 2.) every community will adjust their stove to what they have. in the case of quiquihana, we had lots of broken pieces of brick to fill in the cracks. they didn't have bricks in choaro, not will they in sipascancha. 3.) we need to find welders in communities large enough to help reduce the cost. 4.) and exciting point is the potential that when people of neighboring villages see this, it will go like wildfire, no pun intended. 4.) its clear the technical help may be less needed than we thought. these guys know what they're doing when it comes to adobe! the dimensions are important however, so theat needs to be reinforced.

so its very cool. i am humbled by these people, how hard they work, how sincere they are and it thrills me beyond measure to see they excitement in the stoves!!

tomorrow at 5 AM we're headed to sipascancha. the parts aren't ready yet but the interviews will begin. nino, one of the teachers will help us with a meeting in quechua to determine exactly how many want to participate. it looks like we've added another town (choaro) so we may be back to our original number of 120 stoves. friends are offering money to help the families who can't aford to particpate. all of you are wonderful!! i wishj you were here to see the looks on the peoples faces!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

it´s been a great day here in cusco. the ipod came back to life! i want you to know it was quite a serious occurrence for sleeve to discover one day an apparent crash. but he plugged it in this morning and lo and behold, all of his files were restored! in the days in between it gave us a chance to appreciate all the ambient sounds that are all around our place. la musico, latina and andean, families , babies crying, onions frying, car alarms sounding, beeps, etc. it´s literally a symphony (or rather cacophony!) of sound. we seem to live right on top of others! and right up there with the ipod restoring itself, we got our shower fixed! it had been 3 mornings of waiting for someone. this is apparently, shall i say, peruvian time. i think i had mentioned to a few people before leaving about an article i had read in the BBC news about president garcia and the peruvian navy´s attempt to sychronize peruvian watches so that they could address the problem of always being late. apparently it has the reputation the world over for being late! bells and alarms were sounded at noon one day. well, it didn´t work! but we have music and hot water!! and what a treat!!

so on the project front things are moving along, but also in peruvian time! i have in front of me the intake form i´ll use with each family interview participàting in our stove project: "ALLIN Q´UNCHAKUNA", in quechua, which means "COCINAS MEJORADAS" in castellaño,and "BETTER STOVES" in english! we´ll do the intake by family and evaluate respìratory function, presence of respiratory illness in the last 2 weeks, (in the form of cough, phlegm, or shortness of breath), and presence of eye infection and burns, also in the last 2 weeks. otherwise we will also address habits around, time near the fire, time cooking, physical position near the fire, and where they sleep in relation to the fire, type of fuel, who collects the fuel, how long it takes, if there is a door or window near the fire, type of cooking pots, and dimensions of their largest and smallest pot. (this is because the openings of the cocinas mejoradas will correspond to their pot size. and at the bottom of the intake form will be places to draw the dimensions of their home, where the door or windows are located, where the fire is now and where the stove and chimney will go. i am very excited!! (obviously!)

further, after a meeting last night with pave we have decided to go with the welder, offering us the best prices on the 3/8 and 1/8 inch metal, and their time, also cheaper and with the added benefit that they say it will only take them 2 weeks. but because it was the night of a major soccer game here, (peruvians love their team CIENCIANO, let me tell you) everything was closed!! so, between soccer and religious holidays and their concept of time it is a wonder anything gets done!! perhaps this will slow me down? otherwise she advised me we may end up making less, i´ll know more once our interviews take place. so, with that in mind we have decided to put a cut off date of the 20th for people to participate or not. and if they can´t pay and are very interested we will ask them to supply 2 of their best guinea pigs. (!) (these will go the soncco project of raising guinea pigs to improve the diet of the children in that community.) and any money collected otherwise will go to the planting of trees in sipascancha.

whew. so over the next few days we´ll be visiting places where stoves are either built or to be built. our video camera (from pave) will accompany us to quiquihana and to the market where the residents of sipascancha and soncco sell their wares. and next week to sipascancha! we apparently will stay in one of the villagers homes (should be a trip). and adela and nino, two teachers will assist us with the interviews in quechua. and, because the welders will hopefully be in on thursday, we will officially place our order for chimneys and rockets.

so we are OK. we love the wanchaq market to buy our fruit. we´ve met some tourists allowing sleeve some english speaking time. one night we played pool in a local bar. sleeve has mentioned a few times to me how one never knows what lies beyond the big doorways that are on the streets. there's often a courtyard and many little shops, bars, cafes, probably even living spaces, all tucked inside. the pool bar was like this. we met up with a a couple of people from california and a guy from germany. most go to the same spanish school as he. the evening is a special time here. people stroll. what a concept! so throughout the various plazas it´s not unusual to see families, lovers, cute peruvian girls, students in their uniforms all about, arm in arm, not to mention the turistas. last night we strolled up to the plaza san blas. there's a church up there and many quaint little cafes, crafts, etc. and its straight up step by step. and so very pretty in the sort of yellow light, cobblestone streets (with like a foot wide sidewalk, so one has to be aware of the taxis!) in the church a choir was singing. you couldn't see them. and there in the front laid the black jesus, el señor de los temblores, thorns around his head, barely clothed. (he is the one who saved cusco in 1650 from the earthquake.) i believe he was carried up there this week as part of all the holidays. (la semana santa) a bit eerie. but watching the people file past him, touching him lovingly, praying- WOW. it is so a different world. and all one can do is record these moments in one's brain, because it seems a crime to capture these on film or in a recording...we stopped in a cafe that had a sign outside saying there was an 'ecological stove'. it was like we walked into a cafe in europe or spain or something. we had a banana rum crepe with orange sauce and ice cream on the side. lovely. but like a total oxymoron. and the stove was very nice but imported from europe and not what we had thought!

so this brings me to the contrasts one sees here. the clash between the tourist business and the abject poverty. one sees old people on the street begging all the time. the people work so very hard to attract or please the tourists. there's technology in the form of computer cafes, computer driven music in the bars. nice tourist buses, and funky local buses spewing out black smoke. restaurants everywhere for the tourists staffed with hardworking peruvians i would guess paid nearly nothing. all of this is pitted against crumbling adobe homes, more foul emissions from cars. by the main plaza and the huge church, 4 or 5 men on a hunger strike to bring attention to their struggle in working at the church---when we asked if we could do anything they replied we could speak to the archbishop. phew. theres the campesinos on the street chanting the fight continues. i imagine that they live in one room without even a place to cook or a bathroom of their own. oh, certainly there are what one would call successful business people here. but for the most part people struggle. but always they smile. they are so loving to their little ones. sleeve and i talked last night about my difficulty in reconciling all of this in my brain. one can only be in the moment , i guess. and to not be so sensitive that you go absolutely mad but still not close your heart. we visited an orphanage one afternoon with pave. it was started 10 years ago by two spanish sisters with apparently a lot of family money that they have put to this incredible use. altho its in kary grande, a poor barrio where pave lives, every smallest detail is seen to. the flowers, the pictures, the attention to the 40 children that live there. she told us most of the babies are adopted out, but for some reason not many to the US. and the older children live there until they're 18 and then go out on their own to work. they go to a local school and are able to graduate. such love in this place and not religious based. babies squealing and lovingly attended to be local girls that are paid to work there 24/7. smiling kids everywhere and so very adorable. really i imagined being rich and wishing i could do something so powerful as changing childrens lives!!! babies are left at the doorstep...

Monday, April 02, 2007

buenos dias! we've moved from the barrio of san sebastian, where pave lives to el centro, calle choqechaka. there is no number! but its the door of hampi wasi--it takes 3 keys to get in! first at the street, then the door heading up some steepish tiny stairs and then into our apartment. the ceilings are quite high and plaster. typical latin american colors. it's far from sealed from the outside air! in fact there's a hole about 8 inches square in the bathroom and cracks where you can see the blue sky of the day! there's a bathroom but right now the electric shower head doesn't work. the toilet leaks and the water approaches the drain in the floor, but doesn't exactly drain. the toilet flushes tho, as long as there's water. carlos, our neighbor tried to get the shower working for us but no luck. there's a little kitchen area with a 2 burner stove, no oven. it stands on a wobbly bench! there's even a small refrig, which i was totally surprised to see. there's another shelf for our food. and two bedrooms. we moved the other single bed into one bedroom and are using the spare room to store all our stuff. it even locks! but, theres windows that open out to a pieced together roof area. its unlikely anyone could walk across this stuff, but we're hammering the window shut in that room and locking it so to secure everything. i think we're only making ourselves feel better, but what the hell. theres wooden furniture in the living area and a big table with 3 chairs. it's totally sweet!

when rossana took us there yestewrday, we stopped at her new place for breakfast. what a set up. she runs a spanish school, in fact the one steve is attending. she has enough bedrooms to house 9 of her students. it's really quite fancy. she's worked hard and i have to give her credit. she is certainly not average in what she's attained. but its a far cry from san sebastian or for god's sake sipascancha!! in fact she was a bit horrified to know we had been in san sebastian. she said its dangerous and she knows of attacks made on people, pero no importa, ahora nosotros estamos en el centro! after breakfast we moved in. no small feat--a taxi driver with a station wagon driving up this one way tiny street, helping us with all our bags and then to our new tiny street and again helping us move in there. the peruvian are so sweet and friendly. he got us there safe and sound for only 8 soles.

we then headed to plaza san francisco y el mercado! its a huge place with kiosks sort of all run mostly by women. there sections for meat, pork, fish, vegies, fruit, household things, flowers, you name it. i think steve was amazed. the meat aisles are a bit to deal with. pig heads laying right there looking at ya', half cows hanging, entrails...all this attended by the women and dogs! not that they take things off the counters but they lay in wait i'm sure of some snack. we bought some vegies, spices, eggs (you get them in a plastic bag and then carry them off!) . it was sweet to see of the same faces and they even remembered me as the americana that ran up to saqsayhuaman (an inca site above cusco). we got a bucket to store water in case it's off. it was yet another adventure.

one night we headed out to the plaza de armas. it was the night before palm sunday. we went into one of the main churches on the plaza. it was one of those things that sends shivers up the spine. the priest was singling in quechua. the ceilings were incredibly high. gilded golden archways everwhere. paintings depicting the various saints. people praying. a place where religion really meant something. we walked through hand and hand just quiet and taking it all in. unfortunately steve didn't have his recorder!

however today he will! today is the day of señor de los temblores, the patron saint of cusco. he's depicted as a black jesus who saved cusco in 1650 from a horrible earthquake. we have the spanish story of this but haven't yet tackled the translating of it. so today at 2 they will solemnly begin a procession with many men carrying him on their shouldres. its traditional to throw red flowers at him. today at the market in wanchaq, yet another barrio that we went to to get keys made there were campesino women there selling them. in fact this week there are a number of holidays all approaching easter.

wednesday we'll meet with pave to price one more welder. later we'll hopefully meet with adela and nino about our first week in sipascancha. this takes place the same day as a big soccer gane between peru's team (actually one of them native to Cusco) called cienciano vs argentina. it should be fun and may cause any scheduled meeting to be cnceles! it'll be on a big screen in fron of the church! a big party let me tell ya'

yeah, its all an adventure. just waking up! i'm somewhat distracted by our project. i'm anxious to know our chimneys and rockets are being constructed. and with holidays i'm prepared for a delay but would rather know things are actually happening. paciencia, laurita, paciencia.