Monday, May 28, 2007

hola! i´m writing from trujillo, specifically el barrio, palermo. i´m here for a break visiting a girlfriend and her family. its on the northern coast and at sea level. ha! perhaps i will totally recuperate here!

so this will be brief as this is one slow computer, and if i´m gone too long, my friends fret. i am likely the only gringa here and it isn´t exactly a hot tourist spot...

before leaving cusco, steve and i spent another market day issuing stove parts. it went better than it looked it would at first. there had been no additional names added to the list....but once a few showed up, more did. thank goodness!! so in all we issued 16 rockets and chimneys, along with the rejilla and varillas. nino saw to it to send an additional helper, cristobal, from soncco, and he, pedro, steve and i went over contracts, helped those who could not read, translated to quechua and went back and forth getting the parts from the church. we stayed until 2 PM and left a list with pedro and cristobal of families to visit. they have cameras to photograph completed stoves and were prepared to provide advice if needed.

pave and i spent an evening visiting hardware stores and came up with a plan to make brushes to clean the chimneys with. basically we´re talking a heavy duty steel wool attached to a eucalyptus branch. we have enough for each village and have asked them to clean the chimneys twice per year.

and very fortunately, i heard from a german man who has been working on stove projects in peru for the last 6 years. he somehow got my name, i´m not sure how. he warned me that metal rockets can corrode and that to extend the life of the rocket he advised applying a layer of clay around the rocket itself. with the heat of the fire this will essentially create another rocket and extend the life of the conbustion chamber. i talked to pave about it immediately and she was less than convinced it was necessary, as our rockets are quite thick and very heavy. but geez, coming from someone who has worked with these stoves for 6 years it felt irresponsible to me to not do it. and frankly it felt horrible enough to me to know some 20 families in sipascancha and corao did not know to do thankfully we got a message to them by pave in corao and truck in sipascancha to do this!!

anyway all this came up one day before my trip to trujillo!! i left the next day by plane first to lima and then trujillo. it´s been nice, tranquilo here. yet another one of my fodsons lives here, his mom being rosa. piero is constantly with me, as his little cousins, gaby and eduardo. they love for me to read to them. even with my pronunciation! so i´m being carefully fed and lead to the various sites in trujillo. yesterday we went to chimbote and spent the day with an aunt. and today we hope to go to las huacas del sol y luna, sites of the mochillas here.

but more on all that later. if i don´t get back, they´ll be worried.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

check it out! new photos are uploaded! just click on the flickr link to the right!
another beautiful day here! we spent it in C'orao checking on the alpacas in Puriquy (the market) and handing out the parts for three stoves! as it turns out the men weren't around because apparently they were investigating an apparent robbery of some trees. so we spent the morning with pave, anna, timotea, y honorada. originally we were also going to put up the second model for the market where cooking will happen, (the other model is for making dyes and accomodates a larger pot), however we decided to just semi-build a model for the purposes of explaining the instructions to the women. all of them are quite sharp and very excited to receive a stove! and they may end up building it themselves! much conversation in spanish and quechua ensued and it was ended with a building of a fire. it was fun. the sun was out and the kids were playing. and the alpacas received their medicine for parasites! a nice quiet day in C'orao. the visit ended with us going over the contract they sign in regards to receipt of the parts, proper construction and usage, and the agreement to have it constructed in a certain period of time. alll quite formal, as that's the way peruvians seem to do things (at least when it comes to documentos!) each signed their document very carefully.

we caught a bus back. it wasn't too crowded and a special treat was to hear a little boy singing his heart out while standing in the aisle behind us. he was difficult to see but not difficult to hear in spite of the radio also blaring! he then went through asking for propinas or tips for his performance. sleeve got it on the recorder! and i, of course, tipped him. more fun followed when we got dropped of in wanchaq where a big hoopla was going on apparently celebrating the anniversary of the barrio of wanchaq. music! marching bands! dancers! typical costumes! they do love their parades here!

pictures will follow of the day, if i can get on a computer that takes cd's. i'm waiting my turn!

we've had more turista time what with recuperating. we have maps now and know the city a bit better and have enjoyed just walking. we find little plazas where one can sit and read. (...without people trying to sell you shoe shines, postcards, massages, you name it....) yesterday we went to a pre-columbian art museum. different rooms focused on different periods in peruvian history. it was quite impressive. i especially liked the period machita. the work is ceramic and incredibly lifelike. there was a bottle with two heads of an owl on the two spouts. the way they captured their heads just turned so, as only an owl can, beautiful. otherwise we have gone out some in the evenings in search of english speaking tourists. this has been on the disappointing side! it seems most tourists are in big groups, rarely just hanging out. so we talk and visit with the locals! sleeve's spanish is improving and i love chit-chatting away in castellaño.

tomorrow i have a check-up at the doctor. yes, still doing much better. hopefully after, sleeve and i can head out for a little visit to Urubamba, in the valley. we're thinking of hanging out there awhile and then heading onto Ollantaytambo for a visit. i have old friends living there and usually they have a number of things going on in their community. amazing guys really, so young, and incredibly committed to their community and to the children living in and around ollanta. wednesday we're headed back to sipascancha for the day and market and will begin handing out stove parts! and wednesday afternoon we'll stop in C'orao to check on the progress of stove building! (and our plan is to eventually get to all the ruins, after our project is complete...around june 21 and play tourist until we leave july 2nd...)

so. i have waited long enough and still there is no computer able to take a disk! we'll put them on later, maybe manaña...¡

buenos tardes mis amigos!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

i am so happy to report i'm feeling better everyday and more at my usual degree of energy and zip! WHOOOOBOY. two weeks is too long to be sick. anywhere.

so we went to sipascancha for the day today. the trip was quite comfortable, given we usually squeeze ourselves into a combi and have risen at an absolutely ungodly hour to put ourselves through such hell! we were quite lucky to find freddy, our taxi driving friend from cuyo grande, in pisaq, and we got a fair price for going up there just on market days for now. and, it being wednesday gives us the visibility of setting up a little display at the market. more on that below with pictures to follow also. i understand it is freezing there now, especially at night and i still don't feel quite ready to be resume what is essentially camping out despite four adobe walls!

so, first, sleeve and i were talking today and reminded ourselves of what we had set out to do here. four things. to build stoves; give donations of pencils and drawings to the schoolchildren from the kids in North Branch; give the medical supplies from CMMB and MAPINTL/Johnson and Johnson to the clinic supply of the village, and give the villagers the vitamins. it seems a good time to refocus and review! sadly the vitamins are on their way back to the states after a total fiasco that i hold DHL completely responsible for. i am saving energy for that battle once i'm back and then will have to remail the vitamins. as to the pencil project, sleeve is set to start filming the classrooms while giving pencils to all the students and the drawings to the younger children. we'll film them, the teachers, and the area and hopefully capture a bit of life here for the kids to check out in virginia. it will be something we convert to dvd. the medical supplies line the shelves up there. i have more to pass onto a local poor hospital. and then, there's the stoves! las cocinas mejoradas!

So the mercado display proved an excellent idea!! great visibility!! and likely the first time a little blanquita had a stall at the market! we had a model of the rocket and chimney there with sign-up sheets for the participants to make a date to pick up their supplies, instructions, sign receipts and commit to using it properly, building it properly, and having the construction complete in their home by a certain date. we have printed instructions complete with drawings, thanks to pave!! (ellen, we never made the video! i'll have the film of the quiquihana construction and will decide later what to do with that.) so bit by bit we got people walking over, discussing it, some signing their name on the days we've scheduled for pick-up and construction to begin. we had a woman very interested in another village who lamented as to really wishing she could have one. i explained our plan to return to other villages in another year or so. sadly for us, no mas dinero/no mas tiempo. she stressed her people would also pay their part, and that what she wanted from me was to be taught about it! i loved her! sleeve got a shot of her and i talking about the cocina. so we plan on making extra copies of instructions. god, isn't this what it's about? and as far as we're concerned the point is to make people aware and teach them about it and then to let it go. so its very cool to see this in spite of our difficulties lately.

anyway , yeah plans have had to change a bit, and amazingly, things are getting done none-the-less. i am personally aiming for 100 complete in sipascancha and soncco by our departure, with 15 more scheduled to go up in july, this to be managed by pave. the stoves will start going up in both villages, independently and we'll have people assigned to visit each house to verify they are indeed built (because if not, they will go to others.)

i could keep writing but will stop. it's time to eat!!

Monday, May 14, 2007

first, un tarde feliz dia de las madres, or a happy belated mother's day to all my friends who are ¨moms¨! and of course to my very own mom, a special wish goes out to you for a happy mother's day!!

i am next to elated to be writing, eating, breathing outside air, and most of all, finally feeling better!! it seems my last entry was a copy of sleeve's, with an addendum by me saying discussing he was also sick, but that we were getting better. but, much to my surprise i got sick (or rather sicker) again and ended up in the hospital and was discharged today!!! the clinic/combination hospital (Clinica Pardo) i went to ended up treating me for sinusitis, pharyngitis, bronchitis, salmonella and parasitosis! ( and in answer to ellen's question, my knee is just fine!! thank god!!) so what an experience. i have never been in a hospital overnight even at home. and when i went in i was so ill, vomiting, severe headache, let me tell you, not at all my usual self and i really had no idea of what room i was even in. all i remember is walking into the room and bursting into tears thinking there was no way i could pay for all of it and then promptly vomiting! but my doctor was quite sweet and insisted i needed to be there and if it was necessary, he would make sure i would be able to afford the care! and for the first 2 days all i did was sleep and get injected with antibiotics, pain meds, IV fluid....i was thrilled to begin to feel better only to get a horrible stomachache after eating one of the cutest little bananas you ever saw. but fortunately, as it turned out my reaction made it evident to the doctors i likely also had a parasite, actually some nasty little amoeba, in addition to some degree of food poisoning that apparently the average peruvian walks around with....i will say as steve mentioned, my first reaction was to plan on meeting with everyone in the village and admonishing them for NOT paying their one nuevo sole per month to chlorinate their water!!! if only for me!!!

so, the care was excellent. each morning a team of people filed through my room armed with my records and x-rays to discuss my case and progress. as it turned out they were made up of the nurse, pharmacist, dietary person, chief of staff, hospitalists and the doctor who admitted me. if i needed anything a doctor was immediately called and he would visit even if only to check my blood pressure. they had nurses, and assistants who tended to everything. before 7AM i was in a clean bed all primped with my breakfast complete awaiting my little team of caregivers! i at that point had remembered i indeed had insurance and each morning i would ask,''mi seguro???'', to which they would respond, ''no te preculpas, laurita!'' (translation: my insurance??? their response?? to please not worry!). the nurses were all quite curious about my work both at home and here in peru. and once i could talk at length without a headache, i loved telling them about working in a ICU in the states, and our wonderful stove project here. they mixed all their own meds via this handy set of IV tubing with the piggy back built right in. (my nurse friends will appreciate this!) i thought of the money it would save if it were like that at home. they had an ICU there but it was closed. it was 5 floors complete with a clinic, ER, Lab, x-ray, and pharmacy. as it turns out the clinic itself enjoys some international support after a patient there, i believe a british guy, who apparently had suffered a heart attack, had received great care responded with setting up some funding for it from europe. ( i may not have this exactly right, but its close.)

so i could say my only complaint was the last 2 days of being soooo hungry. i was getting dry toast, watered down juice, some sort of thickened juice, thin soups, rice and chicken. they never gave me anything too hot or too cold, too late or too early because of los colicos! and at first it was perfect but once i was feeling better all i could think of was food! in fact today i went nearly straight to the crepe place and had a turkey and vegie crepe and 2 glasses of fresh pineapple and orange juice! (of course i did this after asking what i could safely eat!)

so it'll be a week of continued meds and a follow-up appointment next week. i have permission to go to sipascancha on wednesday but truthfully plan on waiting to see how i feel. as steve said the rockets and chimneys are up there and really all there will be to do is hand them out, complete interviews, and follow up with pedro and nino on their construction progress. adela, one of the teachers visited and said no more traipsing around the mountains for me! i am inclined to agree...she also said there lots of adobe makng going on and people are ready! more will be reported once i have a chance to get back there!

thanks for all the well wishes everyone and an especially big hug goes out to shelley and my boys! (and to sleeve!)

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Here is Sleeve's latest post and it says it all! continue below to hear what's new since this--

Well here we are back in Cusco. After I last wrote we were kept up all night by some crazy May Day celebration down in the Wanchaq district, away from the turistos. Wednesday morning we got up at 4:15 to catch the bus to Pisac as usual. We bought yummy fresh hot bread in Pisac and piled into the cambi with the profesoras. Nino made some last minute adjustments to our new bicycles. Wednesday evening we managed to squeeze in two more interviews. One of the houses had a little calf living under a bed, surely one of the cutest things I ever did see (yes there are pics but not yet).Thursday morning after a light breakfast we headed out on our bikes to Colquepata, allegedly a 40-minute bike ride. It took us two hours. The ride was gorgeous, we were way high up in those mountains and the scenic vistas were staggering. We fortuitously met the president on the way there, he was working on road repair. So Laurie got to discuss our concerns and set up a meeting for later in the evening. As we descended down into the town (population circa 1500) we noted with dismay that we were riding down a long, steep, rocky hill.
Once in the town, a young man (Ediberto, age 17) who had ridden with us most of the way went and found the director of the radio station. Laurie had her first on-air experience! “Hola Sipascanchas, soy Laurie!” She told the village to have their adobes, mud, and ceniza (ashes) ready for Sunday the 6th when the delivery of stove parts was scheduled. This was Adela’s idea and a good one. While she was in the station I had a moment of concern as I was surrounded by six men who were very curious about the bikes and eventually asked if they could exchange one of theirs for mine! Um, NO.
Once Laurie finished being a radio star we went down the block to the health center to meet Humberto (the doctor we previously met in Sipas). He was full of advice – the guys on the street were harmless, my giardia almost certainly came from the water in Sipas, not the food, etc. He had all the demographic info Laurie needed on his computer, unfortunately we didn’t have a blank CD so we will copy it later when he’s back in Cusco.
After a quick meal at a local restaurant Humberto took us to, we prepared for our return. We walked up most of the steep slope out of the town, and then found to our further dismay that it was basically uphill the entire way back. It took us three hours in the blazing afternoon sun. Laurie started to feel worse and worse. We were in sight of Sipas when Nino caught up to us, riding his bike home from the day teaching in Sonco (one of the small towns in between and the site of 21 more stoves to be put in). By that point Laurie had to stop and was vomiting, with a severe headache. I booked back to Sipas on my bike and met up with Nino who had taken a shortcut on Laurie’s bike (breaking both pedals in the process, cheap ass plastic bullshit). I gave him water to take back to Laurie, then he returned to where she was and led her down into the valley and back up on foot carrying his bike. She barely made it. I ran to meet them once I could see them on the trail with some coca tea for Laurie.
We put her to bed and rested for a couple of hours, but then she began to get worse – headache not responding to pain meds, vomiting, etc. I went to get Nino and Adela and looked up stuff in the “Where There Is No Doctor” book, for a few terrifying minutes I thought she had heatstroke but her temperature was too close to normal. It was probably heat exhaustion. Nino and Adela swung into action (Adela comes from a jungle family of healers) and mixed up a concoction of coca, urine (Adela’s) and rubbing alcohol which they rubbed on her legs. Then they wrapped her legs up in a towel, Laurie said it heated them up until well into the night. They also mixed up egg whites and put them in her hair, covering her head with another towel afterwards. At some point during this Cyprian (the president) showed up, but it was obvious we couldn’t meet with him. Adela and him went off to discuss our main bullet points, Nino stayed with Laurie and I.
We spent a miserable night in the clinic, Laurie’s cough got worse and worse. By the next morning she was a wreck and could barely walk up the road to meet the cambi back to Pisac. We took a taxi from Pisac (after having to lay down the law to the cabbies once again) and Adela took her straight to the clinic in Cusco. She was diagnosed with sinusitis and pharyngitis. They shot her up with antibiotics. Last night was another sleepless, cough-filled night, so harsh. About an hour ago we returned from our second visit to the clinic where she got another shot and (finally) a cough suppressant. Wish her a speedy recovery, folks!
In the midst of all this Pave called us to say that the soldaduras (welders) weren’t ready. They were still working on the small grates that hold the wood up above the base of the rocket entryway. Yesterday she came over and with her communication skills and Laurie’s cell phone, we managed to reschedule everything for NEXT Sunday – El Dia Las Madres! Seems appropriate. So now the plan is to meet Isidro in Cusco Saturday night, load up the truck, have him stay in town overnight, and go up in the morning, returning to Pisac after we offload 100 rockets, 100 chimneys, 100 grates, and 1000 chimney hats into the almost-abandoned church. From then on, our role is mostly supervisory, plus continuing the interviews. So we have a whole week to rest in Cusco and recuperate, I am going to work on my Spanish and Quechua.
OK, back to the apartment to start some chicken soup. I had planned a more general update, writing more about history and language and culture, but that will come later this week.

SO yeah, its now sunday and i am on the upswing and the unfortunately sleeve is now sick. now he needs the well wished too! it seems different than what i have. so i'm out getting meds, some more ingredients for soup and checking my email. he's home resting . yikes, these andeans are TOUGH. i apparently started out with the gripe (la gree-peh). lord knows if its because i push myself (thats what sleeve says...), or if it was the wind (thats what the villagers say...), or 6 hours of direct sun at nearly 4,000 meters (thats what adela says), or if its the climate in general (thats what pave says....) one day we'll look it up on wikipedia. just not today! just hoping sleeve has an easier time of it than i. and i'm not sure if he's into me peeing and mixing it with coca leaves and alcohol and salt and rubbing it all over him....whatever, it did seem to help but i will likely not offer him the treatment!!

so, that'll be it for now. we're off and recovering and will have time later in the week to provide more of an update. love to everyone!