Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Huarocondo Research

Here's an account of our first day in Huarocondo, according to Brent:
We woke up at 5:30 to get ready for departure for Huaracondo to work finally! My first time in over a week, and brenna´s first. We were driving thru fog until we broke thru the mountain pass and were above the clouds, and now among frost! Got to Huaracondo but we didn't pass thru where we were going to pick up our translator, Matiasa, so I had to hop a taxi into the nearest big city...okay "community" and look for her. Brenna and I were so worried about finding her (we were calling her cell, her family, but no avail, and imagining her waiting for us at the wrong place) when by quite a tender mercy I suddenly got receptoion, and she did too, and we talked briefly, when reception cut out. But it was enough to get in touch and I took her back to Huarocondo, and we began to work. It was fun at first, b-c we had a list of people getting stoves that day, and we set out. But quickly that list was extinguished and we were set running around the hot empty village looking for any way to find more people to analyze. We got lunch for 3 soles each, and it was pretty funny. 3 soles! One dollar, we got a drink, soup, and main entre. Pretty basic, but still amazing. We recruited a young woman to help us find all the houses in the community who had recently gotten stoves, and set out analyzing them. The place is so small, that anyone would know where everyone lives. We were really blessed b-c our goal was 15 people that day, and we got 18! She was really good to help us. Once we had her, it was smooth sailing. The attitude was different in this community than others, though. Some people said no, or hid from us, or were evasive. But once Matiasa talked to them in Quechua and told them that we were about the new stoves, they would beam and open right up and be so proud of their new ovens. We later found out that when they heard we were doing medical research they were worried we were going to "examen" their whole body or something. It was choice to work in such a high elevation w-in the mountains there. A lot of people were gone at the mandatory city council meeting where you have to attend or get fined, and it ran 5 hours! Booo. But the analysis is always fun during the fact. It´s what we came to do, and is gratifying to cary out. Brenna and I tag team it, she takes down the gps coordinates, I do the questionnaire, she does the blood oxygen levels, and records that and the spirometry. Matiasa explains the consent and the spirometer, and then we bounce! The spirometer is the most difficult part of it all. They have to blow with great force into this machine...and they think it's funny or embarrassing and often don't give it their all, which is critical for the outcome. Way fun. We then caught the bus home, where Brenna and I talked about the day and all things. We watched the stars. Came home and took the laundry to the mat, and were dog tired, ready to retire, when we ran into David (ProPeru staff), who invited us to dinner. It was 800, so I was so grumpy to comply at first b-c it was bedtime, but when we met his really educated Peruvian friend and went to the place mentioned for dinner, we had wonderful eats and a really educated, late night dinner conversation, talking about American, Peruvian, and world issues. Very stimulating. Then home to bed...sooooo tired.

Here you can see a few fun pics of our research adventures. The lady with the colorful satchel is our cute little translator. Notice the one lady with her recently improved stove with a chimney! She was so proud!

Moray & Salineras

Last week Brent and I had a free day, so we decided to see some nearby ruins. Here's the account according to Brent: We caught 2 taxis to some ruins (Moray) kinda near by. But we had to really haggle w- them.. The ruins are concentric circle terraces where they experimented with different ecosystems in each, because the climates change as you go up in altitude. Then we did the unthinkable: we walked from that ruin to another that the taxitsta assured us was 70 km away. Bull. Took us 2 hours. But we were out on our own, (it was a fodor´s guidebook recommendation to walk between) and we didn’t see another human for the entire time. We were walking through high altitude wheat fields, and I grabbed a bunch of it and crunched it in my hands and separated the wheat from the chafe like Brian Dilley (Brenna's cuz) taught me to on his farm in Pasco, WA last summer. We had the best conversation in that 2 hours about where we want to travel, friends, literature, immigration, etc. it was a perfect hike! Also, it lead us to a secret path across a wide ravine (we had to zigzag a lot up and down the mountain and dodge cliffs and stumble and avoid cactus, and huge spiders---which Brenna really didn't do) but we arrived w-o having to pay at the place! The Salineras, where they mine salt on huge terraces was pretty incredible. It was just like looking at rice terraces on steel mountainsides, but weird colors and whatnot from evaporation of salt. We got to see people taking out their own salt. I asked them how much they had to pay to get it....you can walk away from the place with 50 kilos of salt for a few bucks. We then walked from there back to the main highway and caught lunch/dinner at a place called Arco Iris (rainbow) that spans the Urubamba river. The food was great and the presentation was fun, as we ate in a green tropical place under a grass hut overlooking the river with great eats. A cat joined us and ate Brenna's fish skin, and we reminisced over DaVinci...the furry one, that is.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

A little Cusco

Here are some pictures from a couple days in Cuzco. We still have a LOT more to see there, so there will be more photos coming, but here's a start. We were visiting during a fun time...winter solstice here is one of the biggest festivals in all of Peru---Inti Raymi. There were parades and stuff going on for a week. We also were able to witness a demonstration by the agricultural workers (most of the indigenous population). They were peacefully protesting unfair wages and prices and whatnot. The bathtub picture with Brent was a wild restaurant that we went to. Our table was a bathtub filled with fish, covered by a glass rectangle. The whole place was pretty outlandish. We also visited Qoricancha, the "loins" of the Incan empire and what used to be a temple completely gilded in gold. The Spanish had their way with that building and build a monastery/church over top of it. Typical.

The enormous stone walls you see below are original Incan walls tediously placed together with no mortar.

Monday, June 22, 2009

A Couple Days in Lima

Purple Corn in the Market---Used for making Chicha Morada---Yum!

Different kinds of sauces for yummy food!

Brent & I in the Parque Del Amor (Park of Love) in Miraflores...a park entirely dedicated to LOVERS! We loved it! The mosaic-tiled benches are reminiscent of Gaudi's Parque Guell in Barcelona, Spain.

A statue of a couple in a "lewd embrace" stands at the center of Love Park...a big controversy.

We can't resist original artwork! This painting has cost us more than a little trouble. Ask us for the story later.

Brent was just dying to paraglide on the coast. He had such a blast!

The Perro Peruano is about the ugliest dog I've ever seen, but nevertheless a protected dog in Peru, indigenous to the area, and they have a body temp. of about 100 degrees just on the skin.

Brent and I at the ruins of the Lima civilization (Pre-Inca) in the middle of a sweet neighboorhood in Miraflores. The "hill" was once used for motorcrossing because no one had discovered them. It's a working archeological site. Their clever building-technique helped the structure to withstand the earthquakes common to the area.

You can't talk about Peru without the Llama being mentioned. Even Frank Sinatra sings about them "Come Fly With Me, We'll float down to Peru, In Llama-land there's a one-man band, and he'll toot his flute for you."

Urubamba Life

The Pro Peru Offices

Volunteers creating water filters of clay...kneading with their FEET!

The red wall with the brown door is the entrance to Pro Peru offices where we live.

El Templo de Torrechayoc...the church just a stone's throw away from where we live. I go in there to think sometimes.

An indigenous woman walking down the main market street. Where those top hats came from I'll never understand. Notice the legwarmers. It's not as warm as you might think.

The church adjacent to the main plaza in the center of Urubamba.

View of our little house (shared) and the shop where the filters are made behind. The house is made of adobe, with a cement floor, and tile roof...living in style.

Brent on our first day here with a bowl of soup at a restaurant. Here, lunch is the biggest meal of the day, generally starting with a big veggie soup, and then a main dish of potatoes and meat or beans and rice, etc. All of that, plus some chicha morada (purple corn juice) will cost 4-5 soles (a buck and a half or so).

Here I am at the same restaurant. We like to eat upstairs and have a view of the main plaza and church.