Peru or Bust, one couple's journey to represent USA abroad and aid in ways small and large.

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Archive for April 2013

This is what I’ve been doing the last couple weekends; moving rocks..

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Been keeping on saying to myself, “There’s got to be a better way to do this.” After load after load of big huge heavy rocks needed to be located on top of a hill next to the old chapel.  There’s no real comfortable way to carry 80-120 lbs worth of odd shaped stones in anycase…just burlap type sacks and chicha now and then for refreshment.  The local mason will be putting in a walkway soon in front of the chapel for the 3rd of May celebrations of  Santista Cruz or Festival of the Cross.  Should be a nice solid place for folks to eventually dance and gather.


View from up top is pretty nice.

View from up top is pretty nice.

Don’t remember this kinda work being soo tiring, maybe it’s the altitude.


Written by galbavy

April 29, 2013 at 2:12 pm

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Semana Santa en Tarapoto

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Quick trip to the neighboring department of San Martin, but well worth it.  Couple days within the start of the jungle region to enjoy the warmer temperature, eat some jungle food (tacacho, piche, rice juanes) and fruits (aguaje).  Well worth it.

Street Ladies Peeling Tasty Aguaje

Street Ladies Peeling Tasty Aguaje

Waterfall of Ahuashiyacu

Waterfall of Ahuashiyacu

Castillo de Lamas, or Castle of Lamas, build up about 5-6 years ago after a major earthquake.  Now, more of a tourist attraction.

Castillo de Lamas, or Castle of Lamas, build up about 5-6 years ago after a major earthquake. Now, more of a tourist attraction.

Town square in Lamas, notice the importance of puffing on a cigar while washing clothes.

Town square in Lamas, notice the importance of puffing on a cigar while washing clothes.

Laguna Azul, and popular activity of jumping off shaky raised wooden platforms.

Laguna Azul, and popular activity of jumping off shaky raised wooden platforms.

Andrea, Eddie and the Boa of Laguna Azul

Andrea, Eddie and the Boa of Laguna Azul

Eddie Having a Moment with the Boa

Eddie Having a Moment with the Boa

Andrea with our driver, Pollo, on way out east to Laguna Azul

Andrea with our driver, Pollo, on way out east to Laguna Azul

Crossing the Rio Huallaga, car/truck/bus barge powered by outboard motor.

Crossing the Rio Huallaga, car/truck/bus barge powered by outboard motor.

Sorry for the delay on posting, power’s been out for quite a few days..  and before that, internet lines were down for a week.  Now, water service is out.. it’s good to be flexible here in Amazonas.

Written by galbavy

April 24, 2013 at 4:20 pm

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16 MORE Non-Existent Issues in the Peruvian campo (countryside)..

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More ‘problems’ we are truly starting to forget about, after 5 months in rural Northern Peru,… when you start to think about it there are plenty, so here’s 16 more (..just a couple more opinions from getting to know the life around here.)

16. Noise Ordinances

Learned this lesson one of the first weeks at site, nearby neighbor ceviche place had a truck outside blaring music to entertain the patrons within.  Only problem was this was at 4am on a weeknight.  Couldn’t sleep at all and had to go out and manually reach in the truck to turn it down..  What I was most surprised by was the fact that no other neighbors were out in the streets an none seemed bothered by it the next day.  Perhaps the community is just used to loud noises at all hours.

17. Deadlines

Maybe one of the benefits to being down in Peru.  You can have a schedule when things are to be due and when people are going to get together, but there’s no real benefit to keeping punctuality.  Things are going to get done when they are done and people will get together with information is important enough.  Many of the meetings and projects are informal in any case.

18. Hard Water Stains

Forgot what these looked like, then again I’ve been mostly using a cement lined bathroom for some time.

19. Multi-vitamins / Supplements

Kinda odd to not start my day with a multi-vitamin, calcium pill, omega-3, and some protein powder, but nowadays I feel okay and am satisfied with the nutrition from the meals around here.  Pill nutrients cannot be found here in town and if you finally locate them in the capital city, it’ll cost you.  Found a jug of protein powder for about 90 soles…that’s about what you’ll have to pay for 6 nights in a hostel or a couple weeks worth of Molinopampa food.

20. Wheelchairs

I might have to take this back, our health post does have one…yes one, in the trauma room.  But it’s the only one possible in town so far.  Now if you might need a motorized scooter on your next trip to Amazonas I think your going to have to re-think your travel plans.

21. Smoke Alarms and Fire Extinguishers

Don’t know how much good the alarm would do, many families have an open fire in the kitchen going for most of the day.  With some of the ‘improved’ cookstove designs we are encouraging; families will hopefully vent more of the smoke out of the kitchen and generally improve respiratory conditions.  Now should a blaze get out of control, who knows what would happen next?  I haven’t seen an extinguisher in quite some time and maybe they’re just really, really hidden well in businesses.  Houses are made of mostly adobe but should the wood components start burning up there’s also no real fire department (or hydrants).

22. Sunglasses and Helmets (only on the public works workers)

You should see the see the number of family members that can pack on one motorcycle… tried to get a picture of mom, dad-driving and 2 or 3 little kids trying to hold on (sometimes just a baby or two being cradled by the mom on the back).  Really odd to see, but it’s the life around town.  If we decide to start riding a bicycle Peace Corps requires a helmet…I think we’d be some of the 1st folks around town to be wearing these then (and already we stick out enough).   Plus, being up at such attitude and having occasionally bright days (and working outside all day), one would think sunglasses would be used more often.  Nope, more of a style thing probably for the big city folks…not sure..

23. Baby Proofing a House

What does this really mean?  And are they doing it here in Molinopampa? Yes.. No..  Not really sure.  What I do know is that I’ve been electrocuted badly just touching the light switches and it could easily happen again.  There’s machetes lying on the walkway to the concrete bathroom and (as mentioned) open fire always going in the kitchen without protective barriers.  I guess what would be entertaining for a baby or toddler is the chickens and ducks pecking at your feet while trying to eat.

24. Retirement Homes and Child Daycare

It’s funny, but there really are very few (if any) established places to drop people off to be cared for.  The town streets are a great place to run into bands of roaming 3 – 5 year old kids and our community elders.  Everyone seems content with this lifestyle.

25. Confined Space Work Permits

Lock Out / Tag Out …  OSHA…  I remember keeping up with code and regulations used to be a big deal.  Then I came down to Peru and started working.  When about time to start back in the industries in the states, I’m going to have to review standards and workplace regulations before I jump onto anything that has a fall risk.

26. Family Values and Pornography

As Catholic as the country is, you’d think there would be groups or spokespeople speaking on behalf of the upbringing of the kids.  But then again, maybe it was some of the protestant groups pushing good family values…I forget.  What I do know is that the youth here still are exposed to bloody video games in the capital cities, violent movies on the long distance bus rides that all the families are taking, and the most popular evening national TV shows are ‘competition’ shows where the guys are tank-toped or shirtless and the girls are just about wearing bikinis.  With the complete absence of internet, what seems odd is that you really don’t find any pornography at all around town.  Then again, I really haven’t been shopping around so perhaps my opinion is naive.

27. Lawncare Services

I don’t think my neighbors here know really what a standard North America front lawn is like.  There is plenty of grass and fields around here but there are also plenty of cows grazing and hay and brush cutting.  Funny, but I haven’t seen lawnmower or weedwacker since back in the states because everything is done by hand.  Maybe it has something to do with the high price of gas and machinery.

28. Minimum Wages

You won’t find this idea here yet in Peru, or at least in countryside Amazonas.  Luckily, laborers aren’t taxed and the average household does not need much to live off.  But an eventual agreement of the lowest possible wage you could pay someone per hour might be a nice policy.

29. Lawsuits

Oh that’s right, have to watch out for this in the states.  Here in Peru, lawyers and laws do exist, but it’s very much out of the public’s eye.  If in the future, I ever get in trouble with the law down here, ask me again if I think that the lawsuits are non-existent, but for the time being we have pretty much forgotten about the legal system.

30. Sitting in Traffic

I don’t miss quite yet the feeling of being behind the wheel and no going anywhere.

31. Trans-Fat and High Fructose Corn Syrup

Really with no fast food available around, here I guess this makes sense, but with a small selection of packaged treats you would think these thinks would slip into the Peruvian diet.  Not yet from what I can tell.

Written by galbavy

April 13, 2013 at 10:56 pm

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15 Non-Existent Issues en el campo (countryside)..

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Problems We Are Truly Starting to Forget about after some time in rural Northern Peru (Not to say that these don’t exist in certain areas of the country, but just a little perspective for friends up in the northern continent.  Take no offense por favor, just opinions from getting to know the life around here.)

1. Peanut Allergies

Forgot that this was an issue in the states.

2. Vegetarians

Only vegetarians I’ve run into so far have been other Peace Corps volunteers.  I can imagine the lifestyle is quite tough for them.  Let alone anyone that travels here and would like to keep a Kosher, Adkins, Paleo or any special diet.

3. Diabetics

Maybe more of these folks exist in Lima in the bigger cities, have yet to run into any here in Molinopampa.

4. Chronic Depression / ADHD

This area is probably an example of what happens with these problems go undiagnosed.  There are unfortunately people suffering from depression having to get by and a number of kids that cannot settle down too easily.

5. Drunk Driving

Road feel surprising safe around here.  Much of the reason is probably because very few vehicles are using them.  People drive slow as well and that may have something to do with it.  People drink too and sometimes to excess and the law is very strict about drunk driving.  Only thing is you never hear of it happening (or drivers getting stopped) or campaigns against it.

6. Internet Service Issues

Yes, there are places in this world without internet.  I feel very fortunately to be able to connect to the outside world every now and then, but it costs us a big chunk of our stipend.

7. Credit Card Debt

From what I understand, much of the town does not have bank accounts.  A piece of plastic from which you can buy anything at anytime would probably blow their mind.

8. Car Breaking Down

That’s right… break downs, flat tires and car registration used to be a concern.  let alone trying to find a parking spot during times out of the house around town.  What is that like once again?

9. Insurance Companies

Along the same lines, insurance..  not really found too much around here.  There is a basically free medical insurance coverage for families in town. But no need to think about homeowners / car / life / etc. policies.

10. Taxes

Yet another reason to come on and move down here.  Taxes are only imposed on businesses and by businesses I mean probably only the larger ones, of which few people are involved in.  It’s nice to not have to plan much for housing or income tax..  and knowing the price you arrange for an item is going to be what you have to pay.

11. Baby Formula

You’d think by ending in an ‘a’ this would be part of the vocabulary around here, but Andrea says after working with plenty of pregnant ladies and new mothers, this never comes up or is even available.  What else is non-existent over here… strollers.

12. Environmental Issues

Recycling / Carcinogens / Smog…  with us and environmental volunteers coming into the area, hopefully the community can start to get an understanding about environmental pollutants, sorting garbage to sell back useful materials, etc.  It’s a bit disappointing to see plenty of people on a bus just throwing empty bottles and wrappers from the bus, but when many annexes outside of this municipal capital do not have any sort of garbage collection and little space to burn garbage, tossing into ditches is what is often resorted to.

13. Care for Pets and Animals

Dog Food / Pet Vaccinations / Picking up poop…  Families love their pets, even over here.  Just not enough to spend extra money on specialized food or care.  Poop on the ground?  …who cares when there’s herds of cattle walking through the streets a few times a day to spread it around.

14. Racism / Misogyny

Been on the lookout here in the municipal capital and spending time with many families, but very surprised to say that I have yet to see either of these social problems.  Only by separating groups of people does tendencies come out to speak disparagingly about other groups.  Most everyone in town (women, children, and those that look a little different…such as myself and Andrea) works hard to keep things moving along and everyone appears to be respected for that.

15. Copyright Infringement

Please, anyone that’s been overseas to Asia, Africa or Latin America knows this is a joke.  I do agree that talented artists and entertainers need to be properly compensated for their time, but the movie / music / software industry should really stop going after random people in the states and start doing something about the millions and billions (if not more) of duplications around the world.

Written by galbavy

April 13, 2013 at 6:59 pm