Monday, January 11, 2010

Peru 2009 Part 3

Peru 2009


It was late afternoon and we wanted to see the lake.  We rented a pickup truck and started driving up the mountain with eight people standing in the back of the truck holding onto the side railings.  I was wearing my fleece jacket and raincoat and I was still freezing in the back of the truck.  The metal roll bars on the truck were too cold to hang onto without gloves.  We reached the lake just after sundown but we could still see the spring fed pond of water.  The water was clean at 12,000 feet elevation.  It had taken us 90 minutes to drive 20 kilometers on a gravel path.  It looked like a lot of work to make a pipeline five kilometers direct down the mountain to Tucsan.
We drove back down the mountain and arrived in the bigger town of Pisac at 8:00 pm.  We all went to a roadside restaurant and had chicken soup and rice. Then we went back to the village of Tucsan which did not have electricity. We sat in a candle lit dark adobe hut and drank coca tea.  The room was so full of smoke from the cooking fire in the corner we could barely breath. If you think sleeping in a teepee would be fun just imagine the smoke from a camp fire inside.
Later that night we slept in a vacant building that was cleaner and had glass windows.  It was not too bad except we slept on sheep skin rugs piled into mats then covered with wool blankets.  We all felt things crawling on us all night.  Similar to fleas or lice, but we did not get bit.  We just kept waking up with something tickling us on our face and hands. We slept in our clothes but then we were afraid our clothes were full of bugs. I slept ten times that night. A highlight was going outside at three o'clock to use the bathroom and seeing the brilliant Milky Way of stars.  I went back in and woke up Rebecca to show her the stars.  We stood outside for 15 minutes and were amazed at the clear view of constellations.
The next morning we had more meetings with the Tucsan villagers about making the water pipes reach the village.  Nicole and Clara helped translate during the meeting.  Many of the village people speak the native Quechuan language. So the discussion went from my English to Clara's Spanish to her mom’s Quechuan. The villagers would respond in Quechuan and then Clara's mom would translate to Spanish and Clara would translate to me in English.  Each simple question took five minutes to answer.  Nicole was a big help as she added her experience with similar projects she managed in Honduras during the Peace Corps.
The director from the district came to the meeting.  He had talked with some civil engineers in the area. He said there is a closer water spring that would handle the village needs.  There are four more springs in the area that could be combined into a holding pond.  The government has some funds for the project but they are waiting for more funds before they begin.  I suggested they make a budget for the engineering and materials.  The village said they had 100 men who could work.  They would divide the workers into ten teams of ten men each.  Each team would work one day and rotate for three months until the pipes were dug underground for three kilometers down the mountain. The plastic pipes needed to be buried because big rocks roll down the mountain during frequent earthquakes. I told them we would be willing to match funds with the government depending on the final budget for the project.  I explained the construction needed to be of quality and materials to last 30 years. Since the land is not owned by the “squatters” they need to get proof from the government that the land and water project will be owned by the village of Tucsan. Getting the paperwork in order might take several months. We all left the meeting happy about the possibility of the village getting access to fresh water.
We returned to Cusco for two more days.  Rebecca had been learning traditional flute music from a teacher and she was practicing to perform at a local restaurant. She had a few more music lessons before her big recital.  We went to a fancy restaurant with four of Clara's sisters and brothers.  She played a song using the pan flute and the straight flute.  Everyone in the restaurant was impressed that a blond gringo woman was joining the band.  The teacher said Rebecca was his best student and fastest learner.  It was a fun night for everyone.


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