Thursday, October 19, 2006

Letters From Peru

Dear Susan,

I found a good hotel for us to stay over in lima. It cost 30 dollars with the guide rate. It is 20 minutes from the airport and is fancy enough and quiet from the street noise. I made us reservation there when you come to Lima.

I found some good deals on books. There is a used book neighborhood of ten shops that sell some new editions. Some are science type text books but most of them are novels and picture story books. I bought 79 books for 155 dollars. I am going back tomorrow to get some different titles. About 60 books would fit in a new Pactour duffle bag but it would be heavy. The books are from the Anne Marie McSweeney Library Fund. We are trying to help ten schools without libraries by supplying them with their first 100 books. I will be scouting more possible schools as I drive into the jungle. I will bring 200 or 300 books with me on this trip.

The sky is gray in lima. A light mist falls at night but not enough to use the windshield wipers. It is basically a desert climate here. 60 degree nights and 80 degree days. It would be a great place to live but the sun does not shine and the smog is as thick as the clouds. I think Lima is located here because it is a good port for the ships and there is fresh water river coming from the mountains. Lima is not here as a resort town.

I will write more in a couple days. I have some good taxie drivers stories I want to tell you.

Love Lon

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Lon's Peru Adventure Part #1

Lon Traveling to Peru

I am traveling to Peru tomorrow. From the time I leave my house in Sharon, Wisconsin to when I arrive at my hotel in Lima it is 16 hours of traveling. I have made this commute a dozen times before to Peru. At least I will have a couple days in Lima to get organized and stay over in a hotel. Sometimes I have continued on directly to Cuzco or Iquitos which adds another 4 hours of waiting at the airport and catching another flight. Overall the travel to Peru goes pretty fast but for some reason sitting and doing nothing on an airplane is more tiring than riding a bike for 10 hours.

My reason for going to Peru on this trip has several goals. The riders of PAC Tour and a network of other people have raised over $30,000 the past three years for projects in Peru. Each year we have organized a trip to distribute supplies and funding to some of the most remote regions who are beyond the normal range of government support. This year we have raised about $10,000 to use for the following projects.

Project #1...To buy supplies in Lima for the Puerto Occopa Orphanage and transport the items 300 miles over the Andes mountain to the orphanage. There are 100 children ages 2-17 years old who live in an 125 year old remote monastery. They are mainly self supporting and do not have much contact from visitors. I will be bringing a new set of clothes for each child which is usually a t-shirt and pants. They also need a sewing machine and bulk fabric for making other clothes. During my three days of travel over the 16,000 foot high Andes Mountains and into the jungle I will buy other hardware items like rakes and hoes for their garden. I need to transfer everything by taxi or bus in 60 miles stops between depots. At each depot I need to unload my old vehicle, find a new driver for the next section, then reload into a new vehicle. It is a balance to buy as many items later in the trip without paying higher prices. The final city 50 miles before the orphanage is Satipo. This is the best location to buy heavy bulk food items like bags of rice, pasta and flour. Last year we brought in over 1,500 pounds of food items that required three station wagon taxies to drive the final rutted muddy road at 15 mph. I will spent one night sleeping at the monastery this year. After I deliver the supplies I then backtrack my route for 3 days and return to Lima.

Project #2...From Lima I fly to the jungle city of Iquitos and meet with the small remote “Village of the Dolphins” where we helped build a school two years ago. This was a big project to propose and build a school for 250 children. The school keeps growing and now has 400 kids. Our original goal was to supply materials if the government supplied the teachers and the village supplied the labor. We still have some unfinished projects at the school such as the bathrooms. I need to meet with the village and find out why they haven’t completed the septic work on schedule. I am sure this town hall meeting will be controversial. Usually it is me and a Spanish interrupter sitting under a big palm leaf roof pavilion surrounded by 200 village families. This will not be an easy meeting for me if I need to tell them they will not receive $7,000 for the bathrooms unless they organize workers to complete the project. It should be an interesting meeting.

Project #3...Finally a cycling project. My wife, Susan Notorangelo will be meeting me in Lima and we then fly to the northern city of Piura where we will ride our Bike Friday bicycles 600 miles over the mountains to the jungle town of Tarapoto. This will be a scouting trip for a possible PAC Tour route across Peru next year. We will be staying in small roadside hotels and eating in the local cantinas along the way. We have 8 days of riding to cross several 10,000 and 12,000 foot passes. If everything goes as planned we will have enough route notes to make a new adventure tour to the Amazon River with a 3 day riverboat tour to Iquitos.

Each of these trips will take 6-10 days so I will be traveling in Peru for about 28 days total. I hope to update this Blog Entry every 3-4 days when I find a local INTERNET cafe. When I report from the road those reports are usually rushed since I try to write as much as possible before I lose the INTERNET connection and have to start over. So if you can put up with the poor spelling and bad grammar I hope to post my next update from Peru next Sunday.