Monday, January 11, 2010

Peru Part....14


Business Report
We are evaluating our existing projects and deciding how much support we can give each project during the upcoming months. We still have about $10,000 in the bank we can divide between the jungle schools, the Puerto Occopa Orphanage and the new water project near Cusco. The water well project could cost about $12,000 depending on the support from the local government. We will probably specify our money is used for materials so we can document how our money was spent. The schools in the jungle both need more school supplies. The new Joe Pulley School would like to build a rain water collection system on the roof which will cost about $1,500. The Jack Wolff School has electricity and they would like to get a copy machine and more updated office equipment for about $2,000. Their school also needs a coat of paint which will cost $500. We will continue to support rural schools with books from the Anne Marie McSweeney Book Delivery Project.

The Puerto Occopa Orphanage needs about $2,000 per month for food and supplies. We can’t afford to support them year around but we should be able to send them some food money during the next few months. Based on our current fund raising goals of $15,000 per year we should be able to continue to support all these projects with equal amounts. I don’t think we can afford to begin a new school at this time because that would mean cutting back on support to existing projects.

We have managers for each project in Peru who I trust to spend the money as intended. Some donations are given for specific projects and we will use those donations as required. We thank everyone for your continued support of these Peru Projects. Even though these people are far away they want you to know they appreciate your help and they remember you as friends.

TAX Deductible Donation:

Christ Lutheran Church Peru Fund
P.O. Box 303
Sharon, WI 53585


Peru Part...13


Returning to Lima
The next day we headed back to Satipo. Aileen was the only member of our group who had a full suspension mountain bike who wanted to ride back to Satipo. The local official would give her a private escort and drive his motorcycle behind Aileen to be sure she was safe. The rest of us loaded into five taxies and departed at 15 minute intervals. We would offer Aileen support at various intervals on the way back. I was in the last taxi to leave. When we passed the village of Gloriabamba I saw some of the young men who stopped me the day before. I couldn’t help but sing the tune “I Only Have Eyes for You”.

The remaining five days back to Lima would be a reverse of the route we had ridden to Satipo. The long gradual down hills would now be a steady five percent climb out of the jungle. Our relief would be climbing to the higher elevations and cooler temperatures. We got out of the jungle heat and into the drier air of the mountains. After two days we arrived in Tarma at 10,000 foot elevation. Tarma was voted the best town of the tour with a nice hotel and comfortable temperatures. Tonight would be a special evening because Aracely was going to be baptized in the cathedral built in 1743. This was a PAC Tour first and we all attended the ceremony. The whole experience was perfect for Aracely and a memorable night for all of us.

The final two days were through the town of La Oroya and then over the summit again at 16,000 feet. We got to the summit earlier this time and the sky was bright and sunny. We had a thrilling 55 mile coasting downhill to Chosica. We had finished the tour safe and with many new stories about Peru. We had met a wide variety of people and learned a lot of the food, geography and culture. Everyone on the tour probably looks at Peru differently now. We all left behind new friends who want us to visit them again.

Peru Part....12


Conditions at the Orphanage
The conditions at the orphanage seem to be improving from the first time we visited there in 2004. There are sixty kids at the orphanage now which is twenty less than past years. This is allowing for more food and supplies per child. There are new lights in many of the rooms. The beds we bought two years ago are helping solve the crowded sleeping space. The living conditions are still very basic and the children take a bath in the river each afternoon. The food we supplied will support the orphanage for about 30 days. The clothes and materials should last the kids about six months. The orphanage is so secluded it is difficult to contact them by telephone or postal mail. The only contact they have with the outside world is when one of the nuns travels to Satipo every two weeks and she can check her e-mail or use her cell phone. It would be good if we can continue to support the Puerto Occopa Orphanage because they are forgotten by most other organizations. In the future when we travel there the nuns said they will provide a personal escort in each taxi for our group to be sure no one thinks we are collecting body parts.

Peru Part....11


The cyclists had a final rest stop twelve miles from the orphanage. I waited for all the riders to pass and then sent the support taxi ahead to the orphanage. The cycling group was now spread out over one hour. The delivery truck had already arrived ahead of us and was being unloaded. It had been a long, hot, muddy day and everyone was ready for a shower.

I was riding in the back of the remaining riders and I could see them a hundred yards ahead. We were going up a shallow grade and our pace had slowed to a jogging pace. When the riders ahead of me passed the village of Gloriabamba I noticed some young men yelling something and running out toward the road. By the time I arrived at the village the men were near the road. My first reaction was to go faster past them like they were a pesky dog. Going up the grade on the rough road I knew I couldn’t outrun them. They yelled something and I stopped to see what they wanted. One of the men came up to me and immediately started opening my large saddlebag. My wallet and camera were in there to keep safe from the rain. The situation was very similar to my confrontation with the thugs in Lima. Now I was on a seclude jungle road and the nearest policeman was 40 miles away in Satipo. I knew getting my camera and wallet back would be hopeless again.

When he opened the saddlebag he exposed the handle of a kitchen knife I was carrying to cut fruit and maybe even use for self defense. I withdrew the knife and I yelled “No”. I waved the knife and he stepped back. I got off my bike and continued walking away from the village. By this time five other guys had arrived and were walking toward me. Some were picking up rocks and one guy had a rifle aiming at me. The situation wasn’t good and my little knife wasn’t much help against a rifle. I kept walking and yelling in my broken Spanish that I was going to Puerto Occopa to help the orphan kids. The six guy were getting closer and I was expecting the worst. I was hoping to stall long enough until a taxi would drive by. Ahead a silver pick up truck was coming toward me. I stood in the middle of the road and blocked the truck. I was yelling and pointing to the six guys about fifteen feet away. At least I was going to have a witness in case they shot me.

The truck driver and the guys started talking and I could tell the truck driver was trying to tell them that I was part of the tourist group he had seen up ahead in Puerto Occopa. The guys wanted to see what was in my pack. The truck driver got out and motioned for me to open my pack. I showed them my raincoat, tools and snacks I was carrying. Everyone was satisfied I wasn’t carrying drugs or body parts. The tension seemed to subside and I extended my hand to say thank you to the driver and the guys in the group. I especially wanted to shake the hand of the guy with the rifle who had been pointing it at my chest five minutes earlier.

With a renewed outlook on life I got back on my bike. My speed had now doubled and I didn’t want to be off the back of the group again. I arrived at the orphanage and some of the girls were waiting for me to show me the way into the driveway. I wasn’t in the best mood and I wanted to talk to the head nun. It turned out the mayor of the village and a local official were also at the orphanage. I told them my story about being stopped by the men on the road. They said the men at Gloriabamba were stopping gringo tourists who might be killing their children and stealing body parts. The nun and mayor and local official said the story was absurd but the village people keep repeating the story. The police had tried to track down the story and went from village to village to find out where the murders had occurred. It turns out the story was a urban legend that had never happened. The story sounded so good it was being repeated throughout Peru. During our travels in the mountains we heard similar stories from locals about the problems they had heard in other mountain towns.

Peru Part ...10


Riding into the Jungle
At 5:00 AM we awoke to the sound of rain on the hotel roof. It was pouring hard and the street curbs were overflowing with drainage water. We were suppose to ride our bikes 46 miles to the Puerto Occopa Orphanage. Some of the riders hadn’t intended to ride because this section of road is only recommended for mountain bikes with fat two inch wide tires. There were six riders who wanted to try riding to the orphanage. We organized the group into riders and non riders. The non riders would share special taxies which were built for the rough road. The cyclists departed first and the taxies and delivery truck would follow about one hour later. As the taxies passed the cyclists they would give out snacks and beverages along the route.

This section of road is famous for drug smuggling and bandits robbing tourists. Our truck load of supplies was being escorted by some of the boys from the orphanage who could convince the bandits the food was for them and not tourists. The nuns also told us another recent problem about a rumor that American tourists who were traveling deep into the jungle to steal the eyes and kidneys from local children. The tourists would then take the organs back to the United States and sell them. I tried to tell the nuns it would be very impractical to travel 300 miles deep into the jungle just to steal organs. There are hundreds of homeless kids living near the Lima airport who could supply much fresher body parts. The nuns agreed, but they didn’t think my logic could stop a good story from spreading through the jungle.

With our group divided between taxies and bikes, the cyclists started riding at 9:00 AM in a mild drizzle. The road turned to grapefruit size rocks shortly outside of town. Some riders called this road “The Road of Skulls” because of the large jagged rocks. Between the rain, mud and slippery rocks this was going to be a tough cycling day. A special taxi with good suspension can average 15 mph. A mountain bike is doing well to average 8 mph.

We were staying on schedule and reached the halfway point by noon. The sun was coming out and the temperature was nearing 95 degrees in the steaming jungle. The road was narrow and the vegetation grew tall and tight against the sides of the road. Cruising down the road was similar to traveling on a muddy lane in a corn field. Passengers in the taxies needed to keep their elbows inside the car to avoid getting whipped by the roadside branches. When two vehicles met on the narrow road one car had to pull halfway off the road and allow the other to squeeze by.

Peru Part...9


Shopping for the Orphanage
We arrived at the town of Satipo by late afternoon. There were eleven children from the Puerto Occopa Orphanage and two nuns waiting for us at our hotel. I recognized some of the kids from our visits during the past five years. They treated me as an old friend with hugs and kisses that is the custom in Peru. After our reunion we began making plans for our shopping trip to buy supplies for the orphanage. We divided our group and children into teams of five people each. Each team would be responsible for one of the following categories; bulk food, clothing, hardware, school supplies, toys and games. Each team had money for their share of the budget. Most of the funds were used for food and clothing. We had a busy two hours of organizing and selecting the various items in each category. Everything went on schedule and we stayed within the budget. After our shopping trip we all met for dinner at a Satipo Oriental restaurant. It was a good way to end a busy day.

Peru Part...8


The summit was still 25 miles away and 6,000 feet above us. The following morning we departed early to beat the bad weather that blows in at Ticlio Pass in the afternoon. The road climbs through the gorge with steep rock walls towering 2,000 feet around us. I expect some sections of road only see the sun a few hours at mid day. At 14,000 foot elevation the jagged ridge of mountains along the summit become visible. These peaks are about 18,000 feet tall and they make you feel very small as you ride toward them. The final miles to Ticlio Pass meander through a gap at 16,000 feet. The snow covered peaks are still towering tall above us. It would take a serious mountain climber with ropes to reach the top of these pinnacle spikes.

We reached the summit around twelve noon. Right on schedule the weather changed from sunshine to a cloudy splattering of rain and hail. Everyone scurried to layer on more clothes before coasting down the other side. In a few minutes everyone was wet and chilled. Our hotel was 25 miles down the grade at La Oroya located at 12,000 foot elevation. We arrived there ready for a hot shower. Of course there is not hot water in these basic hotels except for a couple hours in the evening. Fortunately we had dry clothes waiting for us. It had been another tough cycling day and harder than most riders expected. The grades and elevation almost double the amount of effort needed. The next three days would be easier as we continued to drop an average of 3,000 feet each day into the jungle elevations. We were in the routine of traveling in Peru and seeing the country in a way few travelers have.

On our fifth cycling day we stopped at the jungle town of Yurinaki. This was Aracely’s hometown and her grandfather was working at the family roadside restaurant. Her old house was made of simple wood boards and a grass roof. We ate an assortment of jungle foods such as giant lima beans and fish roasted in banana leaves. Since it was Saturday the local school was closed today. The director came to the restaurant and we gave him four big boxes of books and school supplies as part of the Anne Marie McSweeney School Book Delivery Project. We made plans to visit the school the following Tuesday on our return trip home.

Peru Part....7


Bike Tour Over the 16,000 Foot Ticlio Pass
Our new group of twelve riders all arrived in Lima on schedule. We were joined by five Peruvian guides who would travel with us on the tour. Clara would be joining us from Cusco. Aracely and her mother Nayda would be reunited for a few weeks. Vioricka was from Iquitos and our van driver, Pepe, was from Lima. We were an assorted mix of ages and backgrounds. The ages ranged from ten year old Aracely to 70 year old Bob Kenner who is a retired submarine captain. Of our 17 people, eleven have toured in Peru with us before. Everyone had been warned that these Peru tours offer lots of unplanned adventures. A little adventure is nice but we all wanted to return home safely.

Our first day involved getting organized and driving in our van across Lima to the suburban town of Chosica. Lima is a sprawling city of nine million people similar in size to Los Angeles spreading almost 50 miles from the Pacific Ocean to the Andes foothills. Chosica was the location of our base hotel and the Chosica Girls Home. We discovered the Girls Home four years ago when our little friend Aracely moved there from the jungle. Aracely now lives there with ten other girls.

In the afternoon we visited the Girls Home and took all the girls on a shopping spree in the market. Each girl received $18 to buy new clothes. Members of our group escorted each girl as they window shopped and walked through the stores. After much comparing of styles and colors they would select the perfect item. It was an exciting day for the girls to choose their own clothes. Later that night we all met for dinner at a nice restaurant. This was a good day to introduce our group to the type of projects we would be helping with in Peru.

The next day we began the bicycle ride from Chosica up the slope of the Andes Mountains. At first glance it looked like an easy 35 mile ride. What wasn’t so obvious was that we would ride up a continuous seven percent grade all day and gain about 7,000 feet of elevation. This cycling effort is similar to jogging up a flight of stairs. The first hour was okay but as the altitude and miles went by this turned into a pretty tough day. We slept at a basic hotel in the town of San Meteo located on the mountainside at 10,000 foot elevation. Most of us took six hours to complete the day and we were feeling the grade and lack of oxygen that night.

Peru Part....6


New Bike
I returned to Lima and went to the bike shop to pick up my new bike I had ordered two weeks earlier. I was also picking up a bike for a rider who didn’t want to bring a bike from the United States. The owner greeted me and said he had something for me. I thought he meant a new bike. He then handed me my ball point pen I had dropped in his shop a few weeks ago. I was impressed with his honesty. Then he rolled out my bike which was assembled from parts and pieced together to make an all terrain mountain bike. When I saw the bike my first thought was to give it a test ride and try the new push button type shifters. I tucked my long pants into my socks and headed out on the busy street. I was only going for a three minute test ride. I was still carrying my backpack and not wearing my helmet. At the next side street I turned right to get away from the traffic. I was playing with the shifters and looking at the derailleurs indexing through the gears. A block later I turned right again down a smaller alley type street. There were not any cars on this street and I rode with my head down watching the front derailleur change between the chainrings.

I did notice there was a strong looking young guy standing on the right curb. About fifty feet later there we two guys on the left curb. They met me in the middle of the street and asked me for a one soles coin (35 cents). I stopped and straddled the bike. He held out his hand and then quickly grabbed for my camera in my front shirt pocket. At the same moment the guy behind me on my right started grabbing for my wallet in by rear pants pocket. I was straddling the bike and tried to get myself in a position to defend myself. I grabbed for my camera and the thug dropped it on the street. Before I could get off my bike he picked up my camera. The three guys ran across the street to a building with a metal door they pulled closed behind them. I had my camera and wallet stolen in less than ten seconds.

I was screaming at the women sitting along the building who looked at me with blank expressions. They had probably seen these guys ambush many taxies or pedestrians and these women weren’t going to get involved. I got back on my bike and rode the rest of the way around the block back to the bike shop. They asked me how I liked the bike. I said the bike was fine but I had just been robbed. They asked where it happened. I pointed to the neighborhood behind the shop. They shook their heads and said “Too bad, the police don’t go there. Nobody goes there”. I said I didn’t care about the $70 in my wallet or the camera, but I wanted the digital camera chip that had all my photos from the Iquitos School visit. The bike shop guys gathered up a posse with four other guys and we walked around the block. On the side street the metal door of the hideout was open and the women said the thugs had run down the street. They said there wasn’t any chance to get my camera chip back.

I had seen both extremes of honesty. One was the bike shop owner who had saved my pen for two weeks. He was more concerned with returning my pen than selling me a bike. The thugs had stole by camera and wallet in a few seconds. The robbery could have been worse. The thugs could have easily had knives or hit me over the head. They could have taken my backpack which had over $3,000 cash to buy the bikes and pay for the tour van rental. Had I been walking and not testing the bike I would not have gone down a street with men standing in the street. During the next few weeks I was more aware of my surroundings. If someone bumped me in the grocery store my first reaction was to push them away. Being robbed definitely affected how I reacted to people in Peru.

Peru Part...5


New School Visit
The following day we drove 50 kilometers into the jungle to see the new school we started building three years ago. The completion has taken longer than expected because all the cement and bricks needed to be carried by workers the final four kilometers through the jungle. During our visit we brought supplies for the school and food for the party.  Many people from the village arrived to meet us on the road and carry the supplies.  When we arrived at the school there were 120 people waiting.  The school is the center of the community and there are only four houses visible in the area.  Over 30 families live in huts in the jungle out of sight of the path.

Half of us crowded into one shady classroom and everyone else looked through the windows. Peruvians like a ceremony and they sang their National Anthem. Then the director of the school and mayor of the village made speeches to welcome us. In the past the school was called the KM 46 School. It is now called the Joseph Pulley School in honor of Brenda’s father. The ceremony was a nice way to officially thank Brenda and Joe for their contributions to the school.
The school is painted lime green.  The cement walls and floors are very smooth and the windows are covered with decorative metal bars.  There are four rooms and two full time teachers for 40 students.  The school is expected to grow to 60 students next year as the families learn the school can help their future. Most of the parents never attended school so the whole concept of taking time to go to school instead of picking bananas is new for them.  We hope the kids can at least learn to read and write before they begin working full time. The village wants us to bring a group back to live in the jungle with them for a few days and see the school classes in progress.  That might be a new PAC Tour trip in the future.
The following day we went to see the Jack Wolff School we built five years ago at the Village of the Dolphins.  This school is nine kilometers from the city and much easier to travel to.  The Jack Wolff School went through similar growing pains when the children there were learning how to go to school. Now the school is more stable and the same director has been there for two years.  There are 16 teachers and 500 students with seven class rooms.  During our visit we had a meeting with all the teachers to discuss future needs.  They gave us a list of a  dozen different items. During the next month we will figure out a budget of which projects we can afford to help them with.  They started a chess club and wanted ten chess sets for the classroom to play at the same time.  I found some nice carved wooden sets for ten dollars each which I was able to deliver before I departed Iquitos.

Peru 2009 ....Part 4

Peru 2009

PART..... 4

Iquitos Amazon Tour
We returned to Lima to begin the next phase of our Peru Projects. Brenda Pulley and her father Joe came from the United States and we flew to the jungle town of Iquitos in the Amazon rain forest. Brenda and Joe were major contributors to the new school we built 46 kilometers from Iquitos. We were going for the Grand Opening of the school and check the progress of the students and teachers.

We arrived in Iquitos in the evening and checked into the Safari hotel located in the center of town.  It is a nice hotel for 30 dollars a night with great air conditioning. The temperature in Iquitos is about 92 degrees in the day with thick humidity. You get used to sweating constantly and your shirt is always wet.  The only relief is in a cool hotel room.
Iquitos Bike Races
The next morning was the short criterium bike race on a circuit in the suburbs.  I went to the race with Brenda and Joe and we traveled by moto taxi across the city to the starting line. The novice cyclists would race three kilometers and the elite group raced 20 kilometers.  There were about 60 riders with all types of bikes.  Five riders came from Columbia who traveled up the Amazon on a boat to race.  The winner of the race was a bike shop owner from Columbia who had a good sprint at the end.
Later that afternoon we organized the birthday party for the children who live on the street.  We invited 25 kids to a secret restaurant that served them a full dinner of chicken, fried bananas, salad and cake. The hardest part of the night is only selecting 25 kids to attend since we only had three people in our group to organize the meal.  The good thing is the kids are very well mannered and quiet while eating. Brenda and her father Joe were impressed with meeting the kids.  For the next three days many of them would wave to us on the street.
The next day was the big bike race from Nauta to Iquitos.  The route was 90 kilometers on the only paved road across the jungle.  All the racers loaded up in buses and drove to Nauta in the morning.  The race started at 9:00 AM and it was burning hot already.  This was a race for the 40 elite riders. The riders were required to stay within ten minutes of the lead pack or they would be picked up by the broom wagon.  Most of the riders stayed with the pack that surged and attacked several times. There was a pack sprint and the fellow from Columbia won again.  The first three riders won 350, 250 and 150 dollars respectively and the first woman won 100 dollars donated by PAC Tour.  All the riders from both days of racing were allowed to choose a jersey or bike shorts donated to the Peru clothing fund from PAC Tour riders.  It was good to see all the donated items being cherished by the riders in Peru.

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.

Peru 2009 Part 2

Peru 2009


Planning for Drinking Water
Rebecca, Nicole and I flew to Cusco the next day.  Our friend Clara met us at the airport and took us on a Cusco city tour for four hours.  Her house is 200 meters from many Inca ruins where she played as a kid, so she knows the area well.  Our group first met Clara seven years ago when she was fifteen years old and selling candy on the streets. Several members of our group supported her and sent her to English school. She is now a guide for our tours. We ate dinner at her house and had coy (coo-ee) guinea pig. There is not much meat on a whole guinea pig and it seemed like a waste of time to cook it.  I think there is more meat on a leg of chicken. 
The following morning we drove one hour into the mountains to scout a new school location.  The village of Tucsan (not Tucson) was started in a pasture near the highway six kilometers from the bigger town of Pisac.  The elevation in Tucsan is about 9,000 feet. It was settled by thirty families who came from 3,000 feet higher up the mountain.  In Peru vacant land can be occupied by “squatters” who can take possession of the land if they live there and improve it. The village of Tucsan is a squatter settlement without roads or streets.  The houses are adobe mud brick huts built in the pasture.  The cows, goats, pigs, dogs and chickens roam between the houses.  The grass has been eaten and all that is left are piles of manure.  The only token attempt at sanitation is an adobe out-house with four toilet holes for the entire community.
We had a meeting with the village about building a school in Tucsan.  There is already a school in the bigger town of Pisac and the kids can take the bus six kilometers into town. After some discussion with the people of Tucsan they decided they needed water for drinking and washing.  Currently they need to carry all their drinking water from Pisac in five gallon buckets. The river near their village is full of Cusco sewage and can´t be used except to water the farm fields.  They said there was a lake higher in the mountains near their old village where they could splice into with pipes and have water flow down the mountain.

Peru 2009 Part One

Peru Adventures 2009

Part One

My first trip to Peru was in December 1999. I went on an Amazon Riverboat Tour organized by a Chicago Museum. It was an interesting excursion but we were not allowed to mix with the local people. The next year I returned to Peru to explore new areas. I learned more about the culture and met people who could improve their lives with a little help. In 2002 PAC Tour began organizing tours to Peru that brought material improvements to different specific projects. With the help of the network of PAC Tour riders we have raised over $120,000 to be used on various projects. We return to Peru each year to monitor these projects and visit new areas that could use our help. The following updates are some of our recent adventures across Peru.

In October I arrived in Lima with my daughter Rebecca and her cousin Nicole.  We would be traveling together for ten days to Machu Picchu and Cusco. The bike tour over the mountains would begin next month and I needed a bike since I did not bring one from home. We went shopping and I bought my new mountain bike in Lima for $330.  The bike shop is in a market in a ten foot booth crammed with spare parts.  They assemble the new whole bike from pieces. My bike has a nice aluminum frame and decent parts.  Nothing special, but equal to a $500 bike in the United States. 

In the afternoon we took a 50 mile taxi ride to the town of Chosica. We were going to visit a little ten year old girl named Aracely at the girl’s orphanage.  We met her five years ago when she lived in the jungle. She is a smart kid and the best science student in her school class of 300 students.  Aracely has been suffering from some warts on her hands and ankles.  We made an appointment with a good dermatologist who was in charge of the Henry Ford hospital in Detroit and now runs a family clinic near Lima.  He gave Aracely’s warts a treatment of frozen nitrogen and topical medicine.  He said she should be better in two months. During our bike tour in three weeks we will visit the Girls Home again and take all the girls on shopping spree in the market to buy new clothes.  Aracely will be traveling with us on the tour and will be in charge of adding up the restaurant bill each day.


Going to Peru in 2009

Cyclists Delivering Supplies Across Peru

On November 8th, twelve cyclists will begin a unique adventure across Peru. During the first two days they will ride 50 miles from the coastal city of Lima up and over the 16,000 foot Ticlio Pass in the Andes mountains. During the next five days they will then descend 250 miles into the low jungle of the Peruvian rain forest. The road ends as a muddy trail over 300 miles from Lima. The cyclists will then return over the mountains to Lima to complete their two week 600 mile tour across Peru.

Although the physical challenges of riding over the Andes are all part of this tour, the real story are the orphans and school children this group of cyclists will help along the way. For example the first day the riders stay in the town of Chosica at the base of the mountains. Chosica is the location of the “House of Gina” Girls Home where 20 abandon or abused girls live. The conditions at the girls home are very basic and the girls live on a diet of chicken soup, rice and beans. When the cyclists come to visit they will take the girls on a shopping spree to the markets where each girls can choose a new set of clothes for about $20. During past tours during this shopping trip, it was interesting to watch the girls select their purchases. Since the girls do not usually have money to spend, some of them will hurry and buy the first dress that catches their attention. Other girls savor holding on to their money for two hours and will compare all the dresses in the market before making a decision.

Later that afternoon the cyclists and girls will gather at a nice restaurant for a real meal the girls choose from the menu. Cake and ice cream are served as dessert. The cyclists will present the director of the Girl’s Home with another $500 to buy more supplies and food for the girls in the future. Overall this is a busy day that has nothing to do with cycling, but it is a memorable day for the girls and our group.

As the tour continues over the mountains there are other schools to visit in small villages along the way. The group will carry prepackaged bundles of library books to leave with the rural schools. Since most of these schools have few supplies the cyclists will also distribute notebooks, pencils and other basic equipment for the classrooms.

At the end of the road in the jungle is the town of Puerto Occopa. Here is the location of the orphanage which is the home and boarding school to over 80 children. Some of the children are orphans and some of the children come to Puerto Occopa from deep in the jungle to live for three months at a time and go to school.

The conditions at the orphanage are more basic than the Chosica Girls Home without drinking water, sanitation or much food. The children bathe in the river each afternoon. The cost to feed 80 kids is $20 per day for rice, beans, potatoes and powdered milk. During the tour the cyclists will hire a truck to bring 3,000 pounds, (1,500 kilos) of supplies the final 50 miles from the major city of Satipo to the orphanage. Some of the children and teachers from Puerto Occopa will meet the cyclists in Satipo for a big shopping trip to fill the dump truck sized vehicle with bags of rice, toilet paper, cooking oil, beans and all kinds of supplies to outfit the children. Each child also receives a new set of clothes which they will wear 100% of the time for the next year.

The cyclists will spend the night at the orphanage and join the kids in a big party that night. Since the orphanage doesn't receive many visitors, it is a special night for them and our group. They next day the cyclists begin the 300 mile journey back over the mountains to Lima. They will see Peru differently now. The challenge of riding over a 16,000 foot mountain won’t seem as difficult as the daily challenges that the children they visited face everyday.

TAX deductible donations for these Peru Projects can be made to:

Christ Lutheran Church Peru Fund
P.O. Box 303
Sharon, Wisconsin 53585


Lon's New Blog Update

It has been almost one year since my last Blog update. A lot has happened and some of it might be interesting. My biggest news has been our work rebuilding our house since our fire on February 11, 2009. This house project has basically doubled our workload this year. Our travels on PAC tour has seemed easy compared to the weekly house building decisions. I will try to write a lot more in the next few weeks to get caught up about the past year.