There are several smaller units of the Church, called Branches, that are so remote that they do not come under the jurisdiction of a Stake (a collection of 6-12 Branches and Wards, the larger units). We have two such in the Mission, for which I have responsibility.
Last weekend, we visited them, stopping first in Huancavelica. This is a town once prosperous for its mercury, which was used in the refining of gold mined elsewhere, and yes, for thermometers. However, more environmentally sound methods are used now, plunging the town in to poverty, as one of the poorest in Peru, which is saying something.
Oh, and by the way, at 12,000 feet, it's colder than 'home' in Huancayo.From Huancavelica, a three-hour drive on paved roads, to the furthest branch in Lircay, it's three hours of pure, nonstop, suitcase-hopping, bumpy, kidney jarring dirt roads, topping out at about 14,000 feet.
That line you see in the distance is the road, winding around through the mountains, and that's about a 500-foot sheer drop you can see from this vantage point a couple of miles away.
Cheerful reminders of the relative safety of the route festooned it's shoulders.The views from the "two-lane" thoroughfare were spectacular. At least that's what the passengers told me. I was too "uneasy" to take my eyes off the curves, waiting for the next massive truck or teetering two-deck bus to come careening along.
Alpacas are very cool-looking
unless you're trying to swerve around them also.
It's time for the Festival of Santiago (St. James), which apparently was originally a harvest celebration much older than Christianity, upon which the Catholic priests planted the more modern name. No matter, everyone gets together, cooks things in big pots, plays saxophones and tubas and dances, and has a great time anyway.The meeting with the Lircay Branch was great. They were happy to see us and I don't think I said anything in my talk that violated any broad Gospel principles, though my Spanish isn't THAT good.
That's us, the two amazingly pale people in the back.
The young women lovingly presented Paula with a bouquet of flowers and asked for a picture with herAs part of my duties as Mission President, I interview each missionary individually at least every three months. While I was speaking with the two assigned to Lircay, Paula was taking advantage of the sunshine and talking with the members. As with all of the cities in the mission, the width of the streets was felt adequate for the vehicles at the time they were established, not for trucks and buses of our day.
When the inter-city bus tried to squeeze through, it became apparent it wasn't going to work.
Soooo, what do you do? Well, DUH!! You get some Peruvians, pick up the car and move it!
There, now was that so hard?
We made it back home safely on Sunday night, driving a total of nine hours that day, six of them on the dirt road.
We hope you have some sturdy Peruvians around next time you get in a jam with a bus.
Dave & Paula