Thursday, October 31, 2013

"Diciembre?" I think that means DECEMBER!

And that's when they're now saying that the new Mission Home house will be done!  We were given a tour today of the house under construction, and things are starting to happen.
Ingrid the Architect has moved in, made herself an office upstairs complete with a computer and a printer, and has started calling the shots.  She is a Church employee, and travels about getting projects done.
 This is the front door.  We're thinking of leaving the plank ramps.
Paula carefully goes over the plans for the kitchen, which were very much up to her specifications. That's Lilly Nancy, our housekeeper in the red jacket, who will have plenty to do when we move.  At present, she keeps the apartment spotless, straightens glasses, cooks fabulous meals and otherwise looks for things to do.
Paula, President Prieto, the construction manager and Lilly, on the soon-to-be terrace overlooking the someday-will-be garden area.
OSHA?  SHMOSHA!  This is Peru!
Future master bedroom, with lots of windows.  Lilly noted that everyone else's curtains are drawn, so we can leave ours open.
That is indeed an overlook to the rooms on the main floor.
A discussion on the third-floor terrace.  All was satisfactory.
Ah, sunshine!  And the mountains are visible on either side of the valley!
Paula is grinning because she and Ingrid the Architect have just made a date for planning the gardens and hanging out at the local nursery.
 Here Sister Henderson descends into the roomy basement.
No, this is not modern art.  It is the supports in the basement for the re-poured concrete floor of the study above, which floor had to be lowered by about 10 inches so that tall missionaries wouldn't knock themselves out during interviews.
Meanwhile, at one of the local chapels, appliances and furniture were being unloaded.
 Yes, that's a piano, and no, they didn't drop it.  Almost, but not.
The unwrapped device to the right is the dishwasher.  Several in attendance hadn't seen or used such a thing, and were asking how the heck it worked.
Although we are doing fine in our present apartment, the new Mission Home looks to be most pleasant, and we are grateful for its construction.  Now, where do we find a piano tuner?
We hope that your construction projects have also begun to move.
Dave & Paula

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Now we feel safer

As you know, we're living in a nice apartment in Huancayo while the Mission Home is constructed. We think.  Not that we think we're living in the apartment, rather we think the Mission Home is being constructed.  We think.  We occasionally drive by, but haven't noticed much progress yet.
That's OK, because meanwhile we have the Fearless Ferocious Five living next door to keep us safe.
They warn potential intruders of their awful fate at all times of day, but especially at about 7-8 PM,
which for a reason I don't yet understand must be a particularly active time for Peruvian bad guys.  The purpose for the old bathtub is also unclear to me.  I'm sure I'll get this all figured out soon.
We hope that you are likewise feeling protected.
Dave & Paula

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Huancavelica, once "the pillar of the Spanish empire"

We're at 12,000 feet in the Andes, in a town of about 40,000 called Huancavelica. The city is three hours drive from Huancayo, along twisting mountain roads with (gulp) amazing scenery.
Just to the south of town is the Hill of Santa Barbara, where is found one of the largest deposits in the world of cinnabar, a mercury ore.
It was mined for several thousand years by everybody up to the Incas for its intense red color, and when ground up, was used as a pigment, especially among royalty.
However, when the Spaniards took over, and a process for refining silver that used mercury was invented, the city became immensely important and well off, hence the cathedrals and other signs of old wealth.  (By the way, this is being written behind the second big window on the second floor of the hotel to the left of the church on the main square.)
However, the mines themselves were quite dangerous because of the geology of the area and the dust of the mercury ore, and the Santa Barbara Mine became known as "The Mine of Death."
As the production of ore tailed off in the mines, and the worldwide use of mercury declined due to the recognition of its hazards, the Santa Barbara Mine was finally shut down in1974, but only after the production and shipping of an estimated near-100,000 tons of mercury.
Today, little remains of that mercury dynasty, save some areas with significant contamination, a fascinating history, and shuttered mine entrances.
Despite its spectacular surroundings and a charm shared by few towns in the region, Huancavelica struggles economically, and is reputed to be among the poorest cities in Peru.
OK, not such a humorous entry, but an interesting, beautiful area with a complicated past.  And it was time that you actually learned something.
Dave & Paula

Friday, October 11, 2013

Nourished, er, rather, injured by the Word of God

One of our very good Elders was helping to unload boxes of copies of the Book of Mormon, and the corner of one of the boxes struck his left thigh a heavy blow.  
Like most young men, he brushed it off and continued working.
However, over the next several days, the thigh swelled and became very painful.  He apparently had bled in to the muscle, and is requiring some heavy pain medications.  To his chagrin, he has been ordered to inactivity for a week to allow some recovery.
I suppose one could be injured by less worthy objects, but the poor guy has been in a world of hurt.
We hope that your experiences with the Book of Mormon are more enjoyable.
Dave & Paula

Friday, October 4, 2013

They start 'em young here

May I say it again?  Drivers here in Peru are bad.  Period.  There is little wonder that the roadway accident and death statistics are the worst in South America.
Pedestrians are especially at risk, as they are given no leeway whatsoever.  I have tried several times while driving to wave them to cross the street at appropriate times.  They just stared at me like I was the alien that I am.  ("Crazy gringo! Doesn't he know that his manhood is in now in question?!") 
So, Paula, feeling a little suicidal. was out for a stroll the other day, and in preparing to cross the street - on foot, mind you - she looked carefully up the one-way street.  All was clear, and as she stepped out to cross, a kid on a bicycle slammed in to her.  Nothing serious, but she realized that bad driving habits here start even before they get behind the wheel.  Like, when they are behind the handlebars.  
We hope that you're wearing your helmet also when you go for a walk.
Dave & Paula
P.S.  When are they coming out with those air bags for pedestrians?  Probably won't make it up here from Lima for a while...