Wednesday, December 25, 2013

It was a White Christmas!!

Sam and Mike, our 26- and 22-year-old sons flew in to Lima early Sunday morning, then took the bus up to Huancayo.  We attended the Christmas Devotional with the local Mission Zones on Monday, then mostly dinked around on Tuesday (though I wouldn't necessarily count renting and watching the last Harry Potter movie as dinking around), and got neglected chores taken care of.
So, it was Christmas morning, and you had to do SOMETHING!!
Huaytapallana is a beautiful, 18,000+ foot, snow-covered mountain some 25 km up the canyon behind Huancayo.  It looks like this on a clear day:
Unfortunately, it's "summer," which is the rainy season, and it wasn't a clear day.
 We started at about 14,300 feet, and began the climb.
 A local adopted us along the trail.
 Rest stops were fairly frequent as the steep trail and the altitude took their toll.
We finally reached the "saddle" at 15,055 feet, from where that first picture was taken, but arrived in the middle of the clouds.  A nice sign had gone up since we were last at this point, and a third had already been pried off and burned. 
 After adding to the height of the rock cairn,
 we descended through the clouds.
 Back down to the car, which surprisingly still had its mirrors and wheels.
Now it's time for naps and cooking for the missionaries, who can't wait to get more of Paula's turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, etc.  Even the Latinos appreciated Thanksgiving.
We hope you had a white Christmas, though we hope you didn't have to risk High Altitude Pulmonary Edema to do so.
Dave & Paula

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Quiz time!

OK, what makes a buzzing sound and smells like burning wires?
Wrong!  It's a 120-volt appliance when it's plugged into Peruvian 220 volts.
The results can be frustrating and cost money.
So far, we've lost a laminator at the office, because I waited too long to get a transformer and someone plugged it in, and Paula bagged a 500-watt transformer using her 1500-watt pancake griddle.
Warning!  Delicious 220-volt pancakes are not worth this!!
Anyway, yesterday, I burnt out the motor on the shoe dryer (see previous post on homemade shoe dryers), an old friend made by an old friend with whom we used to windsurf and kitesurf.  It has proven indispensable for drying wet suit booties, and more recently missionary-type shoes.
So, after doing what I needed to this morning, I went to our local Maestro store, which is as close as you'll get in Huancayo to a Lowe's or Home Depot.
I will have to admit, and I did so to Paula, that I had a couple of hours of guilty pleasure playing with tools and making a big, happy mess in the kitchen.
In the end, the Dr. Winston Trice Shoe Dryer Mark III (Now Mk. III.01) was as good, or even better, than new, with its 220-volt fan motor humming happily along.
We hope that a) your shoes don't get wet, and b) you don't forget you're in Peru.
Dave & Paula

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Well, that was quite the little detour...

On a recent Sunday morning, attempting to enter the Central Highway portion that is under repair (and has been for four years - about 3.5 years longer than the initial estimate), we learned to our dismay that the closing time had been changed without warning to 7:00 AM instead of the 8:00 AM to which we had been accustomed.  "Desvio" means "detour," and it's what the lady with the paddle signs said we had to do.
Well, what a lovely passage of the countryside!  We drove on the dirt road through bucolic villages awakening to the sunny morning.
However, the road got sketchier and sketchier as we climbed, sharing it at times with other travelers. The lady on the horse answered, "Sure.  Cars go through here frequently!" We unfortunately didn't hear the next part, under her breath, "Yeah, sucker gringos, the last one was in 1987.  Heh, heh."
It only got worse.  We spent a lot of time in 4-wheel drive, dodging all sorts of stuff.  Then it turned ugly.  This was the approach to one of several curves where the center had fallen out.
Just like the L.A. freeway, no?  At the 2.5 hour mark, on what should have been a 45-minute passage without the "desvio," we found the worst corner.
I made everyone get out of the car, buckled my seat belt, checked the air bag light, and went for it.
In my mind, I could just hear folks in Salt Lake on the other end of the phone, asking, "He was driving WHERE when the CAR GOT SWALLOWED UP??!!
Anyway, we and the car made it through, late for the church session we were to attend.  We put a big red "X" on the map next to this route, which even had a name, "La Cumbre," meaning "The Peak."  We quit mentioning to the locals that we had driven it when they started making the "he's loco!" sign to each other.
We hope your Sunday-morning drives are not as exciting.
On a serious note, we appreciate the continued prayers for our safety.
Dave & Paula

Thursday, December 5, 2013

It's beginning to look a little like Navidad!

Paula has progressed from the Yule-maniac stage where I finally had to limit decorations until after the 4th of July, to a more mature level.  It is still necessary to do something, even in a cramped apartment in the highlands of Peru.
So, off to the Christmas section of town!
Per protocol, each store was about four feet wide, and efficiently packed with everything a reasonable, or unreasonable Yule-obsessed Peruvian might need.
I was a little disturbed when I glanced up to see a banjo-strumming snowman, and a Santa that looked like he was about to break in to my house.
Nevertheless, we were soon the proud owners of a Golden Tree Economic. (See
Paula found a place for it, rearranged whatever was previously there, and got to work. (Note: it's going to be really tough to get those little sleeves back on the limbs, but she'll find a way.)
The lights can play electronic Christmas music and flash in patterns.  Yippee!
Instant Christmas!
Hang the doodad on the front door, crank up Jose Feliciano, and it's Navidad time!
We hope that your preparations are progressing in like fashion.
Dave & Paula