Thursday, February 26, 2015

Well, that explains a lot!

When they were uncrating appliances for the new mission home, one of the big, mysterious boxes turned out to be a dishwasher.  Many of the folks that day had never seen one before.
We were even more suspicious that such machines were uncommon in Huancayo when the installer guys burned out the circuits on it by plugging it directly in to the 220 volt power here.  It was a 120 volt device, and everything here is 220.  They put in a new board - and a transformer.
Adding further to our suspicions, we bought what turned out to be the only box of dishwasher detergent in Huancayo, and had to have more shipped from Lima.
The thing has never really washed dishes well, and we finally figured out part of the reason why.  We figured it should be hooked up to the hot-water supply.  Figure again.  Since all dishwashing in this part of Peru is done by hand, in cold water, of course a machine that has the same purpose should use the same cold water, right?
Wrong.  So, now we have to figure out how to get hot water to this rare machine.
We are now convinced that dishwashers are even less common here than good drivers.
We hope that your dishwasher is hooked up properly.  You'd better run to the kitchen and check!
Dave & Paula

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

An aging artist and his work

You'll remember that for Christmas, we gave each one of the missionaries a carved mate, or dried gourd, a very typical piece of handicraft from the Mantaro Valley, in which Huancayo is located.
The nearby town of Cochas is the center of master-craftsmanship of mates.  We happened upon 75-year-old Eulogio Medina, who is probably the master of them all.  
The work at his level is intricate and time consuming.
 He is a cheerful man, and his family has done this work forever.  His wife is his assistant.
She proudly showed us a small 'museum' of some of the more spectacular examples.
A piece such as this requires three weeks of handwork.  This one depicts traditional dances of the Valley.
This mate tells the story of the life of Christ in twelve segments, and only required a little less time and effort.
Mr. Medina tells us proudly that his son will be better than himself, having recently won a national competition for this artwork.
We wish that we could make something so beautiful out of something so humble.
Dave & Paula

Sunday, February 1, 2015

The Tour de Cochas!

While arranging for the carving of the mates for the missionaries for Christmas, we stumbled upon a very recently-paved road road running along the edge of the mountains from Cochas, where they are made, to San Geronimo (see below).  It is nearly traffic-free, and runs through beautiful farmland and hills.  That same trip by car on the usual roads requires the usual death-defying driving skills.  Doing it by bike would be evidence of suicidal tendencies, and would constitute a request to be squished.
After thinking about it for a couple of months, we finally found a clear morning.  
"Clear" meant that despite the rainy season, the day started out dry, and was also clear of other things that needed doing. We parked the car and donned the Spandex, trying to blend in with the locals.
Whoa!  Someone had inconveniently put some good-sized hills (see "Andes," under "Large South American Mountains") on the route.  Despite living here, being at 11,000 feet didn't increase the speed either.
Oh, about that 'blend in with the locals.'  Several things kind of ruled that out.
1) The fact that we were on bikes that each cost more than the annual income of the local farmers, 
2) The fact that we were clearly gringos, none of whom are seen in these parts, especially these rural parts.
3) The fact that we were wearing Spandex jerseys, one of which proclaimed "North Carolina" ("¿QuĂ© es 'North Carolina? ¿Eh?"), and either of which was bright enough to be seen across the valley.
It was just plain a great ride!  At the end, putting on other clothes over the bike stuff, we tried to ignore the stares of the little kids and the old guy walking his sheep herd past the car.
So what's in San Geronimo you ask?  Ah!  That's where a half-dozen silversmiths live, with their shops tempting the unwary.  But that's another story.
We hope that your bike rides can be as beautiful, and a bit more anonymous.
Dave & Paula