Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Well, you have to make sure it works!

A friend visited last year, on his way back from hiking the Inca Trail, which leads from somewhere near Cusco to, where else? Machu Picchu!
The four-day hike is rated Top Ten! on most lists, and passes through spectacular scenery.
We have tentatively planned to hike the Trail after leaving the Mission in July of next year, figuring we may be ready to leave South America for a little bit after almost five years.  
Some of the camping is at about a thousand feet higher than where we live in Huancayo, and Paula is deathly allergic to cold.
Naturally, you need to make sure everything is up to snuff for such a trip.  
She brought back a new down bag and pad when she went up for Mike's wedding.  It has stopped raining quite so much, so we picked a quiet night and headed for adventure!  (On the third floor terrace of course.)
 It all worked great, and she was as lovely in the AM as ever.
We hope your gear all checks out and that your tent-mate is as charming.
Dave & Paula

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Grown ups! From the US of A!!

Don't get me wrong - we are honored to be here, and work with a bunch of great missionaries from all over.  However, it's a lot of fun to have an occasional visitor.  At the end of last month, my brother Mark, his wife Amy, and our old friend Winston Trice from medical school came down to visit.
As we are allowed a short break each year, we took it with them.
On the way to the jungle part of the Mission, one passes by what we have been told is the Geographical Center of Peru.

What a coincidence that it happens to be next to the only road in that part of Peru, and immediately adjacent to a snack store!
Like a bird dog with a single sense of purpose, Mark quickly found a large machine. 
Mark and Winston, trying to decide whether the river looks kayak-runnable.  It's not.
Paula relaxed at our favorite out-of-the way small hotel with its own private jungle.
We were able to get away from all the modern distractions and leave everything but Apple laptops and good wi-fi connections behind.
There are numerous waterfalls around La Merced, and we set off to find several we'd never explored.
OK, there were probably good reasons why we had never explored them.
And perhaps a few more good reasons.
However, both were well worth the tromp through the jungle.  That little teeny bald guy with the cute wife at his side is me.  No, really.  She really is cute.
No trip can be really considered complete without patching a tire at 13,000 feet next to a pile of discarded rotting citrus.
The next day, we set off on a day-long hike up the local 18,143-foot Mt. Huaytapallana.
Approaching the foot of the glacier.
Winston, enjoying the breathtaking view of the Andes.
Catching our breath, lunch, and a couple of snapshots at 16,100 feet.  Sadly, the glacier has receded by half since 1986.
Winston, now snow-blind and lost, wandered without food for days on the mountain before...OK, actually we yelled at him to come down before he did something stupid.
The entire Expeditionary Force by the glacier.  Only later was it pointed out that my head resembled a large Hershey Kiss.
No, this is not a romantically picturesque Andean bathroom, rather a herder's shelter.  Alpaca and special high-altitude cows with one leg shorter than the other adapted to the slopes graze on the mountain's approaches.
Crossing one of the streams draining the glacial lakes.
While Dave searched for rocks to scare off an aggressive male llama, Paula applied The Look, and the animal wisely turned tail and ran.
By the end of the hike, as the clouds closed in, Paula was giggling, wondering when she could do the whole thing again.
The obligatory picture of one of the (very) few picturesque sites in Huancayo.
Dropping some Peruvian soles at an artisan shop, with hand-woven cool stuff.
We stopped by Señor Medina's home and shop, and he showed the guests how the incredible carved mates are made by him and his family.  His wife was away for the harvest.
We had a just-plain great time with our friends and family.  It was a nice break; now back to work.
We hope that your llamas don't get feisty, and that you can also find some good fried yuca and chicharón de pescado.
Dave & Paula (and Amy, Mark, and Uncle Winston)

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Wow! This is great!! No, wait a minute....

As you all know, because you've heard about it and have probably already received yours, everyone everywhere is converting to "chip-PIN" credit cards and readers.
Huh.  Did I say everywhere?  And by the way, S. Morris needs to be more careful with his cards.
Anyway, everywhere apparently didn't include the central mountains of Peru.
We received our shiny new chip-PIN cards from Bank of America, and headed out on a road trip. We stopped at our favorite grifo to fill up the tank, and after waiting in line,
 we filled up the mission SUV.
Gleefully knowing that never again would we have to sign a credit card receipt, we presented our chip-PIN card.  After a bit of a wait, 
¡Negado!  Denied!  And so it was at almost all of the businesses along the way.  Luckily, we had the good sense to carry some extra cash, the universal language.
After only three months, we were able to convince the folks in the US that we wanted our swipe-type cards back.  When they arrived, they were accompanied in the envelopes with the following pamphlet:
Super!  There are certainly times when we're away from Huancayo, in some sketchy places, where if we really broke down, this would be great!
Uh, oh!  This is what our "Maps" screen on the phone looks like about half the time here.
I guess that since we're not on the map, we ARE out of reach.  Oh, well, at the least the good 'ol swipe cards work...so far.
We hope that all your fantastic plastic transactions go more smoothly, and that you're on the map.
Dave & Paula