Sunday, March 27, 2016

Uh, oh! She's gone native!

We've been here for a fairly long time, without going in to detail on that point.  We've become accustomed to some things, appreciate many more, and could do without a few.
Many of the middle-aged and older women in our region dress in a traditional manner, which is both practical and lends the warmth needed here in the mountains, as well as protection from the fierce sun.  For better or worse, this fashion is fading, as the younger folks trend toward what is becoming the uniform of the world, wearing jeans, sweatshirts, and all the rest.
I'm starting to wonder whether it may getting toward time to head home soon.  Paula came back from a day of shopping in the market, wearing what can only be described as a new look for her.
The sparkly sweater, fancy blouse and pretty hat with a bow marked her as a mamita, sure enough.
The apron, skirt, leggings and loafers completed the picture.
Yeah, maybe time to buy the tickets, before she decides to bring some sheep home, too.  Or before she adopts some other outfits found here in the Mission.
I'm going to to check on those tickets.  Soon.

Friday, March 18, 2016

So you think YOU have political problems...

Quick update on the previous political post:  Señor Acuña and another semi-serious contender, Julio Guzman have been disqualified as candidates for president.  Both have been accused of *gasp* irregularities in their campaigns!! In addition, the front-runner, Keiko Fujimori, the daughter of disgraced and imprisoned former president Alberto Fujimori, has now been accused of the same.
This all smells like the work of Alán García, the two-time previous president and present candidate. He is (in)famous for torpedoing other candidates, despite his own fame as the most corrupt president in modern times, and for helping Peru reach inflation levels of 2,200,200% over his first five years in power, ending in 1991.  Poverty increased by 13% in the country during that run.  García was indicted for corruption, and fled to Colombia, then France, only to return when the statue of limitations expired, just in time to win another presidential election.  Huh?!  These accusations and disqualifications of other candidates sound suspiciously like his work, in cahoots with buddies in the judicial branch.
Meanwhile, 22 of the 25 regional presidents of the country are under investigation for corruption, four are already sitting in jail, one has fled, and another is accused of extortion and, oh, by the way, murder.
We will arrive in the United States just in time for the wind-up of the presidential campaigns there.  We've been warned by Google News and other sources of what's been happening up north, and we are steeling ourselves for the, uh, excitement of that contest.  
We hope that you are less saddened by all of this than we are.  
Dave & Paula

Sunday, March 13, 2016

I think we need a helicopter or something

The El Niño phenomenon gets blamed for all sorts of mischief, but now it's personal.
As you may know, our mission is connected to the outside world, aka "Lima," by a single two-lane highway winding through the Andes, with a six- to eight-hour journey that tops out at 15,840 feet at the Ticlio Pass.
Even during "normal" times (boy is that a broad category), the road is narrow, twisty and congested by all the trucks, buses, taxis, donkeys and anything else that moves and carries something to and from this large region of Peru.
Accidents are unfortunately common, with the curves, traffic and cliffs.
During the present rainy season, now amplified by El Niño, things got worse.  Two+ weeks ago, in particularly heavy rain, the typical landslides that hold things up went from nuisance to serious.
The hydroelectric dam taking advantage of the river that runs alongside had to be relieved of high water, and the resulting flooding wiped out more of the roadway.
Traffic came to a complete standstill.
Landslides continued to come down, trapping folks between them, forcing them to take to the hills to get around to where they could continue their journeys.
So, how do you get there from here?  There are alternate routes, but several of them were blocked by landslides also, and the few that were open required passages of 18+ hours, often over dirt roads. 
The situation has lightened somewhat, with cargo trucks being allowed to pass for several hours a day on a single tenuous lane.  The full opening of the highway has been changed to "indefinite."
Meanwhile, we have resorted to the limited flights in and out of the Jauja airport an hour from Huancayo, one of two airfields in the Mission.  The flights are also limited by the rain because of lack of navigational aids on the airports, as previously described.
Meanwhile #2, our work continues, little changed except for more umbrellas and destroyed shoes for the missionaries.  We are thankful that all of them are safe and happy, as we are also.
We hope that the landslides in your part of the world are a bit wimpier.
Dave & Paula