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

1 comment:

Patti said...

Holy moly! That is quite a mess! Thankfully no landslides of any kind to report.