Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Week #38 It's our Anniversary! to Lima, more work, and the Sihua School

Monday, September 21st is out 42nd wedding anniversary.  How the years fly by.  It is also our son Blake's 35th birthday.  It's also P-Day so we got permission to leave the mission boundaries and fly to Lima to celebrate.  We invited our good friends and mentors, Elder and Hermana  Hasler to join us and to our delight they accepted.  Lima is known (among other things), for its historical buildings and fine restaurants.  The restaurants were at the top of our list, and having lived in Peru for many years, the Hasler's know a lot of them.  This was our first stop on the list of several.  The name translates to "Second Pier", and its features fresh seafood.  It was a great experience in fine dining.  The top-tier restaurants here can hold their own with any in the world.

 Next was a walk downtown through the historical district (on the way to our next restaurant, of course).  There are many large and historic churches and government buildings, with ornate features, including this extra-large, heavy wooden door.  This church sits on one side of a large plaza.

The President's Palace sits on another side

On another side they park an armored truck with large reservoir and remote-controlled water cannons, just in case anything gets out of hand.

On the other side, a lovely 15-year old girl gets photographed for her "quinceañera".  This is like a BIG debutante event for latin girls on their 15th birthday, and aside from their wedding, it's probably the biggest party of their life.  Every girl looks forward to hers, and the families can really go overboard on this.  But it is a tradition, and a real highlight in the girl's lives.

Next on the list after restaurants is shopping, of course.  We head to the Indian Market, supposedly named for the local crafts that are available for sale here.  There are a lot of items made by the indigenous people of the region for sale here, also art and some commercially-made items as well.  It's quite large, and as colorful as all the markets are here, with good selections and items that can be bargained for - and were.

The Lima Temple is also handy, and we scheduled an afternoon there.  True to form, Hna J went right to the plantings and flowers for a closer look, and immediately found what was probably the only weed in all the beds that had escaped notice by the gardeners, and pulled it out.  She doesn't get to pull many weeds down here, so this was a special treat for her.

A photo of us:  42 years + 1 day together, and very happy to be so.  In 1973 we couldn't have predicted the experiences and adventures that we would have together.  Back then, things like grandkids, travel, retirement, and missions weren't even in our minds, but life builds on itself as we go along.  Looking back, we realize we have been very blessed throughout our lives to be where we are at this time.

A "autumn" view of the Lima Temple.  The leaves on some of the trees have fallen, as the season is changing.  It was a beautiful sea-level day.  Coming from Cusco and 11,000+ ft elevation, the air is noticeably "heavy" here, and you can get a full lung full with each breath.  We had a delightful day in the temple, our 2nd and likely last time we will get to visit.

 Lima is right on the Pacific coast, and there is a big shopping mall:  Largo Mar that is built right up to the high cliffs overlooking the beaches and coastline.  Beautiful views, a little windy and on the edge of chilly, but good for a photo.

That evening, we connected with our friends the Arguello's, who used to live in Cusco, but now live in Lima.  Fernando works for the Church Physical Facilities and was transferred to Lima shortly after we got to Cusco.  Sthefania (on the right) was our first friend and Spanish teacher, frankly the only teacher we have found whom we could learn from, and we miss her very much.  Her younger sister Marisol is a jr. copy of her, and Socorro, her lovely Madre is from Colombia.  We enjoyed a lovely dinner at their home, and it was great to see them again and get re-acquainted and updated.

Sthefania has a very good job as a teacher's aide in THE premier English-language school in Lima.  All the diplomats and ex-patriate executives send their kids there.  With a little more experience, she may be able to get a job as a regular teacher there, and that would be a great career for her.  The Hasler's knew the family very well also.  We had to get a photo with Sthefania, notice how she and Hna J buddy up again.

Back in Cusco after our diversion in Lima, we run across a dance group while walking through town.  There doesn't seem to be any special holiday, but this group is all in costume and having a great time in the courtyard of one of the cathedrals.  We have seen these type of costumes before, they signify one of the close regions and traditions.  This dance actually resembles our "square dances" back home.  Each couple is paired up, and they go through their routine down the line, then it's another couple's turn. Everyone is stamping their feet to the music and dancing in place.

Do I keep saying how clever the Peruvians are?  Here is a keycutting machine, powered by a bicycle crank and wheel.  Everything you need to make keys, portable, and no electrical outlet required!  Key blanks conveniently stored on wires, and when you need to move it, just tip it back on the wheel and push it along.    I'm pretty sure that after the Apocalypse, when all of "modern civilization" is in tatters, the Peruvians will ask:  "Did something happen?"  Their lives will probably go on pretty much as normal, while the rest of the world can't even cut a key.

The ice cream (helados) vendors are everywhere.  Their little tub contains a little dry ice and some delicious ice cream bars and treats.  About 30 cents for a fudgecicle.  Peruvians love helados, at all seasons.  I've seen them buying helados from vendors during a rainstorm.  They pedal their carts all over town, wherever customers are.

 We we're at a cita at Hna Pily's home, and I saw a photo op with Hna Salas and J sitting together.  Sure enough, up come the thumbs.

Hno Julio and Hna Pily's oldest son is serving a mission in Argentina.  It's his birthday, and they made a sign for him and asked me to take a photo, for which I was happy to oblige.  Hna Pily is one of the very diligent and faithful Specialistas in Historia Familiar in her barrio (ward), and she's always got someone ready for us to help.

As part of our training for Specialistas, we meet on Sundays during the 2nd hour, and give a "live" demonstration, using the account and family tree of one of the class members.  This helps that member get an account login or password recovered, a family tree started, new names added to the tree, and temple ordinances approved.  It's a good way for everyone in the class to see how works on a keystroke level, and is good training for the Specialistas.  Here's evidence, as Hna Pily is helping one of her barrio members, Hno Carol.  We're in the home of Hno Julio and Hna Pily, hooked up to their large flat-screen TV so everyone can see what's going on.  Hna Salas and Wight are our helpers, and we really appreciate it.  We can usually carry on a family history-related discussion in Espanól, but occasionally we get stumped, and they bail us out.  They are just delightful to be around as well!

Here's the results of Hna Carol's work session:  a family tree created and temple ordinances approved and ready to send to the temple system.  Hno Carol is a very faithful member, the only one in her family, and frankly is shunned by them after she was baptized.  No matter to her, she continues to be extraordinarily faithful and diligent, but is it difficult for her.  Many of the Peruvian members are great examples to us of how to live the Gospel in challenging circumstances.

Here's our work desk in our apartment.  Hna J has one side, I have the other.  There is an ongoing debate about whose side is the most cluttered, and I always win:  Cameras, phones, DVD player, taxi change purse, hand cleaner, receipts, cards, envelopes, supplies, pencils, scissors, markers, documents, missionary sector list.  All she has is her computer and our appointment book - no contest.

 We were invited by the Rhoades to visit a country school.  They got acquainted with one of the teachers and her husband at one of the local markets in town, and received an invitation to visit.  Elder Rhoades' sister and brothers were in Cusco for a visit, and it made a van-full of us.  In preparation for the trip, we went to a few stores and loaded up on school supplies and a few fun items for the kids - in all, about 2 backpacks and all we could carry, including soccer balls in different sizes.  The school is located about 2 hours out of Cusco, first on secondary roads, then on dirt.  It's high, and overlooks the Sacred Valley, which is to the north of Cusco.  Along the way, we got to see some very interesting country, including these fields, some of which have been cultivated for over 1500 years.  Some of them are still in use, others in different sectors are fallow and used only for grazing.

Speaking of grazing, we had to stop a few times and let flocks of sheep get across the road.  This is a "good" section of road.

Occasionally we stop and ask the locals for directions.  Luckily we're on the right road and don't have to detour.  Lucky also for us that our driver speaks Chechua.

We arrive in Sihua, and are greeted by the local mascot.  Like most places and towns, Sihua is on the side of a steep hill, and these little donkeys are used to tote goods up and down and through town.

 We offload the bus and start down the main street through town.  Carol, Hna's J and Rhoades, our guide, Merlin and Jim.  Elder Rhoades is already on the way.

Approaching the school, we get to meet one of the local women.  They are always spinning - by hand.  Note the raw wool around her hand, she pulls the long fibers into the right thickness, then starts spinning/twisting it.  It coils up into the spinning bobbin by her feet.  These capable people raise, shear, spin, dye, weave and sell their products from start to finish.

When we arrive at the school, a siren goes off announcing our arrival, and the kids line up to meet us, by grade, starting at 1 on the right and going to about 6 on the left.  Over 70 kids in this school, and they were all here today to meet us.

Being honored guests, they put on a program of local music and dances for us.  Each age group did something different.  Some were dances, recitations, music, and marching.  I have some really cute videos of these.  Of course the videos are cute, look at the kids.

They show their respect and appreciation by showering us with confetti.  It's colorful, and we didn't get out of our hair and clothes for several days.

 Our group watches the program.  Most of the school supplies were given to the teachers when we arrived.  They aren't well equipped or supplied, and the "basics' that we provided - paper, pens, markets, pencils, erasers, staplers, rulers, pins, sharpeners, etc were really appreciated.  The soccer balls were a big hit, also the sticks and rings that Elder Rhoades brought.

Each of the girls got a hair band.  Luckily there were enough for all.

Elder Rhoades brought a large box of big chalk - another hit.  By breaking them in half, there was enough for everyone.

The chalk went to use right away.  

 At mid-day, lunch is served.  It is a big pot of hearty chicken soup with vegetables.  Here's the school kitchen.

 We were politely and respectfully served first.

 Everyone brings their own bowl and spoon.  These are some of the older girls in the school.  It's good to see them getting an education.  Most of their mothers (and fathers) didn't have this opportunity.

Knowing there were visitors coming, the local craftswomen set up a quick display of their woven goods.  These are all made with local wools, from sheep or alpaca (we can tell the difference now between them, the alpaca is much finer).  The threads are locally dyed from natural plant or earth colors and hand-woven on crude looms.  Despite the basic conditions, these are finely crafted with intricate designs.

Hna J picks out several, including a purse, and poses with the women who made them.  Nice to be able to get fine authentic goods like these right from the source.  Of course, anywhere there's kids, they are in the picture, then want to see it.  I didn't bring my printer on this trip - good thing, or it would have been running nonstop for hours.

This is a government school.  They don't get much funding or supplies.  The school buildings themselves are fairly new, rather basic, but suitable to the needs of the people in this village.  Commodities are provided to some degree to provide meals for the kids, which is a good thing in that all the students will get some basic nutrition during the day.  Rice and oil stored here.
A few canned goods:  condensed milk and beans.

Some of the produce is provided by the families of the students, in this case papas (potatoes) are stored in the corner of one room.

Here's the weekly menu:  pretty basic, don't expect a lot of extravagance here.  The days of the school week are listed, then the menu:  Almuerzo for lunch, Desayuno for breakfast.  You should be able to decipher some of the items:  rice (arroz), pollo (chicken), tallarin (macaroni) atún (tuna), leche (milk) quinoa (a local grain), maiz (corn).

A number of the local women - and mothers of the students - were there to observe, and see if we wanted to buy their handmade goods.  They're always spinning, and most of them have a baby in the blankets on their back, or some other item they're carrying.  The women always wear hats, then men do most of the time.  Homemade sandals are the standard footwear here.

 A local cutie.  She's a preschooler, here with her mom.  She has an older sister in school.  If my pocket were bigger, I'd stuff her in it and bring her home.

We took a walk through town, escorted by some of the livestock, soon to be dinner.

A view from the village into the Sacred Valley, which runs in total length about 140km starting from right out of view to left, and ends at Maccu Picchu.  The valley floor is about 10, 500ft elevation, so you can guess how high we are.  Note the fields on the hillsides.

We pose for a group photo in the afternoon.  We're on part of the Inca Trail, a network of roads (actually footpaths) throughout the former Inca Empire.  This road isn't passable for vehicles (bicycles and motorcycles could get through most of it), but was used to transport goods from place to place - on your back or on your llama, and by the "chasquis", or fast runners, who carried messages from one place to another.

This photo speaks volumes, if you think about it.  From the economic circumstances to the resourcefulness of the people.

My binoculars were a big hit.  The kids lined up to take a look through them into the valley below.  Things we take for granted are novelties or just not seen/available in many parts of the world.  

When bricks and building materials aren't available at the local Home Depot, you just make your own, as these adobes that have been formed, dried, and are now stacked and waiting to be used in a new home that will be built on this site.

 The people here start packing loads on their backs when they are young.

And they keep on doing it for the rest of their lives.  

The school is so remote that the teachers live in the village during the week, and come home to Cusco on the weekends.  Here, Juana shows Hna J her room:  bed, desk, supplies, and chair.

 The other corner of the room stores the owner's maiz crop for the year.

 On the way back, we stop on a pass to talk a walk to some ruins - of which there are many in this region.  "Ruins" is the generic term for structures that were built in Inca or Pre-Inca, or Post-Inca times that have been abandoned, some half-buried, in various stages of preservation or deterioration.  A lot of them are built on mountains or plateaus.  It's cold and windy today (like most days at this elevation), and Hna J bundles up to make the 2km walk to the site.

There's a few walls left, and a flat area on the other side that could have been anything from a plaza for the people to listen to the rulers, to a ball field, or market, or gathering place or .  .  .  .

Pottery shards and bones lying around, not hard to find.  Most definitely this site was occupied and used for a long time.

Wherever there are flowers, even on cactus, Hna J wants a picture

 We had a delightful time with ALL the Rhoades on this adventure.  Our thanks to them for their invitation and friendship.  Luckily, there was some extra room in the sibling's luggage - enough for me to get them to take some of our purchases of local goods home, to save precious space on our return journey in about 3 months.


  1. Oh my gosh! Happy anniversary! I can't believe I forgot!

  2. How fun that you could get away for your anniversary. You are seeing some very interesting things. I would be a giant in that country. We are in St. George until Monday. Viki and Steve Whitmer are arriving tomorrow with their moving van to live in St. George. We are shocked they decided to do this and they don't have a place yet and will be living in our place until they find one. We probably won't be back until January. I am having surgery on my other foot on Oct. 21...this one shouldn't be so bad. We have to go home to dog sit Maren's pugs because she is traveling a lot with her job right now decorating 4 stores for Christmas. I never expected to have granddogs and not grandchildren but you get what you get. Your time is zooming by and we will see you soon. Love you guys, Blessings Charmaine