Wednesday, September 30, 2009

lots of bus rides to paradise with ice cold beer

Oi. Im still in Huaraz - probably my favorite Peruvian city so far. It's really great here and I would definitely like to come back and spend some time.

Im headed out tonight for Trujillo then to Piura. From Piura the bus will cross the border and arrive in Guyaquil, Ecuador. From there I will take a bus to the coast somewhere then head up the coast to Bahia, cross the bay to Manta and take the bus to Canoa. I am going to try to do this as quickly as possibe and am not sure I will be on the internet again until I get there and I expect that to be around the 4th of october.

Canoa has warm ocean, white sands, lovely friends and ice cold beer. aaaaah.

I can't believe how quickly I will be headed home. How quickly and slowly time has gone. It really is funny like that, isn't it? I'm trying to use the word curious instead of nervous about being back. I am looking forward to seeing what job I end up with and what it all will look like. Because I plan to be back home to save up money to head back out I think it feels easier than some folks who are kind of freaked out that the trip of their lifetime is over and they are going to go back home forever and get trapped into a life. Whether I choose to stay in Oregon or head to other parts unknown, it at least doesn't feel like a trap. I love having embraced the idea of no set plan and being able to head in the direction that seems like it makes the best sense at the time instead of being trapped in any shoulds.

Hopes for home - I would like to get a job with a philanthropic organization to learn about the grant process from the inside. I figure if I work for the people giving away the money, when the time comes to ask for money then I will have a better chance at it.

I want to take some community college courses in useful things. Small engine mechanics, electricity, plumbing, gardening. I don't have to be an expert at any of these things, but a basic understanding will be helpful on the ranch.

I want to find a studio that does Aikedo. Or find someone who practices that would like to teach me. And at least find some books and do some research. The little that I learned with Matt a year and a half ago has stayed with me and helped form a lot of the way I am trying to walk through the world so I would like to dig deeper into that study.

I want to take advantage of living in one of the most beautiful places in the world by doing lots of hiking and all the cool things. Approach Portland as I've approached these other places and reap as much of it as I can.

Welcome some new souls to the world and hug lots and lots of the ones that have been here a while.

There are my intentions for the next year or so at home.

See some of you in a few weeks, some of you in a month.

Monday, September 28, 2009

and they said it couldn't be done.

I made it to Huaraz!!!!! I had to go to a little town called La Union and spend the night then take a combi to Huallanca then a bus to Huaraz, but I did it. Poo to the people who said you couldn't get here from there. Liars, the bunch of them.

This bus ride was probably the most spectacular I've been on yet. Astonishing. I am at a great hostal here that is very comfortable and lovely. There is a terrace on the roof that I have only seen the views of the city in the dark from, but I expect that the mountains are spectacular. I had the greatest of luck by being completely randomly put in a room with a girl that I met in Pisco. I love the universe a little extra sometimes. Tomorrow we are going on a walk to a lake. About three hours each way and meant to be really beautiful. I've been on so many busses for so many days that I am really really looking forward to a nice long day of walking. My back has started hurting from always having the bad luck of being sitting on top of the back wheels so the bumps are extra special for me. I think moving around will be great for it.

I expect to leave here on Wednesday and have to seriously bust ass to get up to Canoa and spend some time on the beach. I may as well come home tanned and relaxed, yeah?

Love you, I will keep touching in about where I am heading next just in case.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

best laid plans

whew. this bit of traveling has been decidedly unpredicted!!!

We were told we could leave Pisco in the morning for Huacavelica so we got up at the butt crack and went to the station but it was a lie and the bus didn´t leave until 7:30pm so we went to Chaco on the coast to spend the day. We ended up meeting an Alaskan named Joe and day drinking all day. Walked down to the Hilton and drank overpriced beers but it was fun. Finally got onto the bus and it was so super uncomfortable and I started having spectacular back issues for the first time since Ecuador and Rebecca was sick and vomiting and making the bus stop so she could have diarreah. Such a bad ride. Finally got to Huancavelica at about 5am and it was raining and we went everywhere to find a room and finally collapse but they are having a festival and there were no rooms so we walked to the train station - taking the train out was the reason we were there in the first place - but the train is not running right now for maintenance. So we ended up catching a cab back to the bus station and waiting a few hours for a bus to Huancayo. Arrived at Huancayo and decided to go to the hostal that had a sauna cause we both really needed that and we got lost and finally got there and the sauna was busted. of course. Spent the night in Huancayo but too pooped to explore. Watched bad TV on the cable instead. (so so good) Got up and I got a 2pm bus to Huanuco and Rebecca waited for the 9pm to Ayacucho. I got here and got my room and planned on leaving in the morning for Huaraz but even though there is a road from here to there on the map, no bus seems to drive it. Not sure yet what I will do next. I think this is a classic case of being attached to a plan. Should have abandoned it days ago!

But I am pleased to find out that I am not upset or unhappy about any of it. It may not be the exploration I had in mind, but it is still exploring and the Andes are still beautiful and people are still nice. I will write again soon - from where, who knows????

Saturday, September 19, 2009

PSF and beyond - finally some photos

Safety third.

Our sweet truck that just keeps being willing to get fixed and keep rolling. Some days there is a full load of stuff and fifteen volunteers in the back and it´s pulling the cement mixer. There is a reason they make you sign the form that says you wont sue them if you die.

Mummies are still cool.

Getting ready to fly over the Nazca lines in a four seater plane maintained in Peru - land of saftey 17th suddenly seemed like a terrible idea. But I´m still alive which made it a great experience! My pictures of lines themselves are terrible so not worth posting.

A shot from the monestary in Aerequipa. Walls and sky colors matching up.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

still in pisco getting dirty --

So I will write for a while with the frustrating keyboard. I am working at a great place in Pisco. There was a huge earthquake a couple of years ago and te whole town was flattened and is trying to rebuild. Disaster relief is hard enough to come by in an easier country to navigate, but when much of the population is illiterate and most of the politicians are corrupt, you have a whole new game on your hands. First an org called First Hands On Disaster Relief (I think) was here and they handed off to a Burning Man offshoot called Burners Without Borders which handed off to an org they created called Pisco Sin Fronteras. Some of the BWB folks are still working with them. So the profile for aide is if people have their materials, we use our tools and manpower to dig trenches, pour concrete, build walls, roofs, whatever is useful. We also have a thing called the miracle fund where we can help out folks not even able to get some concrete together or some thatch for a wall or a roof. I have never seen a group of people work so hard. Leveling mountains to build, hand mixing concrete, unbelievable. There is even a guy here making a machine to make biodiesel for our trucks which I have been working on the last few days. With so little drama and so much hard work, it is a pleasure to be here. And how appreciative the people here are - as opposed to Cusco area where they are so over run with volunteers it has become more problem than help.

I dont have much time to write but wanted to at least check in. I am changing my travel plans and will stay at least through the middle of next week instead of leaving here the middle of this week like I thought. That means missing the middle mountains, but feels so worth it.

The website is and there is a button to donate through paypal to help out and I really encourage you to go and give them ten bucks. If you were sitting next to them in the bar you would buy any of them a beer. I will check in again soon. Love you! Just another month!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

keyboards can suck

This one has some broken keys so I will write a little but it will come out like an irish accent.

I am in Pisco doin some volunteer work wit an oranization called Pisco Sin Fronteras wic used to be a Burners witout borders project. Tere was a ue eartquake ere a couple of years ao and tese uys are providin labor and tools to elp folks rebuild. Okay, I can see tat tis isnt workin wit te broken keys so I am oin to stop ere and try to make it to te internet cafe tomorrow. But everytin is reat and Im avin an excellent time and stayin safe.

Monday, September 7, 2009

nasca lines and mummies and mercury

I sure wish I could find a computer with a USB port so I could upload some photos, I´m seeing some cool stuff down here!

This morning I went flying over the Nasca lines, which are pretty amazing. I will admit that it was a little like going to a good movie you´ve been hearing about forever and then you finally make it and you so so wish you could have gone by accident on opening day and therefore had no preconceptions or prior knowledge at all. But I still recommend seeing them if you are ever in the area - yet another set of questions Peru has given me with no answer.

This afternoon I went on a tour of a mummy cemetary. I know. Crazy. So cool. There is an area 2 kilometers by 500 meters that 5 different native cultures - the Inca being the last that used this part of the desert to mummify and bury their dead. Because it only rains 10-15 hours a year ( I thought it was interesting that they measure in hours rather than cm. but, hey, it´s Peru, it doesn´t have to make sense) and the underground water is 40m deep, it is a great place to perserve mummied bodys. Unfortunately, it wasn´t safe from grave robbers so many of the mummies are not complete, but still amazing. At this point most of them are just bones and wrappings though there is one in the museum that they just found in ´85 that isn´t bleached out and the skin is still really well preserved. Until five years ago, the tombs were completely open to the sun so the bones are bleached out and the hair is bleached to a light brown. Now there are shade covers over the tombs and in November they are putting a UV protective glass over them - glad they are doing it but glad to have seen them before this step. To date only 15% of the area has been explored so it will be interesting to see what kind of stuff they find as they go digging further. I am a little surprised at how fascinated I am finding myself with dead people, but I can´t get enough. My pictures will testify.

After the cemetary we went to a pottery making showcase (an excuse to hopefully get you to buy some pottery) which was actually pretty cool. To see the different rocks that are crushed to make paint. There were some gorgeous pieces there, but only a fool buys pottery to pack into their backpack - they should really come up with a less breakable souvenier.

Then we went to the gold processing place. Lots of different minerals that were interesting, but probably the most interesting part is that they use mercury to extract the gold. In a glass soda bottle with a plastic lid, in my hand was enough mercury to poisen the water supply of all of Nazca and that was just a small sample of what they use. They crush the rocks and then put them into an open container with the mercury and wash it all around for a while and the gold sticks to the mercury like a magnet then they run it through a wet cloth to get the liquid mercury out (don´t worry, they wear rubber gloves!) and let the water evaporate off so they can pour it back into a bottle. Then they do some kind of extraction to get the rest of the mercury and gold separated. And it´s all open air and so not controlled and at the actual working part in the back where they didn´t take us, there were little kids working with this stuff. Some things about the third world are so very cringe-y.

Tomorrow I head to Pisco. I will be working with an organization (Pisco sin fronteras - started with Burners without Borders and this is the org. they set up so they could leave) that I heard about from my Australian friend Dave that I worked with in Cusco. He is in Chile right now but should be back by the weekend so it will be fun to see him. They are destroying and rebuilding - mostly lending whatever labor necessary to help out the folks who were wiped out in the earthquake a few years ago. Tied into it being the anniversary of Katrina, it made me wonder if we´ve got some organizations helping out in a similar fashion there.

Hope all is great and I hope that I am able to get photos dealt with in Pisco. I am behind since Titicaca!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Juanita the ice princess

So, back in Aereuipa.

I really enjoyed Cabanaconde. On Tuesday I went to see the Condors fly at Cruz del Condor which is an overlook above the cliff where a family of condors live. I took a couple pics but realized that with my little point and shoot I wasn´t going to get anything good and would just waste my time trying to get a photograph instead of enjoying the birds. That´s a fine line always - record or experience. But they really were stunning and they are so so big and majestic. Ugly, but impressive none the less. I think my favorite was the sound the wind made in their wings as they went screaming past on a particularly good current.

I worked the hostel and restaurant and bar for the week which I also really enjoyed. It was good for my pocketbook to live and eat for free for a week and I hope to find more gigs like that one in other towns. I was worried about not wanting to work when I get home, but I found that I really enjoyed having something to do. There were a few days that the owner when out of town and left me in charge and I just got to run it the way I think it should be done without his ideas. The real owner and his Belgian wife are on vacation and have left the hostel in charge of the younger brother and he doesn´t like it and is doing it out of obligation rather than love so he just makes everything harder. I encouraged him to go away for the day many times. He also has a 16 year old wife who is still in High School (he is 29) and the dynamics there are just too strange to even work out. She yells, he cowers, he scolds, she stomps, not a great atmosphere. But also you could see the potential for the place and I found that I am a great waitress and bartender - it´s been so long that I had forgotten. Makes me want to run a hostel someday.

Today I went to the museum where Juanita the ice princess lives. She is a frozen body that they found on the top of one of the mountains here and brought down for investigation. Since 1995 when they found Juanita, they have found a total of 16 sacrificed children on various volcanoes throughout the Inca empire. All of them children, some boys, some girls. Evidence that they were drugged and then their skulls were smashed with a cudgel. There is some evidence that Juanita was chosen at childbirth for this honor. Interesting to imagine what growing up knowing that you were slated to be a gift to the gods would be like. She was between 12-14 when she died. Because she was left on top of the mountain at -20 degrees celcius, her body is perfectly preserved, including her organs and everything. Not a mummy, just a frozen girl. Pretty crazy. Also it made me wonder about removing these kids. The internal struggle about loving to be able to see it and have the information in a museum but also thinking that she willingly hiked to the top of a huge mountain in grass sandels and let them kill her so that she could join the gods and be her people´s spokesperson to the gods of the mountains. There is something that feels to me like it would have been more respectful of that type of courage to let her lie where she chose to die. Like the mummies I saw in Ollantay that the local people there keep hidden from archeologists because they believe that there is a strong tie between the body and the dead spirit and bodies weren´t buried so that the spirits would know where to find them and by putting them in museums, you cut that tie and the spirits then are lost. Yet another thing that I feel strongly both ways about and don´t find an easy answer to.

One of the side notes that I thought was interesting was that when children were born, the mothers saved their umbilical cords and dried them, then when kids got sick they cut a piece off and ground it with water and fed it to their children whom often then survived. Some speculation now about it of course being the stem cells that were curative.

I will be heading out of Aerequipa in the wee hours of the morning for a 12 hour bus ride up to Nazca where the Nazca lines are and a group of skeletons found out in the desert, similar to the pictures I posted earlier of our walk and the mummy caves. They call them mummies here, but I don´t think that is an accurate description in English, as they aren´t mummified per se, but they certainly are more preserved than their 500 year old selves would seem to be without any type of process. Hoping to learn more on that in Nazca.

See you next month!