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Blog 4 - Peru - 2nd half

Peters Blog for Peru – 2nd instalment.

We arrived back in Ccaranacc on the Thursday the 29th of August and in time for one of the biggest annual Fiesta that Village has. It was in full swing. There were two brass bands playing music all day and till the early hours of the morning. This was matched by two large 3 by 4 foot speakers on the town hall balcony blasting away till 5:30am! It was great to live in the very heart of the village!!!! The mother/mother-in-law (MIL) had moved back into the house we are staying in while we were away in Ayacucho. She had set up a bar and kitchen downstairs and had taken over a spare bedroom and put friends or family in another room. She traded till late and everyday from 6:30am. So there was about one hour of quiet time in the four days.

We met a Julio and two ladies from Lima who we spent most of the next few days with. The girls are looking for foreign boyfriends and the bloke would love to study in Australia. Fortunately he spoke a fair bit of English so I really enjoyed our time together. We have since contacted each other via Skype and will catch up with them in Lima next year.

We danced and partied as much as we could but couldn’t match the Peruvians. They can drink, party and dance like none that I’ve known before. It finished on Monday and today the Tuesday the friends mother-in-law moved out at about 6am. Peace and quiet at last had returned to our way of life and we prepared to commence teaching again as it was Tuesday morning only to be greeted with a familiar sound of “good morning mister, good morning Miss”. It was about 9:30 so we asked why the kids weren’t at school and were told there was none today so good news as we could relax and get ourselves organized again.

Rats… Yes while we were away in Ayacucho for the month trying to get my back fixed the rats moved in. Each night as we would have our dinner one could be seen in the next room eating at Prudencio’s seed grains. So we purchased a big rat trap and I tried to catch them. First night I put the only cheese we had on the trap nothing!!! Two nights later it ate the cheese but it eluded the trap. Out of cheese (we didn’t buy much then as it is very fresh and very salty however, it does improve with age so now we buy a bit more each week)! It’s unfortunate, that it is the only cheese we can buy in Churcampa at our weekly trip to the markets. Anyway, then I tried to push a seeds onto the rat trap but it wouldn’t go on very secure and nothing happened. Next I tried some pumpkin flesh and two nights later bingo, we caught our first one. This one was much smaller than the one I had seen eating the grain on previous nights. However, excited in my new career as the unofficial “apprentice rat catcher” for the village of Ccaranacc I set the trap again, with cake this time. Two nights later another success! Still a small one and not the big mother of a rat I saw eating Prudencio’s seed grain so I try again. This time with pumpkin again! No luck again so I will try cake tonight! It’s Friday the 13th so it may be unlucky for the rat this time. Ouch! The trap went off while I was setting it and hit my thumb hard. Well, I carefully set the trap again and placed it near the grain and the pile of boxes in the corner where I can sometimes hear it. Success! Yes the big one is caught. Friday the 13th was unlucky for this big rat! I will keep on setting the trap to be sure there are no more but I think I have the one I wanted to catch.

(Update 28/9/13) – Another rat is back – a clever one as it prefers bananas and biscuits so I’ll have to be smarter as I like my biscuits and Bananas too!) Well two nights running I set my trap and this time with his (my) favorite banana as the bait. As banana is soft and easy to eat without setting off the trap so I tie it on with cotton hoping that it will provide the resistance or catch in its teeth. No such luck he is still eating it without being caught! We come back to Prudencio’s for lunch and I am startled by some movement in the dark as I enter the dark kitchen. I flick on the light just in time to see it scuttle across the floor out behind the boxes we know it to be living. I see another banana has been eaten through! I am angry so I say to Valerie that I have had enough and we are going to move all the boxes buckets and bags of seeds now and get this rat! I find a good strong stick with a solid stomp on the end like a hockey stick a I carefully begin moving objects making barriers and I place the buckets and bags etc on the floor further away from its hiding place. Then, I see it running along the wall to my first barrier and I swing my stick sending it into the air. I hit it again and then a third hid makes sure it is dead! I note Valerie’s expression as she once kept pet rats in her hours in France. I carefully remove the rest of the boxes and empty out it’s nest of chewed up paper and when finally convinced there are no more I clean up the area and pack everything back in the corner making it a little more difficult for rats to build their home there without a fair bit of effort.

Would you believe the very next day a mouse drops down the wall of the next room and runs between my legs and behind the same area and out of my sight. I set a mouse trap and the next day it is caught. Hopefully this is the end of this story!!!!

Chess championships

It’s Sunday the 15th of September and we visit Churcampa for our weekly market day and we tried to use a phone to call Australia (The Tax Office – ATO) but are informed there is no power in town and won’t be until at least 7pm that evening. So we finish our shopping and are heading out of the market area when we spot a game of chess being played. We watch until it is finished and then we started walking on towards the waiting taxis to go back to Ccaranacc but are called back and offered a chance to challenge the winner. They play for big stakes! A Sole (about A$0.34) per game. I accept and it’s a tough game and many locals stop and watch the game. He is a good player and plays with much confidence. I think he is winning. I am nervous! I get a chance to take his queen for the loss of my own and take it. It turns the tide of the game as I am able to get my rooks out earlier and I win the game. Lucky I feel. I refuse to take his money but accept to play a second game. Again, it’s a tough game but I win. I see the disappointment in his eyes as about 10 people had stopped to watch but I shake his hand and congratulate him on a tough game. Time to gracefully go home while I am ahead but I offer to play him again next week. We continued to meet and play most market days as we all seem to enjoy it. Unfortunately, we missed our games on our last two weeks as he wasn’t there. Maybe it was due to the rain!

Power blackout & Romantic dinner for two

We arrive back in Ccaranacc to find we are also without power. We were going to attempt to phone the ATO again with our 5 minute phone cards. We don’t hold out much hope of getting to speak to someone and get things resolved in 5 minutes but we will try. No luck the phone company here does not recognize the 6 digit phone number provided. So we will have to go back to Churcampa again another day when the power is on again and try there.

Well the power is still not on here so we find some candles and take the opportunity to have a romantic dinner. Sorry no music or wine but some off the shelf warm beer will do and we finish with chocolate. It is a lovely night and the two “church” candles burn softly while we enjoy our dinner of delicious vegetable soup. Just as we are finishing the power comes back on and we leave the dishes and go back to our place to sleep. We try our internet again but not enough signal so it’s good night!

Christening the commencement of a new house

It’s Tuesday morning the 24th of September 28, 2013 and at six am the music of a drummer and flautist can be heard. We it’s our day to teach at the school so we get up and prepare ourselves for the day. But on arriving at the school the principal informs us that they have had to change their program and we are not needed for this week. On our return to the village plaza we hear the music is still playing just down the street so we go to investigate. A new mud brick two story house is to commence and the foundations are being laid today. We are invited to join the festivities and so we do so. However, this requires half the men in the village to lend a hand and carry very large and heavy stones to place into the foundations that have been dug out. I do my best to explain that I can’t carry the rocks or do any of the physical work expected of the others. A Peruvian activity like this requires the hosts to provide food and drink for the workers and guests. As I couldn’t work I provided a case of beer which I’m sure was appreciated – especially by the workers.

The house is completed in 3 weeks; however the finish is mostly completed by a few workers. When it’s time for the roof the village turns up to assist again. It’s time to celebrate and again the owners put on another party. Naturally we attend again, being the community minded citizens we are. Too many people on the roof for me to help by the time we arrive so we just enjoyed the party side and watched the blessing of the house by both the religious faiths in town! The night concluded by as many as possible going inside the house and eating, drinking and dancing till we made our departure. The party continued long after we left as the music could be heard at our place.

Visit to Mayocc for its fiesta

Prudencio and a nephew called back to Ccaranacc for an overnight visit and fortunately we had a half pot of soup available and just making a large broccoli cheese dish so had a enough for a good meal that evening and some chocolate to finish it off. The next day we went down to Prudencio’s orchard as his nephew had never seen it and then on to Mayocc for it’s fiesta but found it very disappointing in comparison to the one held recently in Ccaranacc so we found a Moto taxi and returned to Ccaranacc.

The end of our teaching

On our final day we held a small reading play for the students to consolidate their learning and then presented a book to the teachers of both classes with the hope that they will continue to teach some English and also awarded the same book to the best student in each class. After which the students al thanked us for our teaching. In the younger class teacher had each student come up to the front of the class one by one and hug and kiss Valerie and the girls hugged me and the boys shook my hand. It was a moving moment! I’m sure they will miss us as we will miss them.

A day in Ccaranacc.

In summary, our time here this year is now over, so I’ll provide you with a brief of how a typical day might have gone. I’ll mix a few days to cover the most significant of my memories.

We would wake about 5:30 – 6:00 am listening to the roosters crowing; the donkeys braying and the early locals talking as they would pass beneath our upstairs windows on their way to their various activities. We wouldn’t get out of bed at this “ungodly” time as it was usually cold and we had no need to, but would quietly listen to the sounds of the world around us wakening; as the sun would soon shine through our windows and brighten the large room in which we lay comfortably snug; on a stack of six mattresses (three side by side) on the floor; inside two sleeping bags zipped together (making it into a double) and under two, three or four thick blankets depending on just how cold it was.

I might add that the donkeys and roosters would also have brayed and crowed all through the night. It appears that they don’t know the rules? I know this, as I am at that age when I need to get out of bed almost every hour and go to the toilet, so I get to hear them as I lay back in bed and go back to sleep.

The village would come to life soon, as all the people with sheep, pigs, cows, goats and donkeys would need to take them out to pasture to feed on the grasses, each night bringing them back to a yard by their house. Sometimes, I would get out of bed and watch the parade of animals be herded by the little old ladies; and watch how quickly they would snatch a feed or two of flowers and leaves from the town park as they past by. To identify their animals the owners would tie tags of different brightly coloured wool through their ears. How they got to choose which colours’ each owner would use I didn’t find out, but they looked enchanting.

We would get dressed, take our night bucket with us and go downstairs, out into the street down three houses to Prudencio’s place, where there is a kitchen and toilet which we can use. Earlier on during our stay we needed to go past another house and around a corner into another street to a “drop toilet” but a month ago water was connected to Prudencio’s house and a flushing toilet and cold shower installed. Now we almost live in luxury! If only, we had hot running water. There is also an outside wash trough with a tap, where we do our dishes whenever the water was running. Unfortunately, the supply still isn’t available all day and you never know if you would have water or not, so we always have three large plastic containers of water kept filled and in the shower there was a large bucket kept full so we could still flush the toilet when necessary. Also in the toilet was a bin for the toilet paper as here in Peru you can’t flush the paper down the toilet as it will block their plumbing so every day another small chore is to burn the used paper.

Our breakfast normally was porridge with fruit and since our last trip to Ayacucho when we purchased a blender, we would have a fruit smoothie. Other mornings we would make toast (I made a two pronged toaster from bending a piece of hard thick wire in half and pushing a cork from one of our few bottles of wine over the prongs to prevent them parting and providing a place for my thumb) from the stale buns which we would buy on the Saturday and enjoy them with honey, jam, vegemite or with eggs. Also we would make simple pikelets and have them with honey. Often we would take a cup of tea out into the plaza and sit there admiring the birds, the garden and surrounding mountains and greeting people as they walked by.

After breakfast on each Tuesday it was time to prepare for teaching English in the local primary school. We taught two classes, one with 19 and the other 14 students with ages between 9 and 13. Our first class was at 11 o’clock and the second at 11:45 and both were for 45 minutes. Fortunately the teachers re-enforced our teachings, as did a few parents so some managed to learn very well. Hopefully, the re-enforcement will continue, so when we return next March they will still know it all and maybe we can teach a little more.

On other days our mornings would be consumed preparing our lessons; learning more Spanish; trying to check and respond to our emails; doing more travel and “international living” research; preparing meals and doing laundry and other domestics.

We were on the very fringe of internet and satellite phone service so Valerie could phone France and then family or friends would phone back and they would chat. Unfortunately, I couldn’t call Australia with our “Claro” phone service and could only phone Australia using telephone cards which only allowed a few minutes each time. We couldn’t make phone calls using Skype due to the poor reception but were able to text back and forth to Australia. We did receive phone calls from a mate in Perth and that was great.

No washing machine here, so laundry was done in a plastic trough on the floor and using a bucket to rinse. We had a wire over our back yard so our clothes line worked as well as any. No ironing was ever needed.

As mentioned above, we have been researching “international living” options as there are many countries where the cost of living is much cheaper than living in Australia or France and as we are travelling through many of these countries we will be seriously looking at the possibility of buying or renting property, becoming a resident for a portion of every year and remaining “Permanent Tourists” This nomadic retirement is appearing more affordable and easier than you may think…with the right information and conditions we can continue to explore the world for less than the cost of living in either of our home countries. We may spend a month or two in our home countries every year or two and move between several other base countries which are cheaper for the remainder of our lives.

Our lunch or dinner menus would consist of either a sandwich, soup, spaghetti, Cauliflower cheese, an omelette, a dish of spicy huancaina sauce over potatoes, various lentils, fried rice or steamed veggies (thanks to our mate Phil for sending us a steamer). As we had no refrigeration when we made more than one meal quantity, it always became the next meal also. However it was usually cold enough for us to make flans and jellies which would set nicely over night. Sweets were not normal but on our last trip to Ayacucho we did buy 11 blocks of chocolate and a few bottles of wine so we were able to ration one block per week. A bottle wine was always consumed over two nights to make it last longer. There were some wines available in Churcampa but we were advised they weren’t drinkable! So never tried them.

Our afternoons would be much like our mornings; however it was the warmest time of the day so it was also the only time when we would wash ourselves in Prudencio’s kitchen. We would heat the largest saucepans full of water and get our small basin and each take turns in changing the water or pouring water over each others head when we washed our hair.

Just after 3pm each school day many children would pass and say “Good afternoon”, “how are you?” which was always a great feeling as we would respond in English. Sometimes we would go for a walk around the village; go around the corner and down the hill where we could buy 6 fresh eggs for S/.2 (A$0.77). Not a bad price!

Late in the afternoon the women would bring there animals home again, usually they would also be carrying or have on the back of their donkeys cut grass for the animals that evening or chopped wood for cooking their evening meal. Also you would see the men folk returning from their work with shovels or picks over their shoulders.

Some days, when there was a community project, which meant there would be a group of men, you would often see them stop at one of the little shops and buy a few beers and stand in the park drinking. The custom of drinking here is unusual as they would only have one glass between them. Normally a plastic cup provided by the shop when they purchased their beer. The custom is, that the man with the bottle would pour himself a half cup and pass the bottle on to the next person; he would then drink his cup and pass it on the man he gave the bottle to; who inturn would do the same for to the next man. As there was no public toilets that worked nearby, they would just urinate in the park and keep on drinking till they were drunk or used up all the money they had on them.

The evenings were normally cold and there was no heating so we didn’t stay up too late. We did have some movies on our computer so sometimes we would watch one or if the internet was working we would research a little or check and respond to emails but normally it would be early to bed.

Sundays were always different as it was market day in the nearby village of Churcampa. This village was about 11 kilometres away so we would catch one of the Moto-taxis or taxis that would drive out hoping to collect a fare. The fare was S/.4 (A$1.54) each if you shared but if we were too late and had to phone for one then the price was S/.10 (A$3.85) for the two of us. There was no flag-fall!

The trip would take about 30 minutes as the road is very windy and not very wide. The drop off the side was normally greater than 200 metres so my nerves were tested when we would need to pass another vehicle or a mob of sheep, goats or cattle.

The market stalls lined a road in Churcampa and we would normally walk up the top of the hill checking out the produce we needed and then walk back down buying as we went. A few of the locals from Ccaranacc also sold produce there, so we would speak to them and naturally many other locals were also there purchasing their weekly needs too!

After our shopping we would sometimes have a Chinese meal then meet with a local teacher whom we would teach English. Then we would grab a Moto taxi and go back home to Ccaranacc.


On the road again

Well it’s the end of October and we leave Ccaranacc. We clean the place and put everything back how we found it; call for a Moto taxi and go into Churcampa where we catch a collectivo to Huanta. We spend the night there with Prudencio and then early next morning catch a Combi to Ayacucho.

For the next week we stay in Ayacucho with the friends we met who have the Hospedaje “Inti Punuy”. We get more cash from the bank as our funds were getting low and there may not be the same bank in Cusco. We do a bit of shopping, buy some medicines that I need and catch up with one of Prudencio’s sons, who is studying at a local University. I also had a haircut and my first shave in a barbers shop! Cost me only S/.2 for the shave, so was excellent value as I had about two weeks growth! No cuts either!

We also weighed ourselves and shock horror I am only 80 kilos fully dressed. I was 92 kilos on the 4th of December last year, was 86 on the 9th of August this year and now lost a further 6 kilos since then. I think I was 96 kilos when we left Perth. Travelling must be good for my health. We should be able to claim some of the costs against our health funds or Medicare! The advantage of having no large mirror is you don’t get an opportunity to see how thin you look and with no scales you can’t see what living this lifestyle does to you. No problem. But I think we need to get back to drinking a little more wine….. Just to keep the body healthy as I don’t want to loose any more!

We depart Ayacucho for Abancay on the way to Cusco and arrive late as the trip was on a road with a lot of road works. This day started well as I found a taxi real quick and we left in good time not to have to rush. However, it unfolded differently, as there was a police check just near the point where we needed to catch our bus so the taxi driver we took from the hotel wouldn’t drop us off at the right place, so we had to walk carrying our gear the last few hundred yards. Then when we arrived there was no one in the office but several people outside waiting. We waited too! Fifteen minutes after our departure time, many small buses like the one we were to catch drove quickly out of a nearby compound and straight past us and into the street around the corner. We were then told to follow a lady after the buses. Which after putting back on our packs again, we tried to keep up with her! A good distance later we catch up to where some of the buses had parked and then after a bit of talking by this lady to several drivers, we were instructed to follow a another driver over the road and into another side street where he had parked his bus. Great, only 30 minutes late but we are at least on our bus. But it’s not got enough passengers to depart so our driver leaves us to go find some more. Finally, after another hour we depart. Initially the road was sealed and we had the front seats we had booked so all was well. Then the bus got a flat tire. But that wasn’t too bad as they were quick to change it and nearby there were workers planting a field of potatoes who we talked to. It was also a chance to use the bushes…. I was able to take a few nice photos of the mountains and some of the villages we past through.

We arrived in the small city of Andahuaylas about two thirds of the way, quite late and were told we had to change buses to take us on to Abancay and that we were unfortunately on the wrong bus. These buses have no advertising on the side and the driver never checked our ticket! Anyway they would take our tickets and issue us one of theirs at no extra cost as we had paid well over the normal price anyway and they would recover the cost from the company we were meant to travel with. However, we could no longer have our good seats but had to travel at the back of the bus and the next leg of our journey was going to be mostly on rough roads. We were bumped and rocked for most of the next 4 hours arriving in Abancay about 6:30pm.

We grabbed a taxi and headed to the hostal recommended by Lonely Planet and Valerie went in and negotiated a good price and we had a nice room. Next day we toured the main street of the city and we noticed that they had closed off the street our hostal was in. The local school was using it for its running and cycling races. After watching a little, having an ice-cream and a little a look around, it was back to the hostal to collect carry our packs to the next block to catch another taxi to take us to another bus terminal to catch another bus to Cusco. Naturally, the bus was late leaving but it was comfortable even though the road again was in a state of maintenance and repair and much of it unsealed and rough.

We arrived in Cusco and were approached by a woman with a hostal brochure, offering a good price for a room and as it looked good we caught a taxi there. It was okay; however Valerie negotiated a better price than what was offered, as we were staying for a week and it is the start of the low tourist season. We still needed to change our room the next day as the shower tap was very difficult to turn off and the curtain kept falling down.

Next day was Sunday and we walked around Cusco, purchased a good day pack and some other last minute items for Valerie’s trek (chocolates, nuts, dried fruits, etc.) and in the evening we attended the meeting at the office of the trekking company Valerie was going to walk the Inca Trail with. All went well and we returned to our room for Valerie to pack. In the morning I saw Valerie off on the bus for her adventure. I then went searching for a school to improve my still very basic Spanish. The course had started that morning and as I was too late, I just missed that day and started on the Tuesday. I struggled but I have improved a little.

Valerie returned about 9:30 on the Friday night, tired and happy with her trek. After confirming she was well and ready to move on we phoned a bus company and reserved our tickets to Puno for 8am on Sunday morning. Next morning I put her dirty laundry in to be done and walked to the terminal and pay for the tickets while Valerie checked and responded to her emails. That evening we caught up with some of her walking mates for a few drinks, some games of darts and pool.

Sunday morning was an early rise, goodbye to the Hostal Tu Hogar, Cusco and on to Puno. The owner of three “Marlon” hostals was promoting his Puno hostal at the station and it looked good and the price was discounted right, so we booked with him before we boarded the bus. This also meant we would be collected from the bus terminal on arrival and taxied direct to the hostal. The Bus ride was a pleasant one and we arrived in Puno about 4pm and yes we were taken direct to the hostal and it was the best accommodation we had stayed in since we arrived in South America. We stayed another night and then it was over the border and into Bolivia.

The border formalities were straight forward and easy enough. No fees, just the filling out of two forms then a couple of stamps on the forms and in our passports.

Hopefully, I will get our Bolivia story to you by Christmas as the way we are travelling we may spend the full 30 days as stamped in our visa in Bolivia!


Posted by wherethehellrwe 15:47

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