Friday, January 3, 2020

A New Blog

It has been exactly 579 days since I last posted on this blog. The first post was over 10 years ago. Wow! Having returned to the United States in July of 2017 it didn't seem appropriate to post anything regarding my present location on a blog titled My Slice of Peru, and without actually being there I didn't feel tuned in enough to write about anything current in Chiclayo or the rest of Peru. So I just stopped writing. Anywhere. 

I'm getting older now, just turned 79 last month, and I'm finding that while my sphere of interest has gotten smaller in terms of world events, politics and politicians, celebrity activities, the entertainment world and business, my interest in people and why we act as we do has increased. So to has my interest in cosmology and philosophy. 

Sometimes when I'm relaxing in the back yard my mind is a million miles away, thinking about anything from the origin of the universe to why the chipmunks go to the neighbor's property to bury acorns instead of doing it where they find them. And sometimes I get the urge to write about these things. So I'm going to do it.

As of yesterday I started a new blog. I titled it Twilight in Northwest Georgia. It's not going to be about anything specific. It will be about whatever has crossed my mind and interested me enough to sit down at this computer and bang away at the keys. Anyone who would like to check it out is welcome. I'm going to let this Peru blog stand, until it dissipates into the ether. Because to this day I still get inquires about something I have written on it. I hope to see you at my new site.


Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Is this Really Georgia??

I did the research. I looked at all the factors you would normally look at when contemplating a move to a different region of the country (in our case, a different country). I looked at taxes, cost-of-living, population, entertainment opportunities, geography, crime rate, ease of access to hospitals, airports and other major cities, and climate. All of the information we gathered kept pointing to the Chattanooga area. Climate was a biggie for us. Having lived in the heat of Northern Peru for the last ten years, we did not want to return to Wisconsin or any other cold weather state.

Using Google Map I ‘walked’ the streets in December. People were walking downtown in light jackets. Others were in shorts and t-shirts. Weather averages for January in Chattanooga are 49 high and 24 low. I’m thinking that’s perfect…we’ve got it made.

Do you know what the temperature is forecasted to be tonight? Nine. That’s right…nine. All day the radio has been announcing school and business closings for tomorrow. That’s not what we signed up for. Granted, in Wisconsin, Minnesota, etc. where we don’t start paying attention until it gets to -20 or so, nine would be nothing. But we didn’t anticipate having to buy snow parkas, wool hats and gloves. Georgia doesn’t show that in their tourist promotional advertising. They show southern belles in peach colored dresses strolling on a promenade.

City planners…in fact the entire metro area was not designed with temperatures of nine in mind. Earlier this month we had another cold front move through. A water main froze and broke in downtown Chattanooga. Television broadcasters kept advising people to let their faucets run slightly to prevent freezing. I didn’t pay attention to that, regarding it as being overly cautious. As I recall it was only going to get down to 16. The plumber bill was $95.00. Houses are not insulated to deal with a temperature of nine. And based on my experience neither are many of the small businesses. Oh well, I’ll probably be complaining when it’s in the upper 90s as I did last July.

And speaking of complaining, as long as I’m on a rant, let me comment about driving. The salesman who sold us our car said, “Let me caution you. Tennesseans are terrible drivers”. Those were his words, not mine. Was he ever right! In 60 years of driving my rule of thumb has been speed limit +5, unless I’m in a school or construction zone. It has been my observation that the standard practice here is speed limit minus 5 to 15. And there seems to be an obligation to constantly vary the speed. I have seen bumper stickers here that say, “The closer you get the slower I drive”. It is difficult for me to imagine how one could drive slower without stopping. 

I am not talking about an occasional driver. I am flat-out saying that it is the majority. I saw this same thing in New England in states like New Hampshire and Vermont. Maybe the cause is all the hills in those states and here in Tennessee and Georgia. Whatever it is, it sure is annoying. I would love to see some of these folks drive through Chicago during rush hour. They would probably get so rattled they would never drive again.

Okay…no more ranting. Despite the unplanned for cold and puzzling driving, we’re very happy with our choice. The greater Chattanooga area has a lot going for it and is a good place to live.

Promesa Peru 2017 Financial Report

During the year 2017 Promesa Peru took part in nine activities. They were:

Month            Activity                                                                       Expense  

April             Los Bances pronoei                                                     $507.87

May              Carrizo Bajo pronoei                                                     538.14

May              Huaca Quemada pronoei                                              532.48

May              El Carrizo  pronoei                                                         61.12

June              La Carpa Casinelli pronoei                                          393.29

June              Magali training                                                               38.17

June              Huaca de Toro pronoei                                               490.00

July               Paredones San Juan                                                     920.00

November    El Cerezo pronoei                                                         788.65

December    Caspe pronoei*                                                                29.26

                                                           Total expenses                      $4,369.73

* - The Caspe pronoei is in the Monsefu District. There are 60 families living in Caspe, and only 9 students in the pronoei. The money donated by Promesa Peru contributed to the village's chocolatada, and also served to close our books in preparation for discontinuing our activities.


Source                                                                                                Amount

Public donations                                                                             $4005.70

Other donations                                                                                    00.00

                                                           Beginning balance                    364.03

                                                           Total funds available            $4,369.73

                                                           Total expenses                        4,369.73

                                                            Ending balance                      $00.00


It is with a twinge of sadness that we publish this final financial report. Both Maribel and me miss our Promesa Peru activity much more than we anticipated. We wish we could have found a way to keep it operating. Our thanks to everyone who contributed over the years to the success of Promesa Peru.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Mystical Medicines

Sometime around July of this year, shortly after we moved to Rossville from Chiclayo, Peru I damaged my right knee. I can’t associate it with any specific event. It just, one day started hurting. I ignored it for several weeks, until the pain became more frequent and severe. When it became obvious it wasn’t going to improve, I did one of my least favorite things to do; made a doctor appointment. The diagnosis is a partially torn meniscus. The course of treatment is leg exercises, ibuprofen and to stay off of it as much as possible.

During that doctor visit I wondered out loud what the diagnosis and treatment would have been in Chiclayo. I’m positive that one of the medicines would have been a salve or ointment of some sort, either a commercial product or a homemade concoction. Chiclayonos are big on ointments for whatever ails you. I mentioned several other examples of Peruvian health care practices that the doctor had probably not come across in medical school. For chronic pain that is not responding to usual remedies, one might contract with a bruja (male witch) to make a house call. Often as part of the treatment the bruja will place a live cuy (guinea pig) on the affected location, and let it run in the area, which somehow transfers the cause of the pain to the cuy. The bruja usually eats the cuy in imitation of his Incan ancestors, who ate tons of the little buggers. All such treatments are taken seriously by the population. If a treatment doesn’t work it is because something else is interfering.

When the doctor laughed I surprisingly found myself feeling defensive. That’s when I told him about what I call the yellow rock. It’s actually a hard cylinder of sulphur. It is sold as a pain reliever in pharmacies and many corner grocery stores. My first experience with it was during my initial visit to Chiclayo, when I developed a severe headache. I suggested to Maribel that we walk to a pharmacy for aspirin when instead she produced the yellow rock from a kitchen drawer. When she began rubbing the rock on my temple I immediately heard a crackling sound, like paper being crushed. Within minutes the headache was gone.

I am a skeptic. My mantra is, “Show me proof”. My conclusion about the rock and headache was that it was simply coincidence. The second time that exact scenario happened several week later, I again said coincidence, but this time not so loud.

I mentioned earlier that Chiclayonos have a penchant for ointments as a medical treatment. As I think about it, that is no different than the dozens of ointments sold in the ‘health stores’ all over the USA. And to my knowledge 99% of all of their products carry the mandatory disclaimer that essentially says…’this product has not been government evaluated and has not been proven to cure anything or have any healthful affects at all’. So basically they are no more legitimate than the sulphur cylinder of the guinea-pig-on-the-back treatments.

Whenever I get involved in a discussion about health supplements, the ‘believers’ usually end up saying, “Well, there may be no scientific proof, but I know my body and these supplements work”. Given that line of thinking, isn’t it just as valid for a Chiclayono to say that they know their bodies and the guinea pig treatment works? Or for me to say that the sulphur cylinder works?

Okay, back to my knee. This week after examining my knee, the doctor concluded that the conservative treatment approach did not work. In two more weeks I will see an orthopedic surgeon in preparation for arthroscopic surgery. I really don’t like that but it sounds like there is no option. Well…maybe there is. Before I go under the knife I’m going to a pet store to buy a guinea pig. I’ll let it run around on my knee for a while. It can’t hurt, unless it bites me, and whether it works or not, we’ve got dinner.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

A Good Night for Gumbo

It’s cold in Rossville, Georgia. Well, I mean not Wisconsin cold, but 24 night and 42 day feels cold. Maybe those 10 years I spent in Chiclayo Peru has lowered my tolerance for cold.

And speaking of Peru, that’s where Maribel is now. She wanted to spend the holidays and her father’s birthday with her family. I wasn’t ready to return to Peru. Not enough time has elapsed. If I went back now it would feel as if I had never left. I wouldn’t appreciate it. It’s kind of an - absence makes the heart grow fonder, if that makes sense. So Maribel is in Peru with family and I’m alone. That’s not all bad.

I am in a situation where I can completely ignore Christmas. If Maribel were here I would have to deal with a tree, lights, decorations, cards and that interminable Christmas music. It is a scientifically proven fact that having to listen to ‘Have a Holly Jolly Christmas’ more than 30 times per day is the leading cause of tonsiloptis of the blow hole. And of course everyone knows that listening to Johnny Cash’s or Neil Diamond’s versions of ‘Little Drummer Boy’ results in instant insanity.

Another advantage is that I didn’t have to wait until midnight to eat Christmas dinner. That has been the tradition in Peru for years. Probably no one knows why anymore. Turkey is the traditional main course. The turkey is covered with a marinate that has also come down through the years. I am confounded as to why. To me that marinate ruins a perfectly good gobbler.

I didn’t have turkey for Christmas. I went to a local grocery store and cruised the aisles hoping that something would jump out at me. In the checkout line my basket contained a 4 ½ lb fresh chicken, a package of instant mashed potatoes and a can of cranberries. The woman in front of me had much more. She dropped some of it on the floor. As I was helping her pick it up she remarked that her family had insisted that she make her famous gumbo tonight to “take off the chill”. Now, I don’t know gumbo from shoe polish but to make conversation I remarked that it was indeed a good night for gumbo, and then as an afterthought jokingly asked, “Where did you say you live”?

That woman reacted to my comment as if it was the funniest thing she had ever heard. Then she used it as a segue to talk about her gumbo, in a volume intended to be heard by everyone in line. I was on my way out of the store when I heard a loud voice behind me say, “Now don’t you let me see you following me to my car, ha ha”! I replied without turning, “Then don’t look.” There was much laughter.

Happy Holidays to all!

Monday, November 13, 2017

A Disastrous Loss in Peru

The temple of Ventarron has been in existence for over 4,500 years. It was discovered about 15 years ago and has been actively excavated since that day. Two days ago the site was completely destroyed by fire including what is thought to be the oldest mural in the Americas. 

The fire was caused by employees of a sugar cane company who had set fire to nearby fields to burn sugar cane stubble. The fire quickly spread, engulfing the entire archaeological site. Everything was lost including records of the excavation which were kept on site. 

More than one-half million US dollars had been earmarked for the protection and excavation of Ventarron and the nearby archaeological site of Collud. It is unknown how much of that money was spent. There was no reported damage to Collud.

Maribel and I would often visit Ventarron to watch the progress of the excavation. We could reach the site from our home in just 20 minutes. 

This is the mural that was destroyed. It is thought to be more than 2000 years old. The colors were much more vivid than in this photo.

This photo shows an artist's rendition of what the temple looked like based on measurements taken by noted Peruvian archaeologist Walter Alva. 

Authorities in Lima have dispatched investigators to Ventarron to determine if the sugar company is responsible. The outcome of that investigation won't change anything. The remains of one of the oldest and grandest temples in the Americas is lost. What a shame.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Promesa Peru to Cease Activities

After seven years of supporting education through classroom furnishings and school supplies in Peru’s Lambayeque Region, the board members of Promesa Peru have decided to close the doors. Factors leading to this decision were excessive demands for Magali’s time, who is Maribel’s sister and the Promesa Peru representative in the region, and the difficulty of administering school projects remotely from the USA.

One example of administrative difficulty is that we have just now gotten the final cost numbers for the village of El Cerezo, a project completed October 10. The delay was no one’s fault...simply a result of a more complex system. The cost figures for that project were:

1 whiteboard - $52.45
Markers and erasers - $7.71
3 tables - $83.31
15 chairs - $231.41
2 storage shelves - $52.45
17 books and puzzles - $68.19
17 pairs of shoes - $166.62
Magali’s time - $61.71
Transport - $64.79
Total - $788.65

As of this writing Promesa Peru has $29.26 in its bank account. The money will be turned over to Magali to be used for a chocolatada (Christmas party) at a Chiclayo school of her choice. We will be publishing a complete financial report for the year 2017 when all the numbers have been crunched.

There have been many donors during these past seven years. We cannot possibly thank them all but do want to recognize in particular Chris Raupe, Clif Brown, Denny Wallette, and especially The Alice Cool Foundation who never failed to bail us out when money was tight.

This is a sad day for us, but we do have the satisfaction of knowing that we have helped dozens of schools and hundreds of students, and that there are people like those mentioned above who care about the future of a little boy or girl in a poor desert village in Peru.

Thank you.