Friday, June 29, 2007

Gratis (Free)

Last weekend I was off to Arica, Chile to pick up my VISA stamp in my passport.

After 6 hours in a large touring bus I arrived in the frontier town of Tacna, Peru. Crossing the border was accomplished by a special taxi service that takes 5 people at a time in a 1978 Ford Crown Victoria. Incidental, this was the very first time I have ever seen a Crown Vic with with a standard transmission and 4 cylinder engine. I was half expecting to pile into the trunk and made a mad rush for the border in the style of many border crossing into the USA... however I was relieved to find out that the large back seat was for sitting on and not hiding under.

After getting dropped off at the Peruvian Consulate in Chile, a 2 hour wait produced a VISA stamp in my passport. As much trouble as it was to get the VISA, I was amazed to find out that it was "GRATIS" or free...

The same day it was back across the border to Peru and 6 more hours on a bus back to Arequipa. I arrived home tired but also glad that one more piece of my paperwork was completed.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


A friend pointed out this rats nest of wiring on a street corner. Hate to be the one that has to trouble shoot a problem there. If something did not work, I would just run ANOTHER new wire...

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


This maybe the real wheel on my bus that I take to school everyday.

Well, maybe when the wheel is moving you can't see it so then maybe that means there really is no danger. Maybe it is "just a flesh wound" and does not really go all the way down to the chords. Maybe it is only dangerous when the bus stops and you can actually see it. Maybe it is OK when the bus is careening down some hill at 60 MPH with a drop off to the left with no guard rail. Maybe it gets better with 40 people standing inside the bus ear to ear examining each others faces from far closer that we ever cared to. Maybe the rough cobble stone roads actually help preserve the longevity of the tire just like it maybe preserves the passengers longevity by giving a bone jarring massage. Maybe I should walk to school tomorrow...

Friday, June 15, 2007

Missin' Flyin'

On this side of the equator, it is winter. Here in Arequipa that means 55 degrees at night and 70 during the day. It rains about 10-15 days out of the year with no thunderstorms and the skies are usually clear blue without a cloud in sight. In short, it is perfect flying weather.

North of the equator in the USA, it is flying season. there are hundreds of folks hopping into their 2-4 passenger airplanes and going out for a pancake breakfast or off to some remote lake to fish off of the pontoon of their float plane. Maybe it is a sunset flight along Lake Michigan or practicing short field landings at a small grass airstrip in the countryside (BKF Int). Perhaps some formation flying or gentle aerobatics. Whatever it may be, I certainly do miss being able to do those things.

But, as pilots say, "Better to be on the ground wishing you were in the air than in the air wishing you were on the ground!"

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


The other evening I hosted a BBQ over here at the house. The plan was fairly straight forward, have a good old American BBQ. The execution was little more difficult.

First off, they don't really have hot dogs here. We went to two different stores before we found something that was the general shape and mostly made of meat. We were fortunate enough to find some bratwurst like sausages that my cousins in Wisconsin would turn their noses up at... but again it was meat and looked like it could be grilled. Then it was off to find hotdog buns, again that was a challenge as they don't make hot dogs buns here. So we settled for some oval looking rolls.

The "grill" was yet another compromise is that there are no gas grills or Kingsford charcoal here. They did have "real charcoal" which did not produce much heat and needed a whole lot of fanning with some 18th century bellows we found. Thankfully everyone was patient and after an hour or so we were all feed.

The best part was the ice cream afterwards. I am very thankful that they have my favorite food group here in Peru. Not sure I would be able to make it here other wise...

Sunday, June 10, 2007


Yesterday a group of us from the language school went to see some waterfalls in Yarabamba. We had been invited by some Peruvians to see some of the rugged beauty of Peru. Showing up promptly at our meeting place in San Antonio at 8:30 was a good reminder that we are still foreigners... about 45 minutes later our Peruvian friends showed up and off we went on our 6 mile hike.

This part of Peru is very much like Arizona or New Mexico. A desert with rocks and mountains, yet green valleys fed by mountain streams.

I had my handheld GPS with me and was able to track our progress as we climbed from 7500' up to 9000' over the course of 3 miles. We arrived at the Yarabamba waterfall hot and tired, but it was very beautiful.

Being the adventurous sort, I tried to get as close as I could to the waterfall with out falling into the frigged pool of water as the base of the falls. Well I ended up getting to close and went slip-sliding down into the very WET and VERY cold water. After scampering out and removing my wet shoes and shirt, I was ready to jump in again so my friends could get some good pictures. (I will post them once I receive them.)

In all, we had a very good trip. It was quite tiring, but atleast one memeber of the group did get some sleep along the way... I am also happy to report that by the time we returned to Arequipa, my shoes were finally dry!

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

One of...

In Peru, you can buy one of just about anything. I noticed this the other day while I was out shopping. In the US we love bulk. We buy large quantities of things because it is cheaper, eliminates extra trips, and is the American way.
Here in Peru, you can buy one roll of toilet paper. One can of pop. One AA battery. One lolly pop. One shoe lace. One phone card for One US dollar (25 minutes of call time). One light bulb. One bar of soap. One hair stretchy thingy. Even one piece of paper!
While this is fairly perplexing to me, I think the reason this happens is because many people in Peru can not AFFORD to buy in bulk. Many people live day to day and need the ability to buy only one item. I can understand that.
Have to go though, my ONE Sole (30 US cents) is about to run for using this computer.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Peru Pickup truck

Well, I must say the people in Peru are very ingenious. They know how to make lemonade when they are handed lemons.

As I was walking home from school on Friday I saw a Peruvian version of a pick up truck being loaded up with construction debris. In the US we would get a dumpster and that would be the end of it, but in Peru the bags of rubble will be recycled in some way by the builder. Perhaps raw material for a new wall or landfill for a low spot on some other job.

I just hope they don't need a push start.