27th Sept to 2nd Oct
Hello to all following my blogs. We are up and running again.
Following my return to Scotland in June I have changed my life dramatically. This seems way out there for a lot of people and I can understand that as when I think back to what I was like only a few short years ago I would also think I had taken leave of my senses! All I can say is when I am working in Peru it feels right. I’m not here on holiday, I live a fairly basic lifestyle with little amenities but working with the charity and the people I meet feels like this is where I should be. Don’t get me wrong I have down days but I usually put on some good music and dance about like a loony. That works for me.
So what have I done???????..............My idea is to turn the whole thing on its head, i.e. spend most of time in Peru helping the charity and returning to Scotland for a few weeks every 6 months. I will buy a flexible ticket so if an emergency arises I can get home reasonably quickly. I have resigned from work totally, although following some good advice I will keep up my pharmacy subscription and continuing professional development (mandatory for us pharmacists). The current situation of just going to Peru for a few short weeks wasn’t really working for anyone. It was frustrating not to be able to do all the things I felt I needed to and wanted to do for the charity and it was still very disrupting at home even when it was just for a few weeks. My radical decision has been difficult for everyone and there were times I wondered if I should give up and just leave things as they were. However I knew if I did this I would not be true to myself and would just continue to do what was right for others and not necessarily for me. Deep down I know my family realise this, albeit difficult just now. I thank them from the bottom of my heart for attempting to understand and for their support during a very trying period!! This has also been a time when my true friends have shown themselves and helped me through this. I am eternally grateful to them too.
I am now out here for 3 months, until just before Xmas and this will be an interesting time for me. This will be an exploratory time for me to see if I can make this work, but within my heart it feels right. I am a great believer in fate. If it is the right thing I am doing, it will work out. I am hoping to be able to work for Living Heart Peru and as there have been a number of changes, people leaving etc I am hoping to slot into one of those positions. I am house-sitting for friends and paying a reasonable rent for a very nice house for the next 3 months so this will give me time to look for the “right “accommodation. I don’t need a lot but if possible would like somewhere light and not too noisy. I must have access to a kitchen and at least an electric shower, as this is the only hot water you have. The kitchen must have at least 2 burners and a fridge if possible (or I’ll need to buy one). You may laugh but a kitchen here means a sink and that is it!
It feels like I am starting again actually from the Peru point of view due to the changes since I left in June.....out with the old and in with the new. This keeps life interesting and exciting. The office is now in Cusco in Fani’s house. This is to save administrative costs. Something I love about this NGO. We keep administration to a minimum so the money goes to those most in need. Sonia has also moved to Cusco so this is where I will be staying. Because of this Ineke feels it is too far to commute and has resigned.
I am currently writing this from Starbucks in Lima airport as I await my last flight. It is 7am! This is the only Starbucks I know so I am taking the opportunity to have a nice coffee before I head off. The flights haven’t been bad considering and as usual I am stretching the airline’s generosity with the maximum hand luggage I felt I could get away with. I also paid for a second piece of hold luggage to get some extra things across, like a duvet, which you can’t buy in Cusco, cosy things for when I feel a little low. I also brought a teddy that has long arms to cuddle me, courtesy of my mum . Despite a couple of hiccups like mislaying my passport when about to board my first plane (thanks to Jen for helping me focus here ) the flights were OK. The long haul flight from Madrid to Lima was the next hiccup where a number of us were pulled out as they didn’t like our hand luggage and making us put one in the hold. I thought I was being smart and filtering out all the stuff I would need for that night flight but this was the mistake as it made me look like I had 3 pieces of hand luggage. I then had an “Oh shit” moment as I realised the bag I had sent down this very steep slide crashing into the other bags already there included my laptop and camera!! Fortunately they were all OK and arrived safely and intact. Finally one of the handles of my hold bags ripped as I lifted it off the conveyor belt in Lima..well will only be going one way!!! However all in all the flights were not too bad.
For some reason I was more anxious travelling this time. No idea why but I was. Now I am in Lima I seem to have settled down although the time to get our luggage from the plane in Lima was unbelievable. An hour and a half I waited and some were still waiting as I left to go through customs...a red light again so more X ray machines but OK so that was good. I must admit I really have overdone the hand luggage as the zips are straining at the seams. Unfortunately the lady at security in Glasgow decided she wanted to see in one of my bags and I couldn’t repack it again! I eventually played around with what was where to get it right so took up a disabled toilet in Madrid for about 10-15mins!! It was more organised though. Mental note...less stuff in hand luggage! I have now found out though that you can take up to an extra 4kg over the weight and not be charged as the scales have a 20% discrepancy so I won’t worry quite so much or weigh them as often next time.
It is now Saturday afternoon and I can finally resume my blog. I am in limbo at the moment as there seems to have been some misunderstanding. Carol had expected me to stay elsewhere until they left and my room is full of their travel clothes and equipment...lots of equipment for every kind of sport you can imagine! This caused a bit of a quandary as I didn’t have anywhere else to go. I offered to sleep in my sleeping bag in the living room until they are packed and go but Carol suggested the office. There is a bed in there and it was fine. I have brought a reasonable number of things with me this time as mentioned above and it is all parked at the front of the entrance to their house so trying to find things is a little difficult. The problem is all my regular stuff that I have been leaving, to use here, is in a wardrobe in that room, including all my adaptors to connect to the power! This has left me wondering what to do?? Not too much activity! Practice what I preach. (I had been giving a couple of girls some advice in Lima as their travel company hadn’t been very forthcoming). The altitude is certainly affecting me just now (more so) as I have been away for 3 months at sea level and I was in the habit of staying slightly lower in the valley which seemed to be easier. So despite a good sleep on the plane (about 9 hours) by the time 8pm came on Friday night (1am in UK) I was knackered and feeling crap. There I was sitting with makeup and smarter clothes on, waiting to go out with Carol and Paul after they returned from a lantern festival at the school, and I was curled up on the settee with a blanket watching their TV with the equivalent of sky (before it gets switched off). Needless to say I did take the sensible approach and went to bed. Good job really. Carol, despite best intentions didn’t come in until 1am and Paul..about 5am!!
I was up bright and early the next day (around 7am) and after sitting around quietly reading, waiting to see if Carol was going to surface (she mentioned she fancied a walk) I decided to investigate the area myself. Carol had told me about stairs I could take leading to the mountains so I decided to see if I could find them. Despite a pleasant uphill walk (slowly I might add) I didn’t find much other than lots of dogs and houses. I discovered I had taken the wrong stairs! Oh well maybe tomorrow or later. I also decided to walk into Cusco from the house, about a 45 minute walk to get to the centre. I was meeting up with Sonia. This was a pleasant walk too although quite uphill on the way in and I felt I was now starting to get acclimatised, after walking back too. The gods were shining on me as it was trying hard to rain but held off until I got back. We’ve had some very heavy downpours over the last 2 days. Brilliant sunshine and then down it would come. Sonia is looking great now she isn’t working so hard. We had a big discussion about what she had been up to. As I still couldn’t access my computer because of no adaptor Sonia thought she had one I could borrow so returned with her to Esmaran’s new rental...All I can say is WOW!!! I have never seen such a beautiful house. It’s situation up near Sachsaywaman ruins gives it the most amazing panorama over Cusco. It is a modern build, a large open plan modern white space with windows along all the walls and beautifully laid out with gardens on all sides. I have never seen a house like that in Peru or many countries actually except on the TV! I am sure the rent must match its magnificence. Absolutely beautiful! Sonia has her own ensuite as well with a raindrop shower! Not bad eh!
On Sunday as this was the big pack for Carol and Paul I decided to do my first supermarket shop to give Carol and Paul space. In the past I would buy only what I couldn't get in Urubamba and then get the rest there, especially fruit and veg. This time I am obviously buying everything in the supermarket until I can source a good market for fruit and veg. It is great that I can walk there. I was a bit optimistic however that I would be able to walk back but had to resign to the fact that I had to get a taxi. The girls in "Canasta" supermarket were lovely and helped me outside, found me a taxi and helped pack me in. They were all laughing at my mispronunciation and getting words wrong but at least I am trying and getting there slowly... I think. As long as they speak more slowly to me I am understanding more of what they say which feels good.
On Monday I’ll catch up with Fani when I will hopefully be able to see where I can slot into Living Heart. Not wanting to miss an opportunity I have also arranged a meeting with Rob (a friend of Carol and Paul) re grant application work. He was at Carol and Paul's on Sunday. Cut a stick when you see it I always say. We had discussed a meeting in April but ran out of time. Rob is a very busy man and has just won a grant for $1 million!! He works for Frankfurt Zoological Society doing Animal Conservation. I thought no harm in picking his brains and he kindly agreed. His office seems to be only 5 mins from the house so that is brill.
Despite a good meeting with Rob where he gave me a few pointers and said he would keep his eyes open for other websites that might help us with our children’s home and fundraising it still felt like a really tough Monday, especially at the end of the day. I had been feeling it all day and had decided to find the other stairs to the mountains. This I did but the dogs were just ridiculous and downright dangerous all sitting on the stairs just daring you to come up! I will not be using that route again! Despite the fact I had 2 stones in my hand and having tried the soft approach as well as the loud approach threatening them with the stones, nothing seemed to work and on a few occasions I nearly got bitten!! Carol agreed it was the most frightened she had ever been. Later in the day Fani cancelled as she had a number of other things to do and this left me a bit flat, keen to understand her needs for Living Heart and how I could slot in. What I did instead was unpack everything, sort it all out condensing what I had left previously with what I had this time; take down the posters in the bedroom and put up things I liked making it feel like my room and home. I like a room that makes me smile when I walk into it. This one now does. Tuesday however felt so much better. Finally I feel I have acclimatised and have now walked into and out of Cusco a couple of times and............ I now have an official job with Living Heart..yey
Fani and I had a great chat and she is really taking the NGO forward from marketing to projects as people are offering us money. It will be great to work together. My official title will be Administrator, Finance and Fundraising Assistant. I started right away. There also didn’t seem to be too much of an issue with me travelling home twice a year as I really want to raise awareness and if possible fundraise, plus some of my work can be done remotely. So all in all I am really chuffed.
It is funny what a small world it is too. As I power-walked into Cusco I realised someone in front was carrying a disabled child. What drew my attention were his feet facing the wrong way, they were just dangling. I suddenly looked closer and low and behold it was Crisologo and Paolo who was carrying Jose Antonio in a large shawl that are common place here for carrying anything or anyone. I always found this strange as Jose Antonio is quite a big boy and Paolo is small. He must be a ton weight even though there isn’t much of him. After hugs and quick discussions I headed off at pace but realised Paolo was running to keep up. I then realised they wanted to meet Fani with me so I slowed down a bit. Fani had quite a discussion with them before we started. Things seem to have blown up regarding the weavings and them not being totally honest with us, so everyone is being pulled into the discussions. I tried to keep out of it, saying to Crisologo when he tried to pull me in I didn’t fully understand. That was the first coincidence; the second was on the way back to the house, via Avenida de la Cultura where I met Ian who had worked with us, as the Alma representative, on our first greenhouse project. We chatted for some time and he has offered to help me in Cusco if I get stuck. He is a nice guy. With Cusco being such a big city I thought it quite surprising to be bumping into people. When I got back to the house I got stuck into e mails and follow up stuff feeling much more relaxed and focussed now I knew what I was doing.
Oh well mis amigos here endeth the first of my blogs for the second half of 2012. I hope you have enjoyed reading it.
Until next time. Hasta leugo...See you later and take care of yourselves. Time for me to sleep.