3rd - 10th October
Well following my meeting with Fani yesterday and reviewing a lot of emails I had identified a number of things needing followed up and questions for Fani. I was meeting her at San Blas market at 8am the next morning. Pilar (the nanny) who it turns out is staying in the house too told me there was a strike the next day so getting transport would be difficult. It was time to try out the bike! Now I haven’t ridden a bike for about 3-4 years and negotiating Peruvian traffic was going to be interesting. I was hoping the early hour would be in my favour but allowed 30 mins in case I had to get off and push. Sure enough I did as some of the gears didn’t work. I discovered later that the 2 sets of gears worked the opposite way! I’d never seen this before. I’d need a really low gear for some of these hills and to be honest the cobbles would be a killer. The traffic was a bit of an issue, not helped by 2 taxis stopping side by side to have a chat with no care about the traffic behind them!! Fani led the way up to her house with little Sancho (her street dog that resembles a St Bernard) in tow. He is only 5 weeks old and was doing quite a bit of complaining/ whining as he had been a sleep and Fani had to wake him to bring him. It was quite a climb with a bike I can tell you and way too many steps to contend with. If I had been walking it would have been very enjoyable- still steep but very pleasant..with a bike it was a nightmare! Little Sancho, every time he was put time curled up to sleep. He really is quite adorable. We made it and Fani showed me around. From this vantage point they have an amazing view across Cusco. It is a nice house over 2 stories and with Sonia’s downsizing they have gained quite a bit of furniture which makes it quite homely. We spent the next 5 hours going over various spreadsheets and what Fani was looking for. As we continued I could see a lot of this being a bit mind-numbing so we discussed how we might share this workload and I would help with writing etc under the marketing heading. I think my job will evolve. Sonia wasn’t over impressed by the assistant part of my title but again we will see. The return journey was different altogether as they live close to the main road so this is the way I returned. Not to be done in reverse I can tell you as the slope down was pretty scary with lots of corners to add to the excitement! I was braking the whole way. I was pleased I had figured my way back successfully and reaching the house I realised I had a problem. I hadn’t brought my keys. The door to the house has never been locked since I have known Carol and Paul. Today it was and no-one had spare keys! Pilar was away until 5 and Edgar until 3pm. Peruvian time you understand, so this turned out to be 6pm and 6.30pm respectively!! I did have an external drive which I could connect to one of the computers in the office but for some bizarre and frustrating reason it wasn’t going to let me copy and paste from excel sheets to make a real start on price fluctuations of food so we could budget accordingly. I opted for e mails and follow ups. Eventually I did find a way around some of the issue which allowed me to get it started as this was one of the mind numbing jobs I wanted out of the way! I worked on until 7.30pm so my first full day was 11 hours. Mmmmm - what does this remind me of???? A certain role not in the too distant past.
Needless to say I will do a little more than basic admin and put my oar if required. A typical example: I have just done a spreadsheet with price fluctuations in the foods etc we buy for the communities, to make sure we are budgeting correctly...majorly boring as I checked EVERY boleta and factura (invoices to you) since May. Anyway we have just moved the bulk of our buying to Cusco as it is closer for 2 of the communities and I noticed quite a difference in the prices. I have highlighted all discrepancies from our new supplier and also where we were under or over budgeting with my recommendations of change or let's just see what the next couple of shops looks like. We might need to barter a bit if this lady is good and just make sure she is giving us the best prices. As you can see I can't keep my mouth shut. J I also thought it was a good opportunity to improve my Spanish so made sure I knew what everything was in English. Never like to miss an opportunity.
Following the incident when I was locked out I received an e mail from Paul regarding using the office and I should be in the house. Unfortunately the Wifi in the house is very temperamental. I have tried to reason with him as I am not disturbing anyone and it doesn't seem to be affecting the speed of their computers however Paul will not budge so I may need to review my time here if I can’t work. I am paying a normal rent for "house-sitting". Normally you would have a landlord to support you but this is not the case here. No-one cares. I have now discovered I may have a rat in the room as I have heard it and felt it at 4am once morning. It was eating my cod liver oil capsules, ignoring the chocolate...go figure! When the capsules were no longer available it went into my bag and chewed on a cereal bar! Everything is in the wardrobe now and so far seems OK. I know the girls (Pilar and Julia (the cook) have been in my room as often the door is open when I come back and they are using the gas more than I am and have to pay for. They are also drinking the bottled water. I am not going to argue about it just deduct it at the end if it becomes an issue. I have since locked myself out again. Pilar had asked me to feed the chickens and bring them in and when I went out to do this the door shut behind me!! I had been so tired when i got back i had forgotten to move the clothes peg to keep it open. After much fretting Dougie helped me smash a pane of glass to get in. It will have to stay like this until I can get another. Dougie must be sick of the sight of me! I had to go to his house late on the Saturday after a very big day’s work as I couldn’t unlock the second lock to get through the gate!! Fortunately I had learnt where he stayed and he was in. Paul had suggested I speak to his IT lady to help me with my connection in the house so I did. What a really lovely girl (young woman). We had a great chat that night and we are going to help each other with our Spanish and English. She can then correct my mistakes but to be honest I am getting by just now although I keep asking people to speak slower so I can understand. I think I am going to opt for one private lesson a week and time with Rose. We haven’t caught up since that night with things being so mad but I am sure we will. Esmaran is also going to speak to her tutor for me for a private lesson. A bit more expensive but should hopefully help me progress quicker.
Although I had put on weight while at home with all my overindulging I can see it falling off with negotiating all these hills and the altitude. Your appetite falls dramatically too. I will need to watch my night-time meal and make something. I have been cheating a little as there is some leftover food so I have been reheating this. That is one thing about being in Carol and Paul’s. They have hot water through their taps and a microwave. Although they have a big house I haven’t spent much time in the living room as the TV doesn’t work and it is a big space for me so I tend to head up to bed. Nothing changes.
Things are really moving along nicely with the greenhouses as the one community left to receive one is about to start. The community had been resistant to donate the land until Fani visited and showed them the pictures of our first one. They decided on the spot that they wanted this and gave us the land. There were adobe bricks already made for a wall the headmaster had wanted built but he has said they could have them for the greenhouse. We are visiting on Friday to show them the plans and look at the site measuring it out. We were setting off at 7.30am and I have to get back up to Fani’s house as this is where the jeep now is! I think it will be time to try out the micros/ combis who pass close by Fani’s turn off. I’ve been told which ones to look for. When we got to this community and started asking questions I was a little concerned about the plans, that I discovered Fani and her husband Saul had drawn up. The building was huge and they have no real skills other than what they had seen in the other 2 communities. Fortunately Clive, a volunteer structural engineer was there and I asked him to look at them. What also concerned me was when they were looking at the area it was to be built it was only when Clive said about the big slope that they started to discuss this! This on top of Saul’s crazy driving in the LH jeep has meant I am probably not flavour of the month. I saw a different side to Saul that I didn’t like that day I must admit!
Well since that day there has been a huge upheaval that I can’t really go into yet other than to say my role has changed dramatically and I am working crazy hours at the moment with no time off. It should settle down I think but at the moment it is PRETTY BUSY!! Other than being exhausted by the time late afternoon comes I am enjoying the challenge.
I have now visited the cafe and met the new manager, Jane who is really lovely. I have visited the proposed site of the Children’s Home but at the moment this is a no go as 1. The Alcalde (Mayor) didn’t turn up and 2. From what we can see the only plot they are offering would mean a walk of at least one hour for the children...not what we want. Senor Alcalde has since phoned and was very apologetic. We may arrange to see him nest week here as this was a wasted day for us. There has been a mention of 3 plots but we are unaware of what that could be.
I am now getting the hang of the combis and need to take 2 to save walking too much and reduce my travelling time. It is still 30-40 mins if I am not walking very far but a bit easier on the legs and back if I am carrying my backpack.
Well my friends I had better go make something to eat and if I can stay awake long enough a video to chill. I think I am getting a cold unfortunately.
By the way the weather is very pleasant at the moment. The rain seems to have passed but you always carry a jacket just in case. It hasn’t been too cold at night either but I still like my hot water bottle as I find it very comforting.
Hasta la próxima vez mis amigos.