Living La Vida Loca

Living La Vida Loca After two months in Peru, I think I’ve come to accept the fact that I am not just visiting to do a quick project, I am living here. I figure, if I’m renting two apartments (the one below shares a compound with an orphanage in Urubamba) in a country for more than an entire season, and I go to the market everyday to buy food, and know people in the street, I think that qualifies as “living.” Of course, my Spanish is getting just good enough so I can make myself misunderstood. my second floor apartment in urubamba I have stopped thinking that I can maintain a close continuity with my life in the U.S. during my absence, but I look forward to resuming my routines and my frie

Another Brick in the Wall

Things continue to move forward with our disaster recovery project in Peru. The Ormachea-Hermoza home now has walls and we are preparing to pour the concrete ceiling beams and roof. you have to keep the concrete wet for seven days so that it cures correctly At that point, we will have to wait three weeks to remove the wooden forms. There was much debate as to whether we needed to let them cure for a full 28 days—the time it takes for concrete to completely dry—but after consulting with my construction experts in the U.S., we all agreed (including the local builder) that three weeks would be adequate and safe. During that time, I will visit friends in Mancora, on Peru’s northern coast. Be


A complete oversight all this time: I have neglected to mention Erin O’Rourke, an expat American living and teaching English in Urubamba. with angela She directed us to our worthy beneficiary family, and has been our MicroAid interpreter since my preliminary fact-finding trip last year. Erin knew that the Ormachea-Hermoza family had lost their adobe home in the floods of 2010 and had been living in tents and shacks ever since. That introduction, her language skills, and her patience have proved invaluable to us and especially to the family. winter solstice - sunset over the andes The fate of life that leads MicroAid to survivors of disasters is truly remarkable. Our heartfelt thanks to Er

Peru Travel Log

MicroAid in the Macro World Here at MicroAid we are committed to being as environmentally conscious as possible; even on a personal level I attempt to generate zero plastic waste. I bring my own bags to the market and do not buy water in plastic bottles. I use a SteriPen to purify water from the local tap. Not only does it save the environment, but it saves money too. It purifies water using ultra-violet light, and has become one of the most essential items in my travel kit.

Peru House Project Update

The Ormachea-Hermoza home construction is going great. The foundation is finished and we are preparing to pour the columns. It was an exciting moment when we removed the wood forms from around the concrete base. The footprint of the house was clearly visible. marc fitting the wood form around a column That gave the project a sense of reality and inevitability—no turning back, full steam ahead. up we go I marked the occasion by buying the crew a few big bottles of beer—the celebratory elixir of choice among construction workers the world over—and joined them for a traditional Peruvian round of drinking (even though I don’t drink beer.) Sitting in a circle, using one glass, each guy pours hi

Eating for Two

Just rid myself of some kind of intestinal parasite after three weeks trying to use a local homeopathic remedy: eat a big handful of mint leaves upon waking up and just before going to bed. urubamba market - my mint dealer Ultimately, I had to resort to antibiotics, but because of my total aversion to them and my mild state of denial, I wanted to try the natural cure first. After local advice and some Internet research, I was convinced of the efficacy of the minty-fresh leaf. Apparently, the mint should cause an environment in the gut that the parasites don’t like—at all. It should send those critters running for the exit—so to speak. For a little while it seemed to have worked, but alas

Rebar Madness

Bending, cutting, setting… rebar—this foundation could support the Freedom Tower. There is so much reinforced concrete in the beams this house could be the first skyscraper in Urubamba. It will definitely withstand any future floods. uncle Juan foundations for the columns are 1 meter deep Speaking of which, the family wanted the ability to build a second floor in the future. That concept is prevalent throughout the third world where building codes allow you to leave a house in what looks like an incomplete state. this house is done—note the expensive fancy doors MicroAid will build the family a complete first floor, but there will be rebar extending above for future tie-in. Be ready for t

Pisac Poseurs

The crew works six days a week, so on Sunday, Melissa, Erin, and I went to Pisac, the other quaint tourist town, after Ollantaytambo, in the Sacred Valley. ollantaytambo tranquilo Terraced Inca ruins flow toward the town down the steep verdant hillside. The wide floodplain below glitters with the snaking Vilcanota River and irrigated fields. Pisac itself is geared for tourism, being the first town in the valley that you hit after leaving Cusco. We saw more white people and heard more English than anywhere in Peru. The main plaza is filled to capacity with stalls selling souvenir everything: alpaca scarves, “Inca” figurines, “natural” artists’ pigments, and llama keychains, in addition to

Making it Happen in Urubamba

On Monday, May 27th, we broke ground on the Ormachea-Hermoza house in Urubamaba. The first MicroAid project in Peru is going smoothly, so far. Ormachea-Hermoza abode since floods of 2010 On the very first day, the makeshift shack and tents, in which they had been living since the floods in 2010 destroyed their home, had to be taken down and the family’s possessions moved. taking down the shack All manner of detritus emerged from the dark dwellings. Filthy blankets, tattered clothes, pieces of broken toys, chicken coops, disintegrating mattresses and sleeping pads all were seeing the light of day or the first time in years. Good for them to be in the fresh, albeit dusty, air. that inner-tu

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