Aug 30 2015

Flashback – Week 3: Peruvian Independence Day

This week marked a series of celebrations around Peru for their Independence Day from Spanish rule. Celebrations essentially last three days for the country, Monday-Wednesday. Monday was the big celebration, and we went to one of the local parades in Pitumarca. Our primary intention was just to see the parades, but we knew that there was a chance we would march too, as many communities participate in the parade to show the projects they are working on with the municipality. Naturally our project for EWB fell in this category. So near the end of the parades through the town plaza, we lead the community down the main street as part of their project.

The unexpected thing happened after the parades. During the parades, we were sitting in the bleachers right by the main street, and we saw the mayor and some other important government people pass by us and they greeted us as they saw us (I kind of stand out as the only white person there). Well afterwards, we were invited into a small auditorium in the government complex because they were having a small service for the community leaders, key municipality members, etc. So we entered and intended to sit about midway up the seat of chairs. We were stopped. And ushered onto the stage to sit with the mayor and other key members. Unexpected to say the least. The service consisted of a few short speeches, a excerpt reading of their consitution, a toast, and a small meal.

Overall the day took a few unexpected turns. It was reassuring to see the community and municipality value our presence, as there were many times that seemed in question with the difficulties they gave us.

Not sure if I explained that terribly clearly, but it’ll have to do. I’ve spent all day trying to get a pump to work and I’m tired.

Until next time.

Aug 30 2015

Week 7

Hello All!

There was a bit of a mixup with the blog, and while I had several drafts typed up, project responsibilities would distract me and I never got back to them to post. So over the next couple weeks you will see some “Flashback” posts about what has been going on. We’ll be sure to date them, and hopefully even post a brief timeline of things that have happened for those of you interested. For now, however, hear is the latest news.

This weekend the rest of the project team flew down here to Cusco, and Noe and I have been with them since Friday night catching them up and working with them to purchase the remaining materials. Currently it is Sunday morning and I am sitting in the local Starbucks preparing a few things for the day and writing this post up. Yesterday evening we visited one of the big local hardware stores where Jim Woodrich helped us make sure all the fittings and connectors we had listed would work properly. Needless to say it was a large order, with a grand total of some several hundred individual items. Having such a large part of our materials ready is a big relief, especially with the materials Noe and I were able to acquire already up near the community. Unfortunately the hardware store didn’t have quite everything, and so today we hope to visit a few other hardware stores to finish acquiring what we need.

After seven weeks of Noe and I being here, and sometimes struggling to see things get done due to one of any number of issues, it is a relief to have the rest of the team here to help everything get done. As for the next three weeks of the project, we will largely be up near the community where there is no cell signal, and where all our power is coming from a rented generator. However, on the weekends we will be returning to the ADRA camp, so expect multiple updates over the next few weekends!

Until next time,

-Kendall Heinrich

Jul 27 2015

Week 2

Hello all!

While I intended to post sooner than today, this last week proved to be a lot busier than expected. It started off with us meeting with the municipality again. Now, like in our government in the states, the municipality leaders are voted in. Several, including the chief engineer, have gained office since we started the project, with little to no briefing on what we were doing until we got here. Not only has this delayed our plans, but complicated them as well. Our agreement with the municipality was to cover some of the expenses of the project, predominantly transportation of the materials. However, since he was unware of our project, those costs were not implemented in the budget. Part of our challenge has been negotiating with them in order to come to an agreement so that our project is a success.

Alongside those challenges has been working with the community in order to get the trenchline dug before the rest of the team gets here. At just around 800 meters long, it is not a small task, but with some organizaiton and planning, perfectly doable. Thankfully, the municipality has been helping organize the community to dig by providing a foreman and a couple skilled laborers for the project. Regardless, digging did not start until this last Friday because of finalizing the trenchline markings.

That has been the other challenge, finalizing the trenchline markings. This challenge predominantly comes down to working in a location so far removed from where we all did our design work, back in Walla Walla. Regardless, with a little time and helpful feedback from the rest of the team, we finalized it all and marked it down so that the community can dig it all over the next couple of weeks.

With these challenges, we spent every day this week out either talking with the municipality or up at the community, culminating in three climbs up to the community. Needless to say, climbing at an altitude of 4000-4500 meters over a distance of approximately 4 km is pretty exhausting if you’re not used to it. Thankfully this weekend marks Peru’s Independence Day, which means most of the locals won’t be working, allowing us to catch our breath a bit.

On a fun note, one day after our work in the community, Pulsiano showed us an old Spanish mine near the community. It was not too large, and definitly old. Pulsiano told us it was likely from when the Spanish ruled the country and was used to mine turquiouse and gold. He also told us that the community likely developed in support of the mine, however when the Spanish were forced out, it became a farming and ranching community.

As for the mine, the passageways were small, usually about 1.5-2 meters tall and 1.5 meters wide. We didn’t explore too deeply because we saw a few areas that looked weak and we didn’t want to risk getting trapped in a cave-in. However, we did get to see a small turquoise vein!

To sum it all up, it was sure a busy week, and I’m thankful for a small break before hitting the ground running again this week.

Until next time!

-Kendall Heinrich

Jul 19 2015

Week 1

Hello all!

Week 1 in Peru is coming to a close, and it has certainly been eventful. Between delays in luggage, minor sickness, and rushing headfirst into planning and meeting with people here, it has been packed. Upon our arrival at the ADRA facility, Camp Chuquicahuana, we sat down and  discussed our plans with Willy, who is the regional ADRA manager for the Cuzco area, and Pulsiano, who is the manager of the camp here. After making sure we were all on the same page, Noe and I spent the rest of the day resting and settling in.

Noe, Pulsiano and I

Noe, Pulsiano and I

The rest of the week was spent visiting the regional mayor and chief engineer, visiting the community for our project, scouting out some possibilities for next years potential micro hydro project, and running various errands. It is no surprise that we face some challenges here. Given the language barrier and distance, miscommunication is bound to happen. However that’s part of the reason Noe and I are here. To make sure everyone is on the same page and ready for when  the rest of the project team joins us.

Noe and I with the regional mayor and chief enginner.

Noe and I with the regional mayor and chief enginner.

I hope to be updating this more now that we have a more reliable internet connection. Until next time!

-Kendall Heinrich