Tuesday, 10 December 2013

playa blanco

the main street in playa blanco
our first stop was to check on the old turbine

one of many games of football
camp with our new friends
the kids were amaaaaazing

After SEACORPS we headed 30 minutes further up to coast to the small seaside settlement of Playo Blanco. The settlement consisted of 50 families living along a cliff that drops into the Pacific Ocean. There are two WindAid turbines installed here, both on a voluntary basis. One powers 4 houses, whilst the second powers the school (but is currently not in operation due to a short circuit in the electronics of the school). There is no running water...which meant no toliets or showers. Whilst we were not here to do any work, we were able to pitch camp on a cliff about 100 meters from their settlement on Tuesday and Wednesday night.

The families at Playa Blanco are super friendly with everyone from WindAid. The turbines here are some of the oldest and volunteers have been coming back on a regular basis for years. Because of this, the kids that live here are super, super friendly, engaging and demanding of our time! As soon as they saw our crazy green car, tons of them started running along the sand towards our camp.

We laughed, we chatted, we played A LOT of football. What amazed me most was the strength, bravery and freedom the kids expressed. Health and safety is a complete joke in Peru, but we were staying atop a 20-30 foot cliff face into the ocean...these kids ran, tripped, play fought and generally caused mischief all within feet of the edge. My heart jumped on more than one occasion.

Also, while I´ve mentioned the fact that Peruvians, for the most part, are on the small side, I couldn´t get over how mini most of these kids were! And all were so young. We played a great game of football with about eight two - seven year olds on one side against 2 of us volunteers on the other. Unsurprisingly, the little mini team won!

While these families are poor, their kids are healthy, happy and free to run around and explore a wildly beautiful landscape day and night. It really made me stop and think.

Monday, 9 December 2013


our ride up, nine in the car no problem
seacorp camp
windaid's first boat mounted turbine
We started our trip last Monday night, piling nine deep into our trusty/not so trusty land rover for the seven hour drive north. We were headed to the desert region of Sechuria, close to Piura, Peru.

We had two wind turbines with us, in addition to our luggage, tools, tents and sleeping bags. Unsurprisngly, the car overheated within the first two hours of our trip! The ´beast´as she is affectionately known takes a serious beating driving fully loaded through the Peruvian desert (I don´t think it helps that Nick, WindAid volunteer director and our loco driver thinks all roads in Peru should be driving like a rally), and overheating turned out to be a pretty regular occurance throughout our trip. 

We finally reached our first site, SEACORP about 4am where we slept under the stars on the front porch. SEACORP is a sustainable scallop farm, that employs 34 people on a full time basis. They were the first commerical buyers of WindAid´s large wind turbines and have two installed which fully powers their seaside camp. Additionally, they have the first boat mounted turbine which gives power to two guys who sleep 20 days on, 7 days off to patrol the waters and prevent others from stealing their scallops.

More after the jump!

Sunday, 8 December 2013

our week away

Hello friends!

We are back. We successfully survived our week in rural, northern Peru and had an amazing time. I'll be posting about our trip this week...there is so much to share.

It is hard to believe, but we are going into our last week with WindAid. Tomorrow is the beginning of our fourth week here and it is amazing how quickly the time has gone.

Our plan is to spend this week back in the workshop and to try and find time to see all the sights we haven't managed to check out. It should be a busy week.

Hope you enjoy this week's posts!


Wednesday, 4 December 2013

quirks of peru

We were sitting around our kitchen table discussing some of the odder aspects of Peruvian life. I've included a few below for your enjoyment!

  • Peruvian time: runs about 30-60minutes later than normal time; for our day to day life, we are told to depart at '9am Peruvian time' or at '9am real time' - makes a difference.

  • Double carbs: lunch and dinner are always served with a double dose of carbs, almost always rice and usually a fried root vegetable like yuka, plantain or fries.

  • Talking in films: whilst most people accept the fact that talking in films is not OK, Peruvians seem to think talking is ace. In fact, they seem to enjoy answering their cell phones, having full on conversations and then discussing said conversation with their neighbours. Awesome.

  • Housing: Oddly, none of the houses here are finished. We have been told there are two reasons for this: one, they like to add a top layer to the house when they can afford it, and two, there is a huge house tax once homes are complete. This means that Trujillo is full of houses without roofs and with concrete re-enforcement bars sticking out.

  • Driving: There is way to much to say about Peruvian driving, from the constant horns, the formula one style manoeuvres through the streets, the fact that lane use is always optional and seat belts are slung over the shoulder but never clicked in are just a few of my favourites.

  • Guinea pig: called 'cuy', this really is pretty ubiquitous throughout Peru, in Huaraz, we saw both live and skinned/gutted guinea pigs ready to be sold. Yum.?

It is worth mentioning that in addition to the above, you aren't allowed to put loo roll in the toilet (it goes in the waste bin) and we've already had both water failure (two days) and a power cut. All par of the course here and thus far seems to only add to our experience!

Monday, 2 December 2013

day three: huaraz

to the east

halfway up, still quite a way to go

to the west, just before the rain hit
on the way back down

For our last day in Huaraz, we decided to hike to Lake Churup, set literally up a mountain at 4,450meters. The setting was as spectacular as yesterday and we were pretty much the only ones on the mountain.

The altitude did manage to completely kick my ass. There was a lot of stopping to gather breath and a few snack stops on the way up. I completely forgot what it felt like to be at altitude, given both London and Trujillo are at sea level.

The hike up was worth it and we had a lovely picnic lunch set to a waterfall coming down the rock face. We caught the night bus back into Trujillo and arrived home this morning about 4am.

The big news is that we are now off! Headed to the northern coastal town of Piura, we are spending this week on a work trip. Nine (eek!) of us will be piling into the Land Rover to drive seven hours north to Piura. Once there, we are spending a day and night at a scallop farm on the coast to try and fix a large turbine, another day traveling through the country side to 'show our faces' and make sure existing turbines are still working and a final day installing our own small turbine. We are bringing sleeping bags and tents and have been told there will be limited electricity and water. I'm stoked about the trip, worried about the drive up (and back) and not looking forward to no showers for five days. Wish us luck and I'll update when we are back.

Saturday, 30 November 2013

day two: huaraz

little village of san pedro we walked through
stunning views of the Andes
a bit higher up
lake willkacocha
Bliss. Absolute bliss. We had such a gorgeous day hiking in the mountains. We left Huarez this morning about 10am and caught a collectivo (basically a van that runs like a bus for locals) about 20min outside of town.

We were dropped off on a dirt track, crossed a river and spent the next four hours hiking up a pretty big hill to Lake Willkacocha. The hike was about 6k up but as we are now at 3.500 m was a bit harder than I had anticipated...there was a lot of huffing and puffing going on. The views however, were totally worth it.

Along the way we picked up three dogs, who stayed by our side both up and down the mountain. And the locals we ran into were so lovely, always happy to have a chat, shout hello or point us in the right direction.

Our plan tomorrow is to do a longer, higher trek, up to 4,300m before catching the night bus back to Trujillo. I am happily exhausted and can not wait.

Friday, 29 November 2013

day one: huaraz

selling fruit on the street
grains and a glimpse of the traditional dress
delicious street food
chicken shop
at the meat market
We made it to Huaraz! And of my goodness, it is amazing. This little mountain town has somewhere between 30,000 and 50,000 people and is nesteled in a small valley within the Peruvian Andes. After an uneventful bus ride, we rocked up about 5am and grabbed a few hours kip before spending our fist day exploring the city.

The first thing I noticed was all the colour. Loads of women still wear the traditional Peruvian dress, which here consists of a dark skirt with a peak of lace showing beneath the hem, a brightly colored cardigan sweater and a large top hat!

Our hostel is literally across the street from the market and right outside our window are chicken and meat shops as well as little old ladies holding bags of live chicken and guinea pig ready to sell.

We decided to brave a bit of street food for lunch and as expected, it was delicious. We ditched the bravery for dinner and headed to an English owned mountain style lodge for our first non Peruvian food since our arrival. Some might consider it a copout, but after two weeks, it was worth it.

Our plan is to spend the next two days treking in the mountains, can´t wait. The air here is crisp and clear. Whoop!