Peru Update #3 — Orphans and Chicken Coops

Samia writes:photo[3]

Great emerald bulges jut out of the rocky mountains that surround us on all sides. On many of these masses, terraces are planted with all sorts of plants. Garbage sacks were piled up neatly along the road. We saw sheep, llamas, and little piglets being herded by little old women with brilliant textiles draped over their shoulders. As the winding roads jostled our bodies left and I right, I could not help but compare this new place to the roads and cliffs of Greece that I’ve visited, although, I was pleased that here it’s not nearly as touristy.

A massive German shepherd greeted our arrival at Casa de Milagros with big sloppy licks and escorted us inside. Seeing as how we had been traveling for days, we just spread out on the floor and slept for a few hours then we were served the most delicious rice, potatoes, green beans, carrots, & broccoli, all drizzled with lime. Yum!photo[2]

We have now gotten acquainted with the children and are enjoying  them while practicing our Spanish. They are all so sweet, loving, and calm. Unlike children back home, they seem to entertain themselves, just playing in the garden or drawing. I think that this shows a distinct cultural difference, one wherein you have to be a bit more self-sufficient and the pace of life is slower. It also shows that the kids here are adorable.

Suzy writes:

The wonderful folks of Casa de Milagros (new name coming soon: Los Niños del Sol) have asked us to build them a chicken coop as our main service project here. The children are excited to have some laying hens around, and since they go through about 6 dozen eggs per day, we’re pleased to be contributing something so meaningful.

The adventure began when Señor Martin, the  groundskeeper and only male on staff, gave us specifications. Very precise they were, consisting of a two-meter sewing tape measure and some lines drawn in the dirt.  He also pointed to an assortment of lumber and eucalyptus poles leaning on a wall, telling us everything we’d need was on site. Hillary and I walked into Lamay to find a ferretería, or hardware store, for  sheet metal nails for the corrugated roofing, and a new saw, since it took over 30 minutes to cut through a piece of wood with the one they[4]

Launching into the project with students, we were thrilled until we discovered that there wasn’t nearly enough wood. We at least got four eucalyptus poles set into holes in the ground that day.

The next day we walked back to Lamay in search of more wood. After passing the cuy palo stand (guinea-pig-on-a-stick, yum!) at the far end of town, we reached the “lumber yard” – an assortment of wood pieces leaning on the side of a cute old man’s home, with one very rusty table saw standing in a two foot heap of sawdust. Everything went well; the lumber man even helped us carry our freshly cut, 2.5m long boards back to the house. I impressed everyone in the plaza with my ability to carry a small tree on one shoulder with no hands. ¡Que Gringuita Proficiente!

photo[1]With Bacchus in charge, Hillary and I flagged down a passing Suzuki to get to the city of Calca for chicken wire, hinges, a latch, and some paint. We were delighted to find all those things, along with 20 pounds of produce for our lunch. We passed aisles of raw meat dangling from hooks, live guinea pigs, and assorted woven blankets. We asked the rodent vendor if her wares knew their destiny. “Si,” she replied with a giant grin.

Upon our return, it became clear not only that one of our posts needed to be moved, but the others were too loose and we needed MORE wood.  Back to Lamay we went, along with three students to help carry the wood needed to finish the project.

The adventure continued: Bacchus had to go back to town to buy a hammer; the pickaxe broke; most of the nails bent; and the paint we bought was so thick that it made a sticky mess and we had to throw away the brush.  Returning to the “lumber yard,” we didn’t see the owner, but located him down the street carrying a huge bag of groceries. We convinced him to reopen his business, despite the late hour. He was patient with us as we debated our purchase. In the end we walked away with three more poles that we thought were the same length, along with some boards for the coop door.  By the time we got back it was getting late, and the last pieces were attached using headlamps.

In the end, it’s a miracle we finished the thing.  Maybe Casa de Milagros is the best name for the orphanage after all!photo

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2 Comments on “Peru Update #3 — Orphans and Chicken Coops”

  1. Grayson Says:

    Ah, reading about your adventures makes me remember being there… what, 8 years ago? Looking at the pictures gives me just enough of a reminder to picture those mountains and terraces as they were back then.

    Are some of the kids we met still there? Are they still crazy-good at soccer as well as being used to the altitude? I remember them doing backflip kicks into the “goal” or off edge of the field.

  2. friendjudy Says:

    Wonderful post, terrific pics. Hey, Zola!

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