Just when you think things are settled - 10th Spetember
Well just when you think everything is settling down and I have some kind of routine a curve ball is sent to throw you into turmoil! Yeina and Nino, friends of Sonia and I were involved in an accident coming back from Cusco on Monday 30th Aug. You have heard me talking about the combis to and from Urubamba and Cusco well they had an accident in one of these....not the fault of the driver I might add..in fact he probably saved them.. but bad enough...one young 21 year old girl died despite the best efforts of her medic boyfriend! It eventually emerged that a small lorry carrying eggs decided to overtake a small car on a blind corner and met the minibus coming the other way! The driver of the minibus veered to try and find a path through and was heading for the long drop over the other side of the road. At the last minute he swerved to the opposite side of the road and tipped over on his side still travelling along at about 80km/hour. Inside everyone was thrown from one side and then to the other. The big problem in Peru is there are no safety belts except for the front 2 seats so accidents are made all the worse. Inside the vehicle the people were sitting 4 abreast. When the minibus tipped over it blew the windows out which meant the girl next to Yeina was below 3 people with her head and body taking the brunt of the skid at 80km/hour. This poor soul acted as a buffer for Yeina and the men! Needless to say she died of her injuries shortly after they left the scene on the way to the hospital. Yeina was the next most badly hurt in the van with 2 broken ribs, a broken collar bone and severe bruising and whiplash. Some of the damage may have come from people standing on her to get out the back window!! Her husband Nino managed to escape with only whiplash. The next problem they had was the next combi was racing to get them to the hospital in Cusco (about 20 minutes away) and twice had to break sharply to avoid another accident. As you can imagine there was a lot of screaming in the van. There were children and adults all in shock and not ready for a careless driver. When Sonia and I heard about this we managed to find a taxi to take us to the hospital to see if we could help. It was 8pm when we arrived in Cusco. They had all been taken to the state hospital initially and when we arrived Yeina and Nino were sitting outside the hospital with a nurse waiting to be transferred to a private clinic...the minibus insurance was now paying the costs. Prior to this a television camera and reporter had interviewed them, although Yeina said they had no idea what they had said as they were in so much shock. The private clinic was much better than what Yeina had described the state hospital environment and expertise. They had seemingly been very brutal removing the stones from her injured arm. When we arrived the blood was dripping down her arm and she was in a lot of pain. We took them to the clinic in our taxi. After X-rays and assessments they were kept in overnight and eventually allowed home late the following night. They were in a much more comfortable environment when I saw them on the Tuesday. They had a private room with cable television and reasonable meals..for a hospital. Once home their recovery seems to be coming along nicely with a little pharmaceutical assistance from me for Yeina. Sonia and I made some meals for them at the start until Nino was feeling a bit better.
Interdispersed in all of this was a lot of meetings organising our new greenhouse project and discussions re Jess and her health. Jess’s health has continued to deteriorate so is now taking a month off as agreed by Sonia with me supporting the meeting. Fortunately Jess had been thinking she needed to take time off too but didn’t know how to broach it. Life in Cusco is not the most conducive to a full recovery especially if you are a 25 year old...too much temptation! Sonia and I both felt to go home would have been the best solution, however she can't afford to do that so is going to the coast and Sonia has been a gem and given her a month's pay and expenses. I really hope she takes this very generous offer and lifeline given to her allowing her this time to heal herself from the inside out regarding her health and emotions...coming back to us a changed person..... Time will tell!!! What does this mean for the projects...........yep you’ve got it...it means I step up to the plate and coordinate events form our end!! I had been a little out of touch with the nitty gritty detail of the project as I was concentrating on the finance and preparing information for the UK...We now have gift aid which is brilliant and it has been backdated until November 2009 so I have been preparing documents to send to all our donors..I’m becoming quite the word document expert adding little boxes etc. .... with our new logo it looks really snazzy.
Anyway back to our greenhouse project Jess and the rest of the team attended the assemblea in the community last week with the community really excited about getting involved and keen to start ASAP so they had agreed to fast-track the project to commencing in 2 weeks. Jess had prepared all the contracts in Spanish but there were still a lot of logistics to sort out re buying of the tools and ............, getting these to the community, getting all the contracts signed etc. This is all fine.. after I had been given a very quick download as Jess was finishing yesterday I felt completely wiped out, but after I had a break for a couple of hours I worked on it last night to make sure I was clear about what we needed to do for next week. The problem is getting our maestro on the phone! He is the expert building the greenhouse (now down to one very large greenhouse because of the position). I need to meet him in Cusco on Monday with the money and make sure we have all the receipts. We need it all delivered on Wednesday for a Thursday start. Rita (who will normally be travelling with Wilfredo on his motorbike) is coming with me in the car on Thursday..another 4am start!! Rita will be working closely with Wilfredo and will prepare the reports for us. I want to observe mostly and support as necessary as I am only here for one more month. Wilfredo has a lot of experience in building these greenhouses at altitude with the communities so Rita can learn a lot from him. This also means Rita can answer any questions and make sure the community are doing what they should be doing when Wilfredo is not there. I am hoping, once I completely understand the project and its detail which I will read through next week, that it will not take over and I can still complete at least some of the stuff I am working on. The hard thing for me will be I will be spending full days in situations with only Spanish speakers and trying to make myself understood! My Spanish is getting a little better and if they talk slowly I can get by. It should be good for me but I am a little nervous of it too.
Anyway in amongst all of this I don’t have much time for me. Ccatan is still a lovely space even if we have to do our own cleaning as our landlord doesn’t, they pinch our food, and there is never any toilet roll!! Sylvia Debra (who developed our new logo) and I all had a lovely lunch through the week to say goodbye to Debra. I had lots of veggies in the fridge so we all mucked in and we had a vegetable stir fry with a little wine I had...very civilised I can tell you!! She is off on her travels again but will stay in touch. She is also going to revamp the cafe website using a similar theme to our Living Heart logo. She has some amazing designs and had worked for a record company in London for a number of years I discovered.
I love a Wednesday night..this is my big night out as I go to Salsa...until 11pm!!! (I am normally in bed for about 8 or 9pm otherwise..cuddled up playing a game on my computer, watching a DVD or reading a book..very pleasant. ) Anyway the classes have taken off so Raymi has split them so the beginners are first then us intermediates are next. I go a little earlier to help the beginners and act as a chico (man) for that. We don't have many men so we take it in turns or the most experienced act as men...although the last 2 weeks more men have been coming again. It is great fun and very energetic but often because of the time I struggle to get a moto back to Ccatan. I have been advised against walking alone at that time of night. The road is very quiet so I suppose it makes sense. I tend to walk down to Urubamba around 7.30-8pm though as there are no motos so it’s the only way to get there.
Raymi is my old landlord and he is having a birthday party this weekend to which I have been invited which means more Salsa...yey! I am looking forward to that.
The temperature here, as we move into their winter, has picked up so it is much warmer through the day and even at night (bizarre to get your head around I know)..clothes I had put away are now being brought back out. I may even get to wear a dress...maybe for the birthday party. I only brought a couple in case of special occasions but I have only managed to wear one once! I must be acclimatising though as I find as long as I am not brisk walking jeans and a cardigan or fleecy are absolutely fine. If I do wear one or my shorts I always feel you need to bring extra clothes and jeans for about 4pm...similar to home I suppose.
Last weekend I had my last haircut and colour here before I return. It seems strange I almost onto my last month...where has the time gone!!! As my hair appointment was at 9am I decided to stay at Carol’s the night before. When I arrived Carol told me her and Paul were going for their weekly massage before going to the pub for food and darts...with a few drinks thrown in. I decided to join them for the massage.... It was lovely. I had asked her for a strong one and boy did she give me a strong massage. I had been feeling a little nauseous coming into Cusco but had blamed it on reading on the bus. I decided to have a steak with Carol and Paul but was really struggling to finish it..by about 11pm and one beer later I was sooooo tired and feeling a little unwell. I waited on Carol and Paul for another hour then Carol and I went home. Paul decided a big night was due and stayed out all night. At 3am I felt really nauseous and soooo cold!! When I got up the next morning I felt no better, I couldn’t eat either. I wrapped up well and went to the hairdressers. The funny thing (well not so funny at the time) was the hairdresser's, normally very warm places, insist on leaving their door open. It is a small place so gets cold very quickly! It was cloudy until about 11am so the temperature doesn't rise until you have full sun. In Cusco, being that bit higher, means the temperature is lower. I was frozen and asked for the door to be closed which it was..but 2 mins later someone came in, either a staff member (the shop is split in two side by side) or a customer, or a child or husband of a customer so the door was left open again and again...aaaarrrggghhh!!!! I was feeling utterly crap so eventually resorted to the hairdryer...yes the hairdryer..running it over my body to heat myself up. It worked for a short time but I did have to repeat the process a few times. I didn't stay long in the centre of Cusco once my hair was done, I can tell you!! I headed for Carol's house and slept for the afternoon. That night I was feeling a little better. I tried a little pizza but managed a slice only. I was in bed at 8pm...before the kids!! Carol called me a lightweight!! The next morning I was feeling better if still a little weak but managed some cereal. I thought it had been the steak ..the first read meat in quite some time..but when I got to Ccatan on Sunday I discovered we had all had it. Really strange as we don't eat the same things but then the hygiene and dishwashing leaves a little to be desired here!
I also got a nice surprise from Paul. They have decided to use 2-3 of my photos in their calendar this year so will give me a couple of copies to bring home. I was quite chuffed. Each agency also supply photos for other companies but if anyone wants mine he will make sure I get the credit and a good donation for Living Heart..nothing so far but at least they are there.
When I return I am going to do a Scottish night for Living Heart at the beginning of Dec (I hope)..around St Andrews night. Originally I was thinking of something much more low key but a friend set my sights higher so I (well the girls are helping me actually) am now looking for somewhere much bigger. We were thinking of a band or two with a DJ in between. I’ll try and run our own bar to maximise the profits. I’ll have a little slide show running in the background with our Living Heart leaflets printed out. Any suggestions or offers of help would be gratefully received regarding suitable locations, what kind of music or band would inspire you to come along to our event, or anything else you can think of. The team in the Ayrshire Post have offered to help me in whatever way they can which is wonderful...helps when your daughter works there. I am setting a target of fundraising £5000 for them through this and other things after Xmas probably. This will really help us get a number of projects off the ground while we look for grant funding. Hopefully all of you lovely readers will support me in this.
Well that’s all for now my lovelys I have to prepare for my meeting this afternoon (Saturday)...no rest for the wicked.
Until my next blog..take care of yourself, those around you, and live for the moment.