Munaychay, Peru – The Peruvian Gulag

The whistle sounds shrill. Not again. Cusco is full to the brim with policemen who shall convey security to tourists. They whistle and wave totally senseless when traffic lights show green, and lift their arms stopping the traffic with red light. Wasn’t a traffic light enough or couldn’t they have spared the set of lights instead? But sometimes the officers whistle after drivers who made something wrong to issue a ticket. Like now. We made a u-turn in a quiet side road. The policeman comes and reprimands us immediately. That’s not allowed! We didn’t endanger or obstruct anybody, besides it is ridiculous to forbid u-turns without signs, but that doesn’t matter, a Peruvian policeman is always right. I leave the car: blond woman, trusty look. “Oh, we are so sorry, we didn’t know that. We are volunteers and have to pick up food in this shop for the poor Peruvian children of the children’s village Munaychay.” “From which organisation are you?” “Corazones para Perú.” “It’s all right then.”

Phew, that was faster than expected. Faster even than yesterday, as we made a u-turn at a green traffic light on a four-lane road with divisional island and without forbidding sign. Same problem: that’s not allowed. Nobody can know this! Then we had a Peruvian with us, the organisation’s dentist, who had to discuss and crawl to the policeman for five minutes until the officer relinquished to issue a ticket. We had to show all vehicle registration and insurance papers and even the International Driver’s Licence. Well the Peruvian misses the blond hair, the trusty look and … let’s forget about that.

On Monday and Tuesday we went to Cusco to purchase food and computers for the children’s village and a public computer school room. And I had to pick up a parcel from the post office with some small spare parts, new guidebooks and dictionaries, and of course keenest missed German chocolate. On Monday I didn’t get the parcel after two hours of waiting since an authority was missing. But on Tuesday I was successful and I didn’t even have to pay customs duties since presents up to 100 $ are free in Peru.

On Wednesday we couldn’t dodge the task any longer: The muddy access to the carports has to be cleared and cleaned. Road construction by hand with a four-man/woman team in three and a half thousand metres / 10,000 ft is very heavy labour. We feel a bit like transferred to the Russian Gulag, only in Peru. Nevertheless handwork is faster than expected, with enough people not slower than with machines. We are just not used to that any more. We have to remove the mud and the upper wet layer of earth until we find firm ground and stones. In the evening my hands are swollen and full of blisters, but we get the job done and can fill up the road with coarse gravel next day. This’ll have to set until Monday before we can add a layer of finer gravel. On Friday Joerg gravels over the workshop floor and I write some analyses regarding the vehicle fleet and do some internet researches, and then it is already weekend that we – at least felt to – have earned.

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