19th September 2015
Kiya (Quilla) is the Quechua word for moon – the symbol of a new beginning.
Kiya survivors is a charity that: ‘aims to provide a new beginning for children and young people in the global community who have special needs or have been abused or abandoned. We help them gain independence through education and therapy, love and laughter.’
By now you’ll possibly be wondering what the relevance of this undoubtedly noble cause is to Swindon. Well – Swindon man Barry Mitchell, is involved with the charity and has recently been out to Peru on its behalf. Not being a blogger himself he asked me if I would put together a blog post for him about what he got up to on his most recent visit. So, because I’m sometimes a nice person, I agreed.
Barry is a volunteer at SAMS (Swindon Advocacy movement) where he runs a walking group and a maths and English group alongside his volunteering in Peru with Kiya Survivors. I’m exhausted thinking about it!
Some background from Barry:
‘I’ve been involved with charity work, almost continuously for the last thirty years, both fundraising and managing.
Early last year I decided to get involved with Kiya Survivors. A charity based in Brighton, with 2 projects in Peru.
Last year I spent three months at Arco Iris in Urubamba near Cusco. Volunteering included working closely with the physiotherapist and psychiatrist. The client base was mainly teenagers and young adults with physical and/or psychological problems.
Some of the stories behind the clients are really tragic, and it makes me feel emotional just to write about it. On the lighter side I also get to practice my engineering skills. This includes electrical and plumbing installation, plus building toilets and showers.
Needless to say, I fell in love with Peru and the Peruvians, plus a few expats.
I’m back out again this year for two months. First two weeks in Mancora, a seaside resort for mainly people from Ecuador, and then I head back down to Urubamba for four weeks. Urubamba is situated in the Sacred Valley of the Incas, with the Andes (plus glacier) as a backdrop. Enough scenery and history for a documentary.
If anybody gets half a chance to head for Peru, now is the time to go before the tourists get a bigger hold on it.’
A Swindon man abroad in Peru
It has been an interesting few days getting to know Mancura and the surrounding área.
But first the flight over. As you can see from the photo of display on the back of the plane seats, while flying over the Atlantic at 11,000 metres, or 40,000 feet (Just as a comparison Everest is 29,000 feet) , the temperature outside is on the cool side. I would not like to experience -49 degrees centigrade at first hand.
One of the acts I was performing was to take a mobile therapeutic table to the Kiya charity in Peru. If you want to pay for it to go freight it will cost £250. My baggage allowance for the flight was 2 x 23kgs, so the second 23Kgs was made up of the table. Cost 0 pounds!
As Peru is in the southern hemisphere of the world, the seasons are reversed, so although you in the UK are at the back end of summer, here in Peru it is the back end of winter and entering into spring. The winters over here are not quite like our winters as, for the four days I have been here, it has been sunny cloudless skies and temperatures upwards of 25 degrees centigrade. This sort of weather gives you lots of chance to go beach combing.
One of my big weaknesses is being nosey, so I like to roam around the back streets of places to hopefully see the things the tourists don’t see.
You come across interesting combinations of things on offer. How about the sandwich board, advertising both a laundry service and money exchange? Hmmmm, do I call the police? Maybe not.
‘Reporting from a very sticky Mancora. When I go off to work it’s about 8am. This is when the temperature is just about right, probably 22 or 23 degrees C. By 9am it is not so cool, so you have to try and work somewhere that the sun can`t reach. Luckily there is what appears to be a regular breeze, which kicks in about late morning.
The first photo is from my first day at reception at Moma Cocha. Great buch of people, both big and small. I`m flanked by the physiotherapist and the pyschologist, with Senora Hedu, the big boss on the far left.
Straight outside my hotel room window is the Mancora fishing fleet. This means there are many Pelicans in attendance, waiting for scraps from the boats. Second photo is similar to the skip load of this, or a shed load of that. This is a boat load of pelicans.’
‘Mancora, about the size of Devizes, has a great taxi service. The picture shows me enjoying the benefits of a 2 Sol. ride. There are about 4 Sols to the pound sterling. So for the price of 50p you can get a ride to wherever you want to go within Mancora, which is usually about 2 miles.
There are literally hundreds of them around the town all shouting out as they pass you, to ride with them.’
‘Last day in Mancora before I make my way down to Urubamba.
Checking up on what we have achieved. With the help of Frederico and Tito, we installed several new taps and a new sink for the kitchen. The water is delivered to Moma Cocha once a week by road tanker. It is pumped into a tank which is then connected by pipe to a sunken concrete tank.
From there the site water pump pushes it up into a very large header tank. One of my first jobs on arrival was to fix the automatic pump control on the sunken tank. If the sunken tank runs dry and the pump also, then bang goes the pump. All is working now.
It’s been a really great time here, working with a staff of professional and dedicated people.
Big surprise was the good-bye ceremony and the even bigger cake. Hope the picture does justice to it’s size. Luckily I had some help to eat it!
Talking about eating they haver some interesting fish around here. Anybody fancy their chips with the picture of fish attached. Don´t now what it´s real name is but to me it´s “hedgehog fish”.’
‘Had couple of hours to kill while waiting for coach, so went for a walk along the beach. I ended up whale watching. About 400 yards off shore, and on a parallel course, this wildly excited whale was having a happy hour. Slapping the water with his enormous fins then jumping clean out of the water and landing with an enormous splash on his back. I walked with him, he swam alongside me, for about 20 minutes. Special and spectacular. What a way to leave town.’
‘Now established at Los Perales (The Pears), the same place I stayed last year. Big plus about this room is the en-suite with shower. No big thing? Out here having two taps to turn can be a luxury, especialy when one of them is hot. The owner is a man of the earth. He grows so many different things in his garden, plus hives and breeding guineapigs. Out here guineapigs are a delicacy. I´ve been as far as eating LLama, but won´t be eating any household pets.
Urubamba is an authentic Peruvian town, with markets on a Wednesday and Saturday. The range of fruit and vegetables is phenominal, selling everything you know and many you don´t, and all coming from the fertile, Sacred Valley of the Incas. It was the abundance of the food they grew which paved the way for the rise of the Inca empire. They literally took over areas of South America by offering to supply food. But if you didn´t accept the offer of food, they had other more physical options.
It really is a different culture out here. One evening I passed an openning, looked in and guess what? It was a cock-fighting event.
If you look closely at the picture of the Urubamba´s “other set of traffic lights”, you will see a banner advertising a bull fight, which took place last weekend.
The three pictures show-
1. the road into Urubamba from Ullantytambo.
2. the “other set of traffic lights” in Urubamba at the main junction.
3. Side street on market day.
4. Wedding invitation, and something creeping in the picture for SAMS.
The Physiotherapist, Lucho, is getting married this weekend. He has invited me to the wedding, in Cusco, which takes place this weekend.’