Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Meetings in Huancayo and Huancavelica

Our recent trip to Huancayo and Huancavelica had a purpose other than picture taking. This post summarizes our meetings during the trip. We left Sunday, April 26, after our church meetings and traveled to Huancayo (a two-hour trip).

At 6:30 pm, President and Sister Mendoza (he is 1st counselor in the Mantaro Stake presidency) picked us up at the hotel and took us to the Mantaro Stake Center, on the outskirts of Huancayo. Brother Mendoza is a Church Educational System director; Sister Mendoza worked as a chemical engineer before she got married and had children. Both of them speak some English.

Scott was the featured speaker at a stake fireside that night. His topic was "Becoming a missionary family." He used a PowerPoint presentation with pictures of families (including our own) who have done missionary work. The members loved the pictures and seemed to enjoy the presentation.

Afterwards, many people came up to talk to us. Some of them wanted their pictures taken with us. Here is a young man who is preparing to serve a mission, along with his parents:

Beverly was asked to accompany the stake choir, so some of the choir members wanted their pictures taken with us:

We also had our picture taken with the stake presidency and their wives. Next to us on the right are President and Sister Tupac Yupanqui (Tupac Yupanqui is the name of a famous Inca leader). The couple third from the left is President and Sister Mendosa. On the far right is the new second counselor and his wife.

The audience of approximately 180 faithful saints, was evidence of the "marvelous work and a wonder" that has taken place in Huancayo since it was opened to missionary work in 1964 during Scott's first mission.

The next day, we traveled to Huancavelica for the sole purpose of doing a biannual financial audit--which we should have done two weeks earlier, but were never informed about until the day after we returned to Tarma!

Scott met with the district presidency and branch presidents. The district and branches are caring for the Lord's money in an appropriate and responsible way. They are wonderful, faithful leaders.

We look forward to going back to Huancavelica in three weeks for their district conference.

The City of Huancavelica

We work with two member districts, one centered in Tarma (where we live) and one centered in Huancavelica. If you follow this blog, you already know lots about Tarma. Now we'll describe Huancavelica.

Huancavelica has a population of about 50,000 people and an elevation of 12,100 feet above sea level. It sits nestled at the bottom of a valley surrounded by steep mountains.

This is the one and only modern hotel in the city. We've now stayed here twice and our room has been freezing both times:

The hotel is located in the main square (the Plaza de Armas) next to this cathedral, built in 1673:

Huancavelica has several other Catholic churches, including this building:

A second major plaza is located on the west side of town. It includes this Catholic church, La Iglesia de Santo Domingo:

This church is in the same plaza as La Iglesia de Santo Domingo:

The town has a large open-air market, as do all the large towns of the Andes:

The Monday (April 26) that we were there, the city was holding a potato festival. Here is a table displaying 76 of the over 1500 varieties of potatoes grown in Peru:

As with most mountain cities, you can see late model cars at the same time you see women dressed the same as they have for a hundred years or more:

The river Ichu passes through the city of Huancavelica:

On a mountain side north of town are the famous San Cristóbal Mineral Springs, where people come from all over the world to enjoy its supposedly curative properties. The only people Scott saw at the springs were women washing their clothing in the lukewarm water that spilled from the pools:

In this view of the city from the mineral springs, you can see the main cathedral and the hotel at the base of the mountain:

Huancavelica was an Inca strategic center. The Spaniards found mercury and silver in the nearby mountains and founded the current city in 1571. Even today, the city maintains a pleasant colonial atmosphere and has several active mines nearby.

Scenes from Our Second Huancavelica Trip

Our second trip from Tarma to Huancavelica was just as awe-inspiring as the first. Here are a few scenic pictures from the second trip.

Fields of wheat and oats clung to the side of a mountain:

The outskirts of Jauja, the first Spanish capital of Peru and the location of an LDS ward:

Many of the fields were white, all ready for the harvest:

A small town north of Huancayo:

The rugged mountains through which we traveled:

More rugged mountains and valleys:

An old Spanish bridge where we crossed the Mantaro River at the town of Izcuchaca:

Looking downstream on the Mantaro River at Izcuchaca:

Later, as we drove up the side of the mountain, the Mantaro River proceeded through other towns way down in the valley:

The highest point of our trip was in the village of Pucaccocha, at about 14,000 feet above sea level. All the fences and many of the homes were made of rocks:

The village of Pucaccocha and the highway along which we traveled:

The highest mountain on our trip (about 17,500 feet), which peak we could barely see:

At this time of year, the climate in the Andes changes from the raining season (which the Peruvians call winter, even though it's the warm season) to the dry season (which they call summer, even though the nights are cold). The clouds are spectacular:

When summer comes, we're going to miss those beautiful clouds in the Peruvian skies.

Roadside Friends

While traveling the six hours between Tarma and Huancavelica through the High Central Andes, we took these pictures of people who live above 12,000 feet and who happened to be on the side of the road as we passed.

Three generations of women in their different dress:

A woman and her dog cleaning up at a roadside restaurant:

A grandmother entering a "bodega" (small, general store):

Women buying and selling in the central market in Izcuchaca:

Two women selling "tuna" (which is not the fish but rather is a cactus fruit):

Two women leaving their home in a small town:

Men and women conversing on a street in Huancavelica:

A farmer cutting his crop of oats:

Women chatting and laughing in Huancavelica:

A woman selling fruit in Huancavelica:

A woman walking along a sidewalk in a small town:

A man giving a haircut ("corte de pelo)" in an open-air market:

People waiting at the "paradero" (taxi stop) in a small but busy town:

A woman and her sheep dog in the high altiplano:

We hope this gives you a taste of the people and culture in our mission area in the High Andes.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Camelids of Peru

Camelids are distant relatives of the camel. The camelids of Peru include the llama, alpaca, guanaco, and vicuña, listed in order from largest to smallest and from roughest to finest wool. Here is a herd of alpaca that we saw on our trip to Junín today. They have recently been sheered. We have a couple of alpaca rugs at home and the wool is long and silky. The alpaca, like the llama, are domesticated:

The high central Andes mountains are also home to numerous wild (undomesticated) vicuña, as shown in these pictures that we also took today in the pampa of Junín:

A closeup of the same herd as above:

This picture shows the "macho" (male member) of another herd that we saw today:

This is a different shot of the same macho:

Vicuñas used to be on the endangered species list, but their numbers have greatly increased because the Peruvian government has taken measures to protect them. Vicuñas produce some of the best and most expensive soft, warm wool of any animal in the world. A scarf made of vicuña wool can cost US$1500, and a man's coat of vicuña wool can cost up to US$20,000.
(Biochemistry note: Because vicuñas roam the high Andes at altitudes between 13,000 and 15,000 feet, they have four times the concentration of oxygen-carrying hemoglobin in their blood as humans that live at sea level.)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Reading Rally in Tarma

Just up the street from us is a large school campus:

So it wasn't surprising this morning as we left our house to see and hear this large band pass by, with school kids wearing their normal school uniforms:

Walking behind the band were students, teachers, and parents carrying signs and posters to promote reading among students in Tarma.

After our meeting at the church, we heard and saw other bands and school kids descending on the Plaza de Armas (city center):

All the school groups were holding signs, like this one, which says, "Reading makes a man complete, his communication lively, and his writing precise," or were carrying books:

A woman walked by and Scott couldn't resist taking her picture. She is carrying food for her guinea pigs:

All the school children came for the reading rally; these groups are in front of the cathedral on the Plaza de Armas:

These girls hold a sign that says, "An open book is a brain that talks; closed, a friend that waits; forgotten, a soul that forgives; destroyed, a heart that weeps" (from a Hindu proverb):

Dignitaries gave speeches, extolling the virtues of reading. The man sitting alone in the center is Brother Torres, president of the Tarma (LDS) Branch and governor of the (political) district of Tarma:

Peruvian children need this kind of encouragement, because most Peruvian homes have few, if any, books. Even Mormon homes here just have the scriptures and some Church manuals; usually there is no other reading materials. Hopefully, this will change over time.