Happy birthday Peru

July 28 is Peru’s national holiday or Fiestas Patrias, happy b-day Peru!!!

That’s all I’m going to say about the national holiday. Not that we aren’t patriotic, but July 28 also happens to be the birthday of Patricia’s grandmother, “Mama Vicky”, so we celebrate her birthday with the family. If you need pictures or war stories of the Fiestas Patrias, I recommend Barb or Stuart.

As for “Mama Vicky”, the account of her true age varies between 82 and 85. Either way, the experiences in her lifetime are hard for me to even imagine. She raised 8 kids – and sadly lost several more – in the small town of Accha throughout the bad-old-days of terrorism in Peru.

Mama Vicky on her birthday

Mama Vicky on her birthday

My parents are in town for a few weeks, so they got to enjoy the party as well. As usual here in Peru, Mama Vicky’s birthday was celebrated with food, family, beer, wine and Pisco.

4 generations

4 generations

Drinking Pisco Sours

Drinking Pisco Sours

Happy birthday Mama Vicky!!!

Mining concessions in Peru

CORRECTION – see comments: Due to my mediocre Spanish I earlier stated mistakenly that the mayor of Acomayo granted mining concessions, it was in fact the government, and local authorities are protesting the developments. My apologies to the mayor of Acomayo.

Original post, corrected:

I just read here that the Peruvian government has granted significant concessions in the Acomayo area to the mining industry without proper consultations with the people of Acomayo.

Allow me to be perfectly selfish here: Acomayo is not too far from Accha, and if you mess with Accha, you’re messing with me. If this causes any trouble for Mama Vicky in Accha, I might just have to get involved in the opposition movement…

Sarcasm aside, I once read a column in “El Comercio” that said “Peru is a poor country because Peruvians act like poor people.” Peruvian authorities are typically eager to sell the country’s natural resources out for what they believe is a big sum of money. However, if the financial crisis proves anything, it’s that money is just funny printed paper. You can’t eat it, dance with it or teach it to sit and wag its tail.

Now mining is a necessary and honorable industry. Without it we would not have roads, infrastructure, hospitals, etc. But if Peru wants to improve its economy beyond the business districts of Lima, business and political leaders need to focus on applying the country’s fantastic human and natural resources to improve the quality of life for all Peruvians, instead of just looking for big payments of foreign cash.

I'll have my river without lead, please.

I'll have my river without lead, please.

NB: a good site for news about the impact of mining on Peruvian communities is Conacami Perú: Confederación Nacional de Comunidades del Perú Afectadas por la Minería

NB: I didn’t keep the column I referred to above, it was printed in El Comercio around the signing of the Hunt Oil project. If anyone happens to come across it, please let me know.

Visit to Accha, Peru

We visited Patricia’s grandmother “mama Vicky” in Accha this week. Accha is a very traditional Peruvian town about 4 hours outside of Cusco.

We see “mama Vicky” regularly here in Cusco, but this was the first time I was over at her house in Accha. She gets around great for her age, and is obviously way more in her element in Accha than at her other house here in the city.

The trip to Accha is a bit of an adventure in itself, with the Peruvian bus drivers apparently unfazed by the steep ravine along the side of most of the unpaved roads that lead to Accha. Once there, Patricia and I had a good time just relaxing in the sun, taking walks, and generally acting like city-slickers do out in the country.

Accha is a traditional Peruvian agricultural town, where the locals mostly raise sheep and grow corn and other typical Andean crops. Most of the work is still done by hand, I only noticed 2 or 3 farm tractors in town and we rarely saw more than 3 or 4 cars in one day. The tranquility was absolutely refreshing compared to life in the city.

All the locals were very friendly and greeted us everywhere. Since gringos don’t get out to Accha very often, the little kids in town tended to stare at me and tell their buddies “mira un gringo!”

I uploaded more pictures on our Flickr page.

Patricia and "mama Vicky" in Accha, Peru

Patricia and mama Vicky in Accha, Peru

In Accha, Peru

In Accha, Peru