Inca Water Engineering – not what it once was

Ever wonder why some countries were historically known for one thing but now are nothing like that any more?

  • Australia as we know it was founded as a British penal colony, a big prison. Now nothing but friendly people – yes you know who you are 😉
  • Greece pioneered democracy and responsible government. Nowadays not so much. Sadly, I’ve personally spoken to more than one Greek citizen who wants to leave their beautiful country because they are so fed up with the incompetent and corrupt politicians.
  • Julius Cesar wrote that of all the tribes he conquered, the area that is now Belgium put up the fiercest resistance due to “being the most distant from civilization and therefor the most barbaric”. (and you thought I remembered nothing from high school) Nowadays Belgium is home to the EU, NATO, you can’t find a Flemish person in Brussels. Belgium is now an institutional center.

And last but not least:

In the time of the Inca, Peru was known for its architecture, civil engineering and water works. Nowadays, you really really don’t want to know. But I’ll tell you anyway.

Disclaimer: wise man told me you can’t come down to Peru and just expect to take the good without the bad and he’s absolutely right. However, sometimes you just have to get it off your chest so to speak.

This was what our floor looked like on Friday morning, courtesy of a simple “repair” at our next door neighbor:

hardwood floor water damage

Our living room last Friday

Long story short our neighbor decided to “fix” the gutters on their house. The drain from the gutter used to be on the North side of their house, draining into the sewer system. There is a small porch on that side, so instead of fixing the existing drain, the workers decided it would be easier to move the drain to the South side of the house, into a low-lying grassy area, with no runoff at all. The drain ended up literally 10cm (4″) from our house, which happens to be about 1.5 meters (5′) below the neighbors house.

It is now rain season in Cuzco and after a long night of rain we woke up to bulging hardwood floors. Tomorrow we’ll be in the third day of repairs. The neighbors, the owner of our house, ourselves, all combined we have a good bit of time, money and grief over just one day of lousy workmanship. A nice, 40-year old floor scr***d up in less than 48 hours.

Unfortunately that type of thing is not unusual here.

I hate to fuss but picture yourself in this. Our daughter woke up Saturday with bad tonsilitis, I have a lot of year-end work to do that other people’s bonuses depend on, mamacita linda is expecting to give birth to our next princesita any day now. Not the time we want to have to deal with dumbass-induced headache.

But we’ll deal with this and as Bruce says: “Someday we’ll look back on this and it will all seem funny”

* * *

Next time you’re in Cuzco and have a craving for junk food, you should skip Mc Donald’s and head to Bembos across the Plaza de Armas. Food and all is the same but last time we were there we noticed Bembos had hired a young man with Down Syndrome to help with some cleaning and miscellaneous work. I know they’re legally obligated and all but you don’t see that very often. Maybe the young man won’t be there any more, I know these things aren’t easy but I appreciate that they extended the opportunity.

* * *

Maybe I’ll name our next baby goose “Rosalita” in honor of this incident. Or go all Hollywood and name her “Purple Rain”. What do you think?

Watch all the way to the end.

Yes I did have 2 glasses of Argentine Malbec before writing this. I needed it 🙂

Morning Walk

I think the rains in Cuzco are starting early this year. We’ve had occasional rain for the past month or so. This morning I woke up to a fabulous view over the mountains to the South.

I snapped a few pictures while walking the dogs this morning. The pictures don’t do justice but the view was wonderful with some of the mountains shrouded in clouds and a good bit of snow on the higher peaks. All of the snow was gone by mid day, here in Peru you have to go really high to find perpetual snow.

morning walk after a rainy night in Cuzco Peru

View towards the “Valley of the South”. The snow on the mountain was gone by mid day.

Mariscal Gamarra Cuzco

Looking down over Mariscal Gamarra in the direction of the Cuzco airport.

Park in Marsical Gamarra Cuzco

Overlooking the park in Mariscal Gamarra, Cuzco.

In the distance (click on the picture to see full size) you can see a number of houses on the far slopes of the mountains. Cuzco is beginning to have a very serious problem with ugly expansion. I think most of those houses are considered “illegal” (no building permit, no land title, lack of utilities). One of these days when I have more time I want to do a post on Cuzco’s ugly expansion – which is a colossal failure of the local authorities. I don’t want to be judgmental to the people who live there (everybody needs a place to live) but the next big earthquake that hits Cuzco will be an unmitigated disaster due to the substandard/illegal construction on the sides of the mountains surrounding the city.

Roxi and Manchita after their morning walk

Ready for breakfast after our morning walk

* * *

Don’t believe everything you read on the internet:

Since we’re sort of on the subject of dogs, kind reader Carrie sent me a message a while ago that somebody had stolen a picture of our dog Manchita off this very blog and used it in on a fake Facebook “Pitbull rescue site”. The site has since been taken down but I managed to save a screenshot. This person was using pictures of dogs they found online, inventing names and stories and soliciting donations for their “rescue” of course.

stolen picture of my dog Manchita

A picture of my dog that was put on a fake Facebook Pitbull rescue site.

If you see me blowing at the sky…

It would only be because we’re now in the middle of rain season here in Cuzco.

Cuzco during rain season

Cuzco during rain season.

Now mind you, not everybody is blowing at the sky during rain season in Cuzco, only those people whose birthdays fall during the DRY months of the year. That’s right, there’s a belief or superstition here in Peru that people whose birthdays fall during the dry months can make the rains go away by blowing at the sky!

Occasionally while walking down a street during rain season, when clouds are building or rain starts to fall, you’ll see somebody blowing at the sky. Brianna and I do it all the time when we’re playing in the park and rain starts to fall, it really helps to hold off the rain for a while 😉

Rain season in Cuzco begins towards the end of November and lasts through the beginning of April. It’s not bad really, no tropical downpours, just a steady diet of clouds and rain. But the rain helps rejuvenate the lands and green areas look good again. Meanwhile in the coastal areas of Peru summer is just beginning, so many Cusqueños take a trip to the coast for the traditional summer vacation. It’s something to get used to for gringos coming down from the Northern Hemisphere, when you visit Lima in December everybody is getting ready for Christmas and summer vacation at the same time.

Back in Cuzco… and still raining.

This blog’s been awful quiet for the past month or so because I was on trip “up North”. I was gone for just over a month and was hoping that rainseason in Cuzco would have begun to fade away by the time I got back, but no such luck. I’ve been back in Cuzco since Sunday and we’ve had rain every single day since then. No worries though, another month or so and rainseason should be history. After that the forecast is 70 degrees (20C) and sunny through November.

Speaking of weather, I had some interesting weather on my trip. First I spent a few days in Lima which has hot beach-going weather during the Southern hemisphere summer. Then I was off to Quebec City, where there was about 2 feet of snow on the ground and I saw 3 snowstorms in 10 days:

Quebec City in winter

Quebec City in winter

After Quebec City I headed North to Iqaluit in Nunavut, Northern Canada. Temperatures in Iqaluit were about -27C (-17F) during the day with even colder wind chills. I admire the local Inuit who live there. (Inuits are the native population of the Artic regions, we used to call them “eskimo”, but I think that’s a bad word now)

Frozen Frobisher Bay

Frozen Frobisher Bay

After Iqaluit the temperature got about 10 degrees warmer every day for the next 3 days of my trip. First I flew out of Iqaluit to Greenland:

Preheating the airplane in Greenland

Preheating the airplane in Greenland

Compared to Iqaluit, the -16C (3F) temperatures in Sondre Stromfjord (Greenland) actually felt mild! Then I flew over to the East Coast of Greenland where the forecast 15 MPH winds turned out to be 35 MPH gusting to 50 MPH by the time of my arrival, so I diverted to Reykjavic (Iceland), which was supposed to be my next stop anyway. The next morning I took off amid snow showers in Reykjavic, but when I arrived in Egilsstadir on the East coast of Iceland, the weather was just beautiful:

Landing at Egilsstadir, Iceland (BIEG)

Landing at Egilsstadir, Iceland (BIEG)

Finally on to London. I landed in London in rain and low ceilings, but the next day it was sunny and mild, an unusually beautiful day for mid-March:

A beautiful day in London

A beautiful day in London

In case you’re wondering about the reason for the trip: one of the things I do occasionally to stay gainfully employed is to deliver airplanes. Small, personal or business type airplanes. Typically someone buys an airplane in the US and needs it delivered to Europe or another area of the world. I take an airline flight out of Lima to the US to pick up the airplane, deliver it where ever the final destination may be, then take another airline flight back. For most trips I can be back “home” in Cuzco in about 2 weeks, but on this last trip I ran into some delays and was gone about a month.

Read more about the fun and adventure on my flying blog. 😉