Monday, September 27, 2004
Well the Miss Refuge of Hope was a smashing success. I will post pictures soon. And if I have to say so myself, I think I have a future in beauty pageant judging. It was girls from age 4 to 6th grade and they were super cute. There were 4 different queens chosen. Two different age groups for both regular and mentally handicapped students. They dressed up in dress typical to the region as well as the fancy evening gowns. There must have been 400 people there between kids and family.

Friday was the coronation and Tricia and I went just to watch, but they ended up having us crown one of the queens. We don't really blend in to the crowd here and often end up being up front which is sometimes uncomfortable, but that is the way of it I guess. The people back at the refuge are super nice and it was a lot of fun being involved. Hopefully I will get to judge next year too.

List of animals found in our house:
Spiders (no tarantulas yet)
Geckos (small)
Geckos (medium)

We value biodiversity.

Monday, September 20, 2004
Tomorrow I will be judging the "Queen of the Refuge of Hope" contest for the primary kids in the Refuge. I guess some of the younger girls cry when they don't win so I am not really looking forward to the experience. But we'll see. I will let you know how it goes.

Sunday, September 19, 2004
Well, add peacock to the list of animals I have seen riding on a moto-taxi. We also saw a full-grown pig standing on the top of a combi (van). The scene from Titanic where the boy was screaming "I'm the king of the world!" came to mind as the pig was standing there refusing lie down.

Yesterday was a barbecue at the refuge which was really fun and tasty. The way they bbq their chicken down here is simple and tasty. Lemon, some sort of pepper, and salt. That is it. Tricia has a mountain of translating to do so we have been living in the office. Other than that, not a whole lot new to report. An evaluation team comes this week to evaluate a project here in Pucallpa and Tricia will be with them.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Sunday, September 12, 2004
Extreme. That is the word that describes life here at times. Everything is just much stronger, hotter, slower, louder, or faster, ...extreme. This morning we had an "extreme" thunder storm that scared the living daylights out of me. At 5:00 I woke up to bright flashes of lightning, lighting up the bedroom and screams from the people at the all night discoteca a property down that were having to call it a night as the rain started. I laid awake and watched the room turn an eerie orange color as the storm moved right overhead. Soon the lightning and thunder were coming closer and closer together. It sounded as if worlds were colliding somewhere, it was unbelievably loud, rolling, immensely powerful thunder. After about 10 minutes of this the room turned a brilliant white and at the same time the loudest thunder I have ever heard in my life shook the house. Mark and I lay there frozen, waiting to hear the field in flames or something, sure it must have hit right outside the back door. It was so loud. So loud. I felt the size of an ant, completely powerless, yet completely amazed at the power of nature-- and even more in awe at the overwhelming power and sovereignty of its Creator. After the lightning passed, the rains came...and it was an extreme rain. We woke up this morning to find curtains blown off the windows, the entire living room soaking wet, the place was a bit of a wreck. Mark thought it all very "cool", but I would be okay not repeating such an experience for a while.

Saturday, September 11, 2004
The Economist has a very interesting article on a new report by the World Bank on the global business environment. It is well worth reading if you are interested in one of the reasons why some countries are so rich today and some are so poor. It turns out that pointless regulations on such things as selling land, opening new businesses, or borrowing money often harm economic growth. Even such seemingly good things for poor workers such as a high minimum wage can have unintended economic consequences. For example:
Rules aimed at protecting vulnerable groups, such as women, often have the opposite effect. In Turkey, women who marry are allowed a year to decide whether or not to quit their jobs. If they go, their employers must give them a large severance package. So firms hire men instead: only 16% of Turkish women have formal jobs.

There is no easy magic formula in economic development. Many times regulations that try have the exact opposite effect. Hernando De Soto, a well known Peruvian economist has been a leader in the call simplify needless government red tape and regulations. For more, check out his books The Mystery of Capital:Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else, and The Other Path. They are both quite good.

Read the whole article. It is worth your time.

UPDATE: It occurs to me that I should put a disclaimer in on this post. First, I am merely stating my opinions and not those of Food for the Hungry as an organization. This is always the case on this blog. Secondly, I want to steer far clear of any Peruvian political issues or politicians. It occurred to me that Hernando De Soto is a somewhat controversial figure here in Peru and has been mentioned in the past as a possible political candidate(though I would be very surprised if that ever happened). I enjoy his books and perspectives on development, however, this is only my personal opinion.

Friday, September 10, 2004
We took a day off today as we have worked several weekends with teams and went out to Divina MontaƱa, a resort outside of Pucallpa. They have several swimming pools, restaurants, sports fields, etc... It was a lot of fun. It was the first time I have swam in pool for a long time. Very refreshing. We also met a very cool family from Brooklyn which were really fun to talk with. The father lives here in Pucallpa and most of the kids live in Brooklyn. It kind of made me miss home a little bit. There were also cool monkeys there that liked to hold your hand along with a 12 foot anaconda or boa. Being as I know nothing about the animal life down here that brings up another interesting point. We are so ignorant down here. I'm ignorant enough in the US, but down here we are just so clueless about everything. We don't even know what bugs are making the crazy sounds outside of our house. We don't know much of the vocabulary, we don't know the going rate for much of anything, we don't know what is rude and what is polite, we don't know how long to stay when somebody invites us over, etc, etc, etc... But you know what, the people down here are so gracious and patient. That is one of many things I really like about Peruvians. They are so patient. I can't remember a single time when somebody has lost their temper with us. I know we must be frustrating to people. We are so clueless. Well, I am off. That is just one of many reasons why I really like Peruvians.

Thursday, September 09, 2004
Well, I am sitting here at home writing this with The Fugitive with Harrison Ford on in Spanish in the background. Tonight as we were walking back to the house in the dark I was reminded how varied the animal life is in the jungle. It is pretty crazy the animals and bugs we have down here. There's the usual suspects of frogs, toads, snakes, tarantulas, fireflies, mosquitoes, chiggers, flying bugs the size of compact cars, etc... But there are also bugs that make the strangest noises. One is a bug that is highly optimized for noise. When it gets going it is incredibly loud whirring sound almost like a fire alarm. It is an incredible animal. If somebody knows more about it send me some info and I will post it. The second interesting noise another animal (might be an insect, might be something larger) makes is a bubbling sound. It is very distinct. I like going to sleep with the noise of the jungle. Well that is it for know. One of these days I will make a recording and post it on the website.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004
Taking advantage of a slower afternoon at work I am posting the second blog of my life. I think we have finally found a routine of life in no longer takes all day Saturday, I no longer scream when a frog jumps at me from the dirty dishes, I am getting used to the new red highlights in my hair from the rusty pipes, I can recognize in the wind when I should pack my rain poncho, I know the name of the girl I buy bread from, and in general I am feeling a lot less like a fish out of water. (That is not to say that I am looking any less like a fish out of water though!) We have hosted our last work team for the year, and I have had a couple weeks to really get the finances organized and caught up in the office. With some extra time now, I am thinking of joining Mark at the Refuge one afternoon to tutor the kids in math--I am just working on getting up my courage to start tutoring in Spanish! Mark and I start teaching English "classes" for the FHI staff next week...we really have no idea what we are doing, but that is nothing new these days and I think that it will be fun both for us and for the staff!


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