Welches in Peru

Welches in Peru
Our family (November 2018)

Monday, 17 December 2018

Some Brief Progress Updates and our Christmas Greetings

Tuesday 17 December 2018

It has been too long since I updated you on progress.  But largely because it has been a busy period for me preparing for site installations between many trips to and from all our transmission sites for maintenance.  In this time I have travelled to our remote FM sites of Puerto Maldonado 5 times, Casabamaba 2 times, and Andahuaylas 3 times.  Mostly this is a long drive, but sometimes a 35 minute domestic flight can be taken in the case of Puerto Maldonado, instead of a 12 hour drive due to multiple mountain passes, one to almost 5,000m and seemingly endless hairpin bends.

Incidentally flying is not always a safe bet in Peru due to poor maintenance and the general lack of any quality education even amongst the airlines.  For example one trip I took in November was a comedy of problems making a one day flight to/from Puerto Maldonado into 3 days.

Here is a link to a Diospi Suyana web post by Klaus on that trip:

To drive there are often serious landslides in the wet season (the above was typical for some 20km distance on the only highway route to Puerto Maldonado), and/or diesel fuel shortages due to government mismanagement.
Sometimes our transport needs to be via Moto-taxi – here in the wet season in Puerto Maldonado my helper Christian Oswald needs get out and push it up an incline.
I have had some FM transmitter issues at two of our sites for various reasons which I have now addressed to avoid reoccurrence.  And another issue with our satellite telemetry equipment where I have been working with our German satellite modem manufacturer to resolve.  For those technical people, I found it an interesting problem where the modem does not start up automatically after a bad power break.  “Dirty” power switching events are common in Peru, and I suggest much more rare in developed countries – hence the oversight.  I believe we are close to a resolution on that issue also.
Another 6 hour drive to our Casabamba FM site, now with a security guards’ hut to the front left.
On this trip my son Isaac accompanied me to learn more about broadcast transmitters.
We were hoping to have installed our 5th and 6th FM sites of Puno and Echarati before Christmas, alas not so.  For both sites the towers are built and the shelters and walls completed.  But Echarati has suffered delays with its power connection by the supply authority.  Excessive rain has hampered access and the latest date we have is 24 December!  Needless to say we are installing that site now in January.  And Puno has been delayed by licence administration issues as previously reported in my earlier blogs.  But we have now received the license after more than half a year of delays and bureaucracy.  But I have used some parts from the Puno transmitter for spares to fix other sites, and so we are now awaiting those replacement parts from Italy.  They are months late in arriving, and so Puno will also be installed now early in the New Year.

Furthermore our Centro de Medios studios new floor expansion is powering ahead and due for completion by February 2019.  Per my 06 August blog post including a picture of the floor plan, this will provide another 12 offices for more media staff, a small TV studio and 2 small radio recording studios.
The new 3rd floor is nearing completion with roof on and rendered walls.
Screeding the floors to make them level and cover the electrical conduits.
There are no cement mixers or concrete pumps here – everything is done with hard labour.
Our Centro de Medios team - from left to right: Carlos, Rebecca, Keila, Edson, Margot, Chris, Doris, Dr Klaus, Yesenia, Jesus, Raul and Reynaldo.
But now Christmas is all but here.  Last Thursday night Diospi Suyana hosted the appreciation party for all its paid staff.  This was held in the hospital and is always well received by all including seasonal hamper handed out to each.  We ate roasted turkey and enjoyed lovely live choir music and instrumentals played by our German doctor friends featuring the violin and keyboard.
Dr Klaus personally hands out one of many staff Christmas hampers on the night.
And we hosted the Centro de Medios Christmas party in the garden we had made from the orchard at our case la hacienda.  Sandi made pavlovas for dessert (with whipped cream and diced fruit on top) and this was a huge hit with our Peruvian and German guests.  They had not experienced nor heard of "pavs" before.  It was a beautiful afternoon with music, good food and laughter.

Sandi dishing out her pavlova – the most amazing cook in Curahuasi!
Our Centro de Medios garden Christmas party with their families.
But there are a few sad things about Christmas in Peru that I need to mention.  The first is that there are virtually no Christmas decorations, festivities or music in the town.  So it does not “feel like Christmas” here.  This is because of the predominantly Peru Catholic environment we live in where they consider Mary more important than the one true God found only in Jesus Christ.

The other thing that is sad for us is that we miss our family and friends from Australia so very much.  But the good news is our eldest son Jake is coming to visit us after a year in Australia, and we are so looking forward to that.  I will collect him from Cusco airport on Thursday.

So let me take this moment to wish each and every one of you a blessed Christmas, full of love, joy and peace as you hopefully get to spend it with your loved ones.  And a safe holiday and prosperous New Year to you.

Finally THANK YOU so much for your amazing support which enables our work to proceed here, to make a profound difference impacting an estimated 400,000 lives primarily through our existing 4 FM radio transmission 24 x 7.  And with much expansion due next year to reach over a million people.

With love from us Welches in Peru!