Sammie and I arrived in Lima right on time before 11 PM Saturday night after a smooth flight from Atlanta. But so did hundreds of other people, as we learned while we waited for more than one hour in the immigration line. After many times going through this process, neither of us had seen anything like these crowds and although the airport staff had a good organizational plan it still took LOTS of time. When we finally exited to the baggage claim area and found our bags waiting for us, we joined a second very long line to go through customs where all our bags were screened. A nice young man was highly interested in the xrays of one bag full of wheelchair head supports and mounting hardware – but very nice once I explained what they are and who they are for.
By 1 am we stumbled out to meet Miguel, who had patiently waited and immediately drove us to our guesthouse with one stop at a store for cold drinking water. Sister Clara roused herself to let us in with a warm welcome and to our delight, took us to our familiar rooms from years past. It felt like coming home, right down to the party across the street that never shuts down until 4 AM. With Tamara’s ear plugs in place we fell asleep around 2 AM, very glad to be back in Peru.
Yesterday was spent resting and visiting with friends, after making our first trip to Tottus (supermarket and department store combined) to buy some necessities. Our breakfast today included Peruvian treats – perfectly ripe avocados and drinkable porridge. Rufino appeared at 9 AM to transport us to meet with the Yancana Huasy team. The first trip to Yancana Huasy is always special, preparing to see this place and these people who are so remarkable. I often say that Yancana Huasy is one my favorite places in the world and it is true. We had lots to do today, and began by traveling to the Caritas del Peru warehouse, where our shipment of wheelchairs and rehabilitation equipment has been awaiting our arrival for a week or so. We were faced with towers of boxes filled with equipment (see Rufino, above.)
We did some preliminary sorting until 1 PM when the warehouse closes down for lunch. At that point we traveled back to Canto Grande for lunch at a chicken restaurant near Yancana Huasy. We were eager to see the products manufactured for last year’s contract with Yancana Huasy. These included trays and other positioning components that we will use in our wheelchair clinics in the coming weeks. It was satisfying to see items made from Peruvian materials by Peruvians with design improvements by Peruvians. We will be evaluating this project and assessing the financial feasability of continuing for a second year.
Tomorrow a big day at the warehouse is planned, with the assistance of a great group of students from Stone Hill College near Boston. They have aided us during their spring break work trip for several years now, contributing both physical strength and energy and in some cases, translation skills. But for now, Sammie and I are ready for a good rest!