NWMT Coya, Peru

In 2004 (March 26 – April 5, 10 days) I went with a group to Coya, Peru to change a prison into a medical center with Northwest Medical Teams. We had been invited by Guido and Sandra DelPrado who lived in Calca, Peru a short distance away. Sandra (Sandy) was from Portland and had gone to Jefferson High School where I taught, though I didn’t know her. She had been working for USAID. Guido was from Calca, Peru and had worked for US State department, one time interpreting for President Reagan when he went to Mexico. Now they were interested in providing medical support for the Sacred Valley of the Incas where Coya was located. Before we came any medical emergency had to drive to Cusco, an hour and a half away over the pass.

(Bill, Roger, Ben, Lloyd, Warren, Tom, Tom, and Dick)

Most of us had construction experience except me (In the vest in front) and Ben the tall guy in the back (an attorney). The Peruvians were in impressed that a ‘maestro’ and an attorney would come to Coya to pound nails. We liked that.

It turned out that the prison was for runaway horses, but it made a better story to say just ‘prison’.

This is the plaqza in Coya. This is where we bought bottled water. The X above the door to the right indicates a recent death. The building we worked on was right behind these stores and homes.

Cattle were driven through this street to graze alongside of the main road a few blocks away. The kids who watched us would yell “vacas, vacas” and we would clear the street.

To start we began digging to bring in water and sewer pipes. There was an inner courtyard (formerly for horses) and two floors of rooms. We also had to dig a deep grey water well and wire the building for 110 v since most of the donated medical equipment was American. The electricity at the pole outside was 330v, so we cut it to 220v coming into the building and then to 110v to the exam rooms and surgery.

No use standing around, grab a concrete block and move them over there.

We wired inside and out, sometimes rewiring where needed. Obviously Ben had been working on his knees, but being the tallest he often got the overhead work.

    For everyone of us from Oregon there was the equivalent worker from the Coya area, except for the teacher and the attorney of course. Later however we would meet the mayor and the women who ran the restaurant nearby and fed us lunch.

    School got out at 1:30 and the boys would hurry over to the worksite and make a place to play with their cars on the sidewalk across the street from the worksite. If they were too curious someone would yell for me (the teacher) to come and entertain them with magic and games to keep them from underfoot.

Note: Dollar Tree paper airplanes don’t last very long.

Looking out the upstairs windows was like pictures in a picture.

Sandy and Guido DelPrado.

Resting after work in Machu Picchu, the town, before going up to Machu Picchu, the national park. We had taken a train from Ollantaytambo to this town and then a bus up to the park.

Corn nuts for lunch! There was also ‘cuy’ on the menu (guinea pig) but I wouldn’t dare show my face at home if I had eaten it.


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