Sunday, September 14, 2014

International Business Class Comes to a Close....

Alas, yesterday was our final official gathering as an International Business Class.  Presentations completed, Country Scorecards analyzed and industries micro-economically evaluated... what is left to do now but reflect back on our trip and all that has happened.  Going to Peru was my first trip requiring a passport... EVER. And although, as we heard repeatedly last evening, there were issues with infrastructure, poverty, hygiene and early closings of the hotel pool, I am grateful for the opportunity to have traveled with such a great bunch of peers, professors, tour guides and family members.

I can't help but post a few more "family photos."  After all, we had them taken enough times....

The image I never knew I would get in Peru! But I suppose I should have known....

and finally, the image we all spoke about but never thought we would get to see... The Oracle.

We are 8 short months from graduation.... See you soon!

Friday, September 5, 2014

My first experience with a bidet...

Given the fragile nature of the crumbling infrastructure, we were discouraged from flushing toilet paper.  So where did the paper go you ask?  In a trash can next to the toilet.  Yuck!   How do you reduce the amount of stress on the infrastructure and still be hygienic?  Enter the bidet!

So I'm embarrassed to say that I've never used one.  The first night I couldn't figure it out.  Was it a urinal? Was it a second toilet? How do you use this new fangled contraption?  So after a couple of beers and some very informative You Tube videos, I summoned the courage to try it out.  

Needless to say I was hooked.  Having a tool to take care of your "undercarriage" and save the planet at the same time, how could you go wrong.  Twice I almost missed the bus.  I can hear Bara and Julio now...

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Some additional Lima fun filled information and pics......

What a tremendous trip our UAlbany Weekend MBA Class of 2015 had!  Thank you to Bara Pelcova of ISP and Dr. Rita Biswas from the University for setting up a week + of site visits, tours, dinners (we had a fabulous Peruvian Dinner that we made ourselves at SkyKitchen) and bus stops where there was always something to see.  Thank you to our entire group who (1) always made it down to the hotel lobby to leave on time, (2) to finish up each day up by the pool on the roof to relive and digest the day (unless they close it because we wore out our welcome) and (3) stand by me in the Lima Airport as security decided I was the one person on the airplane that they were going to completely search and test for whatever they were testing for in my shoes.
 Below is one of our bathroom stops at a restaurant by the side if the road - with Peru's gourmet specialty - guinea pig.

Our Machu Picchu tour - what an amazing sight to see - I highly recommend to all. And the good news is that in 2016 there will be a new international airport in Cuzco/Cusco that will cut the travel time down considerably.

There were often dogs wandering in our travels.  Most people in Lima have dogs to protect their homes - our tour guide added that it would not be uncommon if you went on a weekend trip to come home to an empty house.
This little fella (or maybe gal) was wandering the streets just outside of Machu Picchu.  He is one of the Peruvian hairless dogs.  Cute or ugly?

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Machu Picchu

I’m going to take the easy one out on this blog. I may have stated that I was going to write about Surfing or Ric Wayborn (yum) but alas I will not. So without further adue, Hello Machu Picchu! This was easily the most exciting and adventurous part of the trip.
It was a very early Saturday morning in Lima when we woke to sunny skies and warm temperatures. Kidding! Per usual it was foggy and cold. A majority of us were battling some form of Peruvian sickness or as Marty would like to say, “The Ermides Flu” as I was dubbed patient zero. But we slapped on some smiles and hit the airport! The following sequence of events ensued:
Hour 1: Our flight was canceled!
Hour 2: Our flight was rescheduled!
Hour 2.5: Our flight switched gates.
Hour 2.75?: Our flight switched gates again.
Hour 3: And again! Wtf?!
Hour 4: I hate the Lima airport. I need a cerveza.
Hour 5: We have landed in Cusco.  Holy guinea pig, the altitude! At 11000 feet you can really feel how thin the air is.
Cusco is a beautiful city. Not only is it situated in the Andes Mountains but it has a unique history that you can see in the streets and the buildings. From the cathedrals to the Incan temples there is a sense of life that spans hundreds of centuries. The people of Cusco are humble, generous, and have great pride in their past.
Cusco is also home of the guinea pig last super. I’m not kidding, google it.
24 hours later we fully adjusted to the altitude and we were on our way to Machu Picchu. To get to Machu Picchu takes 3.5 hours from Cusco. This includes a bus ride, a train ride, than one last gnarly hang on to your butts bus ride. The train ride takes you through the Andes to get you to the very edge of Machu Picchu.  I can’t seem to put into words how beautiful the train ride is. The views are breathtaking.  Below are pictures.
Finally we have arrived at Machu Picchu’s access point. A small but colorful town called Aguas Calientes, only 3 miles to go. Don’t forget, now you must take a bus that drives up a cliff going 30 mph with no guard rails. I hope we all updated our life insurance policies.
Obviously we survived with possibly soiled pants. According to Nry our guide, we just had to walk a bit further to arrive at the first point of Machu Picchu. By walking she really meant to say, lets hike up a mountain at 8,000 ft. At this point we all needed oxygen tanks. However, as we got over the crest of the hill (*cough* mountain) look at what we saw (pictures are below).
Nry, was a wonderful guide and provided us a colorful account of the history of Machu Picchu and how the Incans lived. She provided us with tales and knowledge of the people and made sure we all had some pretty amazing pictures to annoy our family members and coworkers with. Even though we didn’t have many (any) questions to ask her, we all learned one important word, “Pachamama!” Here are a few more pictures to drool over.
The tour was magnificent. It amazed us all how a civilization built and thrived in the valley of the Andes. The Incans were incredibly intelligent with a love of the skies, the earth, and their people. Seeing and being a part of such a place was a once and a lifetime experience.
Now time to find a banos!!!  Poor Nry.

Marty's Perspective on Peru

Well, I am finally back and recovered from the travel home. The trip was very eye opening and I enjoyed it more than one can imagine. We were able to experience a developing nation in a way that I could not have been prepared for, and this was due to exceptional planning by Bara and her team. I cannot thank you enough for preparing such a cross sectional exposure to Peru, and I am holding a new perspective to both the Peruvian culture, and for our life here in the US.

One of the largest "shocks" for me during the trip was the lack of infrastructure across several spectrums in Peru. The political system has a structure, however there is a need to develop further regulation around several platforms to attract new business, and give them the protections they require to become global organizations. The physical infrastructure is also in need of updating, and the estimates we heard of $19 billion in project needs currently are mind boggling to say the least. The country is blessed with an outstanding number of natural resources, and in my opinion, require a very long term, strategic approach to working through some of these challenges. I am fully aware that this will take a generation or two to execute, but am confident that the will of the Peruvian people is strong enough to see this through.

The cultural experience was second to none. The Water Circuit tour was incredible, and rivals anything available in Las Vegas. The museums are full of history and interesting artifacts (not sure I can look at pottery the same), and the visit to Machu Picchu was an almost religious experience. The food was marvelous and Julio was the savior, always having our backs and keeping an eye out on the group. The experience would not have been possible at this level without his guidance and knowledge of the city.

I feel obligated to mention that the cohort was the best part of this experience. I have never worked with a more remarkable group of people, and I am confident that this cohort could be placed anywhere on earth, and we would have a similar amazing experience. I am blessed to know and interact with each of you.

Peruvian blood festival... not sorry we missed this....

In Peru's Blood Festival, It's The Condor Versus The Bull by Mollie Bloudoff-Indelicato August 13, 2014 Share Mollie Bloudoff-Indelicato for NPR Enlarge for caption The Peruvian Blood Festival is a striking spectacle, with a giant condor strapped to the back of an enraged bull in front of a roaring crowd. For many Peruvians, it is a symbolic re-enactment of their liberation from Spanish rule. For conservationists, it is yet another threat to one of the world's largest birds. To prepare for this annual event, known as the Yawar Fiesta, residents in the small village of Coyllurqui climb into the surrounding cliffs to trap a condor. It may then be held for weeks. But when it's time for the battle, the condor is given alcohol to drink and lashed to the back of a half-ton bull in an arena. The beast then tries to shake off the condor, while the huge bird attempts to gouge out the bull's eyes. These Andean people believe the condor is a symbol of the Inca nation, and the bull represents the might of the Spanish conquistadors. Though they predominately identify themselves as Christians, villagers see the condor as an Andean god that has come down from the heavens to fight for their freedom. Mollie Bloudoff-Indelicato for NPR Enlarge for caption There's a lot at stake during the battle. If any harm should come to the condor, the villagers believe it's a bad omen for the year — and the dwindling condor population suffers another setback. Conservationists want to put an end to the Yawar Fiesta in order to help protect the species. But many Peruvians say they want to preserve the traditional event, which takes place every year on July 29, the day after Peru celebrates its independence. No one knows exactly how many condors are left in Peru, but the general consensus is that there are 600 to 1,000 remaining, and their numbers are declining. The Role Of Condors Condors, which weigh up to 33 pounds and sport an enormous 10-foot wingspan, eat dead animals that could otherwise harbor lethal bacteria like anthrax and botulism. They have long lifespans, reaching up to 75 years in captivity. But they also reproduce slowly — only one chick every other year. Both parents are needed to raise offspring, which demand support for an entire year, said Michael Mace, the curator of birds at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Mollie Bloudoff-Indelicato for NPR Enlarge for caption The condors are released after the Yawar Fiesta, but no one knows the effect of weeks in captivity and a brawl with a bull. After this battle, which lasted less than 30 minutes, there was blood on the ground. But it was not clear whether it came from the bull or the condor. It's not even clear how many of these Yawar Fiestas take place each year, but it could be more than 50. The biggest threat to the condors comes from farmers and ranchers who shoot or poison them after wrongly assuming the birds kill livestock. In fact, the condors are just opportunists that feast on already dead animals. At this year's Yawar Fiesta in Coyllurqui, the condor was far from godlike — it looked rather pathetic. The ropes that held its feet were sewn into the bull's hide, and the bird slumped over, flopping around as the matador goaded both animals into a frenzy. "It hurts me. I am sad to see the bull and the condor," said Geronimo Yucra Nininty, a festival attendee. "I'm against abusing animals." Mollie Bloudoff-Indelicato for NPR Enlarge for caption In the 1970s, the Peruvian government forbid the capture of wild animals, said Cecilia Larrabure, a photojournalist who is working on a documentary concerning the festival. There are rumblings in the capital Lima that officials might start enforcing those rules, she added. But in remote locales like Coyllurqui, it's difficult to enforce existing laws. The village is a nine-hour bus ride away from the city of Cusco on a mountainous dirt road packed with tight turns. "I think that it is crucial, the protection of the condor," said Coyllurqui Mayor Walter Bocangel Gamarra. "But here we have these customs, these traditions. If there's not a condor, there's no festival." A Long History The first record of the Yawar Fiesta was a celebration in the city of Cusco in the 18th century, Larrabure said. Back then, the festival was called "Turupucllay," which means "Game of the Bull" in Quechua, an old, native language. The title "Yawar" is more recent. A 1941 novel of the same name by Peruvian author José María Arguedas popularized the term. In this region, he is reverently referred to as the "Hemingway of the Andes" and most anything connected to his name tends to draw tourists. Mollie Bloudoff-Indelicato for NPR Enlarge for caption This is good marketing for cash-strapped villages wishing to attract visitors. The festival also brings back family members who have left the town. And it can also provide an emotional lift. The history of the Spanish and the Inca is bloody. The Spanish massacred the Inca and oppressed them. Life is still hard in the Andes, where poverty, alcoholism and spousal abuse are common, Larrabure said. "When [the people] put the condor on top of the bull that is a way of saying the Inca is back," Larrabure said. "For them, it's important to have that feeling — at least once a year they can hope." Fernando Angulo, a researcher at the Corbibi NGO who is working on a condor conservation plan, says the festival doesn't have be a battle between traditionalists and conservationists. "Many people are of the idea of prohibiting the Yawar Fiesta to save condors. But I think [the festival] is a great opportunity for education," he says. "We have to look for a more creative solution." Angulo suggests using the festival as a tool to study the condors. The Andean people have local knowledge about the bird's habits and locations that foreign researchers don't. He would like to work with communities to tag and track the birds, educating residents about the ecological importance of condors. Angulo says he hopes this type of bottom-up movement will encourage people to hold the festival — but without the fight.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Jill Q's - What I took away from my Peru Visit

Back from Peru safe and sound, although the sound part took me some time.  Here's a quick list of what I will remember forever...

  • The food in Peru is one of its best kept secrets; everything I ate was exceptionally delicious.  Each dish has its own unique taste and a perfect combination of spices.  Their french fries are way better than ours.
  • All of our hosts, on all of our visits, were extremely hospitable. Everywhere we went, our hosts offered us knowledge, just about all gave us food, and one even gave us beer (OK, it was a brewery). Our hosts were not only helpful to the American strangers, they were all very involved  in helping their own communities and country.
  • Traffic signals are just a suggestion - Thank you Julio.
  • Every tour should come with a Julio.  I think he knows all of Lima.  He showed us where to shop, eat, and play; he showed us how to get there safely and sometimes took us there himself; he told us what to eat and ordered for us.
  • Going down into the Peruvian mine was the coolest thing I've done (sorry Quinones kids, mom still uses 'cool' as a description).
  • Pisco Sour - definitely; Peruvian beer - not so much.
  • There is such a thing as viewing too much pottery.
  • There is more traffic in Lima than NYC and they love to honk.
  • Don't believe the weather - it's not sunny and high 60's this time of year.
  • The water in the Dazzler pool actually is warm.
  • My cohort is the best cohort ever!  Thank you guys for the fun times and memories (don't worry, I won't share all of them).
  • You need a Barbara on your trip - she'll take your pictures for you and share food so you can try more than one thing at a time.
  • UAlbany rocks (sorry again kids)!
  • Do we need to debrief again?

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Homeward Bound

It's been a great 10 days but it's time to head home! Our final 48 hours has been full of trains, planes and automobiles but we're almost there. This has been the experience that sets the University at Albany MBA apart from all others!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

The wheels on the bus go round and round....and BANG!

On Friday night, several of us left the International Business trip to return to our family, friends and businesses back home. The balance of our cohort stayed behind for the optional portion of the trip to enjoy the wonders of visiting Cuzco and Machu Picchu. Six of us flew back to JFK airport, arriving around 9:15am Saturday.   After leaving JFK, we were travelling on I-95 when one of the rear tires blew out.
We were stranded for approximately three hours on the shoulder of I-95 before the repair service arrived and completed the replacement of the wheel.
All ended well as we arrived safely at the UAlbany campus a little after 5:00pm on Saturday.  Well wishes and safe travels to the rest of our cohort scheduled to return on Tuesday!

Foods of Peru

Although I did not try all of the various cuisines offered in Peru, I did consume five of the six foods/beverages shown below. Hopefully, the members of the cohort that stayed on to visit Cuzco and Machu Picchu in the Andes Mountains will try the "cuy" shown in the last two photos below.
Pisco Sour
Containing pisco, lime juice, simple syrup & a fresh egg white

Chicha Marado
Made with purple corn boiled with pineapple,cinnamon, clove and sugar

Made with alternate layers of potato (yellow), avocado & often a layer of tuna, meat or egg

Taku Taku Lomo Saltado
stir fry that combines marinated strips of sirloin, with onions, tomatoes, and other ingredients, served with french fries.  The Taku Taku is a fried combination of beans and rice.

Lucuma Ice Cream
Lucuma is a sweet tree fruit that looks like mango

Cuy - Before
Cuy - After

Cuy (aka guinea pig in the US) is a staple meat raised by many households located in the Andes Mountains.  The meat is quite bony and is baked or barbecued on a spit and served whole...often with the head still on.  It supposedly has a gamy taste like that of rabbit or wild fowl.  Buen provecho!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Geocaching in Latin America

Since finding out our MBA class would be traveling abroad I have looked forward to finding a geocache outside North America.  If you aren't familiar with geocaching it is a hobby similar to a scavenger hunt in which players use a GPS device to find hidden objects at posted coordinates which have been listed on the internet. After finding the hidden geocache players sign and date a log book and later log the find online.  More info about geocaching can be found in this Geocaching 101 Guide.

A map of the 6 geocaches hidden around Lima.  The smiley face represent a geocache I had already logged as found.
Due to Peru being a developing nation geocaching is not as popular here as it is in other parts of the world.  This is likely due to lack of expendable income and broadband penetration.  Luckily some geocaches have been placed in the country, mostly by visitors.  Peru currently has 103 active geocaches.  This isn’t very many when compared to the more than 30,000 geocaches hidden in New York State alone.

When planning my trip and hoping to find a geocache one particular one stood out to me called “TOP 10 LIMA POI.”  POI stands for point of interest.  Unlike traditional geocaches which are hidden at the posted coordinates this geocache was a puzzle cache, meaning I needed to collect information to find the final location.  In this case I needed to visit 10 historical landmarks and match them with their name in order to solve the final coordinates.  Luckily many of the 10 locations I needed to visit were on our tours Saturday and Sunday such as Pachacamac, Armas and San Fransisco.  Between our tours and some googling I was able to find all the information I needed to solve the final coordinates.

At one of the 10 points of interest Wednesday night.
Solving this puzzle was a great example of why I enjoy geocaching.  It takes me to new places and allows me to see sites I otherwise wouldn't encounter.  Geocaching can many times lead you to the local hotspots you wouldn't encounter on your own.  In the case of this geocache I struck out to find the final location Wednesday morning when we had a couple hours of down time.  My hunt lead me the Reducto No. 2, the site of the Peruvian Military Museum and a beautiful memorial park.  After taking in the sites and snapping some pictures I moved on to find the final container, a small piece of Tupperware hidden on a restored steam engine!

One of many statues in Reducto No 2 park.

Happy to have made the find at the final location.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Not all of Latin America is as cool as Peru!

Venezula’s Chief of Intellegence helping Traffic Drugs


It was nearly eight years ago that Venezuelan dictator or president for life Hugo Chavez addressed the United Nations delegates following a speech by President George W. Bush. During Chavez’s anti-Bush diatribe, he described the sitting US president as being the devil incarnate and exclaimed before the UN assembly: “¡Huele a azufre!” or “It smells of sulfur!” It was a reference to the Biblical lake of fire and sulfur into which the devil and his minions will one day be cast. Well, it turns out that the sulfur the late Venezuelan strongman thought was emanating from President Bush was actually coming from his own hand-picked & trusted Intelligence Chief Hugo Carvajal.
Carvajal was taken into custody in Aruba last week at the behest of the US State Department. It turns out that he has long been on the payroll of a major Columbian cocaine drug lord. Carvajal’s duties involved coordinating shipments of the opiate into New York State and Miami, Florida. Venezuela’s own drug interdiction contact with Interpol also came up as having received hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of payments from the Columbian drug cartel. Once Carvajal was taken into custody, the State Department requested he be extradited to the United States to face three felony drug charges.
However, Venezuela strongly objected and Carvajal was turned over to them. Venezuelan authorities were much more interested in the symbolic pride battle that their former intelligence chief escaped justice in the United States than that they clean house and send a strong signal to other corrupt officials. Regardless, the United States has succeeded in exposing the existence of a drug cabal in Venezuela called the “Cartel of the Suns” which very existence had been contested by Venezuela in the past. Now, the question isn’t whether it exists, but how deeply it is entrenched in Venezuela. It has now been shown that it was more than government officials allowing drug shipments to pass through their nation, but rather an active coordination between the two countries. Indeed, it may legitimately be asked of the late dictator Hugo Chavez, “What did he know about the Cartel of the Suns, and when did he know it?

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Earthquakes in Peru

(as seen in our hotel)

With the confined space portion of our trip behind us I think it’s now safe to discuss Peru’s vast earthquake history.  Peru is in a seismic zone created by the South American tectonic plate subjugating the Nazca plate.  This fault line exists just off the coast of Peru and has resulted in more than 50 recorded earthquakes over the last 500 years.  These earthquakes have resulted in a cycle of constant rebuilding along the coast and produced more than 175,000 casualties through the years.  Three of the worst earthquakes in Peru are mentioned below.

1746 Lima Calloa Earthquake – October 28, 1746
Casualties – 6,000 / Magnitude 8.8
The second largest recorded earthquake in history with a rupture length of 350km.  This quake leveled the city of Lima in under 4 minutes and resulted in 200 aftershocks in the first 24 hours! An astounding 1,700 aftershocks were attributed to this quake over the next 112 days.  The majority of casualties occurred in Calloa where an 80’ tsunami wave landed.  This same wave also destroyed the Port of Pisco for a second time.

1868 Arica Earthquake – August 13th, 1868
Casualties – 25,000 – Magnitude 9.0
The highest magnitude earthquake reported in Peru which created a tsunami wave that destroyed the city of Pisco and hurled 1,500 ton battleships a half mile inland.  This earthquake produced 400 aftershocks over the next 10 months.

1970 Ancash Earthquake – May 31, 1970
Casualties – 100,000 / Magnitude 7.9
The worst natural disaster recorded in Peru’s history.  Although the magnitude of this quake was relatively low it came at the end of a particularly rainy season and triggered widespread avalanches and landslides that resulted in the high casualty count.

Silver Peaks Mining and other things noticed along the way

I think we will all agree the trip yesterday to Silver Peaks Mining was exceptional.  The presentation, discussion and tour was something none of us will forget.  A big thank you to Silver Peaks Management for their time and efforts (and lunch was fabulous also).

A couple of things we have all noticed 1. There are stray dogs running everywhere 2. Don't take running water or electric in your home for granted 3. Bring your own TP (the gals will get this) 4. Julio is a life saver - he explains the menus, gets us to the best shopping and makes sure our bags and wallets are zipped.  Thank you Julio!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Riot Police

So far, Lima seems like a busy city with lots of traffic and traffic circles. The buildings are very colorful and the hotel is very nice.  I even got to enjoy a quick visit with the riot police at the changing of the guard.... we also saw some magnificent flowers!