October 31, 2009

Travelblog Number 10.30.2K9.1

Filed under: Lisa´s recon mission codename ¨Finding Presli¨, PDC News — Administrator @ 12:25 pm

¨Minka Day¨:  I took a ¨combi¨ (a converted passenger van with the routes painted on the windows and sides, with a guy who hangs out the open side door shouting their destinations, and who later collects your money before you get off) to Minka.  Minka is a humongous mercantile Nirvana in the province of Callao in greater Lima.  OMG!  You have everything from a farmer´s market, to  hanging meats at the several carnecerias, to table after table of fresh seafood, to modern department stores with electronics, shoes, dress clothes, furniture, to indoor/outdoor kiosks and a miniature train for the bored kids and dads to ride around the center section, family dining, McDonald´s, cell phone stores, et cetera ad nauseum.  To see everything would be about a 5 hour day, that is if you don´t stop to watch a movie in the cineplex.

You can buy anything and everything at Minka, which is why I went there in the first place – I needed to get by bus ticket for the afternoon departure.  When my hostelier called the agency, there was one seat left.  By the time I got there, both the afternoon and overnight busses were sold out.  I managed to get the very last seat on tomorrow´s afternoon bus.  Since I now had time, I wandered around, looking for a scarf and gloves for my trip to Huancayo. 

Here´s where the story gets very interesting.  I found a scarf/knit cap set, but no gloves.  I went EVERYWHERE.  For about two hours I walked in and out of passageway after passageway.  There was one kiosk with gloves in the glass display, but each time I passed by over a period of over one hour, nobody was there.  So, I kept trying.  Eventually, I found a little shop in a hallway of vendors that had knit gloves.  While the girl went to get change for my 10 soles (about $1.77), another young woman came in.  I thanked her for having the only pair of gloves in Lima in the springtime, because I am a Hawaiian going into the Andean Highlands – to Chupaca.  Well…… she´s from Chupaca, she knows Presli, Ely, Presli´s parent and even Rocio, who she reports was the person who got Presli´s placement into the orphanage where mom and I met him three years ago.

She gave me a map practically TO HIS HOUSE!!!

On the way home to the hostel, I bought a ¨juanes¨, which is a food made in the forrest area (selva) that looks suspiciously like laulau (see photos to follow).  It is filled with yellow rice, a chicken thigh, a boiled egg, and two sour olives, wrapped and steamed (like in an imu???) in leaves that look suspiciously like a taro plant of some kind.  I couldn´t figure it out.

Anyway, one last hot shower, pack and get ready for my 7 hour bus ride tomorrow.  Wooo hoooo!

October 30, 2009

Travelblog Number 10.29.2K9.1

Filed under: Lisa´s recon mission codename ¨Finding Presli¨, PDC News — Administrator @ 1:49 pm

After a bumpy last few minutes on the flight to Dallas, it just made 7 AM.  I´m at the gate waiting for flight #2.  And the sun.  It´s pitch black outside and a little rainy.  Weird.

I just scarfed a bag of granola trail mix and Diet Pepsi from the newsstand (the clerk was from Tonga).  Breakfast of Champions.

At DFW they have free wifi in the terminal and charging stations.  Thanks to T-Mobile and Samsung!

Boarding now.  Snoooooooooze time? Nope.  The son of the Argentinean lady sitting next to me is a traveling neurosurgeon who just returned to Dallas from a medical mission to S.A.  Coincidence?  I think not.  Not much conversation though, just trying to read my ASCP board exam study book.  Unfortunately, it´s not boring enough to put this sicentist to sleep.

Strange that I am terrified of heights, ledges and edges, yet here I sit at this window seat enthralled by the mushroom and anvil clouds over Dallas, above which the sun is hiding.

Oh yeah, there´s wifi up here, too.  Ain´t it great to be an American ?! ¨This message sponsored by gogo Inflight Internet¨.

Fast forward five hours…. Now I´m on flight number three.  I met a young girl working in the Atlanta airport who said I looked tired, which I should since I´ve had only ninie hours of sleep since I woke up Monday morning, and it already Thursday, I think….

We got to talking about all my flights so far on this trek and, of course, the purpose of the my ´mission´ came up.  She was so moved by Presli´s story and photo that she gave me a cash donation right there.  At that moment I realized that I´ve been living with this story and the knowledge of what PDC is hoping to do for him for so long, over three years now, that I´ve become almost completely inured to how truly horrifying Presli´s life has been, and what a very important thing it is that we are trying to do for him and for Merardo.  Her tears almost made me cry myself, which is maybe what I needed to experience, as I continue on the long journey to find Presli so we can give him a better, more healthy  life (Thanks Mary!).

Fast forward a few more hours:

Finally on the last flight and I´ve discovered one thing - my Spanish is not so bueno when I´m  zombie-tired.  Morpheus, hast thou abandoned me?  I will try once again to sleep but I hope I don´t miss the one free meal on this whole itinerary.  No wifi in these last three flights and Miami airport requires a $10 daily access.  I think not!

I have just realized that here has not been one crying baby this whole way. Strange.

Scrach that.   We have now landed and this poor little guy cried the last three minutes of our decent.  I got a cell phone at the airport for the month for 10 bucks and $1.50 per minute, with free incoming calls and text messages, but I can´t text back.  If anyone needs to reach me urgently, the number is 011-51-1-99-54-02-560.  51 is Peru, 1 is Lima,  an the rest is the cell number.  Check with your carrier how to text, but I´ll have to reply by email, so make sure I have that too.  For non-urgent messages, email me at

The hostel ¨Las Fresas´¨ is fine.  I  have a clean private room with a bathroom for 26 soles a night (about $9.20).  The two guys who run it, Paulino and Victor, are great.  I talked with Victor about Presli. Ely, tourism, conservation, culture, Hawaii, Lima and the farming town in the south of Peru where he will be visiting in February, until one AM.  How did I stay awake!?!

He invited me to go with him since he thinks I´d love the clear skies and pure lifestyle, but I told him that I can only take one 25 hour per way trip every few years!

Morpheus and I finally made a deal - I´ll take half a sleeping pill before my shower and he´ll pay me a 7 hour visit.

Buenas noches,

Lisa in Peru

October 29, 2009

Travelblog Number 10.28.2K9.1

Filed under: Lisa´s recon mission codename ¨Finding Presli¨, PDC News — Administrator @ 1:15 pm

Well, it´s 7:22 PM.  I´ve been in the air just about 2 hours and I have just accepted the fact that I don´t want to be doing this.  Here is the progress of my mission so far:

Due to the requisite comedy of errors, beginning with me literally staying up all night packing according to a very carefully planned list, constantly checking for news from UH about my case, trying unsuccessfully all night to book my bus from Lima to Huancayo (hereinafter HYO),  constantly checking the various email accounts to check for any more donations, hoping to hear back from someone currently in Southeast Asia about taking their video camera with me, while simultaneously attempting to make the house decent for my potential house/mouse sitters, trying to fill the remaining 73 pounds I can take for FREE to Peru, finally putting the last load of laundry in at 6 AM after my last REAL hot shower for maybe a whole month, taking a four hour nap, going back home for my telephoto lens, making a stop to get traveller´s checks, and ending with my getting to the airport about 40 minutes late, problems with the self-check in process (of course it didn´t like MY passport), heading to the wrong gate (apparently a common problem due to the way the boarding pass is printed), renting a Smarte Carte and literally runing halfway back across HNL airport to get to my gate, getting light-headed in the heat, boarding the plane all out of breath, and ending with me realizing that I already miss the Diet Coke that the FFA made me throw away unopened.

When I caught my breath and stopped sweating profusely, I realized the importance and potential futility of my journey, and that I´d much rather be, well, not here.  After I was finally able to sit down long enough to contemplate what I´m doing for the first time since mom proposed the idea on Friday, it occured to me that just in trying to leave, I had an obscene number of problems in the US, in my own city, and that I´m about to be a woman traveling alone in a corrupt South American Third World country with a different language, where the Mafia and the Shining Path still have power,  to look for two people in ever-more remote towns that I have never been to, with only my scrubs, my language skills, some photos on my iPod, and my steel-forged American fortutude in my toolbox.  What WAS I thinking?!?!


 It´s pitch black outside and it has been for a while as we move against the path of ka la (the sun) and into ka po (the night).  I then land in Dallas-Fort Worth at 5 AM for a few hour´s layover.  I then board another plane with repeats in Atlanta and Miami, where I will board the last 5 hour leg of 17 hours in the air and arrive at Jorge Chavez International Airport in Lima, Peru.  I will arrive at 11 o´clock on Thursday night, just in time to check into my hostel before their office closes at midnight.  I´ll try to sleep for a few hours before I go out looking for a bus ticket for the same afternoon (Friday), since I was unable to book the ticket for four days via their website.

I´ll hopefully get the afternoon bus with the 170º reclining seats and the 16-foot high view for the 7 hour ride into the Andean Highlands, especially since I have with me an exponentially better camera than the first time I was here.

So folks, I guess we´re really gonna´get to see what Lisa Sturm is made of as I look for the hidden, fight against corruption, and endeavor for the improbable, in a place where I have absolutely NO power, experience or contingency plan.

Those of you who know me know that flying blind – pun appropriate- is REALLY not my style.

Check in regularly on the blog for updated progress reports and photos:  There´s an RSS link if you want to sign up for auto-updates.  I will try to blog daily.

I am kind of excited that Í´ll be in a large South American city for the Day of the Dead.  I can´t wait to see the parades and costumes that first day while I get acclimated before heading into Chupaca to try to find Ely and Nilton so they can take me to Presli!


Donations are still appropriate if you want to help my mission be successful wihtout depleting all the funds we have saved for Presli´s transport (which is why we need to find him and Ely in the first place).

Now for some sleep???


October 24, 2009

“Finding Presli” v.09

Filed under: Lisa´s recon mission codename ¨Finding Presli¨, PDC News — Administrator @ 1:15 pm
Dear Friends, Donors, and Volunteers.
Exciting news!  Lisa is making a last-minute trip on October 28 (in FOUR DAYS) to locate Presli in a small rural village outside Huancayo, Peru.  Lisa is going there to set up financial assistance for him and arrange for his transportation back to the USA for his surgeries.  Lisa will be in Huancayo anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks, and will be traveling by bus and taxi between Huancayo, Chupaca, and Lima as necessary to set things in motion.  She will also be visiting Merardo to evaluate his situation and possibly obtain the information needed to get him surgery as well.
Although we are using Sheri’s American Airlines miles to fly, the ”mission” is costing us.  The ancillary air costs are already $250.00.  Lisa will also need lodging, transportation and food while there, and she will need money to prepare documents, obtain medical records, investigate temporary custody, his passport and visa, internet access, etc. Our PeruDonations account has always been kept very small.  We currently have just over $1,000.  We are hoping this trip will not completely wipe out our treasury, since we have been saving for Presli’s trip to the US.
So, accordingly,we are asking each of our friends if you would be willing to make a $5.00 donation to help us out in this. To use Paypal, you can send via by simply going to their site and entering our email:, or you may click on the ”Donate” button on our website and indicate your donation amount.  We also will gladly accept donations of $10, $15, $50 - any amount!!  Besides using Paypal, if you prefer, you may write a check made out to Sherrill Sturm or Lisa Sturm and mail it to P.O. Box 94, Kaneohe, HI 96744.  In the comment area, write “Finding Presli” and we will immediately deposit it into our PeruDonations Corporation checking accout.  As always, your contribution is tax-deductable.
Also, we just found out that American Airlines is allowing Lisa to take two big bags for no fee!  That means for our O`ahu friends, any donations of clothes, school supplies, vitamins, medical supplies, toys, books, art supplies, (anything you think we can send along with Lisa that fits reasonably into her suitcase) will be taken directly to the recipients on your behalf.
Contact us by return e-mail, or call 341-4490 A.S.A.P. and we will arrange pick up between now and Tuesday evening.
Bless you all for your support in our mission. 
Sheri Sturm and Lisa Sturm

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