We made it! Mike is no worse for the trip--he is on some hefty antibiotics and the Dr. said the climate in Umaca would make him better. And it would have been if it hadn't rained yesterday, probably.
Umaca is an hour away over the winding mountain roads. The trip there is full of breathtakingly beautiful mountain scenery, green checkerboard fields, snow-capped peaks, winding river vallies, the usual stuff. We went in a truck with several people and all the mattresses for the conference and took the dog along so he could enjoy some greenery and space (he lives on the roof here in Andahuaylas.) The pastor of the IEP church in Umaca drove the truck. We got to ride in the front with him, the boys and the rest rode in the back with the dog and the mattresses.
Umaca is in a sheltered valley, so it has tropical fruits, parrots, flies, hot days, and cold nights.
All of the schedules in the country have been changed because of swine flu, so events that were scheduled for the midwinter break from school have been moved up to go with the changed vacation schedule. This conference was moved up a week, like everything else, and so the location was moved to Umaca because the church there was having its anniversary on this date. Although we anticipated an attendance of 200 , the reality was only about 70 due to the general confusion generated by the flu. We also participated in the church anniversary, with Mike preaching twice with a Quechua translator. We also got to hear the many musical groups that came to sing for the anniversary, and enjoy the food provided for the anniversary. (Mostly soup, but Saturday there was fresh beef!)
We taught the youth an evangelism seminar that wound up with volunteers giving their testimonies. That was a moving experience!
We came back by taxi last night, as the rain was continuing. It was hard to get a taxi because they run up the mountain and back down, and at the end of the day they are usually going to their home (at the top or bottom). The last ones coming down are usually already full of people going back to Andahuaylas. Still, the boys found room in one and Mike and I in another. The pastor said that he would bring Bother with the mattresses.
The conference was fun, but it was great to be back home! Private rooms, private toilets, telephone, and email!