Sunday, May 16, 2010


I got to spend two weeks in southern Peru for a sort of study abroad trip. As a class, we spent two semesters designing projects to take down with us and teach people how to build them. There was a water heating project (heat water with their cooking stoves), water purification (using the sun), bio-filter toilet, and a windmill to generate electricity. I was on the electrical end of the windmill project - we focussed on everything from the alternator at the windmill hub to the light bulb at the other end.

We left Salt Lake Monday morning, arriving in Peru at about 11 PM after a brief layover in Atlanta. Wednesday morning we hopped on another plane to head to Cuzco, which is quite the tourist town.

This is the view from my hotel window. Up north is the Cuzco Plaza, which is the tourist hotspot. All sorts of people selling things.

 We were just sitting on the steps, and this guy comes up trying to sell my buddy, Dave, a  "100% baby alpaca sweater" (alpacas are a lot like llamas, but have softer wool). When we asked him who made it, he said his wife did. As we continued through our trip, we saw about two dozen other people, at various places, selling the exact same sweaters. Anytime anybody tries to sell you something, he made it himself, but there's only about 5 items that are sold in all of Cuzco.

The next several days were spent up in Salkantay, a village just a few miles from Cuzco, up in the mountains. It takes almost an hour to drive there though. The roads are quite treacherous and not well maintained. 

The pictures don't do justice to how beautiful the place is. On this last panorama, you can see people walking up the road on the left - we had to stop and get out of the van because it couldn't get up the hill with us in it. In general, vehicles had trouble getting enough power here, due to the low oxygen levels in the air. Cuzco is about as high as the top of Mt. Timpanogos (11,000 ft), and Salkantay is about 2,000 ft higher than that. As we approached Salkantay, about a dozen kids and run out to meet us, and ran alongside the vans as we went. We didn't get straight to work when we got there - the elementary school students had put together quite a program for us, mostly of dances.  It's a very poor village - most of the houses are about as large as one of our bedrooms and made out of mud bricks. The school area was built by another humanitarian group based out of Salt Lake called Eagle Condor. Here we worked on the stove water heating project and the bio-filter toilet. The water heating project didn't end up working out, due to not being able to find the type of tank that was needed. The bio-filter toilet we think will work out - only time will tell with that one.

We left Cuzco for Aguas Calientes, at the foot of Machu Picchu. When you're in Aguas Calientes, you feel like you've entered Jurassic Park. 

We set out hiking up Machu Picchu at 5 the next morning. Most people will take a bus up, and the hiking trail just goes straight up the side of the mountain, in between the road switchbacks. Machu Picchu is the most beautiful place I've ever seen in my life. They still haven't excavated all of the ruins up there, and we don't really know why the place was built in the first place - if it was just another village or if it had religious purposes or what.

One of the big deals about the Incas is that their finest stone work is done without any mortar. They shape the blocks kind of like legos to keep them together instead. The thought is that they did this with the intent of it making their structures earthquake proof, as this has allowed their structures to survive several major earthquakes. They also would build them with the walls slanting inwards, also to make them more stable in an earthquake.

After Machu Picchu we headed to Puno, which is on the shore of Lake Titicaca. Here we built our windmill. We think it works, but we never got enough wind to actually see if it did. We left it in the hands of a guy who's confident he can get it working, though, and he has our e-mail addresses so we can keep in touch and get it worked out. 

Lake Titicaca is home to the Islands of the Uros - man made floating reed islands. When the Spaniards came, some of the Incas fled to Lake Titicaca and hid out there in houseboats, which eventually evolved into these islands. They make their living almost entirely off of making and selling crafts for tourists. The islands are about  6-10 feet thick, so it doesn't feel like you're walking on a waterbed or anything like that - they're quite stable. There are about 50 floating islands on the lake. The solar water purification team built their project here and left it with the people. 

Then we went home.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Just a Thought

Since Jon and I got married, I've had this scripture running through my head from time to time. Isaiah 55:8-9 "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, my thoughts than your thoughts." I think that it is a scripture mastery and when I was learning it in ninth grade, it didn't make sense to me. I wasn't really sure why they had chosen this scripture to be one of the 25 that we learned from the Old Testament. However, since Jon and I were married and have started our life together, I keep thinking, "Wow, the Lord's way of doing things is so wonderful, so right." Being sealed to my spouse by my dear Father in Law, who was given the authority from God to seal us. Being in the temple, clean and worthy to make sacred covenants with my sweetheart. Doing everything (or doing our best to do everything) the Lord's way instead of the world's way...has helped me understand what they were trying to teach me back in ninth grade. There is nothing that can replace the peace and blessings of living our lives in accordance with the Lord's ways. His commandments, His ways are there for one purpose only - to bring us happiness.


Most of the Tyler family kids have gone through a reading stage of life. It can last anywhere from 1-4 years. This is when all that kid will do is read. Read, read, read. I think Anna, Abby and I have had the most severe cases. When I was in Jr. High all I did was read. I had one good friend but she was a book worm too so it wasn't unusual to find me with a book at any time. With Jon gone the last two weeks and the pressures of college fading, I've found myself getting lost in books again. So far I've read...

And I'm currently working on...

Good thing Jon gets home Tuesday.

A New Level of Happiness

My parents had a cross stitch on their wall next to the picture of their wedding and marriage license. It said, "Happiness is being married to your best friend." Its so true! I love Jon so much and we're so happy.