Day 15 – Non Profit, or Not?

Yesterday Yieber and I had a meeting with a local representative from an NGO in the United States. They don’t have an office here in Peru but when donations are made and specified to be spent here in Peru they process that request and distribute the funding.

Since we have starting filming our documentary we have heard many pleas for help. The small school we visited in Patabamba needs books, computers, teaching aids and money for nutritional food.

Many schools have programs to feed the children. How do we keep the pot full for all?
Many schools have programs to feed the children. How do we keep the pot full for all the children?

In the same small village high in the Andes, the women’s weaving council needs help to sell their textiles. They asked for assistance to set up a website and marketing tools, need help with training and technolgy to be competative in todays marketplace, not to mention supplies for the actual products.

When we visited a school in Lamay we saw firsthand how small contributions, well-managed, can effect huge change. The children in that community were healthy, happy and well on their way to receiving a good education. A few of the children even practiced their english and french with me.

It’s been difficult going into areas that are so poverty-stricken and not being able to help. Sometimes just a small amount of money can turn around an entire community. Upgrading the irrigation system for the farmers, providing books for the schools, seeds for nutritional crops, chimneys in kitchens to reduce asthma, respiratory illness and even cancer… all simple and cost-effective solutions that dramatically improve the quality of living for families living in remote regions.

I know that a lot of people are reluctant to give to causes without the benefit of receiving a tax receipt or having the assurance that the money will actually be going to the right place. For this reason we are investigating setting up a registered society (NGO)

We’d love your feedback on this idea since it is a challenging process, time-consuming and expensive. If we build it, will you participate?

If you want to sponsor our film, and you’re not worried about a tax receipt, there are many ways you can do this now. Donate your airmiles, (travel is an expense that is robbing our budget) provide financial help either through GoFundMe or direct email transaction, share our blog or aid us in the real production. (create graphics, write music, do research, voice-over, editing, PR, write press releases…etc)

We’re heading to the highlands again tomorrow to meet with a community leader and arrange for a donation of shoes for all the children. I’ll be posting some video of that adventure in a few days.

Thanks for your support! Please share 🙂



Day 14 – Expanding the team

Everyone knows that filmmaking is a collaborative process. When a film is really good, it’s usually because each of the team members gave it a part of themselves. The combined whole is always greater than the sum of it’s parts.

Also consider the fact that each of us is unique. We have different backgrounds, cultures, religions, experiences that have shaped who we are. Our style and tastes are greatly influenced by each of those factors. When a group of people come together to collaborate on a film production each person has something unique to contribute. Not only that but, each person comes from a different perspective and position… something that I never would have considered may be blaringly obvious to someone else.

There’s both magic and mystery when it all falls together. The trick is to build a cohesive team that unites for the benefit of the project. Each person must believe in the message you are trying to convey, much like a parent who hovers over their children… if it doesn’t add to the content, it doesn’t belong.

When I started out on this journey I had the love and blessings of some friends and family. I was a crazy person on a mission to share a story that I thought was important. But something wonderful happened along my way… I met people who felt the same way I did. People who had an opinion and a voice and who wanted to shout from the rooftops with me.

I spent a lot of time focusing and visualizing what I wanted to accomplish but never once was I alone in that picture. I was surrounded by talented, creative and passionate people.

Today I rejoice in the fact that our team is growing. Yieber was the first person to step up and join this journey, then Carolina and now more are tossing their hats in the ring.

I’d also like to acknowledge the people who have contributed financially or through sharing this effort. Filmmaking is a labor of love and the more the merrier.

Peruvian Heartache is pounding stronger each day. The beat goes on…

Day 13 Translation continues…Out with the contronyms!

Yesterday was an interesting day. We had filmed some interviews over a week ago but since they are in a different language I didn’t know what anyone was saying. When Yieber and I translated the clips, actually he translated while I typed, and I finally got to hear what they were sharing.

Bautista T’ilka T’ilka – President of the Association of Tourism Seven Springs (also Construction Foreman) I had no idea how articulate and well spoken he was until we translated his footage.

This film has been an intriguing challenge for so many reasons. First there is the language barrier; I had to learn to interview people without being the person asking the questions. Then we have financial restrictions; i.e. an incredibly limited budget. Combine that with remote locations, rainy season and high altitude, well… it´s a good thing I like a challenge.

Making sure that I understand clearly what the subjects are saying can sometimes be tricky. Yieber and I end up in discussion over the correct meaning of a word, or how the same word can be used in different ways and have completely different meanings. He speaks English as a third language and when I explain the specifics of a definition at times I even get confused myself. Words like those are called  contronyms.

I found a great list and explanation of them on  These are words that are their own opposites.

Here’s an ambiguous sentence for you: “Because of the agency’s oversight, the corporation’s behavior was sanctioned.” Does that mean, ‘Because the agency oversaw the company’s behavior, they imposed a penalty for some transgression’ or does it mean, ‘Because the agency was inattentive, they overlooked the misbehavior and gave it their approval by default’? We’ve stumbled into the looking-glass world of “contronyms”—words that are their own antonyms.

1. Sanction (via French, from Latin sanctio(n-), from sancire ‘ratify,’) can mean ‘give official permission or approval for (an action)’ or conversely, ‘impose a penalty on.’
2. Oversight is the noun form of two verbs with contrary meanings, “oversee” and “overlook.” “Oversee,” from Old English ofersēon ‘look at from above,’ means ‘supervise’ (medieval Latin for the same thing: super- ‘over’ + videre ‘to see.’) “Overlook” usually means the opposite: ‘to fail to see or observe; to pass over without noticing; to disregard, ignore.’
3. Left can mean either remaining or departed. If the gentlemen have withdrawn to the drawing room for after-dinner cigars, who’s left? (The gentlemen have left and the ladies are left.)
4. Dust, along with the next two words, is a noun turned into a verb meaning either to add or to remove the thing in question. Only the context will tell you which it is. When you dust are you applying dust or removing it? It depends whether you’re dusting the crops or the furniture.
5. Seed can also go either way. If you seed the lawn you add seeds, but if you seed a tomato you remove them…. more

So, as you can see, translation from one language to another can be complicated. In Quechuan there are expressions that make no sense in English, the same can be said with Spanish. The trick is in finding the nuance and true meaning of what someone is saying and capture that essence as accurately as possible.

But with all the obstacles comes surprises and rewards. I have the honor of meeting and working with some truly incredible people. I am learning more than I ever could have bargained for and with luck I can translate/transmute/transfer that information clearly into the film.

Day 12 – Unequal Pricing, Booking flights

Today we had one of those experiences where the situation was just too good to be true. We’re on a tight budget and were happy to find our flight tickets into the jungle were less than $80 each return. I had a strange feeling and was rushing to complete the transaction before the website crashed or a notification arrived saying that the flight was full.


The confusion arrived when my card was declined by Visa Verification process…. and I couldn’t understand why. Finally after several unsuccessful attempts Yieber called Lan Peru directly and spent over half an hour haggling with the customer service representative.

It turns out that if you are Peruvian or a legal resident of Peru you get the cheap price. For me on the other hand it was an entirely different story. My flight was nearly $300 (US) return.  That was the reason for the transaction being denied, because it was coming from a foreign credit card.


Thankfully Yieber was able to reduce the prices slightly because he complained that the website had given us false hope.

This system is exactly the opposite that Air Canada offers.  Flights within the country are way overpriced but you can fly across the Atlantic or to South America for half the price.

I try and avoid air transportation as much as possible since it leaves a HUGE carbon footprint,  but in some cases it’s the only available option.

When I average the cost of both our tickets we are each flying for about $170 (US)  return which seems a decent cost for a 55 minute journey.

It was interesting try to follow the negotiations in Spanish when Yieber was trying to convince the airline that I was living here, albeit temporarily.

Got to give him credit for trying!

If you’re interested in supporting our shoestring budget production you can follow the link in the right hand column Go Fund Me! Or you can make an electronic donation to my email.

As you can see, we’ll make sure to stretch your dollars to the max!


Day 4 Patabamba

We didn’t get as early a start this morning as both Yieber and I were suffering from lack of sleep.  Today we took a taxi the entire way to our destination of Patabamba.
I got breakfast cake from a woman near the taxi stand but it wasn’t nearly as good as the banana cake yesterday.
We arrived in Ccorao and had missed our opportunity to catch a ride to Patabamba. We met up with a teacher who had also missed her car so we waited for her to arrange transportation and joined her.  It would be nice to travel in a car that wasn’t packed beyond capacity!
It began to rain and I was grateful that I had packed my raincoat.   The weather could change here in minutes from hot and dry to chilly and wet. We sat in the taxi waiting for one more teacher who was late… I listened to the conversation and was able to pick out a few words. After 15 minutes I heard,  5 more minutes, secretly I hoped they wouldn’t make it… more room for us.


My hopes were shattered when 4 more people got in. There were now 9 of us in a compact car. Brings a whole new meaning to cozy. There were at least 3 things to be grateful for:
1. I wasn’t squished against the door
2. I wasn’t backwards in the hatchback
3. Today there were no guinea pigs!
The driver used a roll of toilet paper to wipe condensation from the window, he didn’t seem at all concerned with the rain on the exterior though… or maybe the wipers didn’t work? It was a single lane gravel road so he honked before rounding each hairpin curve. We arrived safely.
It did take long to figure out that  Patabamba was a seriously poor village. The houses were typical but modest. It had a bit of a feeling of a ghost town except occasionally we met someone herding sheep, cattle or a mixture of livestock. We met a young man who was reasonably well dressed and asked him where we could find the leader of the town.  He was on his way to meet the president so he escorted us and gave brief instructions.  The president was not impressed by our efforts to share news  of his village.  To him we were just 2 more people making wild promises who would deliver nothing.  He’d seen it many times before. It’s shocking how many charities fleece the public by collecting donations and padding their own pockets. We understood his position since we had come there to investigate an NGO that come with good reason but exploited the people and situation.  We decided to head to the school to try and interview someone their. We hit the jackpot as the principal gave us excellent information.  She was well informed and explained the problems of the village in great detail.  Then she hosted us for lunch with the students.  After lunch Yieber taught some of the older boys a card game.  They all had a good laugh and learned some new skills at the same time.


We had about an hour to kill before hitching a ride back to the city so we wandered through the neighborhood taking photos.  At one house we noticed a collection of women who had gathered to spin and weave. They greeted us heartily and offered to share their communal meal as well.  We spoke with them about their once a week council to find solutions to the problems in town. They realized that money had created a host of issues and decided to return to the days of their elders and teach each other the craft of making textiles. They begged us to help them spread the word and connect them with buyers for their goods. We exchanged information and I vowed to do whatever I could to promote their cause. A few of them had basic cell phones but none had a computer or internet access. The woman in blue and yellow was a passionate leader who had good intentions but no resources.


We almost lingered to long with the women but thankfully we left in time to get a ride home.
If you’re interested in authentic Andes woven goods, send me a message or comment below. I have 2 excellent sources.

Day One Filming – Totorayoc, Peru

highland and valley women

Today we will head into the highlands to a small town of traditional weavers (tejedores de la vida – Weavers of Life) where we will learn about their process for creating beautiful fabrics and artwork.

Traditional bags take weeks to produce for each one. The Quechan name is Ch’uspas (sounds like juice pass)

We will also speak with local porters who must suppliment their incomes by carrying goods for tourists along the Incan trails.

Porters with tourists

Finalizing our Filming Schedule

Hello from Cusco, PeruHola from Cusco!

Yieber and I spent most of the day yesterday trying to sort out the many details of our film before our first day of shooting on November 2nd. It was a long but productive day and in the end we managed to squeeze, 11 main locations into the next 2 months of filming. We´re going to have many challenges…

  1. Lack of power to charge batteries for camera and sound equipment
  2. We have to carry everything on our backs
  3. Remote locations that can only be reached by 4×4, boat, walking or flight
  4. Language barriers, (well… Yieber speaks all three languages, English, Spanish & Quechan, but I will have absolutely no idea what our interview subjects will  be saying)
  5. Unlimited topics to cover… there are so many people, places and subjects we want to include!
  6. Limited time in each location
  7. Limited hard disk space
  8. Limited funds!

We´re up for the challenge though and we invite you to come along for the ride (or trek in many cases)

We´d love to hear your input and feedback on this project so please comment and share this blog with your friends and family. If you don´t hear from us for a few days it´s because we´re off the beaten path and have no access to internet.

Adios Amigos!

Preparing our Documentary in Cusco

Yieber and Alison are hard at work planning, writing and scheduling the filming of the Indigenous Peoples of Peru. With external influences like tourism and big business they face many internal challenges. Environmental destruction, climate change, limited financial support and lack of appropriate resources all contribute to the hardships these people endure daily. We hope to bring you their stories while providing some solutions and help along the way.Farming in the Andes