Archive | May, 2011

spare fire truck, anyone?

My friends in Arequipa, Peru, are looking for a new fire truck.  They like the following one they found on  It’s a 2002 Pierce 61′ Skyboom.

Fire truck - 2002 Pierce 61 Skyboom Quint 2250-500 Foam - Fentonfire-com

The fire equipment in Arequipa is in really bad shape. 

Practice your Spanish by reading this recent article – but essentially it says that the fire equipment in Arequipa is in really bad shape:


Old Peruvian 187 Ambulance - Arequipa Bomberos Damaged Electronic Siren - Bomberos, Arequipa

How can you help?  To donate, please contact me at steve (at) exchangestudentstories (dot) com.

Invitacion – Arequipa firefighters – anniversary

I hope I can help my friends at the Cuerpo General de Bomberos Voluntarios de Miraflores, Arequipa, Peru.  I did some legwork and found a couple organizations that might be able to help them acquire some donated equipment, everything from the small stuff to a fire truck.

They are celebrating their second anniversary as a fire station — they sent me an invitation, although I can’t make it because I don’t arrive in Arequipa until June 24.

However, I do expect to visit and meet them while I’m there.  Would anyone like to donate?  If I find a used fire truck to send to Peru, it will cost some money to ship it there.

Learn more:

Invitacion - 2nd anniversary celebration of the Miraflores, Arequipa, Bomberos 187

National Flag of Iceland

Hazing initiation Icelandic style

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I went to what was considered a community college equivalent, for 16-20 year olds.  I was in the freshman class, and they do freshman initiation, so we were hazed.  It was all very interesting — I never had been through anything like that since.

First of all, we were given a slave owner and we were their slaves.  That’s actually what they called us.  We had to do anything they told us for the whole week!  They frizzed out my hair with, like, six cans of hairspray, and I was not allowed to wash it for the whole week.  I had to wear really, really tight pants and I couldn’t wear socks.

Then on the last day of the hazing, they painted all of our faces, took us out on a sheep herding cattle car, and paraded us through town, threw water balloons at us, and we had to line up and do all these silly games in the middle of town.  And then they ended it with this big bonfire where most everyone got drunk, and we were initiated into the school!

Fire station in Arequipa, Peru, needs donations

I got an email from a friend today, Roberto Rodriguez Damiani, in Arequipa, Peru, who is the new fire chief for Station 187 in the Miraflores district.  They are in need of used equipment (less than 10 years old).

Miraflores Fire Station 187, Arequipa, Peru

I HAVE NO IDEA HOW TO HELP THEM!  But, of course, I would love to hear suggestions.  Does anyone know where to find quality, used fire equipment to send overseas?

Arequipa is the most beautiful city in Peru.  They deserve the best equipment to help people like Roberto protect the city.

Roberto Rodriguez Damiani, Arequipa, Peru, Miraflores Fire Station Chief

Roberto Rodriguez Damiani, Arequipa, Peru, Miraflores Fire Station Chief

100 Years of Machu Picchu

The REAL title of this post should read: “100 years of the uncovering of Machu Picchu by Hiram Bingham.”  I can’t say enough about this place – I have been there four times and it is truly my favorite place on Earth.

Nothing compares to the train ride from Cuzco to Aguas Calientes.  There was no beautiful experience than descending down the Hiram Bingham Highway to the Urumbamba River while local boys ran down the path and waved to the bus at every switchback shouting, “Goooooood Byyyyyeeeeee!” and “Sayyyyyyy–oooo–nara!“.  Sadly, that experience no longer exists with the upgrade to airconditioned buses (at least that’s what I experienced last visit in ’06).

NOTHING compares to staying the night at the hotel by the entrance gates and waking up early the next morning to watch the sunrise over the ruins in virtual solitude.

Truly magnificent.

Gardening is therapeutic

While spreading mulch and pulling weeds from my garden, I noticed how therapeutic gardening can be.

I was deep in thought about how great it would be if more high school students became exchange students.

Gardening = therapeutic = exchange student programs.