It was close to sunset as the comfortable Peruvian bus in which I was traveling rode past warmly sun drenched high mountains off my right hand window seat. I always like to take the front seat in the bus, so I can see what the bus
driver is seeing. Early in the trip it was the murky, far
below, Pacific Ocean out my left side window. The landscape is harsh and brown, like desert dirt. I was going to Huraz to visit a high Andes mountain town in Peru, although I had been staying mostly in “the eyebrow” of the jungle in Tarapoto. My friend David, from Huraz had arranged for me to stay at his mother’s “guest house” there. After settling into the basic accommodations of room, shared down the hall bathroom/shower… quite cold…quite basic, I wandered up the road to find The California Cafe, named for The Hotel California song I thought. Here’s the review from Trip Advisor:
I felt an immediate sense of warmth, and wanting to hang out there. Cozy, wood, nooks to sit and eat, lounge and eat and read, and some young traveling from all over the world employees who get stopover jobs through a variety of web sites catering to this nomadic culture. The ample library of take-outable books, many left behind by mountain trekkers, who tend to have, at the very least, some shared reading likes to my own, a boatload of spiritual books and travel books. I found something unusual… a manuscript. The following day after devouring his story by flashlight back in my most modest accommodations, I returned to the place I would make my home while visiting Huraz, I discovered this was the manuscript of an American, who lived and worked in Huraz. I was thrilled that I could connect with him and actually meet Jim Kilion. I did.
The first thing I noticed about Jim was his humility. In my book that rings loud. Modestly, and appropriately dressed, it also seemed he was very well-known. Jim has a fascinating story of escaping an ex-wife who had a hired hit on his life, moving to Peru, volunteering for some non-profits, uncovering a lot of corruption and starting his own to address the underserved. Headed by Jim, his organization Changes for New Hope focuses on the children. He teaches not just reading riting and rithmetic, but basic sanitation, from brushing teeth to basic hygene, in some parts unknown. Like many non-profits, Changes for New Hope struggles with having enough funds to do the humanitarian work they do. At one point Julian Lennon, John Lennon’s older son, and his organization The White Feather Foundation gave Jim some help to carry forth with his projects. If you have some time and some dimes to spare you might look up ChangesforNewHope.org. Jim also heads up a humanitarian newsletter which highlights the work of humanitarians globally.
I was honored to share Ekotecture in his classes for high school students in Huraz. It was a night school and supplemental to their daytime classes. Jim asked me to come and speak about the completely self-sustainable systems of EKOTECTURE. The modest classrooms in a building in the downtown of Huraz adapted for the purpose of educating. I was impressed at the questions the students asked, and by their interest in inspiration. Jim introduced me to ex-pats living in Huraz doing humanitarian things, especially educators. We had some meals and coffees.
I remember the last day there, I realized I might not be in other cold places (well I forgot about Cuzco, which is at 9,000 feet), I gave Jim a winter coat, amongst other things to give to someone who might need it. He assured me he knew many. I left Huraz knowing I had met a great humanitarian, a true fellow sojourner as we ventured along this journey on earth.