Presently, our campus is still in the construction phase, and will be for quite some time. As with us, it is a work in progress! For this reason, and because of the campus' rural setting, we would like to communicate to students, interns, teams and volunteers the various challenges at Calvary Chapel Bible College Peru, and it is not for the faint of heart!
We would like to take a few minutes and help you become more familiar with what life is like on campus to minimize surprises and help your transition go as smoothly as possible.
Transportation Challenges: The campus is near Cajamarca, Peru. We are actually in a small community called Llacanora, seven miles from Cajamarca. There are three principal ways to get into to town. 1) Combi – this is public transportation that runs throughout the day from 8am-6pm. Using this form of transport includes an half mile walk to the bus stop, cost $0.50 and takes about 35-55 min. 2) Taxi – you can call a taxi to pick you up from the Bible College and take you anywhere in Cajamarca for $5 to $6. 3) Staff vehicle – there is presently just one vehicle on campus that staff members (only) share and can use occasionally. There no stores, shops or coffee shops in the area so if you wish to do any shopping you will need to use one of the above methods to go into town.
Weather Challenges: Throughout the year the weather rarely fluctuates. Our average temperature throughout the year is a low of 44°F (4°C) and a high of 70°C (21°C), and is consistent during summer and winter. Many visitors are surprised by the cold mountain air. Because of the cooler weather and our cement housing structures having no forced heating or cooling it is better to pack primarily warm clothing. During rainy months (October-February) it is not uncommon to have a thirty minute downpour several times a week. This also means you should have shoes that are ready for dirt and mud. Having a rain jacket with hood is always a good idea. However the region would be considered dry and arid.
Water Challenges: The water on campus is provided from our only on-site well. This water is filtered (reverse osmosis) and becomes our our drinking water (located in five-gallon jugs in the kitchen). Plumbed hot water is only found in our kitchen and in the campus showers. Because of the high volume of people on campus, visiting teams, and water use for agriculture and animals; it is not uncommon to empty the water cistern. When this happens we need to conserve water by limiting showers and toilet usage until water is restored. This may mean that we are without water from four-to-six hours daily. For this reason, we request “missionary showers” be taken — briefly rinse, turn the water off, soap up, then turn the water back on to rinse. This not only conserves water but it conserves propane fuel which is used for water heating.
Internet Challenges: At the present time, there is no standard Internet on campus, though we hope to have campus-wide Internet someday. WiFi can be found, however, in some restaurants and Internet cabinas in town. Some staff have purchased (through a Peruvian sponsor) Mobile Hot Spots that come in increments of 1GB, 3GB, 10GB per month. What is meant by “Peruvian Sponsor”? A non-resident is not allowed to enter into a contractual agreement for a phone, mobile hot-spot or other items. One way to bypass this inconvenience is to ask a Peruvian national to sign a phone company contract and then pay the bill each month. Under this agreement it is extremely important to fulfill your agreement so our Peruvian brother or sister keeps an excellent credit score.
Construction Challenges: We have been under construction for the past two years, which means that there is much debris, rebar, stacked lumber, uneven paths, unfinished buildings, stairs without hand rails and exposed rooftops. It also means that some living quarters have unfinished showers, bathrooms and missing windows. Our 2.8 acre property is fenced with five-foot barbwire, and rests on a hill with a very significant slope. There are stairways leading up to most buildings. Noise from tools and construction equipment can frequently be heard. Rarely will unwelcome guests venture onto the property, but we are visited by an occasional sheep or dog.
Campus Population Challenges: The Bible college hosts classes year-round, especially during the high student volume semesters between February - May, and August - November. In addition, a large number of staff live on site, as well as interns and visiting teams and volunteers. Current campus population averages between 40 - 50, while we have had up to eighty guests on campus at a time. Once dorm construction ends, the Bible college will be able to host as many as 130 people at a time.
Elevation Challenges: The Bible college is located a nearly 9,000 feet elevation in Andes Mountains. Some visitors experience altitude sickness the first days of their stay, while others adjust without any problems. Drinking plenty of water and initial bed rest will usually curb any symptoms. Altitude sickness prevention pills can be acquired in the States by prescription, or at any pharmacy without prescription. We suggests guests see a doctor who specializes in international travel and get the necessary vaccinations per their recommendations. The Bible college can assume no responsibility for medical situations that may arise while in Peru.
Money Exchange Challenges: Travelers Checks and Money Orders are nearly impossible to cash in Peru. Dollars and Euros, however, are accepted in many stores, and can be exchanged for the Peruvian Sol in money change houses. It is vital that each bill, in either $5, $10, $20, $50 or $100 dominations be in excellent condition; ripped or worn bills will be rejected. ATM and credit cards are widely accepted as long as you can show a passport as ID. Additionally, there are various ways to withdraw money while you are in Peru.
Example 1: Bank of America
Bank of America has a sister bank in Peru called “Scotiabank.” BofA customers are be able to withdraw money from the Scotiabank ATM without being charged a fee (as of 2/18/15). However you can only withdraw $100 per transaction. That means if you want $400 you need to withdraw $100 four times. If you withdraw money from a teller inside Scotiabank there is a fee.
Example 2: Chase
Chase bank can also use “Scociabank” to withdraw money from the ATM there is a $5 fee (as of 2/18/15). The maximum amount you can withdraw at one time is $300. That means if you want $600 you need to withdraw $300 twice and pay $10 worth of fees.
Example 3: Military Benefits
If you are with USAA, you can use any ATM with no fee at all. If a grandparent or parent has been in the military, you are eligible to get an account with USAA.
Example 4: Barclaycard ArrivalTM World MasterCard
This credit card has no international fees, has the best exchange rate and earns cash annually.
Other Areas You May Want to Know About:
On Campus Meals: The Bible college provides three meals daily, at 7:30 a.m., 1:00 and 6:30 p.m. Both Peruvian and American styles are prepared throughout the week at the discretion of the various cooks. Most Peruvian meals incorporate chicken, rice and potatoes. There is a small refrigerator that all students and staff share to keep their own personal food in order to supplement their needs.
Electricity: The entire campus runs on 220 volt electricity which will destroy power tools, hair dryers, alarm clocks, decorative Christmas lights, electric blankets, etc. that are only designed to run on 110 voltage from the States. Most computers, laptops, cameras, and cell phones are designed for both 110 and 220, and will indicate this on the item's power cord. If the appliance says: AC100-240V, this will work just fine. Our town experiences frequent power outages which can last from one-to-six hours a day, several times a week. It is a very good idea to bring a flashlight and sufficient batteries!
Laundry: We provide comforters on all our beds, however you’ll need to bring a set of sheets (single) and a pillow, towel and wash cloth. We do have washers and dryers here for your clothing needs; it would be helpful to have a cloth or net laundry bag.
The City of Cajamarca: The population of Cajamarca is around 200,000 people. There are two malls which have food courts and movie theaters. There is one Starbucks (with free WiFi) and a handful of other coffee shops. Usually you can find most anything you could in the States—it’s just figuring out where to look for it. However, if you are looking for high quality items they may not be available.
Sending and Receiving Mail: Postcards and letters can be sent thru the Peruvian mail system: Serpost. Compared to U.S. prices, it is quite expensive. The Bible college does have a P.O. Box in town to receive letters, but we discourage receiving packages because they are subject to import duty and excise taxes. The mail system in not the most reliable, nor the most secure. Generally it takes a letter about two weeks to arrive, and should be addressed this way:
Your Name (please DO NOT include Bible College name)
Peru, South America