Reconnecting at the Lazy Dog Inn in Peru
Posted on 01 April 2013
When we arrive at the Lazy Dog Inn near Huaraz in Peru, we feel like we are coming home. Not only do Diana and Wayne run the eco-lodge like their family home welcoming guests, but for us, the way the way they run the property and engage with the neighbouring communities is exactly as we would like our home to be. Following is a little video we have made to share some of our photos with you this unique place; it’s our first time creating such a video, so feedback is welcome… we hope you also enjoy the jazz! We provide more information and pictures about the Lazy Dog Inn beneath the video.
When arriving, we were first stunned by the surrounding Cordillera Blanca mountain range, then welcomed by four friendly dogs and given a hot beverage in a comfortable homely lounge-room by the fire place. We soon felt we were long-time friends with Diana and Wayne, as we discussed eco-building, developing social projects with the community, environmental issues in the region and life in general.
Diana and Wayne, a lovely couple from Canada, started the Lazy Dog Inn Ecological Bed and Breakfast / Sustainable Lodge ten years ago and never imagined at the time that it would grow so much. After spending eight years in Colombia and Ecuador, they moved to Peru in 2003 to build the Lazy Dog Inn, committing themselves to long-term community and environmental support. Located in the Peruvian Andes at 3650 meters in altitude, this beautiful mountain lodge is uniquely situated for climbing, hiking or trekking, horseback riding, bird-watching and mountain biking. It can accommodate up to 18 guests in their two adobe cabins and three private rooms in the main adobe lodge. All of these buildings are adobe structures built entirely by hand (no equipment or electricity was used) with all the labor provided by their community neighbours. Virtually all the materials used in constructing the mountain lodge came from the immediate area reducing the environmental damage that comes with harvesting, transporting and treating building materials that come from remote locations. Features include eucalyptus beams from trees that were on the property, stones and handmade textiles, baskets and decorations. Diana and Wayne also had to build the access roads, install electricity poles and cables at their own costs, invest in an antenna for an internet connection with a line of sight 8 kilometers down below where the internet phone line is, and agree how to share the spring water with the three surrounding communities.
The inn generates zero sewage and zero waste water! All of their bathrooms use dry composting urine diverting toilets – which means that pee and poo are separated and treated differently. These toilets were initially handmade in Lima, until some members of the community offered to make them locally out of cement, reducing costs, employing locals and creating a stronger product. The urine is combined with grey water from the showers, filtered and redirected for sub-soil irrigation of animal pasture. Solid toilet waste is dry-composted with the horse manure to produce a rich organic fertilizer, also used in the pastures to grow crops like oats to feed the horses. In addition, their kitchen waste is composted, and 90% of the remaining waste is recycled.
Wayne has set-up 8 green houses to experiment with greater diversity of crops for the altitude and climate, growing vegetables like tomatoes, carrots, broccoli, cauliflowers, spinach, potatoes, lettuces, garlic, onion, celery, peas, beans, zucchinis, fava and quinoa… With his staff, they record details like temperature, the number of seedlings that survive certain conditions, also comparing varieties and natural fertilizer methods (fermented bacteria). The aim is to provide as much organic food as possible for the home cooked meals they provide at the Lazy Dog Inn. We can vouch for the amazing quality and taste of the Andean inspired meals Diana creates with the local Quechua women!
In addition to enjoying home cooked meals, beers brewed locally, hot baths or showers, fireplaces, private terraces and stunning vistas, we also enjoyed very much relaxing in the outdoor sauna they built from natural materials. If you choose to go horse-riding, you won’t just be plonked on the horse and led around, Diana and Wayne believe it’s very important you are involved in preparing, cleaning and developing a relationship with the horse you will ride. This develops confidence and respect for both you and the horse but also makes the riding experience through this magnificent landscape much more enjoyable.
Aside from employing locals to initially construct the buildings, they have continued to employ local women to work in the kitchen and house duties, as well as local men for caring for the horses, farm work and security. Diana and Wayne have incorporated a handset radio system shared across the communities to provide shared protection to all and by all.
Diana and Wayne have incorporated social responsibility into their project by starting up a NGO, the Andean Alliance, whose goal is to help people help themselves in expanding local economic opportunities and incomes in a socially and environmentally sustainable way. Through the NGO, they are involved in everything from community road repairs to improving community water use efficiency and improving the local primary school. They are currently continuing building the Yurac Yacu Community Development Center which includes an early childhood education programme and a computer/internet room and library. Funds are being raised for the continued construction of The Yurac Yacu Community Development Center. Once completed it will include: i) an Education Center
ii) a Library/Internet Center and meeting facility iii) a Community Health and Hygiene Center and several community businesses including iv) a Restaurant/Café and v) a Mountain Expedition Services (Information, Guides, Cooks and Porters) Office. Although Diana and Wayne have invested a lot of their time and money – as well as donations – their aim is for the Center to be self-sustainable by hosting small community businesses that generate income for local families and help fund ongoing education and skills training programs for local residents. We encourage you to volunteer or donate on the Center’s website.
The activities implemented by the Andean Alliance are all the more important because the region of Huaraz – and Peru in general – is already deeply affected by the negative effects of climate change, hence rendering the communities even more vulnerable. Here is an extract from one of Wayne’s papers:
Peru is no stranger to the effects of climate change. It´s archaeological treasures provide evidence suggesting that entire human cultures were extinguished by drought on various occasions prior to the arrival of the Europeans. The World Health Organization has identified Peru as the third highest risk country on earth for climate change impacts on human health. Diseases and disease vectors are now appearing at higher elevations and in locations never previously reported. As freshwater supplies dwindle to human populations on the west side of the Andes the risk of increased human migration to the eastern slope of the Andes increases as people are likely to relocate in search of more reliable fresh water supplies and productive lands. This is likely to place more people in contact with malaria, dengue and other migrating disease vectors. The eastern slope of the Peruvian Andes is also one of the world´s mega biodiversity centers that continues to be impacted mainly by unregulated human colonization. Increased colonization pressure leading to increased forest and species loss now appears likely.
It’s very inspiring for us to visit people and projects like this… we are collecting ideas for our future project one day!