4T1SIX in Peru by Jack Henry N6XQ
Wow!!! What a great trip we had to Juan Fernandez Island. How could Peru match this adventure? Well, Roman, XE2EED, and I were about to find out. Our plane landed in Lima at around 3 in the morning and were we ever surprised to see a sign at the airport in bold letters reading "Roman / Jack". Pablo, OA4DJW, and Manuel, OA4AHW, the most active 6 meter ops in Peru, were very kind to greet us and escort us to a nice hotel.
In the morning we were again picked up by Pablo and Manuel. We made our way through the city with the Radio Club Peruano being our destination. After breathing all the smog in Santiago, it was a relief to see that even though Lima was about 4 times the size, it had a fraction of the pollution. I was overwhelmed though by the traffic and the constant horn honking. I am not exaggerating, it is constant! I haven't figured out the exact driving protocol, but I believe a honk of the horn means a person has the right of way and don't dare proceed. I don't think I would ever be able to drive in Lima.
Our mouths dropped when we pulled into the parking lot of the radio club. The facility was immense. There has to be over 15,000 sq ft of useable space, including offices, lecture rooms, operating suites and even a large restaurant. Some of the history as I understand it is that around 1960 some land where the old airport was became available. The government granted the club a large parcel of land and the club members, who were about 600 strong at the time, built the facility.
The 6 meter radio that the club is using is a IC575A and the antenna is a horizontal dipole. The preamp in the radio is not working, but it's probably not critical as the noise level is very high. When I connected the 706 into the antenna the noise level registered S7. When we first turned the TS690 on, I heard CW around 50.106. It turned out to be Arliss, CE0Y/W7XU on Easter Island. We used the call OA4O and had a nice chat with Arliss who was 59 when he turned his antenna our way.
That evening, we returned to the radio club to attend one of their regular Wednesday evening meetings. The meetings are very informal and friendly and usually end up with dinner and a generous sampling of the national beverage pisco. The die hards remain on playing liars dice into the morning. We were really impressed by the enthusiasm and friendliness of our newly acquired friends. They were very patient in listening to me speak in my unique version of the Spanish language where all the tenses are mixed together. We also managed to install the OA4B beacon on 50.036 into the six meter dipole. In the future they will move the beacon to another location and will run it into a J that they are building.
It was time to get down to some serious radio work so Pablo, Manuel, Roman, and I gathered our radios and flew to the Northern city of Tumbes. Tumbes is just south of the Ecuador border and an hours drive to our beach front accommodations in Punta Sal. We were at 3 degrees south of the equator and the weather was tropical and everything was green and lush. It was quite a contrast to Lima where they get zero inches of rain a year. The place was a paradise. We had a nice over the water northerly shot from 270 degrees thru 090 degrees. The yagi went up quickly and 4T1SIX was on the air. The band conditions were very spotty due to high solar activity. We managed to only work about 30 stations in the 3 days we were there. Central America and Hawaii were the most easily worked. People were reporting the OA4B beacon but not us. We should have found a beach paradise south of Lima and not north. We did manage to do a lot of relaxing at this beach so I am not complaining at all.
Shortly after, Roman and I were off to Cuzco, the staging point for trips into Machupicchu. Machupicchu is the only Incan settlement that was not discovered by the Spanish. It is considered obligatory for anyone visiting Peru. Cuzco is in a valley at around 11000 feet in elevation and is a city that has a lot of indigenous people wearing their native garb. This city reminded me of the Bolivian cities I have visited. We spent a lot of time looking for a hotel where we could operate from. We settled on one in town that had some abandoned upper floors. I had permission to use a vacant office on the top floor which had 220 and a nice window access. I rigged some bamboo poles together and was on the air with the Zepp. What a disappointment, S9+20 noise. After a couple of hours of operating, I shut down in disgust and reverted to being a tourist. We found a little restaurant tucked away with a lot of locals in it. It turned out to be great, the best lomo (steak) I have had for years and for only $2.75.
Roman and I took the train to Machupicchu the next morning. The train is unique in that it makes many switchbacks and goes backwards and forwards on rail sidings to accomplish this. The valley descending to Machupicchu is breathtaking. I am sure everyone has seen photos of Machupicchu, so I won't dwell on the ruins, but will only say it is awesome.
We returned to Lima very satisfied as tourists, but very disappointed in the number of 6 meter QSO's. Only 2 days left, so we will attempt to operate again from our Lima hotel. We moved to the top floor and threw the Zepp out the window. The band was alive with activity. I was holding the Zepp out the window with one arm and had the mike in the other. Roman was making the log entries. We had a nice W1,2,and 3 opening. We made 208 QSO's in the next day and a half. We didn't have the big opening to W6 like we did as 3G0Z, but at least we had a lot of US stations in the log and could go home feeling well.
Our sincere gratitude goes to Pablo, OA4DJW and Manuel, OA4AHW for all the help and companionship that made this a very memorable expedition.
Many of the Peruanos are using antiquated equipment. The duty on Japanese equipment entering the country is staggering. I would like to make a pitch for anyone out there with any excess radios, especially 6 meter radios, to pass them on to where they will be used. Please contact me and I will try to help getting them down there.
Special thanks to Chip, N6CA for doing a great job at keeping the webpage for us.