Estación Biológica Cocha Cashu
COMMUNICATION WITH COCHA CASHU
EBCC recently acquired the internet services of Gilat. It works 7 days a week, 24 hours/day (depending on the energy supply). Most internet usage is from 6 pm to 10 pm.
Cocha Cashu also has a two-way radio that can be used for personal communications. It is far cheaper than the telephone, but less reliable, as bad weather can interfere with transmission. We currently communicate through two services in Cuzco: (1) Service Galindo (Alex and Diana); telephone # (51-84) 23-8219; service available between 7:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. However, no one can contact Cashu unless the Cashu radio is on. Usually someone monitors the radio for half an hour in the morning, and an outside call could come in then at about 7:30 a.m. Generally, personal calls are scheduled for Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday evenings between 7:30 and 8:30 p.m. Peru time, via Galindo. The connection may be clearer on Galindo, but it is also more expensive. U.S. eastern daylight savings time is one hour ahead of Peru. U.S. Eastern standard time is the same as Peru time, so schedule your calls accordingly.
To place a call to Cashu, one telephones to the service in Cuzco and asks to speak to Cocha Cashu or to Cocha Uno (the radio designation for Cocha Cashu) via radio. The radio operator makes contact with Cocha Cashu and then switches to a phone patch so that there is a direct connection. Only one person can talk at a time. When that person finishes talking, s/he says "cambio" (or "over"). The operator presses a button, and the next person talks, again saying "cambio," when s/he is finished. There is sometimes a time lag in transmission, but one gets accustomed to it. When the call is over, one ends it with "fuera" (or "out").
One can make a telephone call from Cashu via the radio as long as the call is "collect." Such calls are made through an operator and therefore take longer. It is best to have people call you, if you can arrange it, or to use the satellite telephone.
Making a connection on a particular day and time is not guaranteed, so family and friends should not worry if you do not make/receive a prearranged call, miss their birthday, etc. Bad weather in the mountains often interferes with communication, sometimes all country telephone circuits are busy, etc. Also remember that you are making a radio connection. That means that the whole world is listening. Do not provide a telephone or credit card number over the radio.
Galindo charges for their radio-patch service. We keep a log of each call made to or from Cashu. At the end of the call the service will tell you how much your connection cost. This is also recorded, and you will be billed for your calls at the end of the season. Current prices are uncertain, but last year it was about $0.33/minute. That is the charge for the radio-patch only, in addition to the cost of the telephone call.
Usually people arrive at or leave Cashu several times during the main Cashu research season. That means that you will have several opportunities to send mail. So, bring stationery, envelopes, and postcards with you as well as U.S. stamps (peel-off only) and Peruvian stamps. Investigators returning to the states will mail letters from there, which is faster. You may also wish to ask such people to call parents, spouses, or friends with messages.
You can also receive mail at Cashu. Delivery is irregular and not completely reliable, but you may wish to give the address to your family and friends anyway. When people pass through Cuzco on their way to Cocha Cashu, they should stop at the park office and pick up any mail that may have accumulated. It is the same office where one obtains his/her permit to enter the park (as opposed to the INRENA permit from Lima, which authorizes research). The office is located in Cuzco on Avenida Micaela Bastidas #310, Wanchaq. The address for receiving mail is:
Estación Biológica Cocha Cashu
Parque Nacional del Manu
Casilla Postal 591
It is not wise for anyone to send you a package from the U.S. (although flat magazines usually come through) as all one receives is a notice saying that the package is being held at the customs office in Cuzco The package must be retrieved by the addressee so that it can be inspected and so that duty (if any) can be paid. In the past, the going rate for duty on a small box of chocolate chip cookies has been about $25.
In case of emergency need (e.g., new glasses), we will try to connect you with someone coming in who can carry the item for you.