Monday, October 26, 2009

The Sanctioning of a Moto Park

When Walter asked me yesterday to take photos of the inauguration of a moto park, I agreed to do it even though I didn’t understand what it was about. I figured it would just be a group of guys drinking a beer to each other’s health that would provide fodder for a humorous blog entry. How wrong I was! What took place this morning was an impressive no-nonsense official inauguration of the Las Diamelas moto park, which means that motos can do officially what they’ve been doing unofficially for years…they can park at specific intersections of Las Diamelas Avenue (the street we live on) while waiting for customers. But it’s more than that. Let me explain.

There are two schools of thought for taxi and moto drivers. One group prefers to cruise the city looking for fares, while the other believes that parking in high traffic areas and letting customers come to them is the better method. The average number of motos and/or taxis is usually 3 to 5, but at busy intersections there may be as many as 20. There is a system in these parks. The vehicle parked first in line gets the customer. Once he drives off (this is a man’s domain) all the other vehicles move up one spot. They do not mix – motos and taxies form separate lines.

The first indication I had this morning that something bigger than I expected was shaping up is when I saw a tent-like structure being erected and police rerouting traffic. When a colonel, commandant and several other ranking police officials appeared I knew it was serious.

The ceremony began with the playing of Peru’s National Anthem, followed by speeches from each of the officials. The theme as I understood it was the progress Chiclayo is making in creating a safer environment, and how commitment from people like these moto operators was contributing. There weren’t many from the neighborhood in attendance, but those who were seemed interested and supportive.

Following the speeches recognition was given to Walter, who was the organizing force behind this occasion. He was also given the official charter for the moto park, which is an important document conveying legal status to this group. Walter is a stand up guy. We know of several occasions when he organized fund raising events for neighbors in need of help.

There were 11 moto operators present. It was an impressive moment when they swore in unison with the colonel to serve the neighborhood honestly and do what they could to eliminate danger, thievery and dishonesty among their ranks.

After their oaths were taken each was given a vest with their name on it indicating they were registered and sanctioned by the police. Marcos, one of Walter’s brothers is shown receiving his vest. I watched their faces during the swearing and when receiving their vests. These men were serious, and though I think they were trying to hide it (a macho thing), I saw looks of pride in each of them.

The ceremony concluded with a champagne toast, after which pop and snacks were distributed.

Maribel and I know all of them. They’re a good group of honest, hard working guys whom we are proud to call our friends. We would not hesitate to recommend their services to any visitors.

I don’t want to get philosophical here, but I can’t help but think about what I witnessed this morning without reflecting on these people, their pride and culture. It makes me feel proud and privileged just to be allowed to observe, let alone take part in it, which happened this morning when I was made an honorary member of the moto park. I’ve said it before and will continue to say it. Peru is an incredible country.


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